In my fore last blog you’ve already read about my 7th visit to Portugal and my 4th stay in the Algarve, the most Southern region, for 3,5 days with the tourism board.
Besides the fun things we saw and did here, about which you can read more in this blog: 9 authentic & photogenic spots in the Algarve, I was also very impressed by the pure and high quality food we tasted, the fun culinary activities we did and the authentic restaurants we visited.
Although I usually write about my trips as a whole, with things to see and do, my favourite hotels, sights and photo spots in a destination, I’m also a huge foodie and love to share all the tasty food and nice restaurants I find on each trip through my Instagram Stories.
Pure & Authentic Portuguese Food
Although I can really appreciate a Michelin star restaurant, I also love Italian cuisine, tapas and unique food combinations. But I especially appreciated the food in Portugal for its pure and simple character.
The dishes often consist of fish, seafood like clams, but also lots of meat and salads, combined with basic ingredients like garlic, olives, onion, lemon, fresh herbs like coriander, parsley and of course lots of olive oil. And their dessert assortment is to die for!
Besides that, the Algarve also has some of the nicest delicacy shops, and unique authentic restaurants. Some restaurants located by the beach, others in the mountains with nice views, but you usually find the most quaint ones in the small towns, in authentic settings, with some of the best food I tasted so far.
Therefore I decided to sum up 9 somewhat hidden foodie gems and fun foodie activities in this blog, as recommendations for your visit to the Algarve. I’m happy to share these with my fellow food lovers through many of my own food pics and experiences as usual, including the addresses.
9 fave restaurants & foodie activities:
1. Taste Authentic Algarve with Geographic Algarve
I already mentioned in my earlier Algarve blog that this tour company has several routes to choose from, which you can see here: Website Geographic Algarve.
On our first day we explored the northern part of the Algarve region, Monchique, with the Belgian Kim, including a wine tasting at the small vineyard & wine factory Quinta do Frances.
But also a visit to 2 local factories to taste and witness the production process of their local delicacies: medronho liquor at Ti´Alice and very tasty olive oil at the small Lagar de Azeite Pardieiros factory. A unique experience and exclusively possible through this tour company.
2. Lunch at Restaurant Malhada Quente in Monchique
Located at: Estrada En 267, Monchique 8550-304, Portugal.
This basic, yet welcoming and buzzing restaurant is located along the road in the mountains of Monchique, leading to the highest point of the Algarve. We had lunch here during our tour with Geographic Algarve, and the restaurant is actually owned by Kim’s partner. They serve a tasty bbq, among others, and some of the best appetizers and chicken piri piri I had in the Algarve.
3. Dinner at Restaurant Ramires in Guia
Located at: Rua 25 de Abril, Guia, Albufeira 8200-433, Portugal
This traditional Portuguese restaurant is tucked away in a small town near Albufeira and very popular among the locals. Luckily it has 3 floors and plenty of room, but was still packed with people on a weekday in November, which says enough.
Upon arrival the table was however already set with traditional appetizers, and also the grill offering here is very good, with the renowned piri piri, traditional fish dishes and an amazing dessert selection. Reserve ahead through: Website Restaurante Ramires and get an impression of the food through this gallery:
4. Lunch at Restaurant Don Sebastião in Lagos
Located at: Rua 25 de Abril 26, Lagos 8600-763, Portugal.
In the center of Lagos, along the main street you will find this authentic restaurant that still exudes that true Portuguese spirit! If weather permits you can even dine on the terrace, perfect for people-watching. Their menu with some of the best traditional dishes of the Algarve, the authentic atmosphere and extensive wine cellar with some ancients ports make this restaurant a true must visit and deservingly popular. To avoid disappointment do reserve in advance through: Website Restaurante Don Sebastiao.
5. Loulé food experience with Eating Algarve Tours
As you could have read in my previous Algarve blog we did a food tour in this quaint town with António Guerreiro of EatingAlgarveTours. I loved Loulé, and it was very nice to explore it in this unique and culinary way. We started the day at one of the oldest café’s in town: Café Calcinha with coffee and the traditional pastry: folhado de Loulé.
