In 2009, Elizabeth Montalbano contacted me because she wanted to write a guest post about a life-changing trip she took to Aljezur, Portugal, to learn how to surf. Little did she (or I) realize just how life-changing that vacation would be. Fast-forward four years later, she contacts me to let me know that she moved to the charming little town of Aljezur and would I be kind enough to let my readers know about her cozy guesthouse, Casa Boa Vista, which she rents out. Here, Elizabeth tells us where and what you should eat in Aljezur.
With all of the surfing, hiking and general beach-ing you’re bound to be doing in Aljezur and the surrounding area, you’re bound to work up an appetite. For the self-catering types, you can check out Aljezur’s Mercado Municipal, which is located in the square just near the bridge in town. It offers for purchase fresh fish, fruit and vegetables every day.
Every Saturday morning from about 8:00 am on there also is a local farmer’s market in the Espaco Multiusos Aljezur facility, located across the bridge and up the hill on the east side of town. Here local agriculturalists, including organic farmers, also sell fresh vegetables, fruit, fresh bread and pastries, as well as offer plants and flowers. Get there early, though (early meaning before 10:30 am) to get premium selection.
If you prefer to let someone else do the cooking for you, there are numerous restaurants in the area serving excellent Portuguese cuisine.
Each of the local beaches has its own beach bar/restaurant, the liveliest of those being Restaurant Praia da Arrifana. Half surfer beach bar, half gourmet restaurant, it’s the place to see and be seen during the summer, frequented by locals and tourists alike. The restaurant features a varied menu of both local and gourmet dishes – my favorite is the fried cod fish (“bacalhau” in Portuguese) fritters with tomato rice – with numerous vegetarian options. Caipirinha, made with the Brazilian sugar-cane liquor cachaca, lime and sugar, are a house specialty drink, and on Thursdays and weekends in the summer you can enjoy dinner accompanied by live music on the patio in front of one of the area’s best views.
If you prefer to stay in town, I recommend Pont-a-Pe, located just near the bridge in Aljezur. The restaurant offers classic, fresh and local Portuguese cuisine, with specialties including black pork (“porco preto” in Portuguese), fresh fish dishes and of course a healthy selection of local Portuguese wines. After dinner hours on spring and summer weekends, the downstairs turns into a nightclub where you can dance into the wee hours.
No visit to Aljezur would be complete with trying the local digestive, medronho — or officially, “aguardente de medronhos.” This rather strong spirit is best sampled after a large meal to help digest it or, if you’re one of the older Aljezur local gentleman or a fisherman, at around 9am to get the morning juices flowing.
Said to be hallucinogenic in large amounts (personally I have not drunk enough in one session to know!), this local Portuguese firewater made from the berries of the medronho tree that grows locally, and is mainly produced privately by local farmers the same way it’s been made for hundreds of years. The Portuguese insist medronho has medicinal value — one elderly woman I know dabs a bit of it on her temples when she has a headache. No matter —I recommend drinking medronho with a bit of caution but enough enthusiasm to clink glasses with a local and utter a hearty “Saude!” when you enjoy your first taste.
Want to experience the Southwest Coast of Portugal like a local? Check out Casa Boa Vista on its website or Facebook page, and don’t forget to read Elizabeth Montalbano’s guide to Aljezur. Photos by Cassar Photography.