Amongst the Algarve’s many seductions, are the promise of fresh seafood and delicious local wine. The welcoming locals and dramatic, rocky beaches make the Algarve one helluva relaxing beach holiday. Having visited Portugal three times in the last year alone, I think it’s safe to say that this country has a special place in my heart.
As many of the Algarve’s gastronomical gems are hidden away from the well-trodden paths, only the well-informed, discerning visitors will know where to find the very best. Including memorable lunch spots and the best seafood joints around, here are my top four restaurant recommendations for your next trip to the Algarve.
Located on the tiny Arrifes beach, mostly popular with the locals, this magnificent gem of a fish restaurant offers no-frills, just simple, exquisite seafood. Diners are treated to the view pictured above as the sun sets, and can look on as the local fishermen snorkel in the rocky shallows and catch lobster, sea bream and squid.
Order a jug of red wine Sangria, then tiger prawns to start followed by the sea bass and garlic potatoes, and soak up the view. Prices are as you would expect for such locally sourced ingredients, for example around £35 for a sea bass to serve two. The service is friendly and attentive but casual, don’t wear your best dress!
Owner of two Michelin Stars, Vila Joya is a sensory delight and not to be missed when visiting the Algarve for a special occasion. Drink up the breathtaking ocean views as course after course of culinary art is presented to you. Exciting textures and flavours and beautiful presentation elevate a meal at the Vila Joya to an experience you’ll forever remember. It’s a high end restaurant with high end prices to suit, but well worth it. The restaurant is set in the grounds of the Vila Joya hotel in Galé, Albufeira. Book via the website here.
A perfectly balanced restaurant with a classic but sophisticated menu including aged steaks and local seafood. A ten minute walk from the beautiful Sao Rafael Beach, this petite but impressively elegant family-run restaurant boasts a glass fronted wine room and a seafood menu to rival Rick Stein’s. Be sure to order a bottle of Vinho Verde, the regions fruity and slightly sparkly white wine.
The couple who own O Marinheiro have built a loyal clientele who return summer after summer to enjoy the warm hospitality and the beautiful dishes on offer. Expect to be offered blankets and digestifs to take the chill off the evening air, and treated as if you were part of the family. Prices are incredibly reasonable and complimentary tasters from the chef add to the experience. More details on their website here.
Armação de Pêra
For a more modern taste, Arte Nautica on Armação de Pêra beach serves dishes such as rack of lamb, gazpacho and prawn curry within a nautical, New England style 5 star beach restaurant. As stylish as it is informal, Arte Nautica which is part of the luxury Vila Vita Park hotel, is perfect for a special lunch or dinner and the service is, as you would expect, excellent. The dishes are reasonably priced for an upmarket restaurant, at around £20 for a main meat dish. Book via the website here.
Have you been to the Algarve? I’d love to hear about your recommendations?