If you’re looking to track down the best seafood in the Algarve, you may want to book a bigger holiday. Your options are vast, varied and, on occasion come with a Michelin star or two of approval. Though not every meal needs the bells and whistles of fine dining to make it truly special. Sometimes it’s the unassuming family restaurant that’s quietly serving stellar meals that stays in your holiday memories the longest. We’ve sampled the fresh seafood in some of the Algarve restaurants you’ll want to reserve a spot at… at least for starters.
When a restaurant festoons its walls with tastefully backlit seashells, it’s not hard to guess what might be on the menu. At Ocean, you’ll be expecting fresh seafood. And, for the most part, you’d be right. But before we dabble in the details of their menu that comes with two Michelin stars, let’s talk about the dining room. Sea views aren’t in short supply in the Algarve, but Ocean really has made the most of them. As dining experiences go, this restaurant goes far on just the surroundings alone. Happily, the ‘Discovering Portugal’ menu makes the most of the local catch and produce. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to know that the samphire that complements the oysters and caviar was grown in the nearby Ria Formosa Natural Park.
Orbzii tip: Ocean is part of the Vila Vita Parc resort, which also happens to be home to a stellar sushi spot. Drop in to Mizu Teppanyaki for some fairly show-stopping sushi. The team also host masterclasses, if you fancy getting creative in the kitchen.
Rei Das Praias
If you like your sea bass served with sea views, Rei Das Praias has just the table for you. Their dining room overhangs the beach, while their beach bar sits right on the sands. Serving fresh seafood to sunbathers on Caneiros Beach for over 40 years, the restaurant has really only recently been discovered by foodies. And, frankly, they liked what they found. The menu is pleasingly simple in places. Pick a fish, or shellfish, of your choice and then choose whether it’s baked, grilled or fried. Of course, there are more intricate recipes at play too. The red tiger prawn tagliatelle comes heartily recommended.
Orbzii tip: There’s little room for vegetarians to dine side-by-side with fish loving travel companions. Your options are limited to salad. Which while it might be expected at a seafood restaurant, it’s something to keep in mind if you’re a diverse bunch of diners.
Casa do Lago
If the Algarve’s golf courses have lured you to their fairways already, you might be familiar with Quinta do Lago. Yes, the greens are gorgeous, but you’re here for their seafood restaurant, Casa do Lago. And, happily, you’ll have more to look at while you dine than a group of golfers in plus fours. The lakeside terrace delivers a charming aquatic outlook – peppered with the occasional seabird swooping in from the nearby coast. Pedalo riders from the surrounding resort are perhaps the only thing that could unduly distract you from your fish of the day. But, it’s unlikely to do much to harm the overall experience. Though, don’t drop in expecting a menu awash with options. There are just a handful of mains, though the sharing plate of steamed clams, white wine, garlic and coriander is reason enough to book a table here.
Orbzii tip: Unlike some other restaurants on our list, they do serve a full vegetarian menu here. We’d hesitate to label it fully plant-based, but the lack of dairy certainly suggests that, with a couple of tweaks, vegans could dine here too.
When you’re looking for the best seafood in the Algarve, do book a dinner at Sandbanks. A gem amongst the region’s seafood restaurants, at night it devotes its kitchen almost entirely to fresh fish dishes. And, unlike some restaurants who like to keep things simple, Sandbanks delivers on diversity. Monkfish curry, Teriyaki glazed salmon, Tuna – served Portuguese style – and the chef’s ceviche all share menu space quite happily. There are fish dishes here for the adventurous – and tempting panko coated prawns for picky eaters or little ones trying their first seafood menu.
Pleasingly, there’s a grilled fish selection – sold by the kilo – for anyone wanting the fish itself to shine. But let’s take a moment to talk dining rooms. Think Cape Cod vibes right on the beach at the Vale do Lobo resort and you’ve got this place all sewn up.
Ala Do Castelo
On the face of it, Ala Do Castelo racks up the reasons not to sample their seafood. Restaurants that have menus made almost entirely of pictures are usually best avoided. Expect no frills, paper napkins and a frontage that really could do with some curb appeal. So how has this seemingly underwhelming spot found its way to our list. Put simply, it’s one of those family-friendly, small and quaint little quirks everyone hopes they’ll find. Great service, great hospitality and more than enough fresh fish and seafood dishes to keep diners coming back year on year. Yes, the overall vibe here is rustic, but it’s in the best possible way. Order the Arroz de Marisco to sample a traditional Portuguese fish dish that sits somewhere between a paella and risotto. Just remember to visit early in your trip, you’ll likely want to return for more of the same.
Sometimes the simplest concepts are the best. And, at Well, this plays out beautifully. A humble beachside shack is slinging some stellar sushi on the Algarve coast. There’s no beachclub hype, Michelin star fanfare or gastronomic claims here. Just fresh seafood and cocktails in the sunshine. Though, you don’t always have to dine by daylight. Open from 9am to 2am, there’s a chance to experience sushi under the stars too. Started by two pals with a vision to create a laidback dining experience with sea views, Well’s cabanas are an ideal spot to spend an afternoon or evening. Expect a soundtrack to mingle with the waves as part of an acoustic backdrop. It never reaches raucous on the party atmosphere scale, so there’s nothing to fear there if you drop by.
And the best part? This is still one of Portugal’s best kept secrets.