Eating well while traveling is one of the most pleasurable things in life, right? I don’t know about you, but I’m the type of person who decides on a destination and then starts to research what are the best restaurants in the region and, of course, the typical foods that I can’t help but try!
Unfortunately, our trip to Portugal did not go exactly as we had planned – you will know more when the vlogs leave on the channel – and we were unable to go to one of the places we most wanted to visit: the Algarve! However, I could not fail to share with you the best restaurants in the region that have been on our itinerary for some time.
We made this selection very diverse and I hope you enjoy the tips when visiting this wonderful region 😉
Restaurant Vila Joya
I had to start the list with Vila Joya, simply because this is one of the only restaurants in Portugal with two Michelin stars. It is inside a hotel / spa of the same name, in Albufeira, by the sea, but make no mistake: the place is sophisticated and has a more rigorous dress code. Another thing, book in advance, especially if you plan to go in high season, ok? The place is really popular!
But are we going to talk about what really matters? Chef Dieter Koschina uses super fresh ingredients and that is exactly why the tasting menu changes daily – that’s right, you didn’t read it wrong! The cuisine of Vila Joya, as expected, is focused on fish and is therefore not a very recommended place for vegetarians, although you can inform restrictions when booking. Another highlight of the restaurant is the Portuguese wine list!
Do you want an even more special experience and are you willing to pay a higher price? Reserve the Chef’s Table! The table accommodates up to 8 people per night, needs to be reserved in advance and there you will meet chef Koschina and his entire team. For those who enjoy gastronomy, there is nothing better, right?
Do you know when dishes are confused with works of art? Well, in Algarve, more specifically in Alporchinhos, the place to delight and be enchanted by the presentations is the Ocean restaurant. In addition to the wonderful blue decor and panoramic views of the ocean, the dishes on the tasting menu will win you over right away.
The place has two stars in the Michelin Guide and it is no accident. In 2009, being just one year in charge of Ocean’s cuisine, Chef Hans Neuner won his first star. The restaurant’s main premise is the use of local and, of course, fresh ingredients. As expected, fish and seafood are the big stars of the house!
The good news for vegetarians is that Ocean has a special menu! I swear that every time I see that a restaurant already has a menu designed for us, it already earns points 😉
Gusto by Heinz Beck
Gusto is another restaurant within the hotel and with a Michelin star, won in 2018. Pasta and risottos dominate the seasonal menu created by the German chef Heinz Beck. The big star of the house is Fagotelli Carbonara, a mass that literally explodes in your mouth! The place is also well known for its sommelier, Miguel Martins, who always recommends the best wines (mostly Portuguese and Italian) to accompany each of the dishes on the tasting menu, which vary between 5 and 12 dishes.
The place also has a more refined decoration and is located in Almancil, about 20 minutes from Faro. For vegetarians, it is worth mentioning that there is no specific menu, but that dishes can be created on the spot based on the available ingredients.
Another Michelin star on the list? Yes! Like the other restaurants mentioned so far, Bon Bon also serves a tasting menu (4 or 6 courses) and offers an incredible wine tasting. The fresh and local ingredients are the basis of the menu developed by Chef Louis Anjos, but those who think they are just classic Portuguese cuisine are mistaken – everything there has a touch of modernity. Currently, the Essence menu is based on ingredients from the land, sea and sky!
The place is a mandatory stop for those passing through the Carvoeiro region, even for vegetarians. Just inform the restrictions at the time of booking (in advance) and the chef will create a special menu for lunch or dinner.
It’s not just sophisticated restaurants that we live in, is it? The Faz Gostos restaurant in Faro is simpler than the others on the list, but still very well recommended in the region. In a beach environment, we need options in this style with lots of good food, right? The place has been operating in an old basement since 2009 and, with success, it expanded in 2016!
The à la carte menu is a great option for both lunch and dinner and has some vegetarian options. There is no shortage of fish dishes, but there are also many good alternatives with pork and duck. The restaurant also features classics of French cuisine, such as pastries and even crème brûlée for dessert.
A restaurant with over 30 years of history, super cozy and with lots of good food. Need one more reason to stop by 2 Passos? I think not! The restaurant is in the Natural Park of Ria Formosa, more specifically in Praia do Ancão, and has a more relaxed feel, both in decoration and in the menu filled with generous portions.
With a Mediterranean influence and based on local ingredients, the main focus there are fish and seafood: shrimp, octopus, squid, cod, fish of the day … There is no shortage of options! The menu, however, is very eclectic and also offers options with chicken, pork, beef and even turkey. For vegetarians there are also 6 starter options and 4 main courses!
The Eira do Mel
Make no mistake: the simple and super rustic appearance hides a special menu! Eira do Mel is the perfect place for those who want to try local products prepared in a traditional way, but with a modern touch given by Chef José Pinheiro. The menu has a bit of everything: rabbit, shrimp, wild boar, octopus … For vegetarians, the vegetable curry with raisins, pine nuts, basmati rice, ginger and fresh coriander is a very complete option 😉
Aah, it’s good to go unhurried, okay? The concept slow food is taken seriously there! For those who have time and want to enjoy the experience of eating more traditional dishes, it is a great alternative.
Noélia and Jerónimo
Tradition, Portuguese cuisine in the best style, abundance, options for all tastes … There is really no lack of adjectives to speak of the restaurant Noélia & Jerónimo, in Cabanas de Tavira. The place is full, so if you can book and avoid the long lines, better! Whoever takes care of the kitchen is the owner, Noélia, and whoever is at the tables inside can still hear her instructions for the whole team.
The restaurant is very frequented by locals and that alone is a good indication, right? The starters are varied: from the classic clam soup to avocado tapas with shrimp. What if I say that the great classics of the house are rice? Well, it is difficult to choose one of the three types: lemon rice with corvina and clams, prawns rice with asparagus and, finally, black cuttlefish rice. Fish and shellfish also win customers!
Looking for a more modern option? Hápetite just opened its doors in the center of Faro (August / 2018) and, although Chef Augusto Gemelli is Italian, here you will find several Algarvian classics! Charcoal octopus with tomato sauce, baked cod and chorizo are some super traditional and, of course, delicious options!
The restaurant offers three fixed dishes for lunch + the special of the day. The dinner menu, however, does not change and has alternatives with sirloin, shrimp, tuna and cod. For vegetarians, we have good news! There are three main dish options: lentil couscous with Algarvian tomato; pumpkin risotto, peppers and dry Algarve cheese; and the sweet potato pie and flavors from the garden. Prices go up to 21 euros (values researched in September / 2018) and it is a great cost benefit 😉
Even though I love Portuguese gastronomy, sometimes I feel a desire for something different, right? Pizzeria Luzzo, originally from Lisbon, can be an excellent alternative to get out of the routine in Tavira. The place is cute, has a cool decor and is a great option for a different dinner. Not to mention that pizza pleases the most varied palates, right?
The pasta is very thin and the place also offers a good variety of drinks with vodka and gin, as well as caipirinhas (yes!) And mojito! The face of summer, right?
So, do you have more delicious indications in the region? There is already a post with vegetarian restaurant options there, but I can already say that there is no shortage of amazing places 😉