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Prawns, steaks and peri peri: 28 great Portuguese restaurants

If a holiday to Portugal or Mozambique is a little out of reach, South Africa has some pretty tasty Portuguese-infused flavours at its vibrant tavernas across the country. Whether you’re after a hit of peri-peri prawns, tender beef trinchado, a juicy espetada skewer or lemony sardines, satisfy your cravings at one of these authentic Portuguese restaurants across South Africa.

Sardines-and-salad-at-Selva

Grilled sardines and salad at Selva. Photo by Rupesh Kassen.

Johannesburg

1920 Portuguese Restaurant (Randburg)
This merry, unpretentious spot serves authentic Portuguese food in a laid back atmosphere. Signature dishes include sliced chorizo, gorgeous chicken livers and trinchado. There’s also a hearty prawn curry that’s packed with 10 plump prawns and a homemade curry sauce. Try a Portuguese wine or beer to drink.

33 High Street (Modderfontein)
Set in a gorgeous old house with a popular wraparound stoep, this Portuguese and Mediterranean spot offers a lively environment with equally vibrant food. Try the tasty crumbed prawns, the pork fillet and chorizo, the bubble breads with inventive toppings, and steak with red-wine sauce and a fried egg.

The interior at 33 High Street. Photo supplied.

The interior at 33 High Street. Photo supplied.

A Churrasqueira (Alberton)
Hearty, traditional food hits the spot in this clean, comfortable and family-friendly space. Try the rissoles dipped in fiery homemade peri-peri sauce, the rabbit stew, or pork-and-clam stew. There’s also a list of combos such as chicken and prawns or prawns and calamari. Don’t forget to take home a bottle of the peri-peri sauce.

Inside at A Churrasqueira. Photo supplied.

Inside at A Churrasqueira. Photo supplied.

Restaurante Parreirinha (La-Rochelle)
Dishes at this warm, family-orientated restaurant are rich and served with generous lashings of butter and oil. Seafood is a great choice: Try barbecued sardines, cod strips with fried chips and egg, and butterflied prawns. Meat eaters can enjoy steak a parreirinha with ham and asparagus, or steak trinchado cassarola with a fresh garlic sauce. Ask for something from the take-home selection of olive oil, dressed chicken, frozen prawn cakes and peri-peri sauce before you leave.

Tables at Restaurante Parreirinha. Photo supplied.

Tables at Restaurante Parreirinha. Photo supplied.

Selva (Craighall Park)
Joburg’s new hotspot offers traditional, yet modernised, Portuguese cooking. The lunch menu includes options like salt cod croquettes, grilled sardines, peri-peri prawns, clams and a mouthwatering bifana. At dinner, guests can turn to traditional options like grilled sardines, classic peri-peri chicken or the dry-aged sirloin with a port reduction and fried egg on top. There’s also grilled baby octopus with punched potatoes for adventurous eaters. Finish off with heavenly cinnamon-sprinkled pasteis de nata.

The-bifana-at-Selva

The bifana at Selva. Photo supplied.

Pretoria

Café Oficina (Pretoria West)
This restaurant manages to make the most of its quirky location, right inside an automotive garage but enclosed by glass walls. The menu is packed with honest fare like a must-try giblet starter, chorizo assado, clams, snails and mussels. Try the rump cubes skewered with bay leaves, the seafood espatada, sardines with green pepper and potatoes, and grilled cod with olives. You can also tuck into a whole crayfish! After the feast, take home some prawn rissoles, pasteis de bacalhau and meat croquettes.

The Portuguese Kitchen (West Park)
Situated on the main road that slices through old industrial Pretoria, this spot is not glamorous at all, but there’s a fantastic, authentic buzz. Owner Carla Chryssanthou works hard to keep this little shop running in top-notch style. Once or twice a month they offer Leitão Assado, one of their most praised gastronomic delicacies. This suckling pig is roasted for five hours and continuously basted with black pepper, garlic, coarse salt and lard. They also have prawn, tuna and mince rissoles as starters, along with presunto (ham) or a platter with calamari, chorizo and chicken livers; and, for mains, a steak-and-calamari combination or the chef’s speciality, called Francesinha, of rump steak, viennas, ham and melted cheese.

