10 Iconic Macau Restaurants
There’s only one word to describe the 10 places on this list – institutions.
They’re not just restaurants in Macau; they are in some ways Macau itself, the very spirit and soul of a city embedded in the cracks and creaks of blue wall azulejos, in the faint falling chalk dust of neatly written Chinese characters listing dishes that have remained unchanged for decades, in the sure but steady gait of an aging waitress clearing up the last few tables of the night, her life’s work given in service of moving plates and bowls.
From the food, service and decor, right down to the individual sights, sounds, and smells, these restaurants are every bit as representative of Macau as St Paul’s and A Ma Temple. Visiting two or three of them while in town is almost mandatory, while diving in and trying all ten isn’t the worst idea either, time permitting, of course.
To that end, I’ve included a possible dining plan at the end, keeping a number of factors in mind, such as location, flow, when dim sum is served, and appropriate times to drink wine.
Fusion, nouveau, fiction and farce, for terms like that, try reading the Michelin Guide. What follows below is the real deal – 10 Macau restaurants that have reached iconic status, where quality always takes precedence, where good money never goes to waste.
Iconic Macau Restaurants #1: Cozinha Aida
Type: Macanese Opened: 1970’s Price: $100/pax Maven Restaurant Review Rank: 4 Stars
Most restaurants in Macau are just like Cozinha Aida – basic, unassuming, and despite what you might’ve read elsewhere, relatively cheap.
Cozinha Aida is run by the son of the Godmother of Macanese Cuisine herself, Miss Aida de Jesus, who made it all the way to 105 before passing away in March 2021. For years she had frequented this very restaurant twice a day rain or shine, to eat, read, keep tabs on quality control and take photos with lucky customers. Under her guidance and expertise, the history of Macanese cuisine is preserved on the menu that she created, with Minchi, African Chicken, Pork with Tamarind, and Feijoada often available on a daily basis.
The only restaurant on this list that is cafeteria like, their daily specials ($65) are buffet style and stay out all day, so are usually served a touch cold. Macanese food benefits from being left out though and is often better the second day, so no big worries there.
Reputed to be a little bit off the tourist track, Kun Iam Temple, Lou Lim Ioec Park, and Guia Lighthouse are actually only 5 to 10 minutes away by foot, giving you plenty of reason to track it down and give it try.
Address: 69 Avenida Sidonio Pais Hours: 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Type: Macanese Opened: 1995 Price: $350/pax Maven Restaurant Review Rank: 5 Stars
Known as the White House of Macanese cuisine, a much more inviting atmosphere awaits you at Litoral, situated a stone’s throw away from where the first Portuguese ships reached Macau in 1513.
Overseen by Dona Manuela Ferreira, whose family tree in Macau dates back 400 years, her grandmother taught the legendary America Angelo the nuances of Macanese cooking; he would later go on to invent African Chicken. Ferreira then studied under Americo when they shared a kitchen together at the Hotel Lisboa in the 1970’s, thereby completing a neat culinary circle, and showing everyone (yet again) just how small of a town Macau really is.
Litoral debuted in 1995 and literally means “face the sea”, something it surely did at the time, but not anymore. Best enjoyed at night, when you have time to thoroughly unwind over a gorgeous Portuguese red, try the Baked Crab Meat, try the Bafassá Saffron Pork, try the Curry Shrimp, try the Baked Portuguese Chicken, try it all….
Address: Rua do Almirante Sergio 261 – A Hours: 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm, 5:30 pm to 10:30 pm
Iconic Macau Restaurants #3: Nga Tim
Type: Macanese Opened: 1972 Price: $250/pax Maven Restaurant Review Rank: 4.5 Stars
Situated in the heart of Coloane Village, beside the pretty pastel tinged Chapel of St. Francis Xavier, Nga Tim opened in the halcyon backwater days of the 1970’s, when Coloane was still an island only accessible by ferry, which would dock down the street at the old Coloane Pier.
A popular meeting place for large groups of families and friends, classic Cantonese, Macanese and Portuguese favourites dominate the menu, making Nga Tim the perfect embodiment of Macau’s rich culinary history, at prices that still belong to last century.
