At the centre of Central Portugal lies Coimbra, an ancient city with a young student heart. The food scene in Coimbra covers it all, from fine dining and chic restaurants to rooftop bars and late-night kebab shops. There are half a dozen must-try regional sweets, plus hearty local specialities like chanfana (rich goat stew) and Bairrada-style leitão (roast suckling pig).
Here’s my pick of restaurants and where to eat and drink in Coimbra.
Where to eat in Coimbra
Ossos. Bones. The specialty of the house. When you order this dish you receive a small silver tray loaded high with the spine bones of a pig that have been simmered and stewed in a peppery broth. Delicious? Absolutely. But that’s just to start. At this tiny six-table true tasca it’s also essential to order wild boar. Ask for a half dose of the feijoada de javali (bean stew with boar) or oven-baked boar and a jug of white or red wine. This place isn’t a secret and has very few tables, so arrive early and be nice to Mario, your host. Be early or be prepared to wait for the next sitting – like we had to. Cash only.
The best date night restaurant in Coimbra must be Refeitro da Baixa. Slightly more upmarket, this gorgeous little restaurant shares the space with the last ceramic factory in Coimbra (which has apparently been open since 1824). Our table was next to a roaring fireplace and beneath the giant flue of the former kiln. We could see right into the workshop through big glass windows. Finally, a restaurant that combines my two loves – artisanal ceramics and food! Food-wise, the tuna ceviche might be the best and most interesting I’ve tried in Portugal, and the confit bacalhau (salted cod) was a perfect modern take on bacalhau com o grão-de-bico (salted cod with chickpeas). Pair with a local wine from Bairrada, of course.
The best chanfana (goat stew) I’ve ever eaten is at this small restaurant in downtown Coimbra. The waiter ran over with huge oven mitts grasping a bubbling terracotta pot loaded with our dark, rich goat stew. Once we stuffed ourselves silly on the generous portion of meat, we wanted to bottle up the remaining broth and flavour our lives with it. The alheira (smoked brid sausage) croquettes and vegetarian mushroom risotto were also great, and the staff were super kind.
Read next: 36 hours in Coimbra
Doppo is a double threat, peddling both the best specialty coffee AND artisan Italian gelato in Coimbra. We stopped for a great (and cheap, compared to Lisbon) flat white and returned later in the afternoon to try classic and fun gelato flavours. I had the chocolate, fig and almond gelato, and Jorge tried the banoffee rum. Excellent texture and consistency.
More top restaurants, tascas and bars to try in Coimbra
I can’t eat everywhere, but it’s on my list. Here’s where else I’d love to eat at in Coimbra:
- Arcadas: Coimbra’s top fine-dining restaurant
- O Palco: Kilometre-zero that opened early 2023
- Solar do Bacalhau: This is a Coimbra institution with high-quality, low-price salted cod
- Sete: modern Portuguese food
- Praxis: local craft beer brewhouse and pub
- Cordel Maneirista: Chic spot with views from the opposite side of the river
- O Mimo: a cheap, traditional tasca (tavern)
- Dux Taberna Urbana: Petiscos (tapas) and wine bar
- Tapas nas Costas: petiscos and drinks
- Fangas Veg: Vegetarian and vegan petiscos in Coimbra
Where to drink with a view in Coimbra
For brilliant views over Coimbra as the sun sets, venture to this little cafe for a beer or drink. Loggia is set on an ultra-modern terrace within the former Bishop’s Palace and the Machado de Castro Museum. Alternatively, grab a takeaway beer from a small bar and join the students at the miradouro viewpoint next door.
Another killer spot for drinks with a view in Coimbra, Passaporte’s location is unbeatable. This very cool ‘lounge bar” is set in a historic manor where sunset drinks can turn into a special dinner date.
Sweets and desserts in Coimbra
Every single town in Portugal seems to have a local sweet and they always relate back to the church. Coimbra is filled with ancient convents and monasteries, and – surprise, surprise – there are half a dozen traditional confections to try, some whose recipes date back hundreds of years.
- Pastéis de Santa Clara
- Pudim das Clarissas
- Bolo de Santo António
- Biscoitos Académicos
In the city you can also find pastries from the greater Coimbra egion, including:
- Pastéis and queijadas from Tentúgal
- Nevadas de Penacova
- Queijadas de Pereira
Legend has it that this cafe, located next to the namesake monastery, opened in 1530 as the “church of the poor” so patrons didn’t bother the monks or aristocracy. After the 1822 revolution, the smaller building wasn’t needed and so it became a cafe. This all said, Café Santa Cruz only officially opened in 1923 and has since been a meeting point for writers, journalists and literary types. The space feels distinctly medieval inside with vaulted ceilings and dark wood features. Drop by for a bica (espresso) inside or on the terrace, and return for Fado later on. Here you can try Crúzios.
Where to eat local sweets in Coimbra? Briosa! This bakery has served the population of Coimbra since 1955. Order a Pastel Tentúgal, Queijada Coimbra, Pastel de Santa Clara or Suspiro Briosa to taste some of the award-winning sweets.
That’s my guide on where to eat and drink in Coimbra. If you have more suggestions, leave me a comment below…
And… if you want that late-night kebab you’ll find half-a-dozen spots along Avenida Sá da Bandeira.
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