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.
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
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
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
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.