SLIGHTLY POSH: Aquas na Olha, Agua Na Boca (both Salema)
MID RANGE: Mira Mar (Salema) & Ingrina
CHEAP & FAB: Casa Chico Ze, Adega da Marina & Bar da Lota (all Lagos) and Picanhas Grill (Luz), Mobile Pizza (Salema)
Agua Na Boca (“mouth watering/ salivate”)
Extremely popular, people coming from far and wide - you must book. Really delicious food, a wide menu to chose from and a lovely, romantic ambiance here. There's a great little bar next door, Aventura, which is very popular. Nice to go between the two before and after dinner. Tel: (+351) 282 695 651
(A rustic restaurant on the promenade looking out to sea)
Mira Mar is open-air so it’s only open in warmer months. Open for lunch & dinner; great seafood, meat, kebabs, omelettes & occasional pasta dishes, all cooked by a very good chef. Most dishes come with his distinctive sautéed spuds. Tel +351 919 560 339
(on the promenade, looking out to sea)
A good restaurant serving fish and meat dishes. Great squid rings and fresh fish every day. The pork fillet in a mushroom cream sauce and “chicken Pescadores” stew come highly recommended. Or for lunch, have a yummy Bifana (pork sandwich) for under 3€...bargain! Tel (+351) 282 695 382
Lovely pizzaria (plus salads & pasta dishes) on the narrow street opposite Boia (to the left if facing the sea from car park). Sit upstairs for a lovely sea view or get a takeaway and eat on the beach. Tel +351 282 697 968
(On the far side of the square, over little bridge, on your left as you head up hill) A really good place to go for lunch - no sea view but a nice patio area ourside where (outside high-season) they do a bargain Prato do Dia (dish of the day). Traditional Portuguese, family-run restaurant; great food, a similar range menu to other restaurants in Salema but with added (local) extras like Cataplana (fish or chicken stew) and great pork spare ribs. No sea view = far more reasonable prices. Tel: (+351) 282 698 622
Corsarios (“the car park snack bar”)
Mama Rosa (the small lady in the kitchen) serves up everything in a tiny space – she’s works like a demon and the food is reasonable value. In true Portuguese style, start your day with their equivalent of a bacon sandwich - a “bifana” (thin, marinated pork in a bap – add some piri piri oil and mustard). Rosa’s are the best bifana on the Western Algarve (2 euros) A good place for a cheap lunch with the kids – it has sandwiches, pizza etc. All day breakfast also on offer. Without kids, stick to Rosa's Portuguese food. Recommended; Rosa's rabbit stew and yummy roasted pork (porco assado)
A great spot overlooking the western end of the beach, popular with families and large groups. The fish is excellent (they do half portions of fresh fish for our 3 year old) and the "monkfish massa" (monkfish cooked in a tomato sauce with little macaroni pasta) was amazing. Very good service. People rave about their garlic prawns, salads and pork kebabs. Tel: (+351) 282 695 142
RESTAURANTS WEST OF SALEMA
This place is a secret gem...BUT it has sadly lost all its sand this year (2014). But still worth going for the fabulous food overlooking a secluded bay in the Natural Park. Try clams in garlic, calamares, prawns in “special” (garlic & tomato) sauce, baby squids in a dark garlicy sauce & at weekends, a great lamb stew. Closes at sundown & Tuesdays.
[Exit Salema up the winding hill towards the Parque da Floresta Golf Course cross roads. Turn LEFT onto the N125 towards Sagres. After a few miles, you come to Raposeira. At the crossroads here, turn LEFT towards Zavial & Ingrina. Carry on along this road until you get to an obvious “Y” junction. If you go left, it takes you to Zavial beach (very pretty but it's also lost its sand this year. Apparently quite nice food at the restaurant here). Taking a right at the junction takes you to Ingrina. It’s a little bay with a café perched on the low clifftop, surrounded by palm trees. Tel: (+351) 282 639 034
Eira do Mel, Vila do Bispo
Delicious, slow-cooked, typical Algarvian food in a rustic setting. Try wild boar cooked in red wine, rabbit stew and great fish, or the signature wild prawn, pork and chorizo cataplana (cooked in a copper pot with onions, peppers and garlic)
[Exit Salema up winding hill towards the Parque da Floresta cross roads. Turn LEFT onto N125 towards Sagres. Keep on main road, through Raposeira and at Vila do Bispo, ignore the 1st turning into the village, driving under a bridge and take the next sliproad into the village (RIGHT). Go straight over a roundabout, past a bank on left & some shops/cafes on right. At next R/about, turn LEFT and head slightly uphill towards Vila do Bispo’s beaches. Eiro do Mel is to your RIGHT, infront of you (white and blue building)]
Pizza Pazza, Pedralva
Relflects the hippie vibe of the West Coast and considered by many to be by far the best pizzas on the Algarve. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, everyone raves about the pizza here, making the journey from Salema more than worth it. You’ll find it hard to believe when you get to this middle-of-nowhere place but Prince Harry apparently came here a few years ago.
