Cafés and restaurants are an inherent part of the Portuguese way of life, which means that the Algarve café is a warm and welcoming place to spend some time, and, without exception, offer the holiday maker good value for their money.
Of course there are also to be found five star restaurants in Portugal, the Michelin Star group as a fine example, however, to return to our main topic, that of food and drink!
Take Guia for example, which is famous for its 'piri-piri' chili cuisine, which is served in its many forms in many restaurants, the main ingredient being from the Pripri plants, (Piri-piri is the correct spelling in Portuguese).
Be careful however when you experiment with such chilli dishes, with your chicken and fish dishes, because they are not named the 'African Devil', or 'African Birds Eye', or 'African red devil' for nothing! (Especially if one is self catering!!)
Where ever you may find your favourite watering hole during your stay, be prepared for the locals who drift in and out after drinking their coffee (a black and strong expresso named "uma bica". Or also 'snack' for their lunch with either:
A rissóis de carne (deep fried meat patty), or a pastéis de bacalhau (salted cod fishcakes) or even pasties de carne (puff pastry stuffed with sausage meat), so relax and watch the world go by!
When the locals only have a few minutes, they will just stand at the bar to drink their "bica" and maybe eat a few tremoços (lupin seeds), which are often left on the bar to nibble on by the cafe/bar owner. For the family there are always the delicious Algarve cakes to sample!
Portuguese restaurants, born of their ancient traditions offer large boiled potatoes and vegetables or salad.
For those who are not keen on fish, relax! for on the menu there are also a range of omelettes, salads and delicious meat dishes, like thin pork slices served with a creamy mushroom sauce or chicken piri-piri, with the prices being very reasonable, and as always your plate is filled to give you excellent value for your money.
The house wine, as one would expect, is normally a local Portuguese wine, which will suit the pallet of many a wine lover, with the cost of an average a 2-course meal for 2, with house wine, will cost less than €25.
As a further example, say soup of the day at €1.50, the main course at €7.00 and a bottle of house wine at €8, but remembering that like anywhere else in the world, prices can vary enormously depending on locations.
It goes without saying that children are always welcome and that although there may not be a special children's menu, all one needs to ask for is a "meia dose" (pronounced 'maya dose') which means a half portion, or a meal to be shared.
Restaurant vegetarian meals
Restaurants across the Algarve, have greatly improved in their offering of vegetarian dishes on the menu, but unfortunately, vegans are still not fully catered for.
The reason for this is that Portuguese vegetarians in the Algarve are few at this moment in time, because the understanding of vegetarianism has only really been introduced by tourists over recent years.
Of course, most of the local restaurants do offer vegetable soup, olives, omelettes and salads, but a week or 10 days of such a diet can soon become very boring and spoil your holiday, they completely understand this, so most restaurants to be only too happy to oblige in preparing you your 'special vegetarian dish', and in fact, would love your own recipe to add to their menu for future vegetarians.
Your other choices in food
The Algarve also has a huge choice Chinese, Indian, Italian, Mexican, (Including Tapas of course), Thai, and English restaurants, the English restaurant being the most popular, with rare Vegetarian restaurant.
However, villages will often only just have their local restaurant, or café-bar, which serve the local food.
Self Catering choices in food
When you are holidaying in self-catering accommodation in the the Algarve, food shopping is just as easy here as it is for you at home.
Supermarkets and mini markets, ('mini-mercados'), are everywhere, whilst in larger resorts there are several big supermarkets to choose from, as well as a host of mini markets and local grocery shops which stock all the daily requirements, plus much more.
For the real 'die hard' British holiday maker, who misses their own comforts of home, not to worry, they can still buy their baked beans, bacon, sausages, jams and marmalades, and even imported frozen English sliced bread; but first, rather than eating defrosted bread, try the delicious fresh breads which are baked locally.
Alcohol and drinks
Bottles of wine can cost as little as 1€ in the supermarkets, (as always!), with the prices of drinks in bars and restaurants being very reasonable at a glass of wine €1 or €2, with spirits, which are normally good sized measure at around €3; with the small draft beers from €1 to €1.50.
Inevitably, as with all tourist seasons, in the popular bars, prices can be pushed up to €6 for a spirit and mixer.
Obviously, in the Algarve, fresh orange juice is widely served in cafes, bars and restaurants; whereas, as already mentioned, a glass can cost as little as €2 but may be as much as €4.
Although the Algarve does produce its own wine, most of which comes from the Lagoa, Portimão and Tavira areas, wine also comes from other parts of Portugal, from Bairrada in the north, Estremadura near Lisbon and Alentejo.
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