EATING OUT in Cape Verde.
If you like fish, you will be in paradise eating out in Cape Verde with an abundance of freshly caught seafood including lobster, tuna, octopus and a wealth of other delicacies to choose from.
You will generally find a good selection of restaurants in the main towns offering different choices of cuisine including local food like Creole and Portuguese specialities. Many restaurants will have live, generally Cape Verdean music, at least one evening a week. If you are as excited about cape verde as we are then why not check out our cape verde property page and see some great bargain prices on making the move.
Eating out in Sao Vicente
You can find a wide range of restaurants in Mindelo and a lively nightlife. Some restaurants enjoy priviledged locations on the beach, some even with live music. The following restaurants are just some of the restaurants available in Mindelo that could be worth a visit.
Mindelo Hotel Restaurant - Situated outside on the west side of the hotel, very popular amongst the tourists.
Pizza Italia - Located below the Hotel Porto Grande with a great selection of pizzas.
Sodade - Located within the Sodade Hotel. This rooftop restaurant offers panoramic views.
The Grill - located just round the corner from the Hotel Porto Grande with a wide selection of Cape Verdean and International cuisine.
Nella's - Located in the centre of Mindelo primarily serving fresh fish and good service.
Dragon - A chinese restaurant in the south central district.
Achote - Serving good quality food with live music on Saturday nights.
Pica Pau - A fantastic fish restaurant well worth a visit, feel free to leave a note on the wall along with many other satisfied customers.
The smaller islands will not have the same choice of restaurants and there may be a little choice on the menu with the only option to eat what they have prepared that day. However, they will want to do their best to please you but they won't be in a terrific hurry, so don't be surprised at slow service, just relax and enjoy the atmosphere and people. Expect to pay between 12 euros - 35 euros for a three-course meal with wine between.
Cape Verdian Foods
Cape Verde's dry, tropical island environment and its role in Portugal's 15th-century colonizations have shaped its cooking traditions. Enslaved Africans brought knowledge of growing and cooking tropical crops. The Portuguese brought livestock. They used Cape Verde for feeding the crews of their sailing ships and as an experimental station for growing foods from the Americas, such as corn, hot peppers, pumpkins, and cassava. They also transplanted sugar,bananas, mangos, papayas, and other tropical crops from Asia. National food preferences, reflected in ritual foods, include an affection for dried corn, either whole kernels (hominy/samp) or ground to various degrees of fineness. The national dish, catchupa, is a stew of hominy and beans with fish or meat. It means home to Cape Verdeans everywhere. Xerem, dried corn pounded in mortar to the fineness of rice, is the staple of feasts. And kuskus, ground finer still and steamed in a distinctive ceramic pot called a binde, is a special treat served hot with butter and milk (kuskus ku leite) or molasses (kuskus ku mel). Cape Verdean Americans maintain most of these national tastes.
Recipes for cachupa vary from island to island and from household to household. On Brava island cachupa is called munchupa. Below are a few Cape Verdian recipes, you may especially be interested in the Cachupa.
The ingredients in a kettle of cachupa may also depend on whether it has been a year of rain or a year of drought. In a good year there will always be greens, mandioca, potatoes, maybe squash, yams, and plenty of pork meat. In a dry year you might have to make due with corn, a handful of beans and a piece of salt pork.
Because cachupa takes a long time to prepare, restaurants put a sign in their windows to advise when they will next be serving it. Cachupa costs around 350/500$.
And don't forget the cachupa guisada for breakfast, where the leftovers are fried over some browned onions and served with a fried egg on top! (cachupa ku ovo stralado)
Canja de galinha, the thick chicken and rice soup is another such dish, mainly served only at wedding, funerals and New Year's eve celebrations or to nurse a sick relative to health.
Fish and Seafoods
Fish lovers are also in for a treat in Cape Verde. Not only is it fresh and delicious, it’s also inexpensive. Do not miss the grilled lobster (one of the main dishes for tourists, price starts at around 1,200$/ £8), juicy giant prawns, fresh tuna, tasty octopus and many other delicacies.
Typical desserts consist of fresh goat's cheese accompanied by local speciality jams and semi-dried fruits.
Supermarkets and Street Food
Supermarkets, markets and bakeries are a good source for cheap picnic lunches, and bottled water is widely available in any ordinary shop (70$ for a 1.5 litre bottle compared to the steep 180$ in hotels).
Homemade sweets are the most common food sold on the streets. Sometimes you will also find women with trays full of little pasteis, fish pastries and fried moreia, moray eel.
And of Course...
