The moqueca is probably one of the dishes that best represents Bahian cuisine. The recipe that takes fish cut into slices, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, dried coconut, coriander, chives, palm oil, salt and pepper is, next to the acarajé, practically a tourist spot of Salvador: you have to know! The moqueca is admired in various corners of the country and has become a recipe also appreciated in other states such as Espirito Santo, Pará, Amazonas, Ceará and Pernambuco.
This itinerary is an “open work” where we list the main restaurants in town that serve the best moquecas, but we want your opinion. The idea is to make a map of where to find this tasty dish. We want to know from you, which are the best moquecas in town. Come with us.
The history of moqueca
The Bahian moqueca is the result of the influence of the three cultures that formed this land: the Portuguese, the African and the indigenous. The wonderful book “Cozinhando Histórias – receitas, histórias e mitos de pratos afro-brasileiros” (Cooking Stories – Recipes, Stories and Myths of Afro-Brazilian Dishes) says that in the Tupi language, “moquém” means: drying or toasting meat. In the traditional technique of the Indians, the custom was to bake the meat or cook in its own juice, wrapped in leaves over or under the coals. Since the indigenous didn’t use salt, they seasoned meat and fish with herbs, pepper, and embers. From the African custom, came the additions of coconut milk and palm oil and so came the moqueca made in clay pot, which, thanks to the concentrated heat, finishes cooking slowly, already on the table.
This dish is a good example of the fusion of indigenous, Portuguese and African cuisines, representing our mixed culture in flavors. The book tells that the fish brought by the Portuguese was modified by the usual ingredients of African cuisine and cooked in clay pot with indigenous technique. Another contribution of this culinary fusion was the pirão, made with the moqueca broth and cassava flour.
Book: “Cooking Stories – Recipes, Stories and Myths of Afro-Brazilian Dishes” with photos by Pierre Verger. It was written by Josmara B Fregoneze, Marlene Jesus da Costa and Nancy Sousa, better known as Dona Cici.
Where to eat
Casa de Tereza
Casa de Tereza restaurant is known for sharpening the senses and having dishes prepared with the best in Bahia. Awarded and recognized inside and outside Brazil, Tereza Paim is one of the Bahian chefs seen outside Bahia as the professional who has managed to update and promote local cuisine. She has innovated, but with absolute respect for her origins.
Among the various options, try the “Trilogia do mar” (Trilogy of the Sea) moqueca, made with lobster or octopus, shrimp and fish (subject to price and availability) – it is accompanied by coconut rice and farofa.
Casa de Tereza Restaurant was the winner of the 2019 Best of the Year Table Pleasures Award in the Restaurant of the Year – Northeast category. The finalists were: Cozinha Roccia (João Pessoa, PB), Oleiro (Recife, PE), Origem (Salvador, BA), Quina do Futuro (Recife, PE).
Casa de Tereza Restaurant
Rua Odilon Santos, 45 – Rio Vermelho, Salvador – BA, 41940-350
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 12:00 pm to 11:00 pm. Sundays, from 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm.
Phone #: 71 3329-3016
If you love good Bahian cuisine, in a place that is both simple and cozy, you can’t miss the Donana Restaurant, which is practically a heritage of the city! The flagship is the shrimp moqueca that comes with some side dishes, among which we suggest the fabulous pirão or vatapá. Queues are frequent on weekends. The tip is to start the meal on the sidewalk, with shrimp skewers breaded with tapioca and a beer that is always cold.
Centro Comercial do Conjunto dos Comerciários, Rua Teixeira Barros, no number – Brotas, Salvador – BA, 40276-150.
Opening hours: Tuesday, from 11:30 am to 4:00 pm. From Wednesday to Sunday, from 11:30 am to 5:00 pm. It doesn’t open on Monday.
Phone #: (71) 3351-8216 | (71) 3019-7840.
Pedra Furada Restaurants
These restaurants are perfect for bringing together great food and a great stroll: they have wonderful moqueca choices, stunning views of All Saints Bay and are close to Bonfim Church. This is practically a route apart from the best moquecas in town, with the restaurants side by side.
At Pietro’s Bar, for example, there is a patio with trees, making everything more pleasant. The menu is full of gastronomic bahianesses. Try to arrive early to assure an oceanfront table!
Recanto da Lua Cheia is one of the most remembered restaurants when it comes to moqueca. The dishes are for two people, and the mixed shrimp and octopus moqueca come with rice and pirão.
