The Algarve in Portugal is a foodie’s paradise, with a rich cultural heritage of Mediterranean and Moorish influences. Its sunny climate and long Atlantic coast have helped create a cuisine full of the freshest fish and seafood, fruits and vegetables. If it’s an authentic local experience you’re after, here is a list of the signature dishes of the Algarve and where to enjoy them.

faro portugal

The Rise of Food Travel

Tasting the local cuisine and trying new dishes is a big part of exploring a new destination, for any traveller. As a matter of fact, 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.

Algarve cuisine is primarily a Mediterranean-style diet, with lots of fish, shellfish, fruits and vegetables. Photo ©Algarve Tourist Board

Discover the Algarve cuisine

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.

See also: 7 Best Traditional Foods to Try in the Canary Islands

For those looking for fine dining, the Algarve boasts the most Michelin Star restaurants in the whole of Portugal – eight (8) in total. And a couple of them, namely Ocean at Vila Parc Resort and Vila Joya each have two Michelin Stars.

For visitors looking for 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 best traditional dishes in Algarve you need to try

Cataplana (Fish Stew)

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 fresh seafood, fragrant herbs, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. To try this true taste of the Algarve go to O Patio located in Carvoeiro, which has been perfecting the art of preparing the dish for the last 59 years.

Oysters

Embark on a short boat ride to Estaminéa 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 its very own drinking water production plant.

Octopus

Octopus is a signature dish of Algarve cuisine. Photo ©Algarve Tourist Board

The charming traditional restaurant Tertulia Algarvia is located in the cobbled old town of Faro. Furthermore, they have a selection of dishes, showcasing the diverse ways of cooking octopus. For example, 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.

Fresh Fish in Algarve

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.

Sardines

Sardines are a national favourite in Portugal.

Algarve sardines are a culinary treasure indeed and should not be missed. Furthermore, 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. 

Where to enjoy them: 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

Chicken Piri-Piri is an iconic dish of the Algarve and Portuguese cuisine in general.

This iconic dish is a must-try when visiting the Algarve. Succulent chicken marinated in spicy piri piri sauce, made from a blend of chilli peppers, garlic, herbs, and citrus. Grilled on hot charcoal until the skin turns crisp enhancing the flavours of the sauce blend. In particular, Ramires restaurant is a chicken piri piri institution in Guia. Therefore, it is the place to go for the original recipe that helped give Guia the title of “Barbecue Chicken Capital of Portugal”.

See also: Exploring Lisbon: 3 Exciting Days in the Portuguese Capital

Petiscos

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. For example, dishes to try include duck foie gras, Iberian ham, stuffed squid, and oxtail croquette.

Wine and Beer

Portugal is one of the 11 biggest beer producers in Europe. Photo ©Algarve Tourist Board.

Did you know that Portugal is one of the 11 largest beer producers in Europe? So, why not 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.

See also: The Best Food Stalls In London’s Borough Market

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. Specifically, the vineyards of Morgado do QuintãoQuinta dos Vales, and Barranco Longo offer unforgettable wine-focused experiences. For instance, wine-tasting sessions, opportunities to create personalised wines, and excellent wine-paired meals.

The Morgado do Quintão winery in Algarve, Portugal. Photo ©Algarve Tourist Board

Food Festivals in Algarve, Portugal

Food festivals are a great alternative way to try out local produce. The Algarve region in particular hosts a plethora of them throughout the year, each focusing on different foods.

In July, Monchique hosts the ‘Feira do Presunto’ Festival, showcasing 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. Moreover, the festival attracts an average of 20,000 visitors each day. The festival’s 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. Here, you’ll find 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

Cover photo: Traditional Algarve sweets – ©Algarve Tourist Board

Author

Eleanna is the founder of Chic Travel Tales and has been blogging since 2013. Her mixed ethnic background has made her curious about the world from a young age. Since her first solo trip at 18, she has visited and lived in many places, like London, Sao Paulo, Paris, and Toronto. Her mission is to inspire people to travel the world in style and get to know the soul of each destination.

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