The charming city of Coimbra in Central Portugal has plenty to keep you occupied for at least a day or two so you’re going to need some refreshment while you’re there. To help you find a suitable place to eat or drink, here are some of my favourite Coimbra restaurants, bars and cafés.
Best restaurants in Coimbra
Just behind the Santa Cruz church in the heart of the Baixa (downtown Coimbra) you’ll find Sete restaurant. The menu features firm Portuguese favourites served with flair and local produce. Add to that an extensive wine list and knowledgeable staff and you’ll find this is an ideal venue for discovering Portuguese flavours. My favourite starter is the poached egg and peas and we’re both partial to the lamb shank.
It gets busy so book a table. If you choose to eat early, you will be dining among other foreigners but Sete is understandably popular with locals too.
R. Martins de Carvalho 8. Tel: 239 060 065
Dux Taberna Urbana
Dux Taberna Urbana is becoming my favourite restaurant in Coimbra thanks to the range of delicious and well prepared petiscos, the Portuguese version of tapas. It’s very popular, especially at lunch time because of the ‘menu do dia’, so book a table or get there early.
Rua Dr. Manuel Rodrigues 59. Tel: 239 093 723. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Refeitro da Baixa Restaurant
Housed in a ceramics factory in the heart of downtown Coimbra, this is an atmpospheric restaurant that services delicious and well-presented Portuguese dishes with a modern twist.
I particularly enjoyed the duck and vegetables.
Open for lunch and dinner Monday to Saturday. 2-4 Terreiro da Erva, Coimbra. Reservations possible via The Fork Tel: +351 239 820 080
If you need a break from traditional Portuguese fare, the cute and funky Fangas Veg may be just what you’re looking for, especially if you’re a vegetarian or vegan.
Fangas Veg in Coimbra used to be a grocery store but has been serving top quality Portuguese food for years and has now gone totaly vegetarian. Mix and match from tapas-sized portions to create a snack, a light meal or whatever you need.
There aren’t many tables so you should book ahead for peak times and try to be patient.
Rua Fernandes Tomás, 45-49. Open for lunch Friday to Monday and dinner Thursday to Sunday. Tel: 934 093 636
If you’d rather have a meat option but enjoy the sharing dishes concept, you can enjoy the tasty delights of Fangas’ larger restaurant just a few doors away from the vegetarian restuarant.
Rua Fernandes Tomás, 29. Open for lunch and dinner Friday to Sunday and dinner only on Monday and Tuesday. Tel: 934 093 636
A tiny, unassuming restaurant just off Praça 8 de Maio in Coimbra’s Baixa, No Tacho is deservedly popular with locals so book ahead. The olive oil served with the home made bread is divine and everything is well presented. The wine list matches the quality of the food.
Rua da Moeda 20. Open for lunch Wednesday to Sunday and dinner Tuesday to Saturday. Tel: +351 911 925 961
Restaurante Piscinas do Mondego
You’ll probably need a car or taxi to get to this restaurant, which is on the other side of the river. The complex offers a swimming pool, hence the name, and a smart restaurant with good food and wine.
Dori and I particularly like the cataplana, a fish and seafood dish that’s cooked and served in a copper dome. You usually need 2 people to be able to order a cataplana but Piscinas will do individual servings.
Rotunda das Lages, Sta. Clara, (behind the Exploratório) Parque Verde do Mondego. Tel: 239 441 591
Zé Manuel dos Ossos
This Coimbra restaurant is quite an experience and although it’s not one of my favourites, you might want to try it. The tiny dining area is lined with scraps of paper with notes of appreciation from guests. Rustic and hectic, there’s usually a queue for a table (no reservations possible) so get there early or be prepared to wait in line.
Ossos means bones so expect meaty dishes although bacalhau (cod) also features on the menu. The javali (wild boar) is tasty and very filling.
Beco do Forno 12 Coimbra. Tel: 239 823 790. Open for lunch and dinner Monday to Saturday.