Recanto da Tia Maria is very simple and welcoming and the one who welcomes you is Aunt Maria herself. She and her daughter have been running the restaurant for years. The newspaper clippings and titles on the wall give us the clue that the moqueca is famous there. The octopus and shrimp moqueca comes with rice, pirão, butter farofa and pepper. The restaurant has no set menu and is subject to capacity. Better to call first: (71) 3312-1746, or (71) 98383-4331.
Pietro’s Bar – Rua Rio Negro, 6 – Pedra Furada – Monte Serrat, Salvador-BA. Phone #: (71) 3316-3395. It doesn’t open on Mondays and Wednesdays. It opens on Tuesdays from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm and Wednesdays to Sundays from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Recanto da Lua Cheia Bar – Rua Rio Negro, 2 – Monte Serrat, Salvador-BA, 40325-250. Phone #: (71) 3315-1275. It opens on Tuesdays and Sundays, from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. Saturdays from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.
Recanto da Tia Maria – Ave. Constelação, 51 – Monte Serrat, Salvador – BA, 40425-240. Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am on. Important: Does not accept cards.
Boca de Galinha
Boca de Galinha is situated in the district of Plataforma, at Salvador suburb. It has a diverse clientele, being frequented by local people, as well as people from other neighborhoods, cities and even from other countries. You can get there by car, bus, boat and also by train – the station is practically next to the restaurant, it’s five minutes walking. But our tip is to go by car to Ribeira and from there take a boat to the restaurant. The tour is a guarantee of a beautiful skyline and great photos.
The restaurant has been serving delicious food for 29 years, facing All Saints Bay. The menu is called “cadernato” and is not fixed, every day they make a new, handy one – so they always guarantee fresh food. The flagship are the moquecas, and they can serve eight types per day such as Mariscada, Shrimp with Lobster, Shrimp, Beijupirá, Mahi Mahi, Goldfish, Caçonete and Stingray. The side dishes are rice, beans and pirão and the moqueca is always exceptional. On Fridays and Saturdays there are pirão, fradinho beans cooked with okra and rice. Every Sunday there are caruru and vatapá. This is one of those unmissable places in Salvador.
Boca de Galinha
Address: Rua Almeida Brandão, 58A – Plataforma, Salvador – BA, 40710-500
Opening hours: Friday and Saturday from 11:30 am to 6:00 pm. Sunday from 11:30 am to 5:00 pm.
Important: Payment in cash only, they don’t accept credit and debit card.
Phone #: (71) 3398-1232
Ribeira-Plataforma Crossing – It takes 5 to 8 minutes – approximately one kilometer crossing. It works every day from 6am to 7pm. Sunday from 7am to 7pm. There are boats every half hour. Rate: R$ 2,10. To go to the restaurant, the boat leaves the pier in front of the Ribeira Ice Cream Parlor (Rua da Penha, 87 – Ribeira, Salvador – BA, 40421-110).
Dona Mariquita Restaurant
Dona Mariquita restaurant, in Rio Vermelho, is a gastronomic immersion in the patrimonial cuisine of the state of Bahia. Even describing all the feelings that Dona Mariquita’s restaurant rescues from the universe of Bahian culture, you will still get there and discover many others. And if you dare to describe the recipes, you would need, in addition to the original ingredients such as Bahia’s recôncavo seafood, seeds and leaves, mixing the indigenous, african and country influences, to add a hint of affection, another of smiles and a good spoon of appreciation.
There, the shrimp moqueca receives the increment of maturi, the green cashew nuts, and is garnished with rice, pirão and efó. At Dona Mariquita, the dishes are made as they were originally created, in a rescue of traditional recipes for the preservation of cultural heritage. Our tip is to try the tamarind Caipiroska and order Poqueca – a moqueca baked in banana leaf with milk acaçá.
Bahia Heritage Kitchen
Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday: 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Thursday to Saturday: 12:00 pm to 11:50 pm
Phone #: (71) 3334 6947
Quoted by Jorge Amado in several passages of his books, Porto do Moreira restaurant has more than 80 years of pure tradition. This is just one of the reasons worth visiting because in Porto do Moreira, the recipes of the founder José Moreira da Silva mix with classics of the “palm oil fraternity”.
One of the big stars is the beef moqueca that carries shrimp, egg, peppers and a lot of palm oil. To accompany, rice, pirão and farofa d’água. Definitely, this Luso-Bahian restaurant is still part of the history of the city center.
Unfortunately, José Moreira da Silva – one of the greatest characters in Salvador’s gastronomic history – died on January 2, 2018, leaving friends and customers feeling nostalgic.
