Eating out in the Algarve is a delight. You'll find a wide selection of traditional Portuguese food and International cuisine here. They are plenty of restaurants to choose from, the Algarve being a popular tourist destination and also because of the local Algarve peoples’ love of food.
Traditional Portuguese restaurants tend to be relatively cheap by European standards, but if you want the best value for money, then you need to head inland a few miles away from the tourist areas. If you find a restaurant popular with the locals, then you’re definitely on to a winner. If you go there at lunchtime, do what the locals do and go for the dish of the day (Prato do Dia). You won’t go far wrong and you’ll also get a glass of Portuguese wine or beer thrown in for good measure..
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For more international style cuisine, then the popular towns and resorts along the coast, are where you’ll find most of these. You’ll be able to get everything from Chinese, French, Mexican and Italian to the universally popular burger and chips.
Food is a very important element in Portuguese life. After kick-starting the day with a bread roll and a cup of coffee, everything starts gearing up towards lunch time. Lunch is an important meal. Staring round about noon, it is a relaxed affair often going on for two hours or more. No grabbing a quick sandwich from the supermarket in between phone calls here.
It is not surprising, therefore that the evening meal is served quite late, around 8pm. If you want to avoid the busy times at traditional Portuguese restaurants, then eat early.
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Portuguese food – a simple style of cooking with great ingredients
The flavours of Portuguese food are heavily influenced by the foods and spices that were introduced by explorers and invaders over the centuries. These include onions, garlic, figs, almonds and curry spices, cinnamon, paprika and the Brazilian spice peri-peri. The Moors introduced fruits such as oranges and lemons.
Using these ingredients, the seafood from coastal area and with their love of meat, the Portuguese have developed their own style of cooking. It is generally simple wholesome fare, using fresh ingredients and spiced in a subtle way, rather than being hot and fiery.
Portuguese food is not what you could call haute-cuisine, just simple and well prepared. Perhaps this is why you won’t find many Portuguese restaurants outside Portugal.
Because of their love of meat and seafood, vegetarians are not best catered for in the Algarve, despite the vegetables being incredibly tasty. This is changing slowly because of the influence of the tourist and international restaurants score better in this respect.
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