LDNGuide

The Best Portuguese Restaurants In London

Where to drop in for a natter and a nata, graze on a few petiscos, and have a raucous all-night party fuelled by vinho verde and seafood stew.
The Best Portuguese Restaurants In London image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Unlike a certain well-known chain, London’s Portuguese restaurants are full of heart. Cafes and delis are all-day affairs, where you can pop in for a salt cod fritter, a few petiscos, a brilliant seafood stew, or simply a natter and an ice-cold Super Bock. Bustling restaurants are filled with families loudly celebrating birthdays, the vinho verde flowing. And bars double as a community centre, karaoke hall, football supporters’ club, and general hangout for every generation. 

London’s significant Portuguese community has been around Little Portugal since the 1960s, and now also scattered out west around Golborne Road and in Leyton to the east. While there are places that capture some of that heritage, London’s newer mix of wine bars and restaurants, highlighting Portugal’s underrated vinho and quality produce, are worth seeking out too.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Koray Firat

Portuguese

Stockwell

$$$$Perfect For:Sports!Special OccasionsBig Groups

Step into A Toca on a weekend lunchtime and you’ll see large families celebrating birthdays, big screens showing Portuguese football, and cheap vinho verde flowing. Lunch at the Stockwell spot is a paean to Portugal, from the couvert of bread, olives, and tuna and sardine paste, to the quality olive oil on the tables. Food is taken seriously here, portions are huge, and with judicious ordering, you can eat very reasonably. The grilled meats are excellent, the bacalhau à brás—salt cod cooked with shoestring fries, fried onions, olives and scrambled eggs—is heavy on cod, very eggy, and not overly salty, and the polvo à lagareiro features perhaps the most tender octopus in London.

photo credit: Casa Do Frango

Casa Do Frango is a small chain, with four dotted around central London. They all provide a terracotta plaster and foliage-heavy backdrop for crowd-pleasing group dinners, and execute one dish much better than a certain well-known mega-chain. Here piri piri chicken is cooked in the Algarvian way: small, spatchcocked birds, charred until crisp, basted in homemade chilli sauce flavoured with bay, lemon, and whisky. There are a handful of small plates but, frankly, all you need is chicken, chips, ‘Casa rice’ (with chorizo, plantain, and chicken skin), salad, a draught Super Bock, and you’ll be happy.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Stumbling into Sporting Clube De Londres, something of a shrine to Sporting Clube de Portugal, one of Lisbon’s two big football clubs, feels a bit like gatecrashing. Part cafe, restaurant, community centre, karaoke hall, casino, bar, and general hangout, atmosphere is as much part of the appeal as the food. Inside, builders drink espressos and gamble on the fruit machines on their lunch breaks. At night, football or live music appease the raucous crowd. The food is all grand, the potions enormous, but don’t miss the clams in a winey, garlicky, oily, lemony sauce. You’ll need a whole baguette to mop it up, which they’ll eagerly provide.

O Cantinho De Portugal serves many of the same dishes you’ll find at most Portuguese restaurants in London but, not only does it excel at almost all of them, it adds a nice touch in highlighting Portugal’s regionality: frango a guia from the Algarve, porco à alentejana from Alentejo, and so on. Whether a quiet midweek lunch or busy weekend meal, O Cantinho in Stockwell is always a safe bet, and usually packed out with families, either here for a meal or a coffee at the bar. Moelas à portuguesa, a chicken gizzard stew, is a must-order starter: heavy with garlic, wine, and olives, it gives off cacciatore vibes. Sardines, creamy bacalhau com natas, and genuinely excellent fries are all recommended in this welcoming family-run spot.

Tucked behind the Camden Belushi’s, O Tino is a popular pre-Koko or Jazz Cafe spot and often rammed. This diminutive restaurant is simply decorated—screens showing Porto or Benfica are the main adornments—and has arguably the friendliest staff in London who are particularly generous with the port. The menu spans Portuguese classics, and gambas à Tino is a must: fat, juicy prawns in a silky tomatoey sauce with huge amounts of garlic. Pork à alentejana also stands out—a hulking pile of pork and clams on fried potatoes that soak up the surf-and-turf juices. The owner hails from Angola and her homemade chilli sauce is extremely fiery. On weekends, Angolan dishes like muamba de galinha, a spicy chicken stew, might appear if you’re lucky.

