I had lunch at Restaurante António Padeiro in a recent visit to Alcobaça in central Portugal. The food was recommended, but I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect. So I went with an open mind and an empty stomach… and left so pleasantly surprised I had to write a post on this hidden gem.
We got to Restaurante António Padeiro and sat outside in the esplanada, the outdoor seated area, which was covered by a large awning on a small street, but with a direct line of sight to one section of the Alcobaça Monastery, which is a mere 1 minute walk away. If you opt to sit outside, however, make sure to peek through the windows and even go to the bathrooms downstairs just so you have an excuse to admire the decor. The upstairs is a bit more formal than the downstairs and almost looks like a living or dining room in someone’s home. The downstairs features walls covered in photos, old silverware, lace doilies, and vintage TVs and radios. Everything downstairs (bathrooms included) adds a certain old-world charm to the place.
The restaurant serves traditional Portuguese food, which is perfect for tourists visiting the Alcobaça Monastery looking to sample some regional dishes. They offer a large and tempting tray of starters including Portuguese cheeses, cured meats, and spreads. If you’re trying to limit your bread intake, please take a brief respite from that, because the bread selection they give you is absolutely delicious: not something you want to miss! For our mains, we ordered a cod with a cornbread & farinheira crumble topping and roast potatoes (for two). It was a fine example of Portuguese cooking and I highly recommend it. We also got a steak with french fries and a fried egg on top, smothered in a light gravy – very Portuguese!
It’s absolutely crucial to leave room for dessert when you go to Restaurante António Padeiro. You’ll be presented with a tray full of sweet treats, many of them convent sweets. Among the selection, you’ll find cakes, mousses, tarts, and fruit. The convent sweets, however, are the stars of the show. Two of them are house specialties that you can only find at this particular restaurant. We tried one of these two delicacies: a sort of pie with a convent sweet and almond filling and whole pine nuts, sprinkled with powdered sugar. It was heavenly! I’d never tasted anything quite like it, and I regret not buying another one for the road… We also ate another convent sweet, which was delicious as well, but definitely richer than the pie. So it really depends on how sweet you like your dessert, but there’s something for everyone.
I hope you get the chance to visit this charming little restaurant next time you’re in or near Alcobaça. Do yourself a favor and go hungry – you won’t regret it!
Location: Rua Dom Maur Cocheril, nº27
Alcobaça, Portugal 2460-032