Visit Galway’s Only Portuguese Inspired Restaurant – Alma Restaurant
Business//Food & Drink

Visit Galway’s Only Portuguese Inspired Restaurant – Alma Restaurant

Alma Restaurant is the latest venture of husband and wife team João and Márcia, owners and the original team behind the famed Apoema Bistro. After successfully spending the last months pursuing a new project in the Portuguese Douro Valley region (this year the European Capital of Wine) they are back to reintroduce Galway to the delicious Portuguese flavours they became famous for.

The story of Alma Restaurant begins years before it was even a thought in João and Márcia’s mind. The couple, both fed up with their careers, decided together to pursue their other passion - cooking. Márcia primed her management skills and João completed cookery courses and continues to this day to teach himself more. They both moved to Brazil in 2012 where they opened their first ever restaurant. A few years later, João and Márcia moved back to Portugal and opened their next restaurant in Lisbon, winning the City Council Golden Fork for three consecutive years, before eventually deciding to make the move to Galway after having fallen in love with it. Here, they opened the award-winning Apoema Bistro from 2019 to 2022, before having to make the unforeseen move back to Portugal for health reasons and while there, opened Raizes Bistro, the sibling of Apoema Bistro. However back in Ireland, without João and Márcia, the soul of Apoema Bistro, the restaurant began losing momentum leaving them quite the predicament - to give up on their restaurant in Galway or to close the one they had opened in Portugal? Determined not to have their years of hard work go to waste and lose what they had spent years building, the couple opted to keep both and resuscitate the restaurant they had begun in Galway and restore it to its former glory. With this decision, they renamed the restaurant and have since breathed new life into space transforming it to the cosy and welcoming Alma Restaurant you’ll find today.

They now own two restaurants in two countries united by the same dedication and love for good food and excellent service. Alma Restaurant is the only one of its kind in Galway and one of the few Portuguese restaurants throughout all of Ireland. Its’ name was the perfect fit because of what the restaurant in Galway had come to mean to them. João tells us; “Alma means soul in Portuguese and we put a lot of our soul, sweat and tears into the other restaurant (Apoema Bistro) and we weren’t ready to let it go.” He continues; “From assembling furniture to painting walls we mostly did all with love and care by ourselves. It’s our soul. It’s our Alma”. João recently moved back to Galway to setup a new team and the restaurant is fully open during the week once again and when Márcia returns to Galway next month, after recovering from a complicated surgery, Alma will be whole once more, as João explains; “If I may be the soul of the kitchen, she is the heart of the restaurant.”

The menus at Alma Restaurant are fully inspired by traditional Portuguese cuisine with many nods to Brazilian influences and the chef’s own view. They are also proud of having a 100% Portuguese wine list, as João says “In a country with over 4500 labels to choose from, 250 native grape varieties, 13 very different wine regions and 29 appellations we have more than enough to keep our hands full.” These short menus change often to give guests a chance to enjoy a new variety of dishes on each visit. The menu also contains an expanding range of Petiscos (the Portuguese equivalent to tapas) which are perfectly complemented by Alma’s sangria and Portuguese wines. These tapas are ideal for enjoying a late summer evening meal with friends in a wholesome and comfy restaurant space. If you would like to try these authentic Portuguese flavours, visit Alma Restaurant at Unit 1, Lydon Court, Bothar Irwin in Galway’s City Centre.

To learn more about João and Márcia’s story, visit their website at; and follow them on Instagram at;

All photos by Ciarán MacChoncarraige

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