A guide to food and drink in Sal

Despite the fact that it was once ruled by Portugal, you’ll discover during holidays to Sal that the area has developed its own unique style of cuisine. Looks can be deceiving as restaurants often bear a striking resemblance to the island’s family homes. Our list below covers the main restaurant hub of Santa Maria, although elsewhere on the island you can find small restaurants, and it’s likely that your hotel will serve up a rich and varied menu.

Exploring Sal's delicacies

Cape Verde’s national dish is cachupa stew, and you’ll find it pretty much wherever you go in Sal. Cape Verdeans are quite fond of stews in general, and have been known to dish up bowls with anything from beans and rice to fresh veggies and fish.

On Sal holidays you’ll find menus containing pork and goat, along with loads of fish – it’s an island, after all. Another ingredient Sal has in abundance is fresh tropical fruits like mangos, papayas and passionfruit, which are often made into fruit drinks. But no drink is more popular in Cape Verde and Sal than the local grogue, an alcoholic drink made with sugar cane molasses.

Italian at its best at Marea Restaurant, Santa Maria

Marea is one of those restaurants that looks a little like your garden, but don’t let its casual atmosphere fool you. The food here is gourmet to a tee.

Marea dishes up Italian flavours, with homemade pastas like expertly-made fresh lobster ravioli and homemade ciabatta bread infused with garlic. Even though it’s slightly off the beaten path, it’s a good idea to book ahead, as it’s regarded as one of the top restaurants on the island.

Ahoy, there! for pirate fun at Churrascaria Pirata, Santa Maria

Everybody loves a good pirate-themed restaurant, and Churrascaria Pirata keeps the name going. Canvas and rope-draped ceilings, cannons and swashbuckling staff make for an especially vibrant atmosphere, while homemade pizzas, seafood pasta and grilled meats seal the deal. The only thing missing is an actual pirate ship.

Small venue, big taste at Chez Pastis, Santa Maria

Chez Pastis might look like a literal hole in the wall – there are only 16 seats in the joint – but dig beneath the surface and you’ll find some of the most delicious cuisine in Sal. There’s melt-in-your-mouth steak including cheesy beef and Brazilian steak, along with lobster, fish carpaccio and a lovely list of hearty wines. You’d be wise to book in advance, as this teeny restaurant fills up quickly.

Fruit under palm trees at CapeFruit, Santa Maria

CapeFruit is an extremely relaxed eatery but the light bites and drinks underneath the palm fronds pack a punch. The booths and hammocks are cosy enough to settle into for the afternoon, but it’s the fruit smoothies and prawn salads that’ll really keep you around.

CapeFruit doesn’t dish up any meat, but with the colourful selection of fresh fruit on hand, we have a feeling you won’t mind.

French food and live music at Le Prive, Santa Maria

Dining at Le Prive will whisk you into a jungle atmosphere, complete with overhanging trees swollen with fresh coconuts. As the name suggests, Le Prive is a little French restaurant that serves up quirky bites like sea urchin gnocchi and tuna with hints of mango. Come on the right night, and you’ll even be treated to a side of live music.