With well over 100 restaurants in Lagos and the surrounding area, plus a myriad of cafés, there are options to tempt even the most the discerning palate. The cuisine is mostly Portuguese, but there are also some English, French, Italian, Indian and Chinese restaurants, and one Middle Eastern restaurant.
Below we describe the different types of eating places available and give a few recommendations:
Cafés serve sandwiches, rolls or croissants, mostly with ham and/or cheese. The bread is invariably white and buttered. The sandwiches can be toasted. You can also get a bifana, which is a pork steak in a roll. Cafés catering to the tourist market serve English and continental breakfasts, omelettes and sometimes pre-prepared pizzas.
These are the traditional Portuguese fast food outlets, serving grilled chicken, french fries and salad to eat in or take away. Some have grown into restaurants serving a more varied menu, whilst retaining the traditional appellation.
Adegas are inexpensive family-style restaurants seating large numbers of people elbow-to-elbow. Dining conditions can therefore be spartan and the menu limited, but the food is generally fresh and well-prepared, and the atmosphere lively.
Adega de Marina (Avenida dos Descobrimentos, 35, Lagos, Telephone: 282 764284) is a big barn of a place with a limited menu, large portions, low prices, consistent quality, and lots of atmosphere. Even with 220 covers, it gets crowded at weekends, when there is a keyboard player, and waiters and even diners will get up and sing traditional Portuguese songs that everyone seems to know.
At the lower end, Portuguese restaurants differ from adegas only in degree of comfort and menu choice. The typical Portuguese restaurant uses good quality ingredients, especially fresh seafood, but is short on sauces, dressings, garnishes, vegetables and imagination.
Cover can include different types of bread with butter, olives, cheese, sardine paste and/or marinated carrot. Soup of the day is typically vegetable. Because the cover is quite filling, it is rare to find a good choice of starter, but you can normally get shrimp cocktail.
Main courses include plenty of fish, seafood and meat options, invariably served with rice, boiled potatoes or fries and a small salad. There are also interesting Portuguese specialities, such as steak served on a stone, cataplana, meat stews and chicken piri piri. Most menus only cater for vegetarians to the extent of providing omelettes. Desserts are typically Olá ice cream concoctions plus almond tart, cream tart or créme caramel. The coffee is excellent, and decaffeinated is always available. The ambience tends to be bland.
Portuguese wines are among the world’s best-kept culinary secrets. They are very good and incredibly inexpensive, but local menus do not elaborate as to the relative merits of wines on offer. The house wines are palatable.
Restaurante Comidinha (Urb. Torralta, Lt. 5, Loja B, Lagos , Telephone: 282 782857) is a favourite lunchtime haunt of Lagos professionals, serves excellent Portuguese and Brazilian specialities, and has an extensive wine cellar. Ask for the type of wine and the price range, and the patron will make a recommendation.
Restaurante Zavial ( Praia do Zavial, Telephone: 282 639 282) popular for Sunday lunches overlooking the beach. Take the EN125 West towards Sagres and turn left at the traffic lights in Raposeira.
Restaurante Sitio do Rio (Carrapateira, Bordeira, Telephone: 282 973 119) Carrapateira is on the main road from Vila do Bispo to Aljezur. Going North, take the first turning on the left after going through the village and follow the signs.
Pizzeria Gato Pardo (Urbanização D. Ana Lote 7, A, Lagos, Telephone: 282 767700) is an unpretentious, inexpensive pizza and pasta place with authentic home-made pasta choices. It seats about 50. To get there, take the Avenida dos Descobrimentos from Lagos centre past the fort towards Sagres. At the first light, turn left towards Praia Dona Ana.
Go over the roundabout and take the next turning on the left. Pizzeria Gato Pardo is set back from the road on the left.
Burgau Beach Bar (Burgau, Telephone: 282 697 553) Excellent for fish. Evening reservations essential.
Cachoa Restaurante (Qt-Cachoa 4 Estradas, Lagos , Telephone 282 782 822) is a delightful secluded restaurant and art gallery on the outskirts of Lagos . Take the EN125 West, continue over the big A22 access roundabout, turn right at the first traffic lights, then bear left and look for the signs.
Restaurante Fortaleza (3 Rua da Igreja, Praia da Luz, Telephone: 282 789 926) occupies the old fortification near the church, with dramatic ocean views from the terrace. Consistently good food and service in a great setting.
Restaurante Florestal (Vale de Lage, Barão S. João, Telephone 282 687 204) reputed to be Richard and Judy's favourite in the Algarve . Turn off the main road near the primary school, following the signs to the Mata Nacional. The road winds up through the village and into the forest. Then take the first track on the left. Great for lunch as well as dinner.
Lime Tree Restaurante (Rua 25 de Abril, No. 16, Praia da Luz, Telephone: 282 789 475). On the one-way road heading into Luz from Burgau, near LuzDoc.