Madeira is fast evolving into a foodie hotspot. 

Madeira is fast evolving into a foodie hotspot. 
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Top Eight Restaurants Locals Go to in Madeira


With its subtropical climate and striking landscape, Madeira has long been a popular tourist destination - but Falstaff knows where locals head for dinner. Here are eight of the best restaurants on the island.

Madeira, the island on the northwest coast of Africa was discovered by the Portuguese in 1419. The volcanic archipelago was uninhabited before its discovery.

Over the centuries, Madeira became famous for its unique fortified wines. Today, however, there are unfortified table wines, too, and we recommend you try them.

The island’s economy relies heavily on tourism which means that there is no shortrage of restaurants, especially in the capital city Funchal, where 50% of the island’s population is to be found. Amongst the many restaurants on the island, here are the top eight that are favoured by locals rather than tourists.

Restaurante Lá ao Fundo, Funchal Old Town

Owner, chef and sommelier Jaime Cruz created this flavour paradise close to the fortress in Funchal's old town. Inspired by the Portuguese diaspora's recipes from Africa to Asia, guests select from an extensive and creative menu and well-prepared fresh fish dishes. The popular tuna tartare, for example, is a bit theatrical: the chef will appear with a trolley at your table and prepare it skilfully as you look on.

Lá ao Fundo has a comprehensive wine menu thanks to its owner’s vast wine knowledge. The pan-Portuguese list features Madeiran table wines and is known for its great value, designed to make diners venture beyond the usual choices.

Taberna Ruel, Funchal Old Town

Taberna Ruel is in the heart of the Funchal old town on Rua de Santa Maria. During meal times, the already small alleyway turns into street party mode as restaurants extend their seating area onto the street. Make sure to visit Rua de Santa Maria well before lunchtime to see the colourful painted doors well-known for this area.

Taberna Ruel is a popular BBQ grill restaurant. In the back of the restaurant, there is a brick oven where all the ingredients are grilled over flaming logs. Opened seven years ago, and with a local Madeira chef manning the stoves, Taberna Ruel has a good wine list and is a great place to immerse yourself into the local flavour and ambiance.

Atlantic Restaurante, Funchal

Atlantic Restaurante is on the west side of Funchal and offers a stunning sea view. The place is  popular with locals who come here to enjoy dinner while watching the sunset. Favourite menu choices are grilled tuna or beef skewers. Falstaff recommends the traditional scabbard fish with fried banana, followed by the Madeira honey cake paired with a scoop of ice cream made with medium sweet Boal Madeira. Paired with the unbeatable view of the Atlantic ocean and the sunset, the experience is priceless.   

Restaurant Santo Antonio, Estreito De Camara

Estreito De Camara is located to the west of Funchal, surrounded by vineyards on terraced slopes where the most widely planted red grape variety of the island Tinta Negra thrives.

Restaurant Santo Antonio is not on the tourist trail and locals are trying to keep it that way. Family-run and operating ever since 1966, it specialises in the local speciality of espetada, meat skewers that traditionally use a bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) branch to spear the meat.

Make sure you try the Bolo do Caco, or flatbraed, with garlic butter, which is baked daily following their family recipe. The side dishes are simple but come highly recommended. Try the fried polenta cubes or the tomatoes: unpretentious but full of flavour.

Joe’s Bar - Jardim Do Mar

Jardim Do Mar means “garden of the sea” in Portuguese. It is a small village in the western part of the island with steep cliffs and spectacular wildflowers. There are not many restaurants in the area but Joe’s Bar is a local favourite for simple but excellent local fare. You can find most of the traditional Madeiran specialities, such as the meat skewers (espetada), scabbard fish and other seafood dishes.

The ambiance is relaxed and informal, with seating in the garden. This is the place to try poncha, a traditional Madeiran fisherman’s cocktail using local rum, lemon juice and honey or sugar. 

Lounge Bar Clube Naval Do Seixal, Seixal

Moving to the north of the island, to Seixal, you will find Lounge Bar Clube Naval Do Seixal near the harbour. Owner Bruno Castro is multi-lingual and friendly. While the place is popular with swimmers wanting to grab a quick bite, we recommend ordering one of the seafood signature dishes such as fried fish with limpet rice and salad three hours in advance.

The view here is the real wow factor as you have the ocean with volcanic rock on the left, a small black sandy beach so typical for this area on the right, and mountains with terraced vineyards around. The famous waterfall called Véu da Noiva (Bride's Veil) cascading into the ocean can be seen from here, too. This is an idyllic and picturesque place to have lunch after enjoying some time in the water.

Casa de Palha, Santana

Santana is in the north of Madeira about 40 km away from Funchal. It is well-known for its traditional stone houses with triangular-shaped thatched roofs and colourful front doors. These dwellings are no longer in use but have been preserved as a museum in Santana. Casa de Palha (meaning “thatched house”) restaurant is in the nearby village of São Jorge, replicating the typical wooden, thatched houses of this northern region.

With great vibes, a relaxed atmosphere and stunning countryside, this is a great place to sample the traditional dishes typical of north Madeira such as meat stew and bread soup.

Cafetaria da Quinta das Cruzes, Funchal

Alberto Silva is the president of Madeira’s bartender association. Having worked in hospitality since the age of 16, opening the restaurant in February 2022 was his dream come true. Located in the beautiful garden of the famous Quinta das Cruzes Museum, the serene and tranquil restaurant overlooks the Funchal bay area.

Silva takes great pride in the fact that 95% of the ingredients on the menu are sourced locally. This is especially true for Madeiran fortified and table wines. Cafetaria da Quinta das Cruzes is one of the few restaurants on the island where various local table wines can be ordered by the glass.

Leona De Pasquale
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