If you’re lucky the septuagenarian owner might even be there playing a few tunes on his guitar or erhu, a former policeman who missed his true calling in life if judged by his name alone – the venerable Feeling Wong.
Address: 1 Rua Caetano, Coloane Village Hours: 11:30 am to 12:00 am
#4: Long Wa
Type: Cantonese Opened: 1963 Price: $100/pax Maven Restaurant Review Rank: 4.5 Stars
Located next to Red Market, where they still source all of their fresh meat and produce daily, Long Wa admittedly doesn’t serve the best Cantonese in town, but that’s never been the point. Part antique hall, part art gallery and 100% living breathing museum, you’ll be visiting because it’s the last original teahouse still standing in Macau.
Dining at Long Wa has always been more about the experience, about sitting back amongst the artwork, plants and stacks of tea, enjoying a long leisurely dim sum lunch, getting a glimpse of Macau life in the 60’s and 70’s. As such, there is no Wifi, no computers, no music, nothing at all, just a restaurant that’s photogenic as old hell, and always a pleasure to be in.
No.3 Avenida do Almirante Lacerda Hours: 7:30 am to 2:00 pm *Closed on Thursdays
Iconic Macau Restaurants #5: Fernando
Type: Portuguese Opened: 1986 Price: $350/pax Maven Restaurant Review Rank: 3.5 Stars
Located next to Hac Sa Beach, Fernando is probably the most popular joint on this list, with reservations essential for both lunch and dinner. It’s especially revered among Hong Kongers, many of whom visit Macau just to go to this restaurant, a lazy laid back venue notable for its outdoor beer garden and lax beach vibes.
Funny thing is, I ridiculed it for years, before being set straight the owners of MacauSoul, who told me what their best dishes were and what to stay away from. If you stick with some combination of the Caldo Verde Soup ($40), Grilled Sardines ($118), Favas ($160), Suckling Pig ($186), and Oxtail Stew ($188), then Fernando’s is a 5 star venue all the way.
Go off track though and you just might pay the price.
Address: Hac Sa Beach, Coloane Hours: 12:00 pm to 9:30 pm
6. Henri’s Galley
Type: Portuguese Opened: 1976 Price: $350/pax Maven Restaurant Review Rank: 4.5 Stars
Señor Henri has long since passed the oars down to his son, who keeps the ship right on course, sailing through calm seas and golden sunsets.
You’ll be going primarily for the African Chicken, generally regarded as the best in town, but there are other reasons to visit Henri’s Galley too, with the Portuguese Chicken, Macau Sole, Spicy Prawns and Curry Crab all standout selections.
Located a little bit out of the way on Avenida da Republica, the walk in from San Ma Lo along the Praia Grande can be quite lovely at night, as the light changes and sun goes down over large colonial homes on one side and water on the next, the long shadow of Macau Tower always keeping watch in the distance.
Address: 4G-H Avenida da Republica Hours: 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Iconic Macau Restaurants #7: Tai Long Fong
Type: Cantonese Opened: 1940’s Price: $125/pax Maven Restaurant Review Rank: 4.5 Stars
A family business run by Mrs Chen, loud opera performances are held daily in the afternoon for the benefit of an aging audience who must have lost their hearing 20 years ago, hence the need for so much noise. The uncomfortable Fado-like shrieks, cymbals, and amplifiers are too much to take for more than 5 minutes, so make sure you’re out of there by 2:00 pm when the pandemonium starts.
Rather, the thing to do is stop in for lunch, mixing dim sum with la carte for a simple gorgeous meal that never disappoints.
Address: Rua de Cinco de Outubro, No 127, R/C Hours: 6:00 am to 7:00 pm
#8: The 8
Type: Cantonese Opened: 2006 Price: $400/pax Maven Restaurant Review Rank: 5 Stars
Did you really expect another restaurant to hold down the 8th spot on this list?
A recipient of 3 Michelin stars since 2013, star chef Joseph Tse has elevated 8 to another level since coming aboard in 2015, serving Cantonese food as good as anywhere in the world. Even Hong Kong food snobs acquiesce and give the restaurant its due, in particular the dim sum lunches that always require reservations.
