If you’re looking for where to eat in Madeira, you’re in for a treat. There is a real foodie scene on the island, with plenty of traditional places but also some cute hipster cafés, and most of it is delicious. Dig out all your clothes with elasticated waistbands.
I love Madeira and I love eating so this is my expert guide to combining the two: I’ve listed the best restaurants in Funchal, the best cafés/snack bars/food stalls in Funchal, and the best places I’ve eaten in other towns around the island that you might find handy on day trips.
While Madeira is an island that everything grows well on due to its perfect climate, vegetarian and vegan food can be hard to find. It’s definitely a meat-heavy place, so if like us you very rarely eat meat, it’s worth doing a bit of planning ahead.
Obviously, all this food needs washing down with some booze so don’t miss my other post on where to drink in Funchal.
Anyway, on to the eating…
The best restaurants in Funchal, Madeira
Zarcos (don’t be alarmed off by their 2001-style website) has the best steaks in Madeira, if not the world.
It’s a short climb (seriously, climb) from where we stay in São Gonçalo. Or it’s only a brief bus or taxi journey from the centre of Funchal. It is worth the effort. GO.
It’s excellent value and never full of tourists. Actual real-life local people eat there. The portion sizes may defeat you but it’s just fantastic all round. It’s definitely our favourite, and for people who rarely eat meat, that’s saying something. As well as their famous steak, there are fish options, but vegetarians will struggle.
The dessert of choice is a passion fruit mousse. I don’t know or care if these are homemade or if they come out of an Angel-Delight-style packet. They are everything.
Zarcos is also a good place to get yourself a poncha, Madeira’s delicious official alcoholic drink. It’s lethal and goes down like lemonade. Be warned.
Afternoon tea at Reid’s Palace (vegetarian friendly)
It’s no secret that we enjoy afternoon tea. In fact, we have consumed so many tiny cakes and finger sandwiches over the years that we’re probably classed as experts. And the Reid’s Palace one tops our charts for best afternoon tea ever. Reid’s is a big (pink!) posh old hotel and the afternoon tea is served on a balcony overlooking the sea and the city. Pleasingly, it’s all perfect from beginning to end.
It’s not that cheap at 30€ish a head and the first time we went, we were ready to be disappointed by what we got for the price. But actually, I think it works out pretty good value. I’ve paid £20-odd for posh afternoon teas at home in the UK and been disappointed but at Reid’s, it’s all top quality. Tea is unlimited and you can have seconds of both the sandwiches and the scones. Someone needs to push them to their limits and try to eat 3 scones. Please contact me if you manage this.
Just be prepared, if you’re under 40, to bring the average age down considerably. This is a place that does seem to live up to the Saga holiday stereotype. The OAPs can obviously sniff out a top-quality scone a mile off.
They’re vegetarian-friendly here and also do a pescetarian option.
O Tasco is fairly near where we stay and has loads of amazing seafood. The swordfish, which I had the first time we went, is something we still talk about.
We’ve eaten at O Tasco a few times now and it’s been consistently brilliant. It’s not really the kind of place we’d normally pick out because it is usually full of tourists rather than locals when we’re there, but it’s so good so who cares. As well as all the seafood fun, they also do brilliant sweet potato with honey on.
You may have to book because it gets very busy, especially at weekends. It’s handily located near one of our favourite bars for a pre-eating drink, Barreirinha Bar Café, where you can sit outside overlooking the sea.
Restaurante Dos Combatentes
Combatentes was the first place we ever ate in Madeira back in February 2014. We’ve been back again and again since and it’s always a solid choice. They cater okay to vegetarians with tasty stuffed tomatoes and veg, but it’s more of a fish-based menu.
It’s nothing posh but it’s tasty, traditional Portuguese food with the typical big portions of veg. Also, it’s handily close to Blandy’s and all the shops if you want to eat straight after doing something else.
Hamburgueria do Mercado (vegan friendly)
This is a new burger restaurant we found on our last trip. As well as the usual meaty burgers, it serves vegan and veggie options (hooray!). It’s a chain from Lisbon but decent quality. This was something Funchal was lacking before so I was chuffed when we found it. The chips are really nice but the vegan mushroom burger was an absolute dream.
It was a right bargain at €20 between us with drinks.
Pizzaria Pico da Atalaia 2 (vegetarian friendly)
This was a new one to us on our last trip. We found it by walking past it when emerging from an amazing new bar (Revolucion: see ‘where to drink in Funchal’) and seeing it absolutely rammed with locals on a Sunday night. I made a mental note to come back later in the week. It had plenty of options and pizzas were incredibly cheap for the quality.
They’re all that thin crispy type of pizza that beats doughy thick ones hands down. Delicious. Oh and the fresh cheese starter/side is worth a go too. Fresh cheese is one of our favourite things whenever we go to Madeira or Portugal in general so we always eat at least one tonne of it every trip.
The best cafés, snack bars, food stalls and bakeries in Funchal, Madeira
Avenida Do Mar 16, Funchal (and various branches around the city)
This isn’t some cute and cosy hidden gem bakery, it’s a small chain and very modern. But everything we’ve had from Opan has been spot on. There’s a branch on the seafront, so perfect to pick up some delicious savoury breaded fish things and a selection of pastries to eat as you wander down the harbour.
There’s also a branch near both my favourite shop and bar in Madeira, and we always end up going in at least once. Not going to lie, many of those trips are to use their toilet while the other of us queues for a pastel de nata. I can also 100% recommend their salami cake, which isn’t some kind of terrifying concoction made from salami the meat. It’s a layered chocolate thing, all deliciously cold and creamy inside. There’s also some kind of custard-based sandwich that I’m always tempted by but it’s huge so haven’t quite worked up to it yet. That’s a 2019 goal.
