If you're planning a trip to Madeira, it is important to know what the local cuisine has to offer and what dishes you should try to have the most authentic experience. You might already be familiar with the famous wines from this Portuguese island, but there are plenty of other must-try delicacies. So take a look at our suggestions and be inspired by the variety of fresh fish, tropical fruits, sweet treats, and unique local drinks.
On the top of our list is one of Madeira’s most popular dishes, espada, a fillet of scabbard fish traditionally served with fried banana or passion-fruit sauce.
Speaking of passion-fruit, this is one of the many tropical fruits that you can eat in Madeira – which can all be found at Mercado dos Lavradores, a market in the capital, Funchal.
Another regional treat is milho frito, small cubes of fried corn flour that look similar to Italian polenta. This is typically a side dish for tuna steaks or espetada, a skewer made from beef seasoned with garlic and baby leaf, and marinated in Madeira wine before being grilled.
If you’re visiting the Ribeiro Frio region, you should try the trout dish, with fresh fish bred in the local trout farms.
Adventurous seafood eaters can have lapas, limpets plucked from Madeira’s rocky shores and fried with garlic butter. Pair them with the local beer Coral for a more authentic experience.
And if you’re craving something sweet, Madeira’s bolo de mel will not disappoint you. Traditionally made around Christmas but available all year round, this ancient dark cake is made with molasses and often has mixed nuts.
Bolo do caco is also unique to Madeira, but unlike the name suggests, this is not cake (bolo). It’s a typical flat bread that gets its shape from being baked on top of a hot stone. Bolo do caco can be eaten alone or as a main dish, with a thin slice of beef inside, called Prego.
Last but not least, any trip to Madeira will be incomplete without Poncha, a traditional sweet and citrusy alcoholic drink that is actually what inspired fruit punch.