Seafood takes pride of place in Faro’s restaurant scene – after all, the Algarvian town boasts its own prominent fishing harbour. But beyond the usual catch-of-the-day, you’ll find a unique twist on Portuguese cuisine, courtesy of their Arabic history. From hole-in-the-wall eateries to luxurious rooftop restaurants, here are the top places to eat in Faro.
Algarvian food takes in the best natural resources from the sea, and is heavily influenced by the flavours of its historical Arabic rulers. The most well-known local dish is the cataplana, a distinctive round, metal tagine in which an aromatic fish stew is prepared. Tertulia Algarvia takes local cuisine very seriously and their version, which is liberally stuffed with octopus, cockles and soft sweet potatoes, should not be missed.
Founded in 1925, this is one of the oldest restaurants in the country. With its azulejo-tiled walls and classic wooden beams, it feels as typically Portuguese as you could get. They fly the flag for traditional ingredients and cooking techniques by serving up simple recipes that have fed families for generations. Tuck into Iberian pork cheeks or grilled octopus drizzled with olive oil on the terrace, surrounded by lemon and orange trees.
Inspired by their travels abroad, the chefs at Pigs and Cows have created a fusion of local Portuguese cuisine with French techniques and flavours from around the world. Situated north of the old town, you’ll find an open kitchen and a small, intimate dining room with a cosy atmosphere. The menu changes every day, but expect dishes as varied as duck confit, sea-bass ceviche and Creole octopus rougaille.
One of the benefits of staying in Faro is how close you are to a perfect beach spot. The Ria Formosa is a series of islands and sandbanks, sprinkled with tiny, isolated communities that were founded on fishing. Faro, with its large harbour, is the gateway to this lagoon – so a boat trip is in order. Cafe Janoca, on the Ilha da Culatra, has a relaxed, beach shack vibe that makes you feel right at home. It serves extremely good-value, simple seafood, as well as fresh-as-it-could-be fish of the day.
Sometimes a full meal isn’t necessary – and 8 Tapas have certainly mastered the art of small plates. You’ll find the venue on a cobbled lane in the old town, and it specialises in artisan cheeses and meats. Don’t miss the marinated anchovy bruschetta with grilled vegetables, or the soft cheese from the city of Serpa, drizzled in honey and topped with walnuts. The impressive wine list alone is worth a visit.
Tucked down a Faro backstreet, this unassuming little osteria is something of a local favourite. It is owned by born-and-raised Italians, and aims to provide authentic and simple food with unexpected flavours. Staff are knowledgeable and passionate, and the ingredients are local and high-quality. You will love the unexpected prawn and pistachio pasta, which should be paired with a Portuguese white from their extensive wine list.
On the outskirts of the old town, Alameda is one of the most impressive gastronomic experiences in Faro, and it’s only a few years old. Playing with flavour and texture, the dishes are as colourful and exciting to look at as they are to eat. Dine in their stylish dining room, or eat al fresco on the rooftop. The tasting menu includes octopus from the local town of Olhão and oysters caught in the national park.
Hidden up an old town lane, this restaurant is hard to find but worth the effort. Once inside, take a pew in the gorgeous, dappled inner courtyard that provides just enough shade to assuage the midday sun. The owners take pride in finding unusual flavours and putting a twist on Algarvian cuisine. The octopus and sweet potato particularly stand out, but you should also try the pork cheek in red wine eaten with crispy Portuguese round chips.
Looking for somewhere to stay? Book into one of the best hotels in Faro now with Culture Trip, or give these top resorts a go. Inspire your Algarve itinerary with the top things to see and do in the region. Don’t miss the top bars in Faro.
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