The Algarve is rich in fresh fish and seafood but there’s much more to it. It produces massive quantities of oranges, figs, almonds and carobs. It is a tourist hot spot and like many others there are tourist traps, so always look for places where Portuguese people eat and avoid restaurants with pictures of food at all costs! Some delicious restaurants won’t look as fancy or have the best outdoor seating but the food will be amazing, trust me!
Today I’m sharing some products and dishes you shouldn’t miss when you visit:
MUXAMA – It’s like prosciutto from the ocean. It’s dried salted tuna and it’s delicious. You eat it as an appetizer in some good restaurants and the texture and taste are fabulous.
GAMBA DA COSTA – This is a type of shrimp you’ll only find in the Algarve (and maybe Spain). It’s a tiny shrimp found in Ria Formosa and it’s so scrumptious and deliciously tender that you eat it almost as is – you should order them just boiled with some salt. What and end of the day treat!
OSTRAS – Well, you know oysters but have you tried Algarve’s oysters? Remember to ask for an Algarve wine and enjoy.
CARAPAUS ALIMADOS - Horse mackerel is a common fish in Portugal and usually it’s served grilled but in Algarve they serve it “alimado”, which means filleted and bathed in olive oil, garlic and herbs. It can be eaten as an appetizer with some bread or a main with boiled potatoes.
ARROZ DE LINGUEIRÃO – A fantastic razor clam in a rice stew. It’s a super creamy, indulgent rice with razor clams as the hero. Order with a nice fresh white wine and enjoy!
CONQUILHAS – A type of clams. Smaller, meatier and tastier. It’s a tricky thing because they’re not always available and some years you might even miss them completely but they sure are worth looking for. And you can even look for them yourself – everytime you’re on the beach and it’s really low tide and the sand is smooth as can be, you can sink your feet on the sand and they’ll be beneath it. Just get a bucket and fill it – lunch!
XARÉM – It’s a sort of corn porridge and it’s served on itself or with conquilhas.
SALADA DE CENOURA –Carrot salad, as simples as it sounds. It’s boiled carrots until al dente and then seasoned with olive oil, vinegar, garlic and herbs overnight. It’s served as an appetizer in restaurants, like olives.
CATAPLANA – Algarve’s hero dish. You will see this EVERYWHERE! Cataplana is actually the name of the pan where you cook the dish and also the name of the dish itself. It allows for a type of very specific boiling where the ingredients and flavours get mixed. It’s so perfect that it is served as is, right on the pan.
RAIA ALHADA – A dish of streak fish bathed in olive oil, garlic and herbs, served with boiled potatoes.
FRANGUINHO DA GUIA – You’ve heard of chicken piri piri, right? This is it! The difference on Algarve’s chicken is the size – this is a small size piri piri grilled chicken served with pickles.
DOM RODRIGO – Well, this is one of my favourite Portuguese egg pastry sweets. It’s juicy egg strands in a egg, almond and cinnamon custard. It comes wrapped in colourful paper foil like it’s a Christmas present and it’s basically two teaspoons worth of dessert.
DOCES DE MAÇAPÃO – You will see these pretty much everywhere once you get to the Algarve. It’s all of those faux colourful fruits standing neatly on pastry windows and they’re made of marzipam.
TARTE DE ALFARROBA – Carob tart is a star in the Algarve pastry. It’s a dense, decadent tart that will be perfect with a cup of black coffee or a glass of aguardente de medronho – remember, what grows together, goes together, right?
AGUARDENTE DE MEDRONHO – A hard liquor, it’ a type of firewater. It’s an arbutus-berry brandy and a lot of restaurants will serve it at the end of the meal, with coffee or maybe when you ask for the check, as a treat.
Make sure to check out the rest of our travel guide blog and of course, our imported Portuguese food goods!
Joana Rute Carmo