Looking for Cascais restaurants? Here are our favourite restaurants in the Portuguese coastal town, plus where to get the best custard tarts, seafood stew and passion fruit sorbet.
Cascais, a seaside town just 30 minutes from Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, attracts both city dwellers looking for a laid-back weekend by the beach and families keen to explore the rugged, rocky coastline. It’s where Portuguese royalty used to spend their summers but Cascais offers far more than fine-dining – here you’ll find made-from-scratch fruit sorbets, spiced veggie shakshukas and slices of caramelised almond tart.
Best restaurants in Cascais
Marisco na Praça
There are no tablecloths or napkins here – just brown paper and kitchen towels, on simple tables in a room decked with traditional Azulejo tiles. The focus is rightly on the bustling fish market on the other side of a glass wall partition – head to the counter and choose your catch (it changes daily, but expect everything from fresh oysters to gnarly barnacles), then watch as chefs prepare simple dishes from it.
If you’re after something light, order a cold platter to share; or go straight for the hot stuff. Blushed, plump prawns swim in hot garlic juices (order extra bread to mop up leftover fish-infused olive oil), while steaming pots of seafood rice soaked in white wine come packed with meaty lobster and clams. Waiters recommend adding homemade hot sauce to turn up the heat, but use with caution as it’s pretty punchy stuff. There’s only one dessert to consider ordering, and that’s the almond tart – also a popular sweet in nearby Sintra – with a crumbly shortbread base and sticky caramelised nut topping.
Café Galeria House of Wonders
This laid-back, rainbow-hued spot serves some of the best veggie food in town, including homemade tortilla wraps and cumin-spiked shakshuka. With four entrances, it’s a little confusing to find… but climb the cobbled steps to the vibrant roof terrace, adorned with plants and sunshine-yellow bean bags, for the best seats.
There’s no menu, just a counter displaying all the dishes you can have, from fruit-filled granola and sweet potato salads to vegetable-packed, wholemeal-crusted tarts. Pile your plate high, meze-style, to try a little of each. Head up another set of stairs and you’ll find a dinky juice bar, where chilled staff blitz mangos and passion fruit together and sugar-free raw berry cheesecakes are served by the slice.
Bago du Vin
It’s worth a visit to this wine bar even if you’re not staying at its base, the Intercontinental Hotel. Open since January 2019, the glass and chrome-framed space is as cool and crisp as the Vinho Verde served here, leaving the panoramic sea views to do the talking. Seats are dotted across a decked terrace, but sink into a sofa if you’re planning to stay a while.
The menu offers wines by the glass, but if you can’t tell your Arinto from your Encruzado, ask the sommelier for their suggestion. For an easy-drinking option, sip on the mineral Druida Reserva from Dão, or go sweet with a silky tawny port from the north. If you want a long, lazy lunch, order grazing boards that come with a selection of Portuguese cheeses, from the slightly acidic semi-hard Queijo de Nisa to Queijo de Azeitão, a milky, butter-like cheese that you can (and should) eat straight from the spoon.
Mar do Inferno
Work up an appetite with a walk to Boca do Inferno, a striking formation of cliffs also known as Hell’s Mouth, where you’ll find Mar do Inferno tucked inside the small bay. Book ahead, and ask for a window seat to get the best views of the rocky coast and crashing waves. Given the location, it’s little surprise that seafood is the focus here, with brill, red mullet and snapper coming simply grilled, and huge platters loaded with juicy tiger prawns and clams also available.
Best bakeries in Cascais
You’ll find Sacholinha on Cascais’ main, palm-fringed, street, before you reach the promenade. It’s a traditional bakery with glass counters spanning the whole café – get there for an 8am breakfast of blistered pastiche de natas (the custard, so generously administered, spills out when you bite into the flaky pastry), or take your pick of pastries to nibble on throughout the day, from egg chestnuts and butter muffins to Berlin ball cream, a doughnut-shaped pastry filled with golden crème pâtissière. Those in the know stock up on miniature baked cheesecakes to take to the beach.
Take a ticket and join the queue at this old-school bakery, where police officers, surfers and elderly couples alike start their day sipping espressos and tucking into simple ham sandwiches. Wait until your number is called before ordering bollos de arroz, a golden madeira-style rice muffin with sweet citrus notes. Sit at the high mirrored bar, or take your coffee outside onto the cobbled pavement. It’s cash only, and the pace is fast, so make your decision quickly or you’ll risk losing your place.
R. Frederico Arouca 23, 2750-642 Cascais
Restaurants in the main square tend to attract a touristy crowd, but Bijou is well-established and well-regarded by locals. A narrow window tempts with its glossy custard tarts, but there are four specials to try, the best of which is the jésuite de amendoa – a flaky, frangipane-filled triangular pastry topped with almonds that’s bigger than the size of your hand. Unless you’re ravenous, get one to share. Those with a sweet tooth should order a noz – a set egg yolk custard coated in crystallised sugar and topped with a whole walnut. Sip espressos as you queue, or order thick hot chocolates from the machine that churns away on the counter top.
Best ice cream in Cascais
This family-run ice cream parlour has been in the town since 1949, and while it now has 10 shops across Portugal (including in Lisbon, Porto and Belem), all the ice cream is still made in their small lab just a 15-minute drive from Cascais. Fruit (all seasonal, sourced from Portugal and peeled by hand) is mixed with one of four bases: milk, cream, vanilla or ice and sugar.
Pay first, then take your ticket to the counter where staff in candy cane-coloured stripes let you try before you pick your scoop. Try zingy passion fruit and tangy raspberry, or Portuguese specialities such as sweet egg and pine nut and (a must-order) Bloacha Maria (a thin wafer biscuit) with milky, vanilla notes. It’s not just the ice cream that’s made by hand; the wafer biscuits for the cones are, too, tinged with a delicate lemon flavour unique to Santini. Staying in an apartment in the town? Make full use of their home delivery service and get tubs of the good stuff sent straight to your door.
Best foodie experiences in Cascais
Cascais traditional market
Open on Wednesdays and Saturdays, this traditional food market has been going since 1952 but has maintained its rustic charm. Families bring home-grown fruit and veg to trade while fishermen sell the day’s catch, so you might go home with everything from fava beans and romesco to snook and octopus.
Expect a fast pace and raucous shouting, with old-school sellers offering 2kg of strawberries for €2.50 and regulars bustling their way through the open space. Get there early in the morning for the best haul before it slows down, post-lunch, as stall holders pack up their produce and dig into prego sandwiches.
R. Padre Moisés da Silva 29, 2750-437
Sign up for a class at this marina-front cookery school and tailor your session to what you fancy. Group sizes can be as small as you like, so just call a few days in advance to book. Learn how to recreate traditional Portuguese dishes, from simple pan-fried salt cod served with migas – a side dish made of blitzed kidney beans, corn bread, cabbage, garlic and olive oil – to citrus-spiked pudding rice, boiled with water, condensed milk and cinnamon for a comforting, creamy dessert.
For more information see visitcascais.com
Words and photographs by Ellie Edwards