Mike and I refer to A Taberna as the birthday restaurant as we’ve often been here to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. The food is consistently good, especially the vitela (veal) and the hunk of crusty home made bread with requeijão (ricotta) cheese we usually have as a starter.
One of the best features of this restaurant is that the waiters bring a selection of six side dishes to the table for you to choose from, including three types of vegetable. You can have a second helping too.
Don’t be put off by the neon sign outside. The dining area is fairly small and cosy and is simply decorated. If you sit at the back, you’ll be able to see the kitchen and watch dishes going in and out of the wood-fired oven. It’s probably not the best place to sit in summer but in winter, you’ll be nice and toasty.
Wine lovers will also appreciate the fairly extensive list. The waiters have been here for years and can confidently recommend suitable pairings for you.
Rua Combatentes da Grande Guerra, 86. Open for lunch Tues-Sat and dinner Mon-Sat.
Loggia is actually housed within the Machado de Castro National Museum and has great views over the city. Lunchtimes are usually a buffet with two hot dishes whereas evening meals are a la carte or sometimes a set menu. It’s a good place for a coffee or sundowner.
When the museum is closed, access is around the side and up the steps.
Largo Dr. José Rodrigues. Tel: +351 239 853 076. Open daily from 10 am to 6 pm and until 10:30 for dinner Wednesday to Saturday.
Tascas, cafés and bars in Coimbra
Quebra o Galho
This cute tasca serves good wines and quality Portuguese petiscos at the base of Quebra Costas. There’s a strong chance of spontaneous fado performances.
Rua Quebra Costas 12. Open daily from 2 pm to 11.45 pm.
Meu Doce cake shop and café
You wouldn’t think that Coimbra had room for yet another cake shop but this one is a cut above the rest. With tables overlooking Praça 8 de Maio, you can sample the vast range of teas or other drinks and feast on colourful cakes.
Conveniently located at the base of the monumental steps leading to Coimbra University, this busy bakery sells delicious cakes and bread as well as cheap but tasty meals in the café. There are usually a few daily specials to choose from and a menu of firm favourites.
Rua Castro Matoso 49. Open daily from 6 am to 10 pm.
Café Santa Cruz
The vaulted ceilings, dark leather and wood chairs and waiters in waistcoats lend Café Santa Cruz a medieval air. This is not surprising as it used to form part of the neighbouring Santa Cruz church and monastery and was built in the 16th century. They often have fado shows here and literary gatherings.
Choose from the outdoor terrace with views of the bustling shopping street, the elaborately carved entrance to Santa Cruz church and Praça 8 de Maio or the calm, cool interior.
Praça 8 de Maio, Coimbra. Open 8 am to midnight every day.
O Moinho Velho bakery and café
There’s another branch of Moinho Velho (Old Windmill) in the Baixa (R. João de Ruão 27) but the one in Solum, near the football stadium is the original and has more atmosphere. After church on Sunday mornings, there’s often a queue of well-dressed and freshly coiffed locals waiting for tables although it’s always busy.
As well as delicious cakes they have a wide selection of interesting breads in the bakery section, handmade chocolates and good quality savouries.
If you want something to take out, just be aware that each counter has a separate queue and your purchases, including anything you have from the café, will be added to your tab. When you’re done, queue again to pay at the till by the door.
For more help with that, check out: How to order like a local at restaurants and cafés in Portugal
Rua Jorge Anjinho, 7. Open daily from 8 am to 8 pm.
Galeria Santa Clara Bar
Cross over the Santa Clara bridge from downtown Coimbra and turn left just before Portugal dos Pequenitos to find one of my favourite places to go for a drink.
As the name suggests, Galeria functions as an arts space as well as a bar. It’s inside an old house so there are plenty of cute rooms, all decorated differently with original artwork on the walls. There’s even a workshop and craft shop downstairs plus a space for live bands and performances.
The outdoor terrace is a great place to admire the view of Coimbra from with various seating areas and options so have a wander before you pick your spot.
Rua António Augusto Gonçalves, 67. Open from 2 pm every day, check their Facebook page for more details and current events: Galeria Santa Clara Bar
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