If you love fresh fish and a tasty tomato salad, you’ll be satisfied on the Algarve, for simplicity is the soul of its cuisine. Since it has a big and rich coast, it boasts a very interesting array of fish and seafood, from sardines to cataplanas, and many dry fruit sweets that will make your mouth water for more. The sardines in the Algarve are of the best in the world and local people cook them on small barbecues on their doorsteps, creating a delicious smell which wafts through the streets!
There are many restaurants to choose from, with many of them offering traditional Portuguese fare as well as a wide variety of fresh seafood. Dishes involving different preparations of codfish are plentiful, and the Cataplana styled dishes are well known in this region. Shellfish such as prawns, lobster, and crab tend to be very expensive, while fish is much more affordable. For a break from seafood, try the chicken piri-piri (roasted chicken with a sort of spicy sauce).
As a general rule, places near the beaches tend to offer average to downright bad quality food for ‘touristy’ prices, but as you go uphill the quality gets better.
The Algarve is also famous for its hot and spicy Piri Piri Chicken, which can be found all over.
Regional food can be heavy yet tasty and there is a wide choice of cakes and pastries, many using the local ingredients such as carob and almonds.
Port is Portugal’s best-known drink but the Algarve is also famous for its spirits. The two main spirits to look out for are “Medronho” and “Aguardente”. Medronho is a traditional fruit brandy, traditionally produced and drunk in The Algarve. Medronho can be fiercely potent and is available in variations ranging from unlabelled local homebrew bottles, moonshine style, to connoisseur tipples at more of a premium price range. Aguardente is a very rough type of Portuguese brandy which will definitely warm you up on a chilly evening. It burns your throat and warms up your stomach. Consume wisely!
Another Algarve drink is the almond liqueur, delicious after a big meal!
The Algarve’s wines are certainly worth a try but for a more distinguished tipple you should try something produced outside the region. In the summer a cool glass of “vinho verde” – a fresh slightly sparkling wine – is hard to beat.
The best wines of the Algarve come from Tavira, Portimão and Lagoa.