Smaller than most spots in Little Portugal, Velho Portugal more than makes up for it in charm, from the brick walls to repurposed wine barrel furniture. Portion sizes are gigantic, and this is the place to bring a group of friends (book ahead), order a bunch of petiscos, and see where the night takes you. Of those petiscos, the enormous pile of clams in white wine sauce is superb, while juicy, plump prawns in a Dracula-repelling garlic sauce and grilled sardines are on point. Go for the francesinha too: Porto’s outlandish ham, sausage, steak, cheese, and fried egg sandwich doused in rich sauce. It’s heavy but delicious, and comes with excellent fries. 

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Pedro’s is a cosy wine bar on the Bermondsey Beer Mile and a perfect hideaway from the stag do hordes. The staff are friendly and highly knowledgeable about Portuguese wines, offering sips of several bottles. And there are Portuguese flourishes, most notably a fridge with pre-prepared desserts (a lovely touch, get the rich chocolate and olive oil mousse). The small plates are mostly stellar, especially a smoky feijoada and wonderful tempura green beans, the music not overwhelmingly loud, and the mood lighting makes it one of London’s best date spots. 

Tucked under an arch away from the chaos of Borough Market, Bar Douro is a welcome respite. The first thing that hits you in this tiny spot is the smell of meat and fish cooking on coals. Second is the decor: blue and white Portuguese tiling, just on the right side of cliché. Inside it’s only bar stools—while not ideal for those needing lumbar support, it is for a couple in the early stages of romance. The wines, especially from the Douro Valley, are excellent. The food mostly revolves around small plates—bacalhau à brás is an oily, glistening delight and monkfish tail on garlicky green sauce expertly grilled—and the set lunch menu is a steal too. 

Cosy and casual, A Portuguese Love Affair is the kind of all-day spot found all over Hackney: breakfast, baked goods, coffee, light lunches, and natural wines. This makes it a magnet for the local creative, artsy crowd. Unlike most, it focuses solely on Portuguese food. So those baked goods include a mouthwatering meat bola, or a ham and chouriço-stuffed brioche-like bead, while the short lunch menu includes on-point bacalhau à brás, bifana, and vegan options (relatively rare in Portuguese spots). They’ve won awards for their pastel de nata, and it’s easy to see why. They are probably the best in the city: on the runny side but utterly delicious. 

There are several Portuguese-run caffs in London, combining bacon butties with seafood petiscos. Palmeira in Leyton is a fantastic deli-cum-greasy spoon, popular with families and Orient fans on weekends, and locals popping by for coffee and pastry during the week. All the British breakfast classics are present and correct (get an egg sandwich in a huge, crispy Portuguese roll), or opt for one of Portugal’s two standout sandwiches, the prego and bifana. The latter, when ordering the ‘especial’, is a behemoth: layers of juicy grilled pork heavily marinated in garlic and white wine, ham, melted cheese, lettuce and a runny fried egg. Finish with a coffee or sweet treat—try the brilliantly fluffy rice muffin—and you’ll be out for a tenner.

photo credit: Koray Firat

Funchal Bakery in Brixton is the platonic ideal of a Portuguese cafe: equal parts bakery, deli, cafe, caff, bar, general hangout (there are even fruit machines). Stock up on Portuguese products like cheese and olives, sip an explosive espresso at the bar with the old timers, and tuck into one of the city’s best pastéis de nata, which is crispy, creamy, sweet, and not too eggy. You could still leave with change from a tenner. A freezing cold bottle of Super Bock with an excellent salt cod fritter makes for the perfect afternoon snack, while at lunchtime there’s English caff food alongside Portuguese equivalents like pregos (steak sandwich) and bitoque (steak with fried egg).

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8.2

Part social club, part raucous sing-a-long, Sporting Clube De Londres is a community hall of a restaurant serving great grilled fish, piri-piri chicken, and more.

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