You will also be able to find restaurants offering excellent European cuisine throughout the tourist areas.
Local Beer, Wine and Spirits
There are three main beers: Strela, the household brand (around 100$), Superbock and Sagres, imported from Portugal (around 250$). The one-litre bottle of Coral is commonly known as "Titanic"! Mix it with the sweet limonade of Ceris and you get a refreshing panache, shandy.
Wine is mainly imported from Portugal, while local production comes from the island of Fogo and can be found around the archipelago.
The famous Grogue
And let's not forget the grogue, the local rum, produced on Santo Antao and Santiago. This drink constitutes an important part of Cape Verdean culture to the extent that the process of production proved to be a rich source of inspiration for music. In addition to pure grogue, people drink ponche (punch), grogue sweetened with sugarcane molasses and condensed milk.
Some grogue brand names include: Pelourinho, Fortaleza and Convento
A 10% tip should be given if no service charge has been added to the bill.
Cape Verdian Recipes
Please feel free to read some of the recipes below you would expect to have when eating out in Cape Verde. Soon we will be displaying lists of restaurants on specific islands for you to visit and try out. There are international cuisines offered through most main stream restaurants enough to satisfy everyones taste. Fresh Lobster is also a main speciality in Cape Verde as only 40% of the fish are actually fished then the sea is teeming with life. Enjoy the following recipes.
MEAT & POULTRY CARNE GIZADO (STEWED MEAT & VEGETABLES)
3-4 lbs. cubed meat, pork or beef
4-5 white potatoes
3 lbs. mandioca root
3 medium white yams
3 green bananas
Trim off excess fat, season and marinate meat overnight with salt, garlic, vinegar, bay leaf, and pepper. Peel and cut up potatoes, yams, mandioca, and green bananas. In a pot, cook meat with marinade and 3 onions with 1/2 cup cooking oil on low heat until medium done. Add all vegetables to meat and cover with water. Cook on low until vegetables cook. Season with salt, garlic, bay leaf, paprika, and pepper.
CANJA (THICK CHICKEN RICE SOUP)
1/2 whole chicken, cut up
2 medium onions, chopped
3-4 chicken boullion cubes
1 c. short-grain white rice (may substitute long-grain)
Saute onions in oil. Next, add chicken pieces, boullion cubes and a sufficient amount of water. After bringing to a boil, add rice and stir occasionally. Simmer approximately 30-35 minutes, until desired consistency. This thick soup is offered special family events and on New Year's eve.
CALDO DE PEIXE (FISH SOUP)
6 white potatoes
3 sweet potatoes
l bunch fresh parsley
l green pepper
l red pepper
3 medium onions
2 medium tomatoes
3 lbs. fresh, whole, cleaned saltwater fish (examples: tautog, cod, bluefish or sea bass).
In a large kettle, gently saute chopped onions, tomatoes, scallions and green and red peppers in oil. Next, add fish cut into small pieces and water. Cover and bring to a gentle boil. Add peeled potatoes and chopped parsley to kettle. Reduce heat and simmer. A little may be added to make a thicker broth.
POLVO A MODO ZE DE LINO (OCTOPUS STEW)
2 lbs. octopus (or squid)
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons of oil
2 tomatoes or l tablespoon of tomato paste
2 cloves of garlic
2 grains of hot pepper (or as much as you want)
Wash and cut octopus into small pieces. Place octopus in a pot with two bay leaves and 3 tablespoons of oil. Heat on medium. Allow octopus to cook for approximately 20 minutes. Add tomatoes, cloves of garlic, diced onion and hot pepper. Heat on medium low until stew-like. Stir occasionally.
CORN/SAMP & GRAIN DISHES CACHUPINHA
5 ears fresh corn (or fresh off cob)
1/5 lb. (100 g.) linguica (Portuguese smoked sausage),
sliced 1/4 squash
1/2 lb. (1/4 kg.) fava beans, (or lima beans) fresh or dried
2 ripe tomatoes (or equivalent tomato paste)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 bunch of flat leaf coriander
1 large onion, sliced
Scrape off the fresh corn kernels into a boiler pot. Gently saute onion, linguica, and pepper in olive oil. Add to the corn the rest of the ingredients and a sufficient amount of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer. Prior to serving, season with salt and garnish with chopped flat leaf coriander (cilantro).