New Market Restaurant (Central Pretoria)
There are very few other restaurants in Pretoria at which you can enjoy a hot meal at 4am. At that time the massive hangars at the Tshwane fresh produce market at 55 Es’kia Mphahlele Drive positively vibrate with energy. This market is one of four in the greater Gauteng region that are responsible for the distribution of 70% of all fresh produce in the country. The New Market Restaurant offers a massive all-day selection of items that include a double bacon, double cheese and double egg toasted sandwich, a massive breakfast menu, prawns, prego or a bacalhau salad, dobrada with either rice or pap, or a Compadre special of beef stew and potato salad.

Mesa Portuguesa (Waverley)
Mesa Portuguesa is an owner-operated restaurant that ticks all the boxes. Although the décor might be old school, the waiters are all knife sharp, and hosts Luiz and Emila Morais run a tight ship. The delicious pasteis de nata must surely be some of the best around, and, with good coffee and possibly a slice of Portuguese flan, it’s certainly the best way to end a night out. On Sundays they offer a buffet, but the usual main dishes include bacalhau, grilled calamari, peri-peri chicken, dobrada and juicy prawns.

Durban and surrounds

Adega (Gateway)
Adega offers traditional Portuguese-style fare like king prawns, prego rolls, espetada and Portuguese steaks marinated in white wine, garlic and bay leaves, topped with a fried egg.

A chicken and prawn combo at Adega. Photo supplied.

A chicken and prawn combo at Adega. Photo supplied.

Atasca (Durban North)
Bringing Portuguese flavours to the Durban North scene, Atasca’s menu boasts traditional, authentic dishes such as deep-fried calamari tubes in a peri-peri sauce for starters and melt-in-your-mouth chicken or rump espetadas for mains.

Barrio Restaurant (Umhlanga)
First prize here is a spot on the veranda overlooking the palm trees, else guests can keep cool in the white-and-blue interior. The menu features mezze and classics like slow-roasted lamb shank and sardines, paella and moussaka. A classy place best suited to a special occasion.

Butterflied prawns at Barrio. Photo supplied.

Butterflied prawns at Barrio. Photo supplied.

Bazaruto’s (Kloof)
This casual neighbourhood spot with retro charm offers a simple menu featuring tasty dishes like peri-peri chicken livers, sardines and prawns.

Beira Alta (Ballito)
Situated in the heart of the busy Ballito Lifestyle Centre is this popular Portuguese restaurant. The freshly decorated space is ideal for a working lunch or relaxed weeknight supper. The menu includes familiar favourites like beef trinchado, steak and light salads, but the real winner is the fresh seafood selection. Options include grilled calamari, sardines, flaked codfish and the house specialty of pan-fried queen prawns.

A plate of prawns at Beira Alta. Photo supplied.

A plate of prawns at Beira Alta. Photo supplied.

Café Goa (Queensburgh)
This unpretentious restaurant is much loved by locals for its authentic flavours in dishes like espetada and calamari with chorizo and olives in a coconut-based sauce. There’s a good selection of Goan curries, too.

The espetada at Café Goa. Photo supplied.

The espetada at Café Goa. Photo supplied.

Julio’s (Umhlanga Rocks)
This spot often buzzes with locals who love its Portuguese dishes, laid-back vibe and cocktail menu. Perpetually popular dishes include the quintessential chicken peri-peri and a selection of seafood such as calamari, prawns and line fish, all of which are best savoured at the covered pavement tables in the balmy Durban heat.

Mo-Zam-Bik (Ballito, Hillcrest and Umhlanga)
Here you are invited to treat your palate to flavours of Mozambique and Portugal with options like green olives stuffed with cashews, or giblets prepared with tomato, red wine and paprika. The peri-peri chicken is well known, but seafood is also a great choice, such as prawns cooked in beer or line fish prepared with lime, coriander and coconut milk.

Prawns at Mo-Zam-Bik. Photo supplied.

Prawns at Mo-Zam-Bik. Photo supplied.

Neo Café (Durban North)
The fare at this popular Durban North eatery is unassuming and full of flavour. The casual spot celebrates Mozambican cuisine with an extensive menu. Starters include chorizo sautéed in garlic butter and grilled calamari tentacles in lemon butter or peri-peri. The main attraction is well-priced prawns served in a variety of ways. For an interesting creamy option, try the Camarão à Neo with de-shelled medium prawns in a spicy coconut-and-beer sauce, served with white rice and coriander.

