Welcome to the Best Restaurant of Cape Verde 2013. Since 2012 Atlantico Weekly brings its readers a yearly vote on the country’s best restaurant. Why? We believe the country has some excellent restaurants, several of which are run by international standards or are quite unique. We also believe this vote may serve as an inspiration to other restaurants to perform better.
The first time we did this, we kept things simple. In 2012 we selected ten restaurants in Cape Verde that we at Atlantico Weekly thought were very good, if not the best ones in the country. Then we gave you, our readers, the last word in a poll. O Cordel in Mindelo convincingly won the poll and was – according to readers of Atlantico Weekly – Cape Verde’s Best Restaurant in 2012!
This year we did things a bit differently and we gave you – our readers – also a say in the nomination of our candidates for Best Restaurant of Cape Verde 2013. We called you to nominate one or more restaurants that you think are in a position to challenge last year contenders. With some input by our readers we have drawn up the 2013 list of candidates for Atlantico Weekly’s poll on Cape Verde’s Best Restaurant.We also used a number of informers, some of which are restaurant owners themselves. To learn more about how and why we chose the candidates, read the paragraphs at the bottom of this page.
Voting closed September 2nd 2013. Readers of Atlantico Weekly have cast their votes for Best Restaurant of Cape Verde 2013. O Pescador in Praia has convincingly won the poll and is – according to readers of Atlantico Weekly – Cape Verde’s Best Restaurant in 2013!
The restaurants ended up in the following order, according to readers of Atlantico Weekly:
No 1. O Pescador (Praia Guesthouse) – Praia – Santiago
A great spot for fish, this Portuguese-owned restaurant. Part of the top class Praia Guesthouse, it has a robust looking interior, divided into smoking and non-smoking halves. Fresh fish is exhibited at the entrance and you can make your pick there or consult the extensive menu. Very interesting appetizers are served, like cold rabbit salad or chicken hearts. Good wine list too. One of the priciest restaurants in Cape Verde, but worth it.
No 2. O Cordel – Mindelo – São Vicente
O Cordel convincingly won our 2012 and first ever poll. Though the owners now also run another business in Mindelo, quality and service at O Cordel have remained stable. O Cordel still means excellent food and hospitality. Book well in advance as seating is limited.
No 3. Leonardo Café – Praia – Santiago
We prefer this second outlet of Leonardo’s to the original one on Sal. It is open for both lunch or dinner. Excellent choice of delicious dishes. Leonardo serves Italian, international or locally inspired food. Praia’s Leonardo is smoothly catering to the country’s elites. It’s seen and be seen at this place. And it boasts a very good and attentive staff.
No 4. Santo André Bar-Bistro – Santo André – São Vicente
Santo André is situated opposite the entrance of the Foya Branca Hotel. Going there is worth the long and expensive taxi ride from Mindelo (though it’s a short hop from Cesaria Evora International Airport). The staff and food of this Swedish owned restaurant are both excellent. Food is loosely based on Cape Verde cuisine and prepared with the country’s finest ingredients. Try the leitão (suckling pig), the blood sausage and their homemade ice cream desert, the bomba gelada. For gourmands Santo André, like O Cordel, is even worth a detour to São Vicente.
No 5. Farolin (Odjo d’Agua Hotel) – Santa Maria – Sal
We continue to love this place for its steady cooking and experienced waiters. Farolin is also a great outdoors venue, right by the sea. But the waves never seem to hit you when splashing against the walls. A swell place, or, as the locals say um lugar sab. Fine choice of dishes too, both local and international. Amazingly our Editor keeps things simple here: a grilled tuna steak, fried sweet potatoes on the side and white wine from Fogo (Chá), tud’ di terra!
No 6 (ex aequo). Pont d’Agua – Mindelo – São Vicente
A cool and modern place on the right hand side of the Pont d’Agua waterfront development, serving an interesting line-up of dishes from a (rarely seen in the country) open kitchen. The location of the outdoor tables also offer some welcome relief on hot days. Probably the only place in Cape Verde serving wok cooked vegetables.
No 6 (ex aequo). Avis – Praia – Santiago
Good looking restaurant in the middle of Praia’s historic Platô district. Outdoor tables (on the pedestrian only Rua 5 de Julho) and a more casual restaurant downstairs, but the main place is upstairs (air conditioned). Well decorated and tasty food. Attentive staff. It’s places like this the Platô and other parts of Praia needs more of.
No 8. Chez Loutcha – Mindelo – São Vicente
Chez Loutcha has always been an institution in Mindelo and it continues to be a popular choice. Offering a fine choice of Cape Verde as well as Senegalese food, this places advertises itself as an African restaurant. Not surprisingly, as the owner also has a restaurant in Dakar, Senegal (home to a large Cape Verde community). Chez Loutcha also runs a restaurant in the resort town of Calhau on São Vicente (Sunday buffet lunch only).
No. 9. Leonardo Café – Santa Maria – Sal
The first Leonardo of Cape Verde, this one catering to the tourist crowd on Sal. Only open for dinner. Good wine list, with a good own wine label. Indoors or upstairs seating, the latter in the open though under a roof. Excellent Italian food. The alley next to the restaurant may get noisy though.
No 10. Les Palmiers/La Tortue (Hotel Morabeza) – Santa Maria – Sal
Fine dining at one of the country’s best hotels, the Morabeza. Les Palmiers and La Tortue sit well located on Santa Maria’s best beach. A cosmopolitan place with a good choice of dishes and good service. It’s as simple as that! The place was founded by the legendary Belgian entrepreneur and Sal tourism pioneer Georges Vyncker, who brought along his country’s great catering traditions.
Here is the poll for your reference:
Some background info
Our selection was not done randomly, nor did we do any scientifically backed research on the subject. So what were our criteria? In general, the places on our list are those where you clearly get more than average service and quality. They are all places where you can bring a business partner or have some fine private dining. A real napkin instead of a paper one is usually a good indicator, but there are other good signs to watch. If the restaurant is part of a hotel, it should be open to the local public. It must have well trained and disciplined staff, who are proud of their working place, know what they are doing and pay attention to you and not each other. There should be a certain amount of local content present, for instance by mixing local products such as vegetables or fish among its dishes, as well as serving some traditional Cape Verde meals. These restaurants usually also are nicely decorated and serve an interesting menu (not just serving the usual stuff). Afterwards, you must feel that eating there is a pleasant experience. Of course there should be a fine wine list and – last but not least – the food must be very tasty!
We are aware that not all good eateries in Cape Verde will be able to show up on our poll and we are sorry for that. At this point we’d like to stress that Atlantico Weekly cannot be held responsible for a restaurant’s poor showing in the polls or for a restaurant not being nominated. We are quite aware that the restaurants selected by us are not the only restaurants in the country. There are a lot of places on various islands where you can eat very well and we love these places too. But they may be just a bit too casual for our readers and our list.
September 9th, 2013. All rights reserved by Atlantico Weekly.