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SandyBlue isn’t just expert on villas and apartments in the Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago areas – we’re also experts on all the good things to eat in the Algarve and the best places to find them. Read on for our questions and answers on what to eat and where to dine in Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago.
1. What is the best sweet treat in the Algarve?
Everybody’s favourite treat is the delicious Pastel de Nata – Portugal’s tasty take on a custard pie. Light flaky pastry, creamy egg custard centre and carmelised sugar topping. Sprinkle on some cinnamon and enjoy with your morning Bica (expresso). Now famous worldwide, the recipe for the original version of these beauties is a closely guarded secret and is still used today to produce the famous Pastel de Belém in Lisbon.
2. When, and how, should I eat sardines?
Sardines can be eaten any time of year, but they are at their fattest and best during the summer months. Grilled over charcoal and served with a boiled new potatoes and a chopped salad they are naturally gourmet, packed with flavour and omega 3s. Locals like to eat sardines over bread, using their fingers to extract the tasty flesh.
3. What is chicken Piri-Piri?
Piri-Piri is a spicy sauce made from chillies that is much loved by locals and visitors. Small free range chickens marinate in piri-piri before hitting the grill and the final result is finger lickin’ good. One of the best chicken places in the area has got to be Marufo’s – cheap and cheerful, you can enjoy platters of chicken and chips, salad and drinks and not swoon at the bill.
4. Is it all fish in Algarve restaurants or can I get a good steak?
The seafood is superb in the area, but there are also outstanding steakhouse restaurants. For the best of Uruguayan free range, organic beef, book a table at Parrilla Natural or Gourmet Natural in Vale do Lobo for a top notch steak. Bovino at Quinta do Lago offers the finest Irish beef, aged on the premises, and served to order.
5. What fish and seafood should I try?
As a starter or main course, prawns are always a great option. Smothered in garlic and with a hint of piri-piri, this is one dish both locals and visitors love. Be adventurous and try clams and cockles or goose neck barnacles too. Lobster and crab, Sea Bream and Golden Bream, are popular and delicious. For something different, try some baby squid, octopus or a delicious Caldeirada – a medley of fish flavoured with aromatic herbs.
6. Where can I eat by the sea?
So many places! For chic and fun beachside eateries try Izzys and Julias on Garrão beach, or Breeze and Sandbanks in Vale do Lobo Praça. A little further down the beach is BJ’s restaurant – a super restaurant that is not only right in the beach, but has regular live music lunches too which are great fun. For fine dining with a view try Casa Velha at Quinta do Lago and relaxed meals right beside the lake head to Casa do Lago.
7. I’m not an adventurous eater – will I find food I like?
Yes. There are many restaurants to choose from offering a range of cuisines – steakhouses, Italian, international, gourmet hamburgers and British food, as well as Thai, Indian, Chinese and Japanese. And if you're travelling with children, you can relax as most restaurants offers children's menus.
8. What do the locals like to eat?
The simple answer is – Everything! The Portuguese love their food and love to spend time at the table with friends and family. During summer, BBQS with friends feature sardines and other grilled fish and salads. Seafood such as clams, oysters, gooseneck barnacles are much loved. Try Caldeira and Cataplana (fish and seafood stews), or Arroz de Tamboril (monkfish rice). Hearty dishes include lamb stews, Feijoada (bean stew) or Cabrita (baby goat).