Each region of Portugal has its own must-eat, in our Algarve food guide you’ll find suggestions for what to order in the Algarve and where. The Algarve with its glorious beaches and almost non-existent winters is the only region of Portugal with a Mediterranean coastline. The unique mix of Moorish and Mediterranean influences in Algarve regional cuisine is notable in the available ingredients and food habits. From figs and almonds to oranges and the freshest of fish, the Algarve is a paradise for food lovers.
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Polvo á Lagareiro
Octopus dishes such as polvo à lagareiro, roasted octopus drenched in olive oil, are very much appreciated in the Algarve. The village of Santa Luzia near Tavira is considered ” the Portuguese capital of octupus”. You can visit the village for an incredible octopus meal. For us its a must-eat when we are spending time in the Eastern Algarve.
Cataplana de Mariscos
A cataplana has its roots in the Moorish influence from North Africa which for over 500 years left its mark on the historical and cultural identity of the Algarve. The cataplana is probably the most traditional and local dish you can get from the region. The cataplana de mariscos has lots of red and green peppers and a good selection of seafood and several types of firm white fish whatever is fresh and in season.
Fresh sardines are one of Portugal’s national dishes. The characteristic smell of grilled sardines is familiar everywhere during the summer months. This highly popular fish grilled, served with potatoes and a salad, is an absolute must for any visitor to the Algarve. You’ll find sardines on the menu in most restaurants. However, the best time to go and eat sardines has to be during the annual Sardine Festival held in Portimão every year in August.
Lulas à Algarvia
Lulas à Algarvia is a typical dish featuring squid pan-fried in olive oil with garlic, and topped with chopped coriander. Food in the Algarve is all about simplicity in cooking, which allows the natural taste of the freshest fish to shine through.
Frango à Guia
This is the local take on barbeque chicken, which normally features small chickens with very tender meat typical from Guia in Albufeira
Bife de Atum
Tuna is the “big fish” caught off the Algarve coast and one of the riches of the region. Apart from eating it fresh, the Algarveans have a flourishing tuna-canning industry, providing for the whole country and export. The thrills of catching tuna have led to organised tourist tuna fishing.
Dom Rodigo is a traditional Portuguese sweet, made from a combination of egg yolks, sugar, ground almonds, cinnamon and fios de ovos – a confectionary product consisting of thin egg threads. You can buy them wrapped in foil, with the ends twisted upwards to keep any loose syrup inside. They are delicate and very sweet. Pastelaria Gardy in Faro is a great place to try Dom Rodigo in the Algarve.
Bolo de Alfarroba
In the Algarve Carob has been a key ingredient for a long time. Carob trees come from the Middle East and the Moors brought them to Portugal in the 7th century. Portuguese cuisine makes the most use of carob flour in cakes, namely regional delicacies of the Algarve such as bolo de Alfarroba, a moist carob cake.
Queijinhos de Amêndoa
These marzipan treats consist of an almond shell and a creamy egg-based filling. The shell combines ground almonds and egg whites and the centre is made with traditional Portuguese ovos moles.
Morgado de Figo
This is a fig and almond paste used in the Algarve for moulding all kinds of small shapes. It is served as sweets or made into a large cake, to cut in small sections when needed, as it will keep almost indefinitely.
Pudim de Laranja
A popular pudding in restaurants across Portugal. This orange flavoured version comes from is the Algarve. It consists of an egg- based custard that is flavoured with orange juice and orange zest.
A food tour is a great way to get an insight into the culture and find out why the Portuguese are so passionate about their food, if you’d like to find out more and be led by a local consider booking one of these food and culture tours.