Yes, there’s no shortage of full English breakfasts around this Algarve resort, but you’ll also find fresh seafood tapas, grilled catch of the day and serious fine-dining, too.
As one of the Algarve’s most popular and prominent beach resorts, Praia da Rocha has the mix of relaxed, holiday-vibes fish restaurants and international venues that you’d expect. Bag a table near the edge of its long frill of sage and ochre cliffs to really feel the atmosphere of this surfy area – only a handful of restaurants have this view, so sniff out your sunset spot early in the trip. Back on the strip, you’ll find pizzerias, Indians, tapas bars and grills to suit the family and young-adult crowd that loves these hedonistic golden shores.
With a sheltered deck overlooking sand and sea, this slick bistro does delicately presented modern Portuguese fine-dining with great flair. Blackened octopus tendrils are cooked to juicy perfection, sea urchin mousse is served in the critter’s polka-dot shell, while pork loin medallion comes in a maze of grilled vegetables. You’re in for a mellow evening surrounded by couples and older travellers, splashing out on a bit of luxury in this largely casual resort.
Towards the east side of the resort, near the marina, this casual wine and tapas bar has simple pavement tables that are perfect for an impromptu supper. With a pan-European approach, it’s a good way to mix-up the seafood-heavy Portuguese meals: expect baked camembert hollowed-out and filled with truffle puree, steak tartare and burgers alongside octopus and tuna steaks. Ask the owners for their wine recommendations – if you find a glass you like, you can buy a bottle to take home.
This sharply designed tapas bar, with wine bottles and blackboards lining the walls inside and a small terrace of ramshackle tables outside, pulls in an informal crowd of families and twentysomethings. It’s more modern than most in this area, with a counter inside for perusing cheese and trays of seafood before you order. Simple, small plates of herby clams, tomato salad, gambas à la guilho (garlic prawns) and shavings of iberico ham are crowd-pleasing and shareable.
Locals rate the traditional fare at this purely Portuguese hangout, where you can sit in the sun in an urban garden decorated with turf and hanging baskets. Ceramic dishes and metal roasting trays of hearty seafood, rice, steaks and roast veg are hauled out by smiling staff – the moreish bacalhau (salt cod) and the many creamy desserts will send you out smiling, too. You’ll likely get chatting to the owners and their daughter, who have great tips for the area.
After more than 45 years in business, owners Fernando and Angelina know what they’re doing at this boardwalk-side restaurant that’s mere steps from the sand. Fernando still goes to the fish market to pick up the best catches of the day, bringing them back to be sizzled up and served to well-heeled customers in this sculptural, glass-and-wood venue. Try the unparalleled fish stew and the house-special seafood rice, and ask for an outdoor table at sunset.
This restaurant is famous for its large, romantic terrace trimmed by shrubs and potted rosemary, and decorated with classic, red-check tablecloths. It’s a romantic setting for a night spent working through the menu of upmarket steaks, simple grilled fish and dainty desserts such as tiramisu. Sit back and enjoy the balmy, breezy climate while you’re served like VIP. Prices here are a little higher than the more traditional taverns across town, but the atmosphere matches the bill.
After something a bit different, in this town of grilled fish and tapas? This international spot excels at Goan curries and courgette risotto, as well as having a dedicated vegan menu of tofu and seitan creations. Pretty black-and-white ceramics and bites served in martini glasses are fit for a city slicker, but you can still tuck into rustic Portuguese prawns piri piri and cataplana, with sea views from its indoor-outdoor terrace.
Linen sunshades are woven like sails between wooden posts at this nautical-feeling restaurant, right on the boardwalk behind the beach. Surfers and kaftan-clad beachgoers recline on cushioned wicker chairs, as unfussy bowls of prawn spaghetti and grilled chorizo are brought out. At sunset, climb the Fortaleza de Santa Caterina, a couple of minutes’ walk away, before heading here for dinner, gazing out to the waves as the sea breeze pours in.