Portugal’s sunny Algarve region is a vibrant tourist hub all year round, from its sun-soaked beaches to its rugged inland panoramas and traditional villages. With such a huge concentration of visitors, it can be difficult to avoid tourist traps and find quality local food – so we’ve compiled a list of ten of the very best Algarve cafes and restaurants.
Michelin-starred and the winner of Portugal’s 2015 nationwide Garfo de Platina award, São Gabriel is a truly special restaurant in the region of Almancil, near the distinguished Quinta do Lago resort. An evening at this upmarket establishment will have visitors choosing between a standard gourmet dinner menu and a special degustation menu. Under the ownership of accomplished Algarve-born international chef Leonel Pereira, this is a swanky venue which will please food connoisseurs as well as regular restaurant-goers.
About 10 kilometres north of the town of Sagres lies Vila do Bispo, home to the Eira do Mel (a literal translation might be “The Honey Barn”.). Michelin-listed but with a modest and welcoming atmosphere, this is a marvellous little restaurant in which to try some Portuguese favourites that you might not find in a traditional tourist-trap restaurant – from rabbit to wild boar, a strong and unusual selection of meats brings variety to the broad range of fish and seafood that travelers in Portugal will have come to know so well. Opening hours: Tues – Sun 12pm – 2:30pm, 7:30pm – 10pm
Integrated into the Salgados Dunas Suites hotel in Albufeira, Restaurante L14 offers a fusion of Portuguese and international food. In particular, the restaurant is gaining a reputation for its desserts, having won a Best Dessert 2015 award for a fig, nut and almond dish that brings together Algarvian ingredients with outside tastes. An excellent choice for a classy evening out in the Albufeira area, L14 is a chance to get to grips with some local Algarve flavors alongside broader Mediterranean delicacies. Opening hours:
For a relaxed and authentic local atmosphere, try another Albufeira restaurant, the Adega Dom Pipas, tucked away on the cobbled Travessa dos Arcos, away from the bustling city center. You are guaranteed to get a warm welcome from the friendly staff, and the bilingual menu of traditional Portuguese dishes will have something for all tastes. Albufeira can be so jam-packed with tourist-focused restaurants and cafes, aimed at every market niche, that those spending some time in the city will be thrilled at the prospect of visiting a restaurant that is quintessentially Portuguese.
The town of Alvor, another favorite tourist spot located on the southern coast, offers Àbabuja, a fun and accommodating restaurant which sticks to what it does best – hearty Portuguese mainstays with regional specials thrown in. A good choice for those interested in less common fish and seafood, such as clams and cuttlefish, the restaurant also boasts privileged location down on the waterfront (the venue’s name derives from babugem, a Portuguese word for the spray of the breaking tide). Opening hours: Noon – Midnight
A creation of its eponymous chef, Henrique Leis, the premises of this restaurant include two distinct, functioning spaces, one of which – richly decorated and complete with a roaring fireplace – is intended for winter use, while another is a pleasant and open space for use in summer (the restaurant also boasts an outdoor terrace space with a fantastic sea view). Offering both a regular menu and a tasting option, and a wide selection of wines, this is a gourmet establishment with the added benefit of a beautiful location. Opening hours: Mon – Sat 7am – 10pm
Nestled in the heart of Silves, an Algarvian town of huge historical and aesthetic interest, the Café Inglês is an institution in local life in more ways than one. Open day and night, for full meals or light snacks and drinks (the homemade cakes are a particular crowd-pleaser), this is a friendly little establishment and perfect for a stop-off after a trip to Silves’ breathtaking Gothic cathedral. Providing more than just good food, the Café also hosts a range of cultural and musical events, from live jazz and flamenco evenings to poetry readings, securing its place in the hearts of visitors.
Located a short drive away from Faro, Le Marquis is a richly-decorated rustic haunt amid the hills of Gorjões village. Complete with a roaring fireplace, the grand and well-presented environment ensures a warm welcome, and the well thought-out set menus are a safe bet for hungry tourists (traditional Sunday lunches are also available). Vegetarians will also find themselves well provided-for. Be sure to book to avoid disappointment. Opening hours: 12pm – 3pm, 7pm – 9:30pm
Restaurant, Portuguese, Seafood, Mediterranean, European
A Vale do Lobo beach
A seaside restaurant overlooking the beaches of the idyllic Vale do Lobo resort, Sandbanks is a flexible and professional haunt that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, complete with a kids’ menu. Tourist- as well as family-friendly, Sandbanks is also a prime location to enjoy the sunset or the fabulous day-time views of the ocean. While the restaurant’s fish and seafood options are as fresh as one would expect from a Portuguese coastline establishment, a range of meat options complement these to build a comprehensive dining experience. Opening hours: 9:30am – 11pm
In parts of Brazil the barbeque or churrasqueirais something close to a religion, and Bem Bom sets out to bring that philosophy to the town of Quarteira, serving up mountains of succulent meat and fish at a reasonable price. A particular favorite is the rump beef or picanha, but all tastes are catered to by the vast array of cuts on offer, presented by helpful and approachable staff. Visit with an empty stomach to ensure you can eat more than your fill.