Last Year (2019) year, when I was doing a house sit in Carcavelos my friend Rene come to stay for part of it. I wanted to take her somewhere for a traditional Portuguese lunch so I asked in a couple of Facebook expat groups if anyone could give me some suggestions. I was advised to take a trip across the Tagus river to Trafaria to have lunch in Sabores ao Quadrado.
Disclaimer: In the name of full transparency, please be aware that this blog post contains affiliate and referral links which may reward me in the event of a subscription or sale (at no extra cost for you).
It turned out to be one of the most enjoyable experiences of the entire 5 weeks. Not only did we have a wonderful lunch (well, two actually because we went back another day) but we enjoyed a scenic ferry trip and a wander around the picturesque fishing village. Even the presence of the Silopor deep water terminal for international grain transshipment didn’t, in my opinion, take away from the beauty of the place. Rather, it seemed to create such a stark contrast that the beauty of the village shone even brighter.
To traverse the river we took a ferry from Belem but it is also accessible by road, taking the route across the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge. There are five different ferry routes that run from various ports across the river, some much more frequently than the one to Trafaria which only runs approx every hour. It takes about 25 minutes to arrive at Trafaria, stopping on the way at Porto Brandao. The 11.30 ferry was ideal for us to arrive in time to have a little wander around before lunch. Ferry tickets cost €1.25 each way and as we already had the weekly Beach Ticket for the train it seemed like a very inexpensive day out.
The Beach Ticket is available in the summer months and gives unlimited travel on the train that runs from Cais do Sodre, in Lisbon to Cascais. It cost €12 when we were there and can be purchased from the ticket machines at any station or from the ticket offices at either end of the line.
Although we did have a little trouble finding the place on the first day (the mobile data on my phone had run out) it is actually very straightforward to get to it. When you exit the ferry terminal turn right and you will see a small roundabout take the road that heads away from the water and you will find it on your right about 200 metres up the road.
There are, of course other restaurants along the shore, with marvellous views out across the river but these have tourist prices with main courses being maybe €12 – €15. I am a great believer in taking a short walk away from the main thoroughfares, you will always find somewhere not only less expensive but usually much more interesting.
And interesting is exactly what Sabores was. It was slightly confusing because the menu was, of course, in Portuguese so there was only some of it that I was able to understand AND there was a queue. However, I broke my rule of never queuing for anything on this occasion (when there is food involved I can make an exception). Once we were comfortably seated at our outdoor table the waitress asked if we wanted meat or fish and, as we both wanted fish, we were directed to the fish fridge beside the door. It was decided that Rene would go and see what information she could glean about ordering and I was a touch jealous when I saw her having a bit of banter with some of the locals.
Still unsure what exactly we were going to be served we began nibbling at the olives and bread that arrived at our table along with 1/2 litre of wine each. I also had a little wander around the side of the wicker partition to watch the guy cooking the fish on the outside charcoal grill. This is very common in these small fishing villages, and it makes for a mouthwatering smell, not only while awaiting your food, but for hours afterwards as the ashes cool down.
When our main courses arrived I was stunned by the size of my salmon steak, it filled the plate, and Rene’s sardines kept her occupied for quite some time. I never take sardines, I just simply can’t cope with the bones but they did look and smell delicious. Along with the fish we were served boiled potatoes and salad. Then, as if we hadn’t had enough at that stage, we were asked what dessert we wanted! I think, from memory that we both had the Crème brûlée type dish which was substantial and delicious.
Our total bill for the 2 lunches was €17. We had been rather extravagant and ordered the most expensive things on the menu! If only we had been wiser it would have only been €6.50 each instead of €8.50.
To round off our lunch we had a delightful encounter with a lovely Portuguese family who were very interested in who we were and where we had come from. The grandmother of the family, who seemed to be the only one who spoke any English, told us that she was in her 80s and everyone else did the customary smiling and head nodding. I really wish I had asked for a photo of the group but too late now.
After lunch we dandered back down to the shore, watched some fishermen gutting some fish and had coffee in another small cafe for next to nothing (€1.90 for a double espresso and a meia de leite). Then, fully satisfied and delighted with our day out, we headed home on the ferry with some great memories and a promise to return (which we did on a very foggy day which lent itself to some beautiful photographs).
Have you ever considered becoming a house sitter?
Get 25% off
If you are interested in registering with Trusted House Sitters either as a house sitter or a homeowner you can use this link or simply use the code RAF232761 at check out. I also benefit by getting 2 months free registration.