Cape Town

Baia Seafood Restaurant (V&A Waterfront)
Tourists and locals will find an abundance of seafood here with great flavours of Portugal. Try the line fish papillote (line fish baked in a parchment-paper parcel with tomato, courgettes, fennel, thyme and extra-virgin olive oil), prawns with flavours of Portuguese colonies, Mozambican curry, or free-range whole baby chicken.

Prawns with a view at Baia. Photo supplied.

Prawns with a view at Baia. Photo supplied.

Carla’s (Muizenberg)
This laid-back Muizenberg favourite specialises in a signature platter of prawns peri-peri, which is served with rice and a secret Carla’s sauce and is said to be one of the best prawn dishes around. Alternatively, there are other traditional favourites like caldo verde soup; beef, egg and chips; and peri-peri chicken.

Chapman’s Peak Hotel Restaurant (Hout Bay)
You can’t take a drive around Chappies without heading here for a frosty beer and some feel-good Portuguese fare. Try the popular calamari served in a cast-iron skillet with garlic and lemon, or the chargrilled peri-peri chicken.

Dias Tavern (City Bowl)
Before dancing the night away or taking in an intense game of football, tuck into robust, spicy Mediterranean flavours at this well-known spot. The signature dishes range from chicken giblets peri-peri to chorizo, sardines, calamari, trinchado and espetada.

The festive interior at Dias Tavern. Photo supplied.

The festive interior at Dias Tavern. Photo supplied.

Gastao’s Tapas and Craft Beer (Tygervalley)
Durbanville’s dedicated Portuguese tapas and beer bar is where locals love to sit, sipping on refreshing beers before tucking into boards of meat, cheese and bread or the wide range of tapas. Options include slow-cooked pork belly with sage jus and pinwheel scratchings; peri-peri chicken livers; chorizo arancini with smoked buffalo mozzarella; and mini espetadas, among other delights. Finish off the meal with leite crème, a Portuguese milk custard infused with lemon and cinnamon and served with home-baked almond biscuits.

A baby lemon and herb chicken at Gastao's. Photo supplied.

A baby lemon and herb chicken at Gastao’s. Photo supplied.

Pigalle (Green Point)
Dress up for a night out and enjoy some fine-dining Portuguese fare at this elegant Green Point spot. Seafood is the drawcard here, with butterflied and grilled queen prawns, Mozambican prawn curry and baby kingklip on the menu. There’s also whole baby chicken that’s marinated in fresh garlic, green chilli.

Toni’s on Kloof (Gardens)
This unpretentious Kloof Street restaurant is perfect for a casual midweek night out. Try the garlicky beef and chicken trinchado in a rich wine sauce, and the fabulous prawn rissoles, which are crispy on the outside and filled with a rich creamy sauce and prawns before being splashed with some lemon. There’s also Mozambican curry or traditional Portuguese stew with beans and pork, chicken or chorizo.

Peri-peri chicken and chips at Toni's on Kloof. Photo supplied.

Peri-peri chicken and chips at Toni’s on Kloof. Photo supplied.

Vasco Da Gama Tavern (Green Point)
Serving traditional pub grub with a Portuguese influence, this casual spot is perfect for sports fanatics looking for a place to watch the rugby. Dishes include chorizo and chips, beef trinchado, peri-peri livers, and the espetada grande, with 350g of juicy rump steak served garlic butter.

Villa Tavern (Vredehoek)
Head to this hidden gem for a quick drink or some authentic Portuguese fare. Dishes include light salads, spicy starters of chicken livers, giblets, grilled sardines and chicken trinchado, and mains of chicken or steak Prego rolls, espetada, lemon butter prawns and calamari.

The outdoor tables at Villa Tavern in Vredehoek. Photo supplied.

The outdoor tables at Villa Tavern in Vredehoek. Photo supplied.

Winelands

Casa Valdez
Head to this busy spot for some traditional yet simple Portuguese food. Favourites include peri-peri chicken livers, chorizo sausage, half and whole chickens done peri-peri style, spare ribs, calamari and prawns. They also have live music on Thursdays to add a little festivity to your week.

 

Have we missed your favourite Portuguese restaurant? Let us know in the comments section below.

Please note that while we take care to ensure the accuracy of our information, some details may change without our knowledge

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