Get a taste of old Macau by visiting these nostalgic restaurants off the tourist track
Family-run eateries with generations of history serve up authentic Macanese and Portuguese cuisine
Macau's dining scene has completely evolved over the last decade, with the enclave now boasting Michelin-starred restaurants, serving haute cuisine, alongside a long list of food and beverage outlets representing the farthest reaches of the globe.
But hidden away in the back alleys of the Old City, Taipa Village and along the beaches of Coloane are pedigreed restaurants that serve home-style grub made with recipes that have been passed down through generations.
Established in 1903, Restaurante Fat Siu Lau is situated in the heart of Macau's former red-light district on a street euphemistically called “Happiness Street”. Owned and operated by the descendants of its founder, the restaurant is known for its signature dish, shek ki superb roasted pigeon, the recipe for which is a carefully guarded family secret. The baked pork chop on rice is also highly recommended.
A Vencedora is another family-run restaurant that has endured the test of time. Established in 1918, this unpretentious little eatery has a loyal following among the Macanese community owing to its simple but mouthwatering grilled dishes, very reasonable prices, and always friendly service.
Founded in 1961, Solmar Restaurant is famous for its Portugal chicken and spicy African chicken, both of which are classic Macanese - rather than Portuguese - dishes. The Solmar spicy prawns are also not to be missed.
Riquexo Cafe is decidedly off the beaten tourist track, but if you want to experience a slice of Macanese life, there may be no better place to go. Configured more like a cafeteria than a cafe, it serves food from a steam table, but don't let that put you off. The recipes have been handed down through generations and include African, Indian, Malay, Chinese and Portuguese influences. This is Macanese food in its purest form.
Of slightly more recent vintage are two restaurants that opened in the 1990s, A Lorcha and Restaurante Litoral. Located on the Interior Harbour, A Lorcha serves classic Portuguese cuisine, while Litoral serves traditional Macanese fare.
Three of the city’s oldest Macanese and Portuguese restaurants are located in Taipa which, until a couple of decades ago, was a sleepy little backwater. The oldest of these eateries is Cozinha Pinocchio, which was originally situated at the back of a small alley off the Rua do Cunha in Taipa Village. There, you could watch television through the windows of an apartment next door, dogs begged at the table, and if you asked to see the wine list you would be directed to a refrigerator to pick up the bottle of your choice.
Serving home-style Macanese fare, the open-air cafe's curried crab is legendary. Having undergone several incarnations, the restaurant is now housed in a multi-storey edifice just off the entrance to the village's main drag. It is hugely popular with day-trippers from Hong Kong.
Rubbing shoulders with the shops selling dried meats and freshly baked cookies sits O Santos Comida Portuguesa Taipa, which dates back more than a quarter of a century. This unpretentious little eatery has long been favoured by Macau's Portuguese community for its yummy, home-style dishes from Portugal's Alentejo region.
Established around the same era, Galo Portuguese Food is famous for its African chicken, octopus salad, giant prawns and pig trotters. It’s housed in a traditional white-washed farmhouse with blue-trimmed shuttered windows and features a kitschy interior decorated with assorted Chinese and Portuguese artifacts.
One of Macau's most celebrated Portuguese restaurants is situated on Coloane. Restaurante Fernando needs no introduction. Established in 1986, it is so well-known among Hongkongers that having a meal there is almost synonymous with dining out in Macau.
Situated at the other end of the beach, Miramar Portuguese Food attracts an entirely different crowd. Here you'll find large gatherings of local families or group of friends feasting on traditional Portuguese fare, with hardly a tourist in sight.
Where to dine
Restaurante Fat Siu Lau: 64 Rua da Felicidade, Macau;
(853) 2857 3580 or 2857 3585; www.fatsiulau.com.mo
A Vencedora: G/F, 264 R. do Campo, Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro, Macau;
(853) 2835 5460
Solmar Restaurant: 512 Avenida da Praia Grande, Macau;
(853) 2888 1881; www.solmar-macau.com
Riquexo Café: 69 Avenida Sidonio Pais, Macau;
(853) 2856 5655
A Lorcha: 289 Rua Almirante Sergio, Sao Lourenco, Macau;
(853) 2831 3195
Restaurante Litoral: 261A Rua do Almirante Sergio, Macau;
(853) 2896 7878; www.restaurante-litoral.com
Cozinha Pinocchio: 38 Largo dos Bombeiros, Taipa Village;
(853) 2882 7128 or 2882 7328
O Santos Comida Portuguesa Taipa: 10 Rua do Cunha, Taipa;
(853) 2882 5594; www.osantoscomidaportuguesa.com
Galo Portuguese Food: 45 Rua do Cunha, Taipa;
(853) 2882 7423 or 2882 7318
Restaurante Fernando: Hac Sa Park, Hac Sa Beach, Coloane;
(853) 2888 2264
Miramar Portuguese Food: Estrada de Hac Sa, Praia de Hac Sá, Coloane;
(853) 2888 2601; miramar.com.mo