Eating out in Western Algarve: five special places

Algarve dining

As the Western Algarve evolves into a premier tourism destination, so the local restaurant scene broadens in its scope and variety. Here are five very different selections, each with something special to offer, and at prices that won’t blow a hole in your budget.

Agua na Boca, Salema

In the two years since its opening, Restaurante Agua na Boca has rapidly become a
firm favourite.  The airy, contemporary interior is complemented by a spacious outdoor terrace on which diners can relax and watch the world go by. Owner Paulo is a friendly and attentive host, and is happy to guide you through the well balanced menu, featuring authentic local dishes freshly prepared with extra care and attention to detail, and a good choice of Portuguese wines.

Booking highly recommended. Closed on Wednesdays. Tel: 282 695 651

From Salema’s beachfront parking area – Largo da Liberdade – take Rua dos Pescadores to the left as you look out to sea. Agua na Boca is about 100 metres on the left.

Pizza Pazza, Pedralva

Informal, chilled even, and well off the beaten track, Pizza Pazza has the enviable reputation of serving the best pizza in the Algarve.  A favourite with the West Coast surfing crowd, Prince Harry’s visit in the summer of 2008 has lent it a mystique all of its own.

Booking recommended. Open for lunch and dinner. Closed on Tuesdays during the high season. Tel: 282 639 173

Pedralva is a small traditional hamlet between Budens and Carrapateira recently renovated as a rural tourism destination.  To get there from AlmaVerde, go west on the N125. The most direct, but dusty route there is to turn right at the Intermarche lights, then take the first exit off the roundabout.  The road quickly becomes a track, which you follow for several kilometers all the way to Pedralva. Alternatively, you can take the N268 from Vila do Bispo to Carrapateira and look out for the right turn to Pedralva.

Vista Alegre, Lagos

Tucked away in a back street to the rear of a Portuguese café, the last thing that you expect to find is a traditional French bistro. Seating just twenty or so diners, Vista Alegre delights with specialities such as gratinated scallops, quail salad, ray in burnt butter sauce with capers and duck breast in honey sauce. Service can be a bit slow, but well worth the wait.

Booking essential. Open for dinner only. Closed Mondays. Rua Ilha Terceira, 19 B, Lagos, Tel.: 282 792 151

Vino Divino, Lagos

A great Italian wine bar and restaurant, Vino Divino has a character and ambience all of its own.  It is tucked away behind Praça Luis Camões up a short but steep hill, and then up a flight of stairs to the eclectic décor of the first floor bar and dining room.  In summer, enjoy the open air roof terrace with its fine vista over the old town.  The menu offers a wide selection of antipasti, bruschetti and other appetizers, as well as main courses, daily specials and desserts, all prepared under the watchful eye of the chef and owner, and complemented by a good selection of specially imported Italian wines.

Booking recommended. Rua 1o. de Maio, 4, Lagos, Tel: 917 009 238

Lemon Grass, Lagos

Opened in 2006 near the old Slave Market, Lemon Grass is still the only authentic Thai restaurant in Lagos, and one of the very few listed in the Thai Embassy’s own Restaurant Guide. It offers a full menu of freshly prepared Thai dishes, including starters, soups, salads, stir fries, curries, house specials, noodles and rice dishes, with additional daily specials. Unlike many of the local restaurants, there are plenty of vegetarian, and even vegan options. There is also a children’s menu.

Booking recommended. Open for dinner only. Closed on Tuesdays in the winter. Travessa do Mar (just off Praça Infante Dom Henrique), Lagos, Tel: 282 767 802

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