When it comes to the best Portuguese restaurants London has to offer, it is fair to say that the cuisine of this popular European holiday hotspot is not as well represented in the capital as the likes of say India or China.
It is also true that a lot of people conflate Spanish food with that of Portugal, although it is important to remember that there are subtle differences between the two cuisines. Although London may not have too many Portuguese restaurants to choose from, the ones that it is home to are real gems – ranging from casual grab-and-go spots or family owned haunts where the food is served sharing-style, to more high-end propositions and trendy openings, where the dishes will look as good on your Instagram feed as they do on your plate.
If you have ever visited Portugal before, or you used to live there before moving to London, you will know that the country is home to some truly beautiful food. Among Portugal’s most famous exports are fresh seafood and tapas dishes which are designed to share, although in recent years the classic Portuguese dessert of a pastel de nata has also achieved cult status in the capital, thanks to its flaky crust and dusting of cinnamon which has seen people flock to Instagram in their droves to post pictures of the sweet treat.
We don’t blame you if you have ever found yourself with a craving for grilled sardines or Bifanas (traditional pork sandwiches), and ended up thinking “if only I could find a Portuguese restaurant near me?” Well, you are in luck, as we have taken it upon ourselves to round up all of the best Portuguese restaurants you can find in London, suited to any and every budget, style and occasion – check out our top picks below.
Casa do Frango, London Bridge and Shoreditch
What: Often thought of as a posh alternative to everybody’s favourite cheeky chicken chain Nando’s, hip Casa do Frango (London Bridge and Shoreditch) specialises in flame-licked free-range chicken which has been brushed with piri piri sauce. Although the chicken is the star of the show, we’ve also got a lot of time for the sides, which include golden and oily fries, plus brown rice that’s pepped up with chorizo and chicken skins.
Where: 2 King John Court, EC2A 3EZ; 32 Southwark Street, SE1 1TU
Volta do Mar, Covent Garden
What: Tucked away alongside the depressing tourist-traps of Covent Garden, you’ll find this delightful independent Portuguese restaurant. The pretty dining room is housed inside a double-fronted Georgian townhouse, while Volta do Mar’s menu features all of the classic staples, as well as wines from the region. Our top orders include the carabineros prawns and the light spice of the Iberico pork vindalho.
Where: 13-15 Tavistock Street, WC2E 7PS
What: Having been around for more than 20 years, family-run Estrela is often populated with Portuguese natives (always a good sign), but all are welcome at this warm and thoroughly traditional restaurant. Specialising in classic Portuguese fare, the menu here is made up of tapas dishes to share, as well as larger plates such as bifanas (a traditional sandwich stuffed with pork). Look out for daily specials too, which are written up on a chalkboard.
Where: 111-115 South Lambeth Road, SW8 1UZ
Bar Douro, Flat Iron Square and City
What: With a site in foodie hub Flat Iron Square and another in the City, Bar Douro has quickly become one of the most loved Portuguese restaurants in the capital. Expect a concise menu of small plates which might include the likes of salt cod fritters and prawns swimming in garlic sauce, all served alongside Portuguese wines by the glass. The classic Portuguese dessert of pastel de nata (custard tart with cinnamon) is not to be missed either.
Where: Arch 35B, Union Street, SE1 1TD; 1 Finsbury Avenue, EC2M 2PA
Santa Nata, Covent Garden
What: The traditional Portuguese dessert of pastel da nata, a golden custard tart dusted with cinnamon, is now a staple of London’s dining scene and has gained somewhat of a cult status on Instagram. It’s widely accepted that Santa Nata is among the best places to find the dessert in London, where you can watch a family of second-generation Portuguese bakers whip up your tarts right in front of your eyes before you take them away.
Where: 17 Russell Street, WC2B 5HP
Grelha D'Ouro, Stockwell
What: Less than 10 minutes’ walk from Stockwell tube, Grelha D’Ouro is often considered the most traditional Portuguese restaurant in London to those in the know. The minimalist dining room has a relaxed vibe, while food is served family style; tuck into the likes of grilled chorizo, sardines topped with chopped peppers and prawns in a garlic and white wine sauce. Speaking of wine, Grelha D'Ouro is home to quite the impressive list of Portuguese varieties.
Where: 151 South Lambeth Road, SW8 1XN
Madeira London, Stockwell
What: Yet another purveyor of those much sought after pastel de natas is Madeira London. Perhaps more a café and bakery than a restaurant proper, but it is still worth taking a trip here to sample the less than conventional takes on the classic dessert – blueberry or passionfruit varieties anyone? For the traditionalists, there’s salt cod fritters, grilled sardines and a thoughtful list of Portuguese wines.
Where: 130 Stockwell Road, SW9 9HR
Does your love of chicken go beyond piri piri? Check out our pick of the best fried chicken you can find in London.