Where To Eat In The Algarve

By Susan Springate

9 months ago

Delicious eats along the Ria Formosa


Stretching 60 kilometres along the southern coast of Portugal, the Algarve’s Ria Formosa Natural Park is a network of inlets, islands and stunning beaches with an abundance of walking trails, teaming with flora and fauna and views of the Atlantic Ocean. What better setting for a leisurely lunch? Here are five delicious restaurants in the Algarve. 

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5 Delicious Restaurants in the Algarve

Ria Formosa, Hotel Faro

Praça Dom Francisco Gomes 2, 8000-168 Faro, Portugal

For most people heading on holiday to the beaches of the Algarve, Faro is often overlooked, dismissed as little more than a gateway to the sun. But closer inspection reveals a stunning historic centre and a unique city that is bordered on three sides by a series of saltwater lagoons and waterways, which form part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park. The best view in town is to be had from the sweeping terrace of Hotel Faro’s Ria Formosa Restaurant, where you can gaze out across Faro’s marina and the islands beyond and dine on some of the finest local ingredients. The vista is only matched by the restaurant’s superb food and friendly staff. Try the scallops, served with a delicate curried puree or the huge plump and juicy prawns, followed by seabass or cataplana, a Portuguese fish stew, typical to the Algarve. The perfect way to kick-start your holiday on the Algarve! hotelfaro.pt

Estaminé, Ilha Deserta

Ilha Deserta, 8005-554, Portugal

Estaminé, a restaurant in the Algarve

Estaminé

For more of a beach experience, it’s hard to beat Estaminé, the only restaurant on nearby Ilha Deserta, or ‘the deserted island’, which is one of five barrier islands in the Ria Formosa Natural Park, accessed via the regular ferry service or shuttle speedboats from Faro. The restaurant burned down in Spring 2021 but has risen from the ashes, a modern structure with 360-degree views of sandy beaches stretching as far as the eye can see. Fish is picked daily from local markets and grilled over charcoal or baked whole in the oven. Try the popular ‘Beach’ Prawns, which are peeled, breaded and deep fried in the family’s secret recipe, washed down with a glass (or two) of the local Algarvian white wine. Make sure you leave enough time to sleep it off on the beach afterwards, before taking the ferry back to the mainland for the perfect ending to a perfect day. ilhadeserta.com

Gigi’s, Quinta do Lago

Quinta do Lago, Almancil, Portugal

 

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A 20 minute drive west of Faro is the prestigious resort of Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo, best known for their manicured golf-courses and Beverly Hills-style mansions. The so-called Algarve Golden Triangle is packed with excellent restaurants, but one of the most charming is Gigi’s, accessed via the wooden bridge that straddles the tidal lagoon, leading to Quinta do Lago beach. Perched on stilts and nestled in the dunes, the views from Gigi’s are superb, especially at sunset, when you can enjoy a cool drink on the terrace and marvel at the quickly-changing palette in the sky. The day’s catch is listed on the blackboard, and includes everything from locally caught tuna, turbot and seabass to an array of weird and wonderful shellfish. It’s pricey but perfect in an understated sort of way. quintadolago.com

The Bold Octopus

Praia do Ancão, 8135-162 Almancil, Portugal

the bold octopus, algarve

As you wander along the boardwalk onto the beach at Praia do Ancão, you can just make out the white-washed, contemporary silhouette of The Bold Octopus further along the coast. Located in the heart of the Ria Formosa Natural Park and perched above the dunes on stilts, this popular and lively eaterie offers unrivalled views out towards the Atlantic Ocean. Its stylish décor and unique setting instantly puts you in the holiday mood. Where better to start your evening than on the rooftop terrace, sipping one of the restaurant’s signature cocktails as the sun goes down? The vast dining room is surrounded by expansive windows to let the outside in, and centrestage is a large octopus mural by Dutch artist Meinke Flesseman, inspired by traditional Portuguese azulejo tiles. The food is spot on, too, and the most popular dishes include the Popcorn Shrimp, Prawns al Ajillo or Tuna Tostada to start, followed by the Pan-Fried Sea Bass with lime risotto, or grilled fish of the day. There’s also a Fried Chicken Piri Piri Burger if you don’t fancy fish, and possibly the largest Eton Mess I have ever seen for pudding. Party on! boldoctopus.pt

Amara

Four Seasons Fairways, Avenida André Jordan nr 37, 8135-024 Almancil, Portugal

Amara / Four Seasons Fairways / Algarve

The only restaurant on the list not to benefit from sea vistas, Amara’s brand-new al-fresco terrace instead offers stunning views over the Quinta do Lago North golf course and across the tops of the parasol pines. Since its launch in 2018, the Resort’s signature restaurant has fast-become a destination eaterie, celebrated for its inspired menu of seasonal dishes, created by chef Nelson Candeias, that redefine Portuguese cuisine. Dishes such as Hamachi Fish Mosaic with Tomato tartar, or slow-cooked octopus with Romesco sauce, coriander emulsion, sweet potato purée and potato soufflé, are presented with such artistry as to befit a Michelin-starred restaurant – but at a fraction of the cost.  A three-course menu for €45 and a four-course tasting menu for €55, along with wine pairings, curated by charming Daniela Rodrigues, the youngest sommelier in Portugal. amararestaurant.pt


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