4 c. samp (hominy)
1 c. kidney beans
1 c. large lima beans
1/2 c. shell beans
2 lbs. spareribs (pork or beef)
1 chourico (garlic spicy sausage), sliced
l blood sausage, when avallable, sliced
1/4 lb. lean bacon, diced
2 lbs. cabbage, chopped coarsely
2 lbs. tomatoes, quartered
2 lbs. green bananas, peeled and sliced
2 lbs. fresh yams, peeled and chunked
2 lbs. fresh sweet potatoes, peeled and chunked
2 lbs. hard winter squash, peeled and chunked (e.g. buttercup, butternut, hubbard etc.)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 bay leaves
Flat leaf coriander
Soak the samp and beans overnight. In a stock pot, heat six cups of water. Add two tablespoons of olive oil, onion, garlic and bay leaf to water for seasoning. Bring to boil and add samp and beans. In a separate kettle, cook the vegetables except the tomatoes with the spareribs, chourico or linguica, blood sausage, and bacon. Next, cut up and season the chicken. Saute chicken in olive oil. Add tomatoes, and let simmer until samp and beans are almost folk tender but not quite done.
Add cooked vegetables and meats into stock pot. Cook on low heat for approximately one hour. About 20 minutes before the cachupa is done you may mix in well sauted onion, garlic and tomato paste mixture (sofrito) to adjust and enhance the flavor.
Turn off heat and let sit in the covered pot for at least one half hour before serving. Arrange meats and vegetables on a large serving platter and serve the corn and beans in a bowl.
SUPIDA DE XEREM (GROUND CORN WITH VEGETABLES & MEAT)
4 lbs. xerem (coarse ground corn)
2 butternut squash
20 kale leaves
l lb. salted pork fat, diced
3 lbs. pork meat, in cubes
2 lbs. dry beans
4 medium onions
Preparation: Soak dry beans overnight in water. Wash in warm water and soak ground corn 2 hours before cooking with l quartered onion. Marinate and season pork meat overnight with salt, garlic, vinegar, bay leaf, and pepper. Cover dry beans and salted pork with water. Cook about one hour and a half or until medium done. Drain beans when cooked. Cut kale leaves into strips and boil until medum done in water. Drain kale leaves. Cook ground corn in water until medium done. Cut butternut squash and gut out seeds. Leave skin on and divide into about 6 pieces.
Cooking: In a large pot, layer the following ingredients: squash at the bottom first, skin side down. Then add the pork meat, kale, beans, cubed onions, ground corn. Spice with salt, garlic, bay leaf, pepper. Add 1/2 cup oil and 3 cups water. Cover with aluminum foil and pot cover. Cook on low flame for one hour and a half.
SWEETS COCONUT CANDY
2 lbs. coconut
1/4 burnt sugar or molasses
Grate the coconut. Carefully brown the sugar but control for over burning. Then carefully combine coconut and burnt sugar to a little bit of water. Next, add 2 lbs. of sugar and cook. When the mixture is just about done, add lemon and mix. Remove from heat. Next, pound the mixture well for five minutes. Flatten on to buttered surface. Cut out into square or diagonal shapes. Let harden.
2 1/2 lbs. firm papaya
2 lbs. sugar
Cut the papaya into fine strips, then peel and wash well. Place the papaya and sugar on on a slow fire until the sugar dissolves. Cook for ten minutes, then set aside for a half hour. After a half an hour reheat at a higher flame, until the mixture becomes sugar-like or crystalized. Shortly afterwards remove from heat, and, using a spoon and fork, mold into different shapes.
PUDIM DE QUEIJO (CHEESE PUDDING)
l lb. (1/2 kg) soft goat cheese (use freshest cheese possible)
l lb. (1/2 kg) sugar
2 cups water
12 egg yolks
4 egg whites
Grate the cheese. Boil sugar in water to the consistency of a thick syrup. Add the cheese and mix well. Next, remove the mixture from heat and combine with beaten egg yolks and egg whites.
Sprinkle the bottom of a pan with burnt sugar. Pour in the mixture and bake in a double boiler. The latter may also be accomplished by placing the pan with the mixture into a pan filled with hot water. The mixture can also be baked in a shallow, buttered and floured baking pan.
Bake in the oven. After removed and cooled, cut into squares and top with granulated sugar.
XEREM DE FESTA (A WEDDING DISH)
4-5 lbs. xerem (coarse ground corn)
2 lbs. salted pork fat (try it with an animal fat substitute but you compromise authentic flavor)
4 medium onions
1 lb. pork meat, cubed
Soak xerem over night in the following manner: cover xerem with water; add 1 lb. of pork fat and 2 onions. The next day, place the rest of pork fat, sliced onions and pork meat into a large pot. Add xerem and a sufficient amount of water. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until all of moisture is absorbed.