[Exit Salema up winding hill towards the Parque da Floresta cross roads. Turn LEFT onto N125 towards Sagres. Keep on main road, through Raposeira and at Vila do Bispo, take the sliproad on your RIGHT, heading towards an old windmill/water tower? Drive past a few industrial buildings on right (& a surf shop). Follow this road for about 10 minutes, through some lovely scenery – wooded hills, valleys and tonnes of eucalyptus trees and wind turbines. You’ll see a sign on the RIGHT to Pedralva. The village is tiny and easy to find the Pizzeria] Tel: +351 282 639 173
“Sitio do Rio”, Carrapateira
Great, good value food behind the dunes at Carrapateira beach. A huge menu & the Portuguese eat here – always a sign of good food at a decent price.
[Exit Salema up winding hill towards the Parque da Floresta cross roads. Turn LEFT onto N125 towards Sagres. Keep on main road, through Raposeira and at Vila do Bispo, take the sliproad on your RIGHT, heading towards an old windmill. Drive past a few industrial buildings on right (& a surf shop). Follow this road for about 15 minutes, through some lovely scenery – wooded hills, valleys and tonnes of eucalyptus trees and wind turbines.
If you’ve already seen the incredible scenery between Amado & Carrapateira beaches, then continue on the main road to the village of Carrapateira and turn left towards the beach. You’ll come across Sitio do Rio restaurant on your right as you head towards the beach.
If you want the scenic drive… Just before you get to Carrapateria you’ll see a sign on LEFT to AMADO beach. Turn left here and follow coast road round. AMADO is the first beach you come to – it’s a huge, fantastic surfing beach with a surf school. Great fun beach & quiet in winter.
Continue around the coastal road, past SITIO DO FORNO restaurant (a lovely spot high on the cliff edge – good fish but a pricey restaurant), past lots of new wooden walkways with views out to sea. Carry on until you see Carrapateira beach – you can’t miss it, it’s a huge stretch of sand.
To get to SITIO DO RIO restaurant, carry on along the coast road a bit further, heading down the hill and towards the village of Carrapateira itself. You’ll see Sitio do Rio restaurant on your LEFT. Hasn’t got the views that Sitio do Forno has but the food’s much better] Tel 282973119
“Sitio do Forno”, Carrapateira
(On coast rd between Armado & Carrapateira: see previous instructions for getting here)
The food’s not as good as Sitio do Rio but the location, perched on the clifftops overlooking the sea, is incredible…and what a great drive getting here!
Micro Bar, Carrapateira
For a lovely snack (salads, bruchettas & burgers) then head for this little snack bar smack bang in the centre of the village square. All the vegetables are home-grown and delicious!
BURGAU & LUZ RESTAURANTS (directions from Salema)
Spice Cottage, Burgau
A great curry house on the beach road between Salema and Burgau. Naz from North London opened a few years ago and she's doing really well. People come from far and wide to eat here.
[leave Salema on the road towards PdF but turn right almost immediately you leave the car park...opposite the new building, Casa Praia Mar. Take this winding road to Boca do Rio. When you get to the bottom of steep hill, turn left and then immediately right in direction of Burgau/ Forte de Almadena. Continue on this road for 5km. Spice Cottage is on the left, approx 2km before Burgau] tel; +351 282 695 140 or 922 273 828
Pashmina Curry House, Praia da Luz
If you’re desperately missing a good Ruby, Pashmina’s a great place [Pass the church, take the little road directly towards the beach. Park in the dusty car park on your left. Pashmina’s in the line of restaurants] Tel: (+351) 282 789 667
Dolphin, Praia da Luz
South African restaurant, great for steaks and all things meaty. Great service, good food. Definitely need to book here as it's very popular. Tel +351 282 789 992
Picanha's Grill, Luz
This is a fab place for an all-you-can-eat Brazilian buffet and grill. For 10€ per head you can eat like a king from a great array of meats, fish, prawns, rice, pasta etc. For an extra 5€ you get as much meat, chicken and pork as you can shake a stick at...all carved at your table, coated in garlic. Fab! A bit of a soulless environment in a huge restaurant but a great bargain when you're very hungry. Lunch buffet just 6.90€.
[Take the road out of Luz that runs past the post office and keep going straight on towards Lagos. You'll pass the restaurant about 2 mins outside Luz on the country road] Tel: +351 282 760 187
LAGOS RESTAURANTS (directions from Salema)
Casinha do Petisco's
This place is a real find...and after all these years we've only just found it. It's not a romantic beautiful restaurant but a traditional Portuguese place which is quite cosy, run by a husband and wife team and the food is amazingly good value. The plates are HUGE though so definitely share every main course. Apparently the prawns are amazing. I've eaten garlic chicken, hake fillets and the stroganoff. Lovely, all of it.
