Eating out in the Algarve can be quite an experience, and many discover a broad range of traditional Portuguese food and international cuisine. Because the Algarve is so popular, it’s a well-known tourist destination; therefore, you will find more than enough restaurants to satisfy your palate. The traditional cuisine of the Algarve is reasonably cheap compared to other European regions. Moreover, the local Algarvean people love food, so you can trust that if you find a restaurant that’s popular with the locals, it’s probably great. If you happen to be there at lunchtime, follow what the natives are doing and try out the dish of the day. You’ll have the time of your life if you throw in a glass of local wine for good measure.
TRADITIONAL ALGARVEAN CUISINE
Various ingredients were brought to Europe by Portuguese voyagers, such as ginger, paprika, curry, pepper, and coriander. Modern staples like peanuts, potatoes, tea, tomatoes, and rice were also introduced by way of the Algarvean ports. Incredibly unaffected by outside influences, traditional Algarvean cuisine is a long line of recipes inherited from one generation to the next. Besides local seafood, there are additional specialities using meat and poultry like pork and chicken. Here are a few of the best known traditional Algarvean dishes:
Chicken Piri Piri
This hot and fiery sauce or oil marinated on meat is something every visitor who travels to the Algarve must try at least once. Chicken restaurants abound in the Algarve, where the food is delicious and inexpensive. Just look for an old-fashioned eatery with long tables where you sit wherever you can find a seat. Try to get to your chosen restaurant early to avoid long lines.
An Algarvean container shaped in the form of a clam with a pivoting lid, called a cataplana. They are usually produced from copper or brass, and traditional food is frequently eaten from them. A few restaurants require 24 hours’ notice for their cataplana meals and most dishes are prepared for two people. The dishes vary between shellfish, fish, or meat, or a concoction of all of the ingredients together! Cataplanas are known the world over.
Stews are another speciality that people enjoy around the Algarve. Jardineira is a beef stew, tender and lush with flavour, mixed with vegetables, and is much-loved by the locals. Various stews are regularly featured in the prato da dia, the dish of the day, in local restaurants.
The Portuguese love garlic. Dishes are usually cooked with intact garlic cloves still in their skins. In the appetizing dish camarão portuguesa, prawns in the shell are fried in olive oil and butter with cloves of garlic, bay leaf, and coriander, and served scorching hot with bread from the region. Clams and pork, or simply cockles, are cooked in a similar manner and can be just as tasty.
Traditional Algarvean Recipes
If you want to try some delightful Algarvean recipes for yourself, the Algarve tourism board has an all-inclusive guide to Algarvean cooking together with various recipes under categories like meat, fish, soups, and desserts. Even if you’re not planning to cook, the recipes themselves are quite interesting.
You can find more information on dining out in the Algarve on Mervavista.com who are THE authority on the Algarve region. As local residents they have got to know the area very well and are a great source of tips to make your visit more enjoyable.