One of the things that I was (perhaps naively) not expecting, was the abundance of fish restaurants in the Eastern Algarve. At least every other restaurant in the bigger towns was a fish restaurant, and that’s not to mention the fish markets as well, so not sampling fish wasn’t really an option. I have to admit, I don’t count myself as the biggest fish lover, so initially this worried me a little. However, if someday I want to travel the world I need to be more adventurous with what I eat, and I’m really glad I was. I didn’t have anything that I didn’t enjoy!
Over the course of the holiday I had clams, swordfish steak, barbecued sardines, seabass, tuna, and octopus! I particularly enjoyed the barbecued fish, and if I host any barbecues in the future will ensure that fish is included. Much tastier than processed burgers, and a lot more healthy too! It was also good to note that each of the restaurants had non fish options as well, for those who don’t want fish. Steak on a stone was served frequently, as were various meats in delicious sauces (as a break from fish one night I had chicken in a port sauce which was lovely).
If you want to try a real speciality of the region, then I would recommend sharing a Cataplana with whoever you are with. This is a dish of Moorish influence, cooked and served in a large clam shaped copper pan. Typically this is a stew style dish, with a mixture of fish and seafood, served in a tomato and herb sauce. My other recommendation of the holiday is the Restaurante Baixamar, in the small town of Santa Luzia. The speciality of this restaurant is octopus, but everyone in my party enjoyed their meal (and only one had octopus!). There are homemade regional cakes for dessert, and you are able to take them home if you don’t have room after your sizeable main course. Although the food was delicious, the atmosphere also helped to make the evening, with the staff all being very friendly (and exceptionally good at languages).
Whilst it sounds strange, eating fish put me slightly out of my comfort zone, and it was more than worth it! When in the Algarve, eat fish…
This post was subsequently featured in Algarvean Daze.