It won’t take long to see that the Algarve caters to a diverse crowd, especially when it comes to dining options. There is something for everyone, from vegetarian fare to chicken shacks and plenty of seafood dishes. An experience in any part of Portugal wouldn’t be complete without sampling the traditional gastronomy, however, and these are a few of the top restaurants in Portugal’s beautiful south.
The charming and sophisticated Restaurante-Bar O Marinheiro is one of the best gourmet spots in Albufeira for traditional Portuguese cuisine, in addition to general Mediterranean styles. Choose between surf, turf or vegetarian meals, just make sure to call in advance and reserve a table because they may go quickly (especially at dinner).
A Venda is a favourite in Faro and even Lonely Planet listed it as a top choice for traditional Portuguese cuisine. Everything from the interior decor (including the tiled floor) to the cooking (which includes petiscos, traditional Portuguese appetizers) makes guests feel like they’ve stumbled across a true Portuguese dining room.
Fresh fish is a staple of Portuguese food, and at the Restaurante Bóia Bar guests can watch fisherman pull their day’s catches straight from the sea while enjoying their own freshly-caught meal from the terrace. This restaurant isn’t located in a tourist-heavy zone, but in the quaint and peaceful western-Algarve fishing village called Salema. Meat is offered on the menu, but for those who want a recommendation, try the caldeirada (traditional fish stew). There are also general Mediterranean dishes for diners who are feeling a little less adventurous.
The local tascas are often the best spots for traditional Portuguese fare, and this is definitely the case at Ricky’s Tasca in Faro. Open for lunch and dinner, expect everything from small orders of petiscos to traditional Algarve cuisine and treats from Portugal’s north.
In the Algarve’s northwestern corner lies the town of Aljezur, where many traditional spots can be found, including Restaurante O Sargo. Located on the beach, reviewers love everything about this place from the meals (which include European and international twists on traditional Portuguese recipes) to the scenery and the beautiful outdoor seating.
For seafood and fish, can an experience get any better than heading to ‘the fisherman’s house’? That’s exactly what Casa do Pescador means in English, only this is actually a restaurant in Quarteira. Try the seafood rice (Arroz de Marisco) or a meat and fish combination. The Restaurante Casa do Pescador is a casual spot where everyone wanting a delicious Portuguese meal is welcome, from couples to families.
For true authentic cuisine, straying from the beaten path can be a foodie’s best bet. Alte is located inland – about 21 kilometres north of Albufeira – and offers the best of Algarve and village life in one package, complete with whitewashed homes, historic infrastructure and rugged countryside. The Restaurante A Ponte is a casual and local spot where the focus is on the food; it’s not the place to expect fancy service but it will make taste buds and wallets sing.