Grand House Beach Club
Close to the border with Spain, the Grand House Hotel opened in Algarve East in 2019, and with it this cool, chichi beach club that pulls a pretty party crowd most evenings in summer. You'll find an attractive, boho-chic restaurant on the premises, with Atlantic-view tables and a roster of well-done, uncomplicated seafood dishes like clams à bulhao pato (clams in garlic) and Algarve-style cataplana de peixe (seafood stew). Take a wander to nearby Villa Real de Santo Antonio after.
Ponta d' Areia, Vila Real de Santo António
Set in the oh-so-fancy Quinta do Lago resort with views of the gorgeous Ria Formosa reserve, this beach-shack seafood restaurant is where the region’s chic-splashy money crowd come to lunch on owner Gigi’s fresh-as-it-gets plates of fish under bright, buttercup-yellow parasols. Expect all the usual seafood standards, including the ace carabinieri (giant red prawns) as well as a fairly long schlep across a long wooden bridge to get there. Worth every yard.
Quinta do Lago, Almancil
Rei das Praias
A meal here is an Algarve must: set on the quiet cove of the Praia dos Caneiros, this beachside seafood specialist has been going since the mid-1970s but maintains the try-hard heart of a newbie. Expect life-affirming Atlantic views, friendly service and catch-fresh fish from amêijoas à bulhão pato (clams in garlic sauce) to the seriously good local-style cataplana de peixe e marisco (seafood cataplana).
Praia dos Caneiros, Ferragudo
Vila Joya Sea
There are two options here: either book a table at chef Dieter Koschina’s double-Michelin-starred fine-diner Vila Joya or – and, well, this might be the better bet – roll up to its less spendy beachside sibling, Vila Joya Sea, an upscale take on the chiringuito (beach bar) that offers sweeping views of the Atlantic, super-fresh sushi and, if you time it right, one of the best, away-from-it-all sunsets in Portugal. Book ahead.
Estrada da Galé, Albufeira
Noélia & Jerónimo
Locals reckon this is the best seafood restaurant in the Algarve; given it’s such a crowded category, that’s really saying something. Chef Noélia Jerónimo deserves the rep, though, and even if her small, unshowy space in Cabanas isn’t much of a looker, the cooking here draws devotees from across the region (book ahead or, frankly, don’t bother). Expect all kinds of fish, from simple sopa de peixe (fish soup) to the rich lingueirão com batata-doce (razor clam-potato stew).
Avenida Ria Formosa 2, Cabanas
A Eira do Mel
Sure, it’s hard, but if you can steal away from Algarve’s glittering Atlantic coast for at least one meal, then definitely add this small, rustic farmhouse close to Sagres to the list. Chef-owner José Pinheiro’s slow, farm-to-table cooking is superb. All meat and vegetables are sourced from local farms to make doubly delicious local classics such as feijoada do polpo (octopus cassoulet) or the rich ensopado de galinha (chicken-chickpea stew).
Estrada do Castelejo, Vila do Bispo
The Algarve isn’t all splashy, see-and-be-seen hangouts for the summer style set: close to the fishing town of Salema, this long-standing beachside bistro doesn’t stand on ceremony for anyone. Think paper tablecloths, cheap beer and budget-friendly plates of fresh seafood including the house special caldierada de peixe (a mixed fish-potato stew). Book ahead at any time of year if you want those outdoor terrace seats (and, yes, you do want them).
Rua dos Pescadores 101, Salema
Faro is chock-full of brilliant restaurants but if you’ve only got time for one and you want classic Portuguese dishes done very, very well, then this is the spot – and with outdoor tables on the old town square, it's pretty hard to beat. Dishes like the insanely good house special clam-lobster cataplana (stew) and the polvo a lagareiro (grilled squid) feel like occasion-worthy cooking at Portugal prices. Fairly priced local wines add to the allure for oenophiles.
Praça Dom Afonso III 17, Faro
So what do Portugeuse ingredients look like after they’ve been given the two-Michelin-star treatment? Well, it’s not going to be cheap (€195 for around 10 courses) but, even so, this is the best place to find out. Chef Hans Neuner and his team serve local standards like frango piri-piri (spicy chicken) and local moinho dos ilhéus (osysters) as you’ve likely never seen them before. Booking essential.
Vila Vita Parc Resort & Spa, Rua Anneliese Pohl, Porches
Luar da Fóia
Along with A Eira do Mel, the other main reason to head inland for eats is this small, unassuming mountain-top restaurant-grill not far from Monchique. With epic views of the surrounding valley, the terrace tables are best but, either way, the home-style cooking rarely disappoints those that make the schlep. Grilled meats are the speciality but you’ll find all the local cozinha tradicional present and oh-so-very correct, too.
Luar da Fóia, Estrada da Fóia