All the branches of Opan we’ve been to (5, at last count) have been good. If you need a cheap lunch, they always have offers on and if you need a sugar fix, you’ll be deliberating for a while.
They’ve never let us down. Thanks, Opan. Thopan.
Snack/street food vans, Funchal seafront
Along the sea front in Funchal, you’ll find this little gaggle of vans selling ice cream, juice, beer, coffee, pasteis de nata, and something else that escapes me. It’s all cheap and really good.
The ice cream is Mr-Whippy-esque, which if you’re a regular follower, you’ll know I have a deep-rooted addiction to. You can also skip the pointlessness of a cone and have it piped straight into a cup. Living the actual dream.
A Confeitaria bakery
We’d never been here till our last trip, but apparently it’s the #1 bakery in Funchal on TripAdvisor. There are quite a few branches, but the one we were into was on R. dos Aranhas, which is near my favourite shop and bar and shopping centre. In fact, this is the nicest bit of the city IMO and all the good stuff is round there.
Anyway yes, cake. Pastries. Happiness.
Coraco Vegano (100% vegan!)
We increasingly eat vegan food most of the time at home, and finally we’ve found an amazing vegan café/restaurant in Funchal. We’d dabbled with seafood and cheese on other nights so this was very welcome.
I had a vegan plate for €14, featuring crispy seitan, Japanese-style veggies and rice. I felt like after a week of gorging on filth, my body was very grateful for having something green and healthy in it.
I was loving the interior with all kinds of spray paint and plants everywhere.
Snack Bar Bela 5
No photo of this one, but this is our new favourite snack bar.
Madeiran snack bars are great – full of locals meeting up over a beer/poncha, cheap but tasty homemade food, newspapers on the tables, the doors open so you can gawp at passers-by. All that good stuff. We did a small snack bar crawl on one evening (just wait, it’ll take off as the new pub crawl). We ended up here because it’s near our bus stop. It was everything you need in a snack bar.
Interestingly, snack bars tend to sell off/give away the food they don’t use at the end of the day. I clocked this happening here and thought how disgraceful it is how few places do this at home. What a waste. Just another reason why Madeira has got it spot on when it comes to food.
The best places to eat around the rest of Madeira
You’ll need things to eat on the many day trips you can do from Funchal, so these are mostly lunch-appropriate places dotted around the island. There’s always a decent choice for lunch stuff so you won’t struggle.
Sabores do Curral (Valley Flavours), Curral das Freiras (vegetarian friendly)
Curral das Freiras is one of our favourite day trips from Funchal, which you can read about in this whole post on it. The area is famous for its chestnuts and has an actual festival dedicated to them every year. A lot of places serve them with a sweet sauce. We both think it’s rank, but luckily there’s plenty of other lovely grub at our favourite restaurant there, Sabores do Curral.
You have to sit on the rooftop area to see the view while you eat your lunch, no matter how windy it is. That’s the law.
They have veggie pasta and salad, although many more options if you’re a meat or fish eater.
Restaurante Praça do Engenho, Porto da Cruz (vegetarian friendly)
We’ve eaten here twice on both of our recent visits to our new favourite place, Porto da Cruz (you can read my dedicated post about Porto da Cruz for more info). We do our usual salad each with a portion of chips to share (if you’ve been to Madeira, you’ll know that you end up taking any opportunity to avoid bread). I love it here. I always picture sitting there with a beer and an agua sem gas when I think about Madeira. Currently, I’m in work eating my lunch and I’ve just gone on Google StreetView to stalk the place. Standard.
Anyway, it’s nice grub and you get a great view of the sea and the mountains. Also, usually a good people watch thrown in.
Local Shop, Monte (vegetarian friendly)
It’s about time there was a) somewhere serving craft beer and b) something non-touristy by the cable car. Local Shop ticks both boxes.
And yep, we did the classic League of Gentleman ‘for local people… there’s nothing for you here’. Multiple times. I really hope the owners have called it that in reference to the show, but I feel like it might not quite have made it across to Madeira.
This was a real foodie find, with gorgeous views and interiors. 10/10 on the wallpaper front. And it was all top quality in a very trendy way (dare I say a bit hiptser?), which was a nice contrast to the usual touristy stuff round there.
We had a delicious vegan salad and a veggie sandwich to share, with some freshly pressed blood orange and pomegranate juice and of course, a craft beer. It turns out they’re supplied by Vilhoa, a new craft beer dealers in Funchal. At last, something crafty in an ocean of generic lager. We actually popped into Vilhoa while we were there and it seems like a bit of a craft beer scene might be starting. Read more on that in my ‘where to drink in Funchal’ post…
Olhos d’Agua, Porto Moniz
Porto Moniz is a place for sitting outside to watch the waves crash against the shore. So when we visited for the first time on our last Madeira trip, this is what we were after. But we also needed lunch.
We only wanted salads with a cone of chips to share, and it fulfilled this obligation perfectly well complete with excellent view. But I’ll, er, just leave its usual TripAdvisor reviews here so you can proceed with caution. It honestly was nice when we went. The omelette was tasty, we got the usual colourful array of veg you always get in a Madeiran salad and it was nice and cheap.
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If you enjoyed this blog post on where to eat in Madeira, aka stuffing your face around Funchal and the rest of the island, why not hover over the image below and pin to your Pinterest board? (Desktop only).
You might also like my other Madeira posts:
- 40 things to do in Funchal, Madeira
- The best bars in Funchal, Madeira: in search of poncha and craft beer
- The complete Funchal, Madeira travel guide: what to see, do and eat
- A day trip to Curral das Freiras from Funchal
- A day trip to Porto da Cruz from Funchal
- How to spend a week in Madeira: a 7-day itinerary without a car.
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