Madeira – Meat and Mariachi on the Rua de Santa Maria

On the last night of our Madeira break tragedy struck, the Donna Maria restaurant was closed! fortunately we didn’t have far to look as at the top of Funchal’s Rua de Santa Maria we found the O Jango restaurant.

Judging by the decor I suspect this place may have once been an African restaurant, probably based upon the cuisine of Portugal’s colonies of Guinea-Bissau, Angola and Mozambique. Whether it was or not, it’s now resolutely Madeiran and the Espetadas were, if anything, even bigger than Donna Maria’s, even if they did come on a metal spit rather than a Laurel Bay skewer.

Espetadas

Complete with vegetables this gut busting beef feast was only €13 per person and savagely delicious. In fact with starters, wine and a couple of beers the total bill only came to €66 for the three of us which is amazing value compared to what you would pay back in the UK. In fact all the restaurants we tried were relatively inexpensive except for the Casa Portuguesa.

Rua de Santa Maria has some great bars too. Bar Caracas is essentially a man behind a counter, a TV, a table and three chairs. It’s where all the old Portuguese guys hang out, so we’d only have a few drinks in the early evening and then leave the bar to them so they could ruminate over the football and complain about their kids in peace. We went Dutch and drank Head Knocks, lager with Genever chasers. The bar keeper was extremely enthusiastic with the spirit measures (€3 each, but about four UK measures) and by our second visit local gin ended up being substituted for the Genever, though the empty stone bottle found its way back onto the well stocked shelves.

Another place that we liked was the Joana Rabo de Peixe Mexican restaurant. We only had drinks there one evening, but we chose well because it was Mariachi night.

Mariachi Band

Mind you the band was so big that they had to perform in the street outside. Not very Portuguese I admit, but with the street blocked by happy people enjoying the Latino sounds, a fantastic atmosphere.

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