Are you a frustrated foodie? Do you feel hampered in your pursuit of good food by the cost? Then follow my Foodie Friday posts and find frugal ways of eating great food. This week I am going to tell you about my lunch in Afurada, a small fishing village near to where I am staying, but first a few tips.
If you have been reading my blog over the last few weeks I am sure you will have realised that I am an extreme budget traveller. My spending budget for a week tends to be around €40 so you might imagine that wouldn’t allow for eating out but it is possible, although not every day. Travelling on such a tight budget has led me to discover some great places and ways of eating, (although I do cook for myself the majority of the time).
There are some simple steps that you can take to reduce the cost and safeguard yourself against a shock when you get the bill. One of the best things you can do is research the customs of the country you will be visiting, you may be surprised at what you discover.
I am currently in Portugal
I am currently in Portugal, where I spend quite a bit of my time and I have have already written about The Custom of The Covert in a previous blog post, it’s worth reading it if you have time. This custom extends to other European countries as well so it’s good to be aware of it. This is quite possibly one of the best money saving tips I can give you.
Here are a few other tips
- Eat out at lunch time instead of in the evening
- Look for places advertising a menu of the day
- Walk back a couple of blocks from the main tourist street/squares
- Eat where the locals eat
- If you want a drink with your meal check the menu before you decide on your restaurant. This can be a major trap, I found in Croatia that a glass of wine was extremely small AND expensive in comparison to many places I have visited. But you can get caught out anywhere if you don’t remain alert, I have paid between 80 cents and €6.00 for a glass of wine in Portugal, I know better now!
- Learn the customs about ordering water in whatever country you are in. For example, if you order water in Portugal it will normally be bottled water and not chilled. It’s OK to ask for tap water though, it is safe to drink.
- It’s also good to check out the customs on tipping in whichever country you are in, it varies greatly from place to place.
- Check the menu, sometimes it’s more expensive to eat outside on a terrace
- In many small snack bar type establishments (pastelarias) it is also even cheaper to eat at the counter (this may involve standing)
- Look for half portions, many places in Portugal offer a ‘meia dose’. This is because the meal is often designed for 2 people to share. A main course in Portugal normally comes served on a platter and you will often see two people sharing. Not everything will be offered as a ‘meia dose’ though so you might just have to eat it all yourself. (For me, this is seldom a problem).
- Don’t be afraid to leave. Seriously, it’s easy sometimes to get so fed up looking for the best option that you go in somewhere and then discover, on looking at the prices, that it’s going to be far too expensive. It is possible to just simply say, sorry, I’ve changed my mind and leave. I’ve done it. Let’s face it you are never going to be back so don’t be embarrassed about it.
My lunch in Afurada
I have been to Afurada before but it was late afternoon so I didn’t eat there although I did enjoy the fishy aromas that were wafting from the ashes of the outdoor BBQs. This is a common practice in Portugal, the food is cooked outside over charcoal.
So, yesterday I walked along the coastline to the village well in time for lunch. Initially, as I looked at the menus on display I was tempted to move on and save my money because a lot of the main courses where over €10 and I didn’t see anywhere with a menu of the day. I guess Afurada has become a bit of a tourist trap due to its close proximity to Porto. However, someone had gifted me some money recently and I thought, for the sake of research, that I would go ahead and have lunch.
I was very early and I could tell by looking at some of the charcoal outside the restaurants that it wouldn’t be ready for a while. I eventually found a place, Taberna São Pedro, where the charcoal was ready and the display of fish and meat outside looked excellent.
Taberna São Pedro
The restaurant is an attractive tiled building on a corner with some seating outside. I decided to sit inside because it was cold yesterday. It is a lovely place, bright and clean and friendly staff, and very clean toilets.
Now, I am not overly adventurous when it comes to fish, I have a bit of a thing about bones so I tend to stick with salmon because I feel safer with it and it’s much more filling than sardines or seafood. It’s a bit of a shame really because the sardines always look wonderful, I would urge you to try them if you ever get the chance, or fish skewers, they always look amazing.
The fish skewers looked delicious. These were cooking just as I left the restaurant.
First things first
The first thing I did was check the menu for the covert prices. Bread was €2.00 and a small salad was €2.00. Unfortunately I can’t remember the price of anything else and the photo I took is too blurred to read, it was a very reflective menu. I think olives might have also been €2.00 but can’t be sure. So, when the waiter arrived at the table with a basket of bread and a fairly sizeable salad I politely declined (não obrigada, or não obrigado if you are a man).
This is one of the difficulties of being a solo traveller. If the bread and salad had been shared between even 2 people it would be much more cost effective but I certainly didn’t want to add another €4.00 to my bill.
The next thing I did was check the price of the wine (there was no menu outside so I hadn’t been able to precheck). The only wines listed were full bottles, or a carafe that was €8.00! I asked the waiter if I could get a glass of wine but no, that was not available so I decided to ask for water. I was hoping that he would bring me a jug of tap water but no, he appeared with a plastic bottle of water.
I thought about this for about all of 5 seconds and then I checked the price. It was €1.40 for the water but a beer was only €1.60 and, as I don’t like drinking from plastic bottles, I asked if I could change it to beer. I know I could have asked for tap water but sometimes I am a little reserved (which may surprise those of you who actually know me).
Of course, by then I had ordered my salmon but the waiter came back over and explained that the salmon came as two pieces and would I like to have just one. I hadn’t seen anything on the menu about half portions, so that is another lesson learned, I should ask in the future.
Perfectly cooked salmon
The salmon duly arrived and was cooked perfectly and was a really good sized portion. Boiled potatoes were also served and, as is common, a large wedge of lemon. If you have never had boiled potatoes with freshly squeezed lemon and olive oil drizzled over them then you really must try it. The only thing I missed was a bit of salad, most place do serve it as part of the main course.
And then the bill came!
When the bill arrived I got a shock! Normally with half portions there is a reduction of about a third in the price. But when my bill arrived it was half the price so only €5.00. I was quite astounded and very pleased that I had managed to have a delicious and filling lunch, with a beer, in quite a touristy place, for only €6.60. Pat on the back to me!
A couple of other recommendations
One of my favourite and most memorable meals was Lunch in Sabores ao Quadrado, Trafaria. This is a fishing village across the river from Lisbon, please go read the blog post, you can click on the underlined link. Seriously you need to know about this place!
Another place that I ate just recently is Galeria De Paris in Porto, which I mention in this blog post – “Self Guided Walking Tour Porto”. You will find it hard to believe what I had there for just €5.40.
How about you?
Have you any special places that you have discovered on your travels or tips on how to eat well and cheaply? I always welcome suggestions and ideas so please comment.
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