Gastronomy and food, eating out in the Algarve

The rich and varied gastronomy is one of the Algarve’s invitation cards, gathering recipes from the coastal area and from the inland regions.

This is certainly not a ‘fast-food’ society; the staple diet is one of fish, meat, vegetables and fruit. Portugal’s national dish is ‘bacalhau’; a dried, salted codfish. This may be considered strange when fresh fish is so abundant, but this fish holds such a place in their hearts, minds (and stomachs) that the Portuguese traditionally have bacalhau with olive oil, cabbages, potatoes and chickpeas for their Christmas Dinner.

The Algarve is just one of the many Portuguese gastronomic paradises for those who enjoy fish and shellfish.

Every morning boats arrive with their fresh caught fish that is carefully prepared by the Algarvios (as people from the Algarve are called in Portugal) at the many fine restaurants. Some of the most popular fish dishes are the fish soups, the octopus rice, whelks’ dish with kidney beans, the fish-stew and the shellfish açorda.

Inland it’s a different story, about vegetable plots, flocks of sheep fed by the green mountains and the smell of wild flowers. From the broad beans to the cherry chicken and the bean stew, all the inland dishes have a unique countryside label.

However, the first place in Algarve gastronomy goes to the sweets. Among them you’ll find the irresistible Dom Rodrigos, the Morgadinhos, the fig cheeses and many other almond, honey and fig sweets. The tradition of these sweets comes from the Age of the Discoverers and was founded in the convents.