[To find this place, walk right into the centre of town and ask for directions. Too complicated to explain but all the local Portuguese know the place]
Tel: (+351) 282 084 285
“Adega da Marina”, Lagos
Tel: (+351) 282 764 284
A cavernous, traditional, noisy (but atmospheric) cantina where the speciality is the fresh catch of the day, chicken piri-piri or pork, all served with chips and salad. The pork spare ribs and garlic prawns are AMAZING! Great value & full of Portuguese families…definitely worth a visit...and I promise you'll go back again and again!
[Head along N125 to Lagos. At big roundabout after Boa Vista golf course, go straight over towards Lagos. Continue STRAIGHT over a number of roundabouts/traffic lights for approx 3km until you see huge Meia Praia beach infront of you. Follow the road as it bends gently left and downhill. You end up on the “Avenida” – a wide road with Lagos town on your left and the waterside on your right. Go past the town centre & look out for the pedestrian “Millenium” bridge which crosses over to the marina. The “ADEGA DA MARINA” is on the TOWN side of the water (not the marina side) but it’s very near this bridge so use it as a landmark. It’s a long white building with green paintwork. Park either side of the Avenida]
LAGOS MARINA/ MEIA PRAIA BEACH
There are a number of restaurants at the marina
[To get here, follow directions above towards the Adega da Marina restaurant in Lagos. Look out for the pedestrian “Millenium” bridge which crosses over to the marina. Either park here and walk over the bridge or you can drive closer. To drive closer, go past the Millennium pedestrian bridge and at the next big roundabout, go straight over (the road bridge to the right used to take you to the marina but is now closed). So go straight over and at the next roundabout, turn RIGHT. Turn right at Mc D's roundabout and go past Pingo Doce supermarket. Keep in right lane and turn right towards the marina. At next roundabout, take 2nd exit. At next roundabout, take 1st exit on right. The road goes straight and then bends left towards the old & new train stations. Park anywhere here. The main Marina restaurants are to your RIGHT, through the passageways in high pink wall]
Bar da Lota, behind Lagos Marina
A fantastically cheap little fish restaurant – basic, outside tables where you can gorge on fish till your heart’s content. You’ll be so pleased you bothered!
[To get here, follow directions above for the Marina but drive on past the old & new train stations and park in the rough car-park beside Sopromar boat yard. You’ll see Bar da Lota opposite Sopromar.
Continue to drive further on past boat yard to get to 3 nice beach restaurants. These are great restaurants to go to with the kids – right on Lagos’s long, white-sand beach but they're expensive for the quality of the food you get.
American-inspired cuisine (ribs & burgers) in a lovely setting. Very average food for the price you pay. Tel: (+351) 282 792 146
(park at Bar Linda and take the wooden walkway to the left). Nice food, like a British Gastro-pub. Brilliant with small kids as it's on the sand but away from the shore. Tel: +351 282 760 149/ 911 331 807
Quinta de Sao Roque
keep driving past the ruin to the furthest wooden hut. This is a beautiful restaurant, fantastic fish - but expensive. It has a kids’ play park in its grounds overlooking beach. Tel +351 282 792 492
Casa Chico Zé, between Lagos & Odiaxere (25 mins)
A fabulous, very cheap place for a yummy grilled fish/meat lunch. Not by the beach, infact it’s just off a main road, but once inside the walls of the Quinta (farm with horses & stables) you’ll forget the road outside! This place is only open for lunch & is really popular with Portuguese families & workmen. 4 chefs cook fish and kebabs to order on a huge open-air grill. You can eat inside or out on long trestle tables alongside other people. This is one of the best value meals you’ll have by far, it’s always chokka and you may have to wait to be seated but incredibly, you’re still served quickly. A great place to go for lunch if you’re in Lagos or en route to the airport.
[Drive as if to the Marina but when you go past Pingo's supermarket, keep in left lane. As the road forks ahead, keep left onto the N125 in the direction of Portimao/Odiaxere. Go past a petrol station on RIGHT. Pass “Solmate” Industrial Estate & just after a shop called “MoveisOn”, turn RIGHT where you see a pottery “Artesania” place & a sign reading “Torre”. Park at the pottery place - the restaurant is nextdoor]
If you want to try a traditional “Prato do Dia” where workmen and families have an all-inclusive lunch (bread, wine, main meal & desert) for a bargain 6–8 euros, there are two we’d particularly recommend, side by side:
Atalaia, near Bambinos school, Lagos
There are 2 restaurants next to each other and both do fantastic food for lunch. You can't book but tables turn quite fast. Your only decision is to pop for the menu that tickles your fancy most....menus change daily.