CARVOEIRO ⇓

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Gastronomy

img_Fish meal

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The gastronomy of Carvoeiro is typical of much of the coastal resorts along the Algarve. The mainstay of the local cuisine is fish and sea food as it is fresh and readily available. A mix of fish and / or sea food cooked in the traditional cataplana with fresh herbs, garlic, chouriço, maybe tomatoes, peppers and a splash of wine served with fresh bread – delicious! Sardines, freshly grilled on the barbecue, served with boiled potatoes; a tasty ox tail (rabo de boi) stew and various bean stews (feijoada) are all likely to be on the menu.

As Carvoeiro is also a very popular tourist resort there will be plenty of dishes that are more familiar as well.

The Lagoa area is well known across the Algarve for the wines it produces, so you can have a local wine to accompany your meal.

Desserts (sobremesas) are more often than not based around almonds, figs and eggs – in a variety of guises – egg custards, light and moist sponge cakes, fancy shaped marzipan sweets or fig ‘cheeses’ (fig cakes shaped like small, round cheeses).

Carvoeiro has a huge number of restaurants, bars, cafés and take-aways offering all types of cuisine. Whether you want a snack at lunchtime or a nice relaxing dinner after a hard day on the beach, you won’t have to look far to find somewhere! With the centre of Carvoeiro being quite compact you don’t have to walk far to see what’s on offer before choosing but do remember to look along some of the smaller side streets, there really are restaurants around every corner! Carvoeiro is a very family orientated resort so there will be plenty for youngsters to choose from and they are always made very welcome at Algarve restaurants.

Pasties de nata Portuguese custard tarts

 pastel-nata

Pastel de Nata

Portuguese vanilla cake. The pastel de nata is one of the most famous Portuguese confectionery.

The original recipe for the little tartlets with vanilla cream is probably the best kept secrets in Portugal. Currently only three people know the ingredients of the Pastel de Belém.

Because only then may a Pastel de Nata call, if it contains the ingredients of the original recipe. Were invented Pastéis Belém probably two nuns in the monastery of St. Jerome, which is located in the suburb of Belém in Lisbon and now a UNESCO heritage site.

The Pastéis de Belém were baked for a long time behind the monastery walls and sold to the population and were soon famous and popular. A revolution in the early 19th Century were forbidden to the monastery, the continued manufacture and sale.

O Barradas (282 443 308) In very pleasant surroundings, sophisticated, yet   informal, the cooking and in particular, the wines are predominantly from   Northern Portugal.Choose any of the Lamb dishes, Veal steaks or, the jewel in   the crown, an enormous Veal chop that is to die for. Forget about chips, but   have their special sauté potatoes with onions. Skip starters and enjoy lots   of beautiful little bits in the “couvert” which are sufficient to   set you up and allow room for a mouth-watering dessert menu offering a number   of flambéed choices.A couple of Vegetarian pasta dishes as well as some fish   options are available.We’d suggest you get help from Luis, the owner with   your wine choice. He has a fanatic love of his Douro collection and won’t   necessarily force you to select the incredibly expensive wines that he does   have on offer and will “allow” you to drink if you really have a   fat wallet.Definitely a special evening out, its one of the more expensive   restaurants in the Algarve, but worth every Euro. €€€+
Happys (282 357 692) Go here for a “different” evening.   Libbre, your Dutch host creates a party atmosphere in this very small   restaurant which is always fully booked throughout the season. Specialities   are their hanging kebabs, and “fish and chips” like no other.   Vegetarian option available, but that’s not why we go there. €€
La Bella Vita (282 358 556) A beautifully redecorated Italian/International   style restaurant adjacent to the reception area at Club Atlantico. High on   our list for special occasions, but not too expensive for a good evening out   either. €€€
Rei Das Praias (282 461 006) Set right on Caneiros Beach, Rei Das Praias looks more like a cafe, but   has an absolutely splendid setting, and grills some fresh fish that is truly   excellent. It’s expensive for what you get, but an experience worth booking   days in advance for. There is one Vegetarian option that was frankly not very   inspiring. €€€
Maximes (282 357 852) Half way up “Restaurant Hill” on the   left, serves large plates of highly decorative food that’s also very tasty.   Special care is given to the small selection of Vegetarian options. €€
Villa Medici (282 358 017) Another popular and good quality Italian   restaurant on the right hand side near the top of “Restaurant Hill” €€
Casa Velha do Pescador (913 672 887) This Portuguese restaurant breaks the mould of   tourist restaurants described below. Found up the hill just past Benagil   beach on the right hand side near the top of the hill, where there are two   adjacent restaurants. Casa Velha do Pescador is the lower of the pair, it’s   very nicely decorated, the menu is a bit more expensive than Restaurant Hill,   but we noticed many Portuguese families eating here, and above all, we   enjoyed the presentation of the food and the creative vegetarian options so   absent in many other Portuguese establishments. €€
Elliotts (282 356 096) Newly established in 2007 in the delightful Monte   Carvoeiro square, this restaurant has a bit of a hit and miss history.   However, when it’s a hit, the food is rather splendid. Your hosts make that   extra effort to welcome you and walk you through the menu, the cooking, the   food and match the delivery to your tastes and desires. Some spectacular   reviews by friends and visitors, but we’ve also experienced the occasional   average meal. €€
The Village Inn (282 412 036) This is not easy to find in the little town of   Mexilhoeira da Carragação, but they advertise in Free Map with good   instructions to a small cosy restaurant that’s worth the effort. From the   beginning of the meal with some of the more unusual Couvert in the area,   through imaginative meat and vegetarian dishes, the food is always faultless.   This was the first and only veggie friendly restaurant for miles when we   first started going to Carvoeiro in 1999, and they are still popular and   full, so book before you make the journey. €€

