The Algarve is undoubtedly known for its beautiful weather and idyllic beaches and with that comes prime seafood and fish dishes so of course they had to make it onto the list but there are other ingredients that may steal your heart.
Branded the Octopus Capital, Santa Luzia is a small fishing village which is located near Tavira in the Algarve. You will find octopus at majority of seafood restaurants dotted around the Algarve, but if you are looking for the best then look no further, Casa do Polvo Tasquinha in Santa Luzia is the place to go! They consume around 15 tonnes of octopus a year and have a vast array of options with their specialities being fried octopus in breadcrumbs, grilled octopus, a traditional octopus dish, octopus salad and even a new octopus burger! Casa do Polvo, “was inspired by octopus and local gastronomy and you can taste and enjoy traditional delicacies,” they don’t stop there when it comes to tradition, from October to May, they organise incredible Fado nights with renowned singers from all over the Algarve, so it is definitely somewhere you are going to want to check out.
Sardines! An Algarvian delicacy especially if you can get past the bones! This fish has been crowned with Portimão even dedicating a whole festival annually to the famous sardine. This year, the Portimão Sardine Festival takes place from the 3rd to the 7th of August which is because the summer is actually the best time of the year to enjoy fresh Sardines which is typically accompanied by tomato and red pepper salad, boiled potato and fresh bread and then nicely washed down with wine! Check out Dona Barca Restaurant in Portimão as it has fantastic reviews especially when it comes to “the best Sardines ever”.
The cultivation of sweet potato has been a long tradition in Portugal, with Aljezur in the Algarve being known as the home of sweet potato. In fact, the biggest gastronomical festival in the South of Portugal is The Aljezur Sweet Potato Festival which usually takes place in November. For lovers of regional cuisine, Pont’a Pé Restaurant in Aljezur is a well-known spot for enjoying excellent quality food, with their octopus and sweet potato dish and sweet potato desserts receiving honourable mentions.
Known as Conquilhas in Portuguese, the bean clam is found in abundance along the coast of the Algarve. Conquilhas Algarvia style is the most popular way to enjoy them, they are simply quickly sautéed with olive oil, garlic, lemon and cilantro. They leave a delicious sauce which is perfect to dip your bread in and are usually served alongside various seafood dishes. If you do purchase them from the market to do at home, do not forget to soak them in water so that you get all the sand out before cooking. For incredible seafood and delightful bean clams, the place to visit is Rui Marisqueira in Silves or alternatively, Marisqueira a Fábrica in Portimão but honestly there is an abundance of hidden gems all over the Algarve that make wonderful seafood so you are spoilt for choice.
Iberian Black Pork known as “Porco Preto Ibérico” is originally from the Alentejo but is also known as a Monchique melt in your mouth delicacy. Although you will find it at most restaurants all over the Algarve, it is contested that the best way to enjoy it is the Monchique way which is traditionally served with migas which are fried breadcrumbs. O Luar da Foia Restaurant in Monchique comes highly recommended as a great choice especially when it comes to black pork with different variations of migas as well as a black pork burger.
Dom Rodrigo are traditional sweets from the Algarve of conventual origin, it is prepared with egg yolks, sugar, ground almonds, cinnamon, and fios de ovos which is a sweet product made of thin egg yolk threads. The mixture is placed inside the fios de ovos and then wrapped in colourful foil that’s shaped into a small pyramid, which has most likely caught your eye in most Algarve bakeries or cafés. Founded in 1935, Casa de Doces Regionais in Lagos is popular for regional sweets, so you are sure to find fresh and well-made Dom Rodrigo’s there.
Queijo de Figo
Queijo de Figo is a local Algarve sweet due to huge production of figs in the region as well as almond. Be warned that Queijo de Figo is quite sweet and dry due to the mixture of dry figs and almonds but it is nicely enjoyed with a coffee. “Traditionally, sliced figs and almonds were layered into a mould and drizzled with brandy. The combination would then be pressed and stored until the ingredients were combined into a firm cake.”