Painstakingly prepared by a skilled team of artisan chefs, the dim sum presentation is sometimes so cute and creative that people feel bad eating it. The best part about it though? Everything tastes just as good as it looks!
The youngest entrant on this list, the 8 is the only “fine dining” venue that made the cut, but lunch won’t necessarily cost a fortune.
Address: Grand Lisboa, 3rd Floor Hours: 11:30 am to 2:30 pm Monday to Saturday, 10:00 pm to 3:00 pm Sunday and Public Holiday, 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm daily
Iconic Macau Restaurants #9: Lei Hong Kei
Type: Cantonese Opened: 1956 Price: $200/pax Maven Restaurant Review Rank: 5 Stars
Two things I love about Lei Hong Kei (besides the food): their big retro red and blue neon sign outside and warm wood furnishings inside, highlighted by the simple chalkboard menus on the walls.
Tou Tou Koi might get all the press (and business) in this part of town, but Lei Hong Kei is miles better, a picture perfect snapshot of the 1960’s and 70’s, brought to you in resplendent 21st Century light and colour. Their soups, roasted meats and fresh seafood have been delighting diners for more than half a century on the Street of Happiness, and it just feels and looks too much like old Macau to leave off this list.
In stark contrast to the 8, which caters more to the shallow selfie Instagram/Facebook crowd, with some pretty frivolous flash and kitsch, Lei Hong Kei is made by the people for the people, serving food that’s just as good for half of the price.
Opened by a Mr/Mrs Lei and Hong during the 1950’s, I don’t know if the original owners are still around today, but they sure left one brilliant restaurant in their name.
(Update: Sadly the government is giving them problems over their neon old sign. As of June 2023, it’s no longer up.)
Address: 33-37 Rua Da Felicidade Hours: 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm
Type: Portuguese Opened: 1961 Price: $350/pax Maven Restaurant Review Rank: 4.5 Stars
Originally a private club, Solmar first catered to politicians and other social elites before opening their doors to the general public in the mid 1960’s. To my knowledge it’s the oldest Portuguese restaurant in town, and much like Lei Hong Kei and Long Wa, stepping inside is like entering another time and era.
The service staff has barely changed in decades, working alongside the same vintage wooden decor and wall azelujos that have been in place since the 70s. Featuring a menu of classic Portuguese and Macanese favorites, top recommendations include the African Chicken, Caldo Verde soup and Portuguese Baked Fish, while I’ve always been a fan of their brilliant Butter Gilled Sole.
Address: Avenida da Praia Grande 512 Hours: 11:00 am to 11:00 pm
POSSIBLE DINING PLAN
With the exception of the two restaurants in Coloane, all of the other ones are located on the old Peninsula. Dim sum dominates at lunch, while there are ample opportunities to pair your food with wine at night.
The perfect introduction to Macau, head over to the Rickshaw for some blue collar Macanese cuisine, where the minchi is a must order. Lei Hong Kei concludes at night on the atmospheric Street of Happiness. Afterwards, a perfect nightcap of wine and gossip awaits on MacauSoul, only ten minutes away on foot.
Step back into the 60’s with a dim sum lunch at Long Wa, followed by some signature African Chicken at Henri’s Galley at night.
To see how tea restaurants have evolved, go for more dim sum and Cantonese favourites at Tai Long Fong. Solmar beckons at night, where the wine list mustn’t be ignored.
Day 4, by necessity, will have to be spent exclusively in Coloane. Visit the pandas, A Ma Cultural Village and Coloane Village in the morning, before hitting Nga Tim for lunch. See the rest of Coloane (the two beaches, the Hac Sa Long Chao Kok Coastal Trail and Ka Ho) before ending the day at Fernando.
You’ve worked your way up the dim sum ladder to reach the pinnacle, lunch at 8. In the evening, treat yourself to a long enjoyable dinner at Litoral, the perfect way to end any trip in Macau.
Read on for 10 Can’t Miss Macau Dishes!