And when in Loulé the photogenic Mercado Municipal de Loulé can not be missed. Certainly worth a visit for its authentic atmosphere, tasty delicacies and some souvenir shopping!
6. Shop at Casa Portuguesa 1908 in Loulé
Located at: R.José Fernandes Guerreiro 18, Loulé 8100-562, Portugal.
In the side street on the right side of the market hall you can find this authentic Portuguese grocery store, taking you back to the 1900’s. With its traditional historic interior, beautiful packaging, friendly service, delicious authentic delicacies, original sweets, specialties and the most unique Portuguese products, which make the best souvenirs in my opinion, this shop should not be missed if you’re a real foodie!
7. Lunch at Restaurant A Estátua in Loulé
Located at: Rua Ascensao Guimaraes 84, Loule 8100-542, Portugal.
Open for lunch and dinner this relatively modern looking restaurant serves some of the best traditional fish dishes, like this Xarém with cavala:
8. Tea & pastries at Cozinha Mediterranica in Loulé
Located at: Rua D. Paio Peres Correia n. 14, Loulé 8100-564, Portugal.
Open for lunch and dinner, but especially the pastries here are divine!
We sampled the traditional Torta de laranja, a very tasty orange roll, best served with mint tea in this cute and fun setting, as you can see in this gallery:
9. Cataplana EXPERIENCE at Restaurant Aji
Located at: Vidamar Resort Hotel Algarve, Rua Boca da Alagoa, Lote 1-Fase 2, Albufeira 8200-424 Portugal.
We stayed at this hotel and for dinner at one of the stylish in house-restaurants we were surprised with a Cataplana cooking experience, guided by 2 of their chefs!
This traditional Portuguese dish is seen as the symbol of Algarve cuisine, and was traditionally prepared in a beaten copper pan in the shape of a clam shell, making it easy for hunters and fishermen in the old days to fill with the essentials like garlic, onions, olive oil, and vegetables of the season, along with their catch of the day, to cook over a fire.
The cataplana pan steams the fresh food, locking in the flavors and juices while cooking, making the process fairly quick and effortless. All we had to do was combine the right ingredients, cut them in pieces, throw them into the pan and let it simmer away, after which we could eat our own prepared traditional fish stew!
Of course there are many more restaurants to recommend, especially in summertime along the coast! But since we visited end of November we decided to go more inland as well, to explore some of the smaller towns and experience the lesser known side of the Algarve.
If you want to stay in the most central location of the region I can certainly recommend our hotel as well, where we had this fun cooking workshop.
Vidamar Resort Algarve
If you want to relax to the fullest and benefit from the extensive facilities and luxury of a 5 star hotel, then this resort will be perfect for you! But it's very suitable for kids and families as well. This stylish beachfront resort is situated right along the Salgados sand dunes, next to a golf course and nearby a nature reserve.
The guests can stay on half board basis and take advantage of the Dine Around concept, with which they can sample a variety of cuisines and gastronomic experiences at 5 different restaurants.
Vidamar Resort offers 250 double rooms and suites, with different views, but also several private pool villa’s, a Spa, massage services, a heated indoor pool, several outdoor pools, including an adults only area, a beach club, Bali beds, themed parties and events, and several different beach- and cocktail bars. All of this and more is placed in a beautiful setting right in front of the beach, separated by a wide dune area with private boardwalks, and extensive palm tree gardens are placed around the pools for ultimate privacy. Get an impression through this gallery:
This classy resort truly deserves its 5 stars and is located near Albufeira, perfect to explore the rest of the Algarve from. Find out more here. Do note that it's located a bit further away from other restaurants and that the architecture is quite modern.
I hope I was able to inspire you through both my blogs to visit the Algarve!
If not for the gorgeous coastline, pleasant climate (also in autumn and winter), unique atmosphere, lovely towns, friendly people and beautiful nature areas, then at least for the authentic and delicious food and quaint restaurants!
To plan your visit to the Algarve or any of the regions of this wonderful country do check my other Portugal blogs and the websites of: Visit Algarve and Visit Portugal. But of course you can always ask me anything here or on social media as well, via the direct links at the bottom of this page!