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Hours of Eating
Generally speaking, lunch is eaten between 12.00 and 15.00 hours. Dinner is from about 19.30 to 23.00 hours. However, it is not uncommon to see a group of people arriving for lunch at 14.30 hours, as they are know to the owner and already know what they are going to eat. In smarter restaurants in the cities it is usually advisable to make a prior reservation.

The Menu
In the tourist areas it is normal to see restaurants offering a "ementa turística". This is a three-course meal served with a drink and all at a lower price than quoted on the normal menu. In tourist areas you will often find that the menu has been translated into more than one other language. As soon as you have taken your seats at the table it is the custom in Portugal to be served with bread, olives and often some assorted appetisers. You may either be charged for what you have eaten but often it is used as a form of cover charge. There is a good logical reason for these items to be placed in front of you. In all Portuguese restaurant be prepared to wait. The chef will only start cooking after your order has been taken as he is normally only using fresh items to prepare your meal. 
Vegetarians are not particularly well catered for although there are in major city areas a limited number of specialised restaurants. As the vegetables grown in Portugal can be excellent we recommend some careful directions to the kitchen may produce some very satisfying results.

Wines and Other Drinks
The grape in Portugal produces very satisfying wines and especially in the case of the red. White wine is also bottled in quantity and is very palatable but their grapes do not generally produce any spectacular results. After eating it is a must to sample the two most famous fortified wines known throughout the world, Port and Madeira. It is also quite reliable to order the "vinho da casa" (house-wine) to accompany your meal - however, please remember that it can be fresh country wine and although good, not necessarily pleasing to your palette. Please refer to our Pages on Wine for more detailed information.

General Notes
Portugal is an ideal holiday location for families with children. In restaurants the children's misbehaviour may be completely accepted as the Portuguese love children to the point of spoiling them! Often the menu will indicate half-portions or a child's plate and if not, reduced amounts and prices can be normally requested. 
Smoking is prohibited inside restaurants, as with most European countries.
One of the main problems in Portuguese restaurants is obtaining and paying the bill. The attitude of every waiter seems to be that once you have eaten you should sit and digest your food! Remember that Portugal is a Latin country and the pleasure of eating is taken seriously A suitable remedy for a lengthy delay maybe to stand up to suggest you are leaving 
Somewhere in the greyness of time a tip was used as a reward for good service. There is no law stating what percentage you should use as a tip. When tipping at the table the Portuguese tend to leave either nothing or 5%. It is generally expected for a foreign tourist to leave 10% and good service is to be encouraged as it helps to make the meal.