Porto do Moreira Restaurant
Rua Carlos Gomes, 488 – Dois de Julho, Salvador – BA, 40060-330.
Open every day from 10am to 4pm.
Phone #: (71) 3322-2814
Traditional city restaurant, Ki Mukeka has one of the most disputed moquecas.
With almost 40 years of existence (since 1980), the restaurant is a sure destination for many tourists. True experts in traditional Bahian cuisine, the diversity prevails there, and everything from the sea can be served as moqueca: fish (whiting, yellow croaker), stingray, oyster, crab, octopus, shrimp, lobster, sururu and even cod.
In four addresses in Salvador:
Avenida Octavio Mangabeira, 345 – Pituba, Salvador – BA, 41830-050. Phone #: (71) 3240-0192
Avenida Octavio Mangabeira, 136 Jardim – Armação, Salvador – BA, 41750-240. Phone #: (71) 3461-7333
Rua Abelardo Andrade de Carvalho, 87 – Boca do Rio, Salvador – BA, 41706-710. Phone #: (71) 3362-6153
Rua do Vento Sul QD 3, lot 5 – Itapuã, Salvador – BA, 41620-290. Phone #: (71) 3374-2147
Within the community of Solar do Unhão and Gamboa
Attached to the Museum of Modern Art of Bahia, MAM, there are two restaurants of Bahian food that are worth the visit. One within the community of Solar do Unhão and another within Gamboa. Both have a great moqueca, and are in a location with a privileged view of the All Saints Bay. The cool thing about this experience is getting to know the locals and their stories, not just coming in, ordering the dish, eating, taking a photo and leaving.
At Solar do Unhão Community, you will meet Dona Suzana. She is something else, a loving character with a big smile and lots of things to tell. Her restaurant is pretty much a continuation of her own home with backyard tables. The moqueca is always served with the fish of the day. It has no menu. Our wish is that you are lucky enough to taste the mouth-watering stingray moqueca. You must call to schedule before you go: 71 3328-2056. Another valuable tip is to schedule with Suzana someone from the community to pick you up close to MAM, so you go together and you won’t lose time looking for the restaurant.
To get to Monica’s Bar in Gamboa de Baixo, the tip is to go by boat – you can walk inside the community, but believe me, the “mini” boat trip is worth a lot. The entrance is also by MAM. You must head to the rocky beach where there is a SUP school. Right there you can get a boat or, if you prefer, call Monica herself and she can settle everything up. The restaurant is simple, is on a pier and has a step ladder that leads to the sea. There is often a loud sound where locals, tourists and sailors gather. Try the lobster moqueca with shrimp and fish. Another tip is to stay until sunset, it will be worth every second!
Dona Suzana Restaurant
Location: Solar do Unhão Community
Contact: 71 3328 2056 – it only works by scheduling
Monica’s Bar (Instagram: @bardamonica)
Opening hours: 7:30 am to 6:30 pm EVERYDAY!
Accept all cards (with a 4% charge)
Phone: (71) 3336-9728 / (71) 98156-9717 (Monica)
Pelourinho has famous moquecas
The Odoyá restaurant, located in Largo de São Francisco, is a must stop for those strolling at the Historic Center. The individual moqueca can easily serve two people. It has a large and pleasant space in which guests have an internal view of the kitchen and can see the chefs preparing the dishes to be served.
Another option at Pelourinho is the restaurant Sorriso da Dadá, run by Dadá, one of the most famous cooks when it comes to Bahian food. The goldfish moqueca is one of the most requested of the restaurant, garnished with rice, farofa and pirão.
Address: Largo do Cruzeiro de São Francisco, 1 – Pelourinho, Salvador – BA, 40020-280. Phone #: (71) 3322-7892
Sorriso da Dadá Restaurant
Address: Rua Frei Vicente, 05 – Pelourinho, Salvador – BA, 40026-030
Phone #: (71) 3321-5819
One of Salvador’s most traditional restaurants, Yemanjá restaurant is located in Armação and has now a branch at Shopping Barra. There are several types of moquecas such as shrimp, fish, soft siri, siri catado, oyster, lobster or octopus. With a structure of over one thousand square meters of built area, 3 environments, 3 air-conditioned rooms and space for 150 cars, it is perfect for hosting excursions or large groups.
Address: Avenida Otavio Mangabeira, 4661, Jardim Armação, Salvador.
Restaurante Boca de Galinha. Plataforma, Salvador, Bahia. Foto: Amanda Oliveira.