In a major new survey carried out by American Express on Global Travel Trends 81% of participants said that trying the local cuisine is the part of travel they look forward to the most and 75% are most interested in eating at local restaurants when travelling. With that in mind the Algarve Tourist Board has compiled a list of the best places to try the various culinary specialities of the region.
The Algarve is a food lover’s paradise, boasting a rich culinary heritage influenced by its long Atlantic coastline, Moorish ancestry and sunny climate that have created a healthy Mediterranean diet of outstanding fish, shellfish, fruits and vegetables. Fresh daily catches feature on most menus and often include cockles, clams, oysters, squid, seabass, seabream, mackerel, or sardines.
For those looking for fine dining the Algarve boasts the most Michelin Star restaurants in the whole of Portugal – eight in total. And a couple of them – Ocean at Vila Parc Resort and Vila Joya each have two Michelin Stars.
For visitors wanting an authentic and local experience here is a list of where best to eat some of the region’s specialities. Prepare yourself for a tantalising journey as you eat your way around the Algarve.
The signature dish of the Algarve takes its name from the traditional copper pot it’s cooked in. The clamshell-shaped dish helps seal the flavours and aromas of the fresh seafood, fragrant herbs, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. To try this true taste of the Algarve, go to O Patio located in Carvoeiro who have been perfecting the art of preparing the dish for the last 59 years.
Embark on a short boat ride to Estaminé, a secret treasure of a restaurant with 360° views over the Ria Formosa and the Atlantic Ocean that only locals know about. It is nestled on a picturesque, deserted island just off the coast of Faro. The restaurant prides itself on its commitment to sustainability, utilizing solar energy to power the entire infrastructure and their very own drinking water production plant.
This charming traditional restaurant Tertulia Algarvia is located in the cobbled old town of Faro, and they have a selection of dishes showing the diversity of octopus. Creations include octopus tentacles with sweet potatoes and sauteed greens and octopus Cataplana with sweet potato and cockles, a twist on the classic Algarvian dish.
In the breath-taking surroundings of Ria Formosa Natural Park, located right on the beach at Praia do Ancão, is 2 Passos—a culinary establishment of more than 30 years and a Michelin-recommended restaurant. 2 Passos has become the ultimate place for the freshest fish such as seabass, cod and mackerel in a nature inspired setting.
Algarve sardines are a culinary treasure and should not be missed. To celebrate their unique flavour and delicate texture the sardines are typically grilled with no additional flavours and served with ‘montaneira’- a salad of tomato, cucumber, onion, roasted green & red pepper with oregano, and bread. À-do-João on Farol Island, just off the coast of Faro, is worth the short boat trip to get there for the best sardines in the Algarve.
Chicken piri piri
This iconic dish is a must try when visiting the Algarve. Succulent chicken marinated in spicy piri piri sauce, made from a blend of chili peppers, garlic, herbs, and citrus. Grilled on hot charcoal until the skin turns crisp enhancing the flavours of the sauce blend. The Ramires restaurant is a chicken piri piri institution in Guia and is the place to go for the original recipe that helped give Guia the title of “Barbecue Chicken Capital of Portugal”.
For the best accompaniment to a nice cold beer or glass of wine try petiscos, Portuguese tapas, at Paixa. This eclectic, contemporary, and sophisticated location provides the perfect space for late night drinks and snacks with a group of friends. Dishes to try include duck foie gras, Iberian ham, stuffed squid, and oxtail croquette.
Wines and beer
Did you know that Portugal is s one of the 11 largest beer producers in Europe? Try some of the finest beers at Algarve Rock Brewery, located outside of Faro. It is a state-of-the-art brewing facility producing a variety of completely natural and full-flavoured craft beers.
Algarve wines are much improved in recent years. For an exceptional wine-tasting experience and a chance to try the finest wines, visit these top vineyards in the Algarve. Morgado do Quintão, Quinta dos Vales, and Barranco Longo offer unforgettable wine-focused experiences, including wine tasting sessions, opportunities to create personalised wines, and excellent wine-paired meals.
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Food festivals are a great alternative way to try out local produce and the region hosts a plethora of them throughout the year, each focusing on different foods.
In July, Monchique hosts the ‘Feira do Presunto’ Festival, showcasing the locally produced smoked ham.
The Sardine Festival is held annually in August along the waterfront, in Portimão. Visitors can enjoy freshly cooked sardines and live Portuguese music while soaking up the festivities, which attracts an average of 20,000 visitors each day. The festivals well-deserved reputation has led it to being shortlisted for the ‘Event of the Year’ locally.
Similarly, the Olhão Seafood Festival, also held annually in August, is the perfect place to enjoy the freshest shellfish and seafood, from prawns and oysters to seafood cataplanas and rice dishes. Live music, including Portuguese pop, rock, and Fado music, adds to the lively atmosphere of this event.
For further information on the Algarve, please visit www.visitalgarve.pt