 

  Portuguese eating I   Some of the tourist places

 

Good old Portuguese meal
There are quite a large number of simple   traditional Portuguese restaurants in the main town, particularly up   “Restaurant Hill”. We find them all very similar in terms of the   menu with grilled fresh fish of the day as top choice. Or you can try grilled   lamb chops by the plateful, steaks with various sauces or the specialities of   Chicken piri-piri or Cataplana (fish stew in a cauldron – usually for 2   persons).The other thing they all have in common is the typically informal,   friendly service from the waiting staff, but we cannot help feeling that they   have adapted readily over the past few years to the burgeoning North European   tourist influx. This becomes apparent in the prices, which have risen   noticeably, the inclusion of special children’s menu (fish fingers, burgers,   pizza), and sadly, the feeling of conveyor belt cooking.Here are just a few:
A Galé (282 357 330) Probably the best cooking amongst its ilk on   “Restaurant Hill”. This tiny establishment about half way up on the   right, is always packed to the gills, and booking is a very good idea. Usual   fare of grilled fish, pork and lamb, but their chips are truly special! There   are a couple of vegetarian options – enjoyable, but not quite up to the   standard of the rest of the menu. €€
Casa Algarvia (282 357 604) Towards the top of Restaurant Hill on the left   going up, this double fronted restaurant is always busy. Favoured by regular   visitors and residents alike, they offer some Vegetarian option, but you do   need to like fish to accompany your garlic here. €€
O Chef Antonio (282 358 937) Almost opposite Casa Algarvia, this very large   imposing looking building reached up a ramp with a large covered verandah,   serves h u g e portions, so missing a starter could be a wise move. Although   we’ve heard some stories of below average food, the waiters are very   friendly, and if you have the Leg of Lamb, be sure to ask for a right leg, as   the left legs tend to be a bit less juicy J €€
A Rede   (282 358 513) Standard fare served with style, and occasionally   some interesting desserts. €€
Vimar (282 358 322) More standard fare, but the grilled fish is   optionally served headless. They also have a play area at the back for the   kiddies. €€

 

  Portuguese eating II      Not for your average tourist   

 

Running east to west along the whole of the   Algarve is the infamous N125 road. Southof the N125 are all the good, the great and not so great tourist   towns, areas and complexes, where English is widely spoken, and most of the   restaurants cater to the visitor. These are described in the preceding   section.If you want authentic Portuguese hospitality, you need to go North of   the N125 into any town or village and be prepared to find menus without any   English, or even the total lack of menus.But prices will be substantially   lower, and Vegetarians will starve.If you want a taster of what is available   in the genuine Portugal, we have found a few local establishments that still   maintain the old ways, and for the time being at least offer exceptional   value for money – we hope it lasts.
Escondidinho The Escondidinho is on the far side of Quinta do   Paraiso from Carvoeiro. Past the reception area and up a slight incline, keep   left. There is a large unpaved car park on the left, filled with cars and   trucks.It’s occupied most lunchtimes with local builders and workmen. For no   more than €8 or so, you get a 3 course lunch with wine and coffee, but do not   expect any menu in English. In fact, no menu at all. Granny will tell you   what you want, she won’t wait for you to um and ahh about it, but she will   deliver platefuls of wholesome food very quickly.
O Branco Another cheap restaurant for the locals, this   actually looks much smarter than it is. On the road behind Quinta do Paraiso,   heading towards Sesmerais, in an imposing white block building you’ll get a   choice of main courses (probably all meat), dessert, drinks and coffee all   for the princely sum of €7.00 precisely. We had a turkey breast and a fish   dish both of which were covered in a hard crispy batter and served with   chips, rice and salad. Its obviously not haute cuisine, but surprisingly   nourishing and well presented – definitely not a cafe !
Fatacil Cafeteria Inside the gates of the Fatacil (the   “fairgrounds” by the roundabout at Lagoa, opposite the Blue   elephant car wash) is the Fatacil Restaurant, but we hesitate to call it a   restaurant. It’s huge inside, extremely bright, noisy and filled with local   workmen eating their way through a 3 course lunch with wine, coffee and maybe   even a liqueur for less than €8.00. Some English help may be available, but   don’t count on it!

