Luar de Janeiro is 46 years old, and I’m about to turn 44. I was practically born here. My parents were very young when they opened the restaurant -- a “cervejaria” (a kind of pub) at the time -- when she was 20, and he was 24! These days my mother works in the kitchen, with my brother’s help, and I, who studied in the hospitality field, am also around.
Everything is made from scratch by us, and we favour local products. We’re all about snack food to nibble and share (“petiscos”) like “pataniscas” (codfish fritters), cold appetisers, rabbit, eggs with asparagus, “silarcas” and “tubaras” (local kinds of mushrooms), “torresmos” (pieces of the fattest part of the pig’s skin, deep fried), and local sausages. The menu varies. Some dishes are only available in specific seasons, like the hare rice that you can only have when it’s hunting season.
Nowadays, people are used to eating whatever they want outside their typical season, but that makes food taste bland. Here, we serve seasonal food, and we try to respect what nature gives us and keep the cooking techniques my parents used at home. When the tomato season comes, we make tomato jam. In Autumn, we have marmalade that people love and say it reminds them of the jam they ate at their mother’s or their grandmother’s house.
Come and meet us. We have a family-friendly atmosphere, we want you to feel at home, and we want our food to bring back those memories of how meals with your parents or your grandparents used to be like.
We changed location this year but stayed on the same street. It’s a renovated space with better conditions for the clients and the kitchen workers. And we believe it will have the same atmosphere as the old Luar de Janeiro, little by little, as it turns into a more lived in space.
Our story and mission
When I was a kid, I was here all the time. I would always be in and out of the kitchen, where my mother was. At the time, people came to lunch, have a snack, and would continue talking long after dinner was over until two or three o’clock in the morning. The concept of the restaurant has changed a bit, but my children also grew up around here and spent many hours at this place when they were younger because their school was nearby.
It’s been 20 years since I first started working at Luar de Janeiro, but the truth is I’ve been around since I can remember!
Regardless of the change of location and the passing of time, one thing remained the same: our love for “petiscos” and the care in controlling everything we do. I think that’s related to how we were raised and because we grew up with and around the business. As kids, we spent Easter or Christmas holidays at my aunt’s in the countryside, at Graça do Divor. I watched pig slaughters, drank milk straight from the cow, saw how animals were born, spent a lot of time in the countryside chasing chickens and helped my uncle with his chores. Furthermore, I remember going along with my father when we made purchases for the restaurant right there on the fields. I learned all these skills that help me pick only high-quality products.
In the same street as always, but in a renovated space, Luar de Janeiro continues to highlight traditional Alentejo cuisine, where there is always plenty of “petiscos” to welcome everyone who comes in!
Respect for the seasons
I’m very fond of Alentejo, and I’d find it difficult to live outside. I really like Évora, with an extraordinary quality of life. It has everything we look for and is well-located: if I want to go to Madrid, I can be there in four hours, I can be in Lisbon in one hour, or in two hours and a half in Algarve. If I want to go to one of our spectacular beaches at Costa Alentejana, I’m there in one hour and a half, in the middle of gorgeous scenery.
At Luar de Janeiro we favour local products. Some of the dishes we cook here, no matter how many times we do it, will always taste different like the “silarcas” and the “tubaras” (local mushrooms), or the hare during the hunting season.
Here, in this area, we have Monsaraz, Monforte, Marvão, Vila Viçosa. We have so many beautiful places to see. We have rural tourism businesses, nature, beach, mountain. It’s a region worth visiting!
We’re very close to Porta de Avis which is, as far as we know, the oldest doors of Évora’s medieval wall and where the small church of Nossa Senhora do Ó was built.