Il Gallo D’Oro

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The dishes are gallery-worthy here

Set in the five-star Cliff Bay Hotel, this is possibly Funchal’s – if not Madeira’s – best-known splashy-chic restaurant (be warned: there’s a dress code). It's largely thanks to chef Benoît Sinthon’s modern riffs on Madeiran cooking, which have earned Il Gallo D'Oro two Michelin stars. The changing menu might include sea-bream ceviche with passion fruit or king-crab gazpacho, elevated to high art on the plates. Not cheap, but you’d pay way more for this in a big city.

Estrada Monumental 147, Funchal
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Real Canoa

For some of the best seafood in Funchal, this dependably pleasing pillar of the capital’s restaurant scene is pretty hard to beat. Expect warm, arms-out-wide service as well as generous portions of consistently well-cooked frutos do mar, like traditional shrimp-clam cataplana or the house special, hot-stone steak or fish served a la sizzle at the table. Book ahead for the outdoor tables.  

Rua Ponta da Cruz 18, Funchal
real-canoa.com

Restaurante Do Forte

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Bubbles are the only appropriate pairing with sea views

If the tiny tweezer food of Il Gallo D’Oro isn’t your thing but you still want something fancy-ish, this reassuringly popular seasider set in a 17th-century fortress comes with pleasing coastal views and is still worth one of your better outfits. Expect well-presented but still weighty international dishes such as octopus carpaccio or smoked codfish ravioli.

Santiago Menor 14, Funchal
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O Tasco

For classic, made-in-Madeira hospitality and homespun seafood dishes, this unassuming, reliably buzzy mini-bistro with highly coveted outdoor tables at the end of Santa Maria Street has it covered. Its no-fuss fish dishes go down very well, like the grilled, garlic-butter lapas (limpets, a clam-like mussel), deep-fried espada à camarão (scabbard nuggets) or vinegar-octopus salad. Everything pairs ridiculously well with a glass of chilled white wine. Highly recommended.

Rua Bela São Tiago 137, Funchal
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Restaurante Armazém do Sal

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The five-course tasting menu is a steal at €35

Set in a 200-year-old building (a former salt store, it turns out), this is broadly considered Funchal’s best restaurant and not unfairly. The food is unshowy but excellent  dishes like octopus a lagareiro (served oven-baked with potatoes) and snapper ceviche with fried banana show flair without being finicky. A five-course 'extra value' tasting menu at €35 is a steal. Book well ahead.

Rua da Alfândega 135, Funchal
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Quinta do Furão

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Just outside the small village of Santana, this is by far the most road trip-worthy restaurant on Madeira’s stunning north coast (around 40 minutes from downtown Funchal): part of a hotel, it’s surrounded by vineyards, has soul-affirming sea views and does comfortingly country-rustic Madeira dishes, such as Caldeirão Verde-style beef tenderloin wrapped in Roqueforte and puff pastry. A bigger-than-average cellar means this is a good place to sample Madeira wine.

Estrada Quinta do Furão 6, Santana
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Ilhéu Bistrô

Bang in the centre of Câmara de Lobos, a sleepy but worthwhile fishing town on Madeira’s south coast, this cool, minimal-chic newcomer has begun to lure locals from nearby Funchal for its consistently ace and fairly priced route to classic Portugueuse cooking. The menu consists of hefty, come-hungry dishes like polvo guisado (octopus stew) served alongside perfectly baked bolo do caco (circular flat bread). If you can only do one out-of-town meal…

Rua São João de Deus 10, Câmara de Lobos

Rubi’s Snack Bar

For a can’t-go-wrong, made-in-Madeira cheap eat in downtown Funchal, this avowedly unpretentious and inexpensive bistro isn’t much of a looker, but does classic Portuguese dishes at seriously down-to-earth prices with zero compromise on quality. Just about everything is done brilliantly here, but the polvo guisado (octopus stew) wins hearts every time. Prepare to be smitten: repeat visits are not uncommon.

Rua Nova do Vale da Ajuda 14

Gavião Novo

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Set on a cobbled backstreet of Funchal’s Zona Velha, this chic-but-cheerful restaurant is worth booking ahead for as it’s permanently in vogue with both Madeira’s in-the-know second-timers and seafood-loving locals. Both come for the high-grade assortment of fresh-as-it-gets frutos do mar like roasted polvo à lagareiro (octopus with potatoes) or local speciality espada com banana (banana fritters). Which is definitely better than it sounds.

Rua de Santa Maria 131, Funchal
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Convento das Vinhas

Wow, those views: set back from the island’s rugged south coast just above Calheta, this is the area’s best seafood specialist and does no-fuss, piled-high portions of local favourites, including lemon-garlic lapas (limpets) and the hard-to-find Madeira speciality of ovas de espada (deep-fried scabbard fish roe). Skip dessert and head to the cliff-edged cafe at nearby Mudas Contemporary Art Museum for decent coffee and more dreamy sightings of the sea.

Lombo Do Doutor
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