 

  Something different      Fed up with formal dinners ?   

 

All these are quite a way out of town (car or   taxi essential). None are really culinary extravaganzas but they certainly   are different, and make a very welcome change if you’re eating out most   nights.
Chicken George As the name implies, the priority is Chicken and   Chips. You do have a choice of with or without piri-piri sauce and an   optional salad (worth having!). It’s way out east toward Benagil. From Rocha   Brava complex go out of the front and straight over. After 1/4 mile this will   bring you to a “T” junction which is the m 1273. If you turn right   you go to Benagil if you turn left you go to Lagoa. Go straight over at this   junction down a narrow road. Chicken George suddenly appears 100 meters on the right.
Piano Bar (282 493 278) This one is west of town on the road from   Sesmarais to Ferragudo, on the right opposite the turnoff to Casabela Hotel.   The sign on the right of this turning tells us that it’s a Pizza and Indian   Restaurant, and when you arrive you find its all true. Two large brick Pizza   ovens in the front, seemingly authentic Indian kitchen and live music make it   all a bit different. €€
Teodosio   O Rei dos Frangos   (289 561 316) Translates as “King of Chicken”, this   is the place to gofor Chicken Piri   Piri. Its where the locals go for a family dinner, resembling a major   motorway rest stop, the place is enormous and always buzzing. Its a 20 minute   drive along the 125 towards Faro. At the roundabout at Guia, turn left, and a   couple of hundred meters up on the right is the restaurant sign with a   turning 20 meters further to a huge car park behind.Don’t look for menus or   choices. Its Chicken, chicken or chicken with chips. Do take the optional   added salad, and you only have to decide what to drink and that’s it. The   piri piri is spicier than many average restaurants in Carvoeiro, but will not   burn. Hard to spend much more than €10 per head. Highly recommended, no   bookings required.

 

  Some Ethnic Restaurants      Included for completeness   

 

ITALIAN Quite frankly, apart from the two already   mentioned above (Villa Medici and La Bella Vita), we’ve found most of the   others to be too variable to warrant a mention here.  
Forno de Fraser Take away Pizza. Definitely the best Pizza in   town – if Pizza is what you want. You’ll find this small establishment just   up the one way road that comes down to the Post Office (Correiro).
   

Portuguese Codfish meal

 
CHINESE There are about 3 in Carvoeiro itself, but one   worth a mention, and another one, which is outside town anyway.  
China Town (282 359 121) This one may be found almost at the top of   Restaurant Hill, on the left hand side going up. It’s nicely decorated and   serves a good standard Chinese meal, but won’t really set the world on fire. €€
Jardim do Sul (282 352 273) If you really want Chinese, then head to Lagoa   where you will find this unpretentious restaurant, in the pedestrian precinct   in the middle of town with easy parking nearby. €€
     
INDIAN A new Indian restaurant opens each year, and most   of them keep their clientele and stay open, which is no bad thing, but we can   only find one to recommend.  
O Castello (282 357 218) What a setting ! This is on the hill leaving the   main square past the ice cream parlour, and on past Rascals. They have a   small number of outside tables which are well worth booking in advance, but   even if you’re sitting indoors, the food is awesome, and never too hot. €€
THAI    
Koh Samui (919 326 682) Found up a steep hill in a side street to the   right a short way up Restaurant Hill (kind of opposite the turning for the   Municipal Market). Although it may sound a surprising suggestion for eating   out in Portugal, the flavours are subtle, spicy items not too strong, and a   high quality alternative to the standard fare of fish, meat or Pizza !   Definitely worth a try.Update: June 2008. Avoid this   place. Seems to have changed ownership and its terrible. Service atrocious,   you may get what you ordered, but its pot luck, and you may even pay for your   neighbour’s meal as well as yours. Some of the food is still very tasty, so   we’re watching carefully.  
     
ENGLISH We just could not resist adding this listing in   the Ethnic section. Well we are in Portugal – right ?  
Ma Ja’s (282 083 920) Hidden away in a back street. From the square,   walk a short way back along the “in-road” then first left up past   the post office, then hard left back on yourself up the one way (down) street   on the West Side, you’ll find Ma Ja’s Bistro, where Mark and Jan (get the name now ?) have set out to offer home English cooking   specifically for those who miss it. Prices are very reasonable for freshly   prepared fare on an ever changing menu, with vegetarian option to boot.   Sunday Lunch speciality as well.  
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