Faro Food and Drink Information
Faro has restaurants, cafes and bars galore - some overlooking Faro marina, some overlooking Faro beach and some on the ilha beaches, Culatra, Farol and Ilha Deserta, apart from the multitude in the city itself. Obviously prices can vary depending on location and type of restaurant but we have found Faro generally to be very reasonably priced for eating out. It is common practice for Algarvians to enjoy a "proper" meal at lunchtimes and restaurant prices reflect this. The local gastronomy is based around the lovely fresh fish and seafood so readily available but meat is also very popular (you can find some useful Portuguese translation to help with ordering. Vegetarians and vegans will probably find choice a little limiting although many restaurants are happy to adapt a dish to suit your requirements so do ask even if it's not on the menu!
Cost of a drink in Faro
Alcohol in general tends to be very reasonably priced across the Algarve (in fact, probably considered cheap compared to most countries), with bottles of wine from as little as 1€ in the supermarkets! The prices of drinks in bars and restaurants can be very reasonable - a glass of wine €1.50 to €2, spirits (generous measures) about €3 and small draft beers from €1 to €1.50. You can however pay rather more, especially in popular bars in tourist season and those with a scenic location - up to €6 for a spirit and mixer. The cafes which are so popular with the Portuguese, are usually the best value. With so many orange trees across the Algarve, its not suprising that fresh orange juice is widely served in cafes, bars and restaurants; a glass can cost as little as €2 but may be as much as €4, but it is well worth it!
A lot of the wine sold in the Algarve comes from other parts of Portugal (for example from Bairrada in the north, Estremadura near Lisbon and Alentejo) but the Algarve does also produce its own wine, most of which comes from the Lagoa, Portimão and Tavira areas. Most restaurants will only have Portuguese wines on their wine list.
The 'house' wine ("vinho da casa") in white ("branco") and red ("tinto") is nearly always a local Portuguese wine and good value. You can also opt for "vinho verde" which is a young 'green' wine, slightly sparkling, light and refreshing and goes very well with fish and chicken dishes, or rosé - Mateus rosé being the best known.
If you prefer to drink beer ("cerveja"), there are really just three national brands that you will become familiar with: "Sagres" (named after the Algarve’s Sagres, but it isn’t produced there), "Super Bock" and "Cristal". You will also find, a number of imported beers and lagers that you are used to drinking at home, but these may be a little more expensive. If you are ordering draft beer, then ask for “um imperial” if you would like a regular glass and “uma caneca” if you would like half a litre.
After the meal you may want to try a glass of port, Portugals best known drink. Produced from a blend of wines, port is available in ‘ruby’ (a young and full-bodied sweet port), ‘tawny’ (a lighter port, best served chilled) and ‘white’ (which is dry and better served over ice as an aperitif). The Algarve is also famous for its spirits - there are two main ones to look out for when you come, "Aguardente" and "Medronho", but be warned, for both you need to have a very sturdy palette! Aguardente is a rough Portuguese brandy, which is guaranteed to warm your cockles, with a throat-burning sensation turning to warmth in your stomach. Medronho (or ‘fire water’ as it is perhaps better known) is made from the strawberry like fruit of the arbutus and can literally bring tears to your eyes as you sip it. It is said that this potent spirit can knock grown men off their legs after one too many!
Eating out in Faro
With over 200km of coastline, it’s not surprising that the fish and seafood are a staple part of the diet for people in the Algarve and Faro is no exception. With daily fishing trips bringing in huge amounts of fresh sardines, tuna, bream, cod, monkfish and many other types of fish; plentiful supplies of clams, oysters, prawns, not to mention octopus and squid, it’s easy to understand why.
The traditional Portuguese restaurants normally offer a large selection of fish dishes, one of which is almost certain to be grilled sardines, served with boiled potatoes and vegetables or salad. Also commonly on the menu are a range of omelettes, salads and some meat dishes, like thin pork slices (febras) served with a creamy mushroom sauce or chicken piri-piri.The prices are very reasonable, the food is good and the portions are generous. House wine, which is normally a local Portuguese wine, is also very good value and very drinkable! On average a 2-course meal for 2, including house wine, should cost less than €30. (Soup of the day €2.00, main course €7.50 and a bottle of house wine €8). Obviously prices can vary enormously depending on location.
As well as traditional Portuguese food you will find Chinese, Indian, Italian, International and even a couple of vegetarian restaurants in Faro. Having a large student population also means plenty of fast food and snack bar style places to grab a bite!
Starters - "Entradas"
"Couvert" is the traditional start to a meal and normally consists of fresh bread, olives, sardine paté, cheese and carrots that have been lightly cooked and marinated in garlic, olive oil and spices. Most waiters will ask before serving the couvert, but if it is brought to the table and you don't want it, simply ask the waiter to take it back. Couvert often costs as little as 1.50€ a person, but do check as it can be rather more.
In traditional Portuguese restaurants, the choice of starters will often include soups and seafood dishes. The Portuguese are excellent at making fresh, wholesome soups. Faro restaurants generally have a choice of vegetable soup ("sopa de legumes" or "caldo verde"), cold "gazpacho" soup made from peppers, cucumber and tomatoes, and fish soups. Generally soups tend to be served tepid, so if you like your soup very hot, then ask the waiter for it to be “Bem quente” (pronounced 'bem kent'). "Conquilhas" (small clams) are often served as a starter, as are various prawn dishes.
Main Courses - "Pratos"
A lot of the main dishes in Faro restaurants are based around fish and seafood. The fish is normally simply prepared and served with salad and boiled potatoes or chips. You will find lots of types of fish to choose from, such as swordfish ("espadarte"), tuna ("atum"), stone bass ("cherne") sea bass ("robalo") and red mullet ("salmonete"). Sometimes the price is for the dish, but a lot of fish is sold by weight (euros/kg) so it is worth checking before ordering.
"Bacalhau" (pronounced “bakel-yow”) is probably one of the most traditional dishes that you’ll find in the Algarve. It is dried salt-cod, preserved in the same way as it was in the days of the first sea voyages in the time of the Portuguese Discoveries. The cod had to be preserved with salt to provide the sailors with a substantial food source while they were on a voyage. Since then, Bacalhau has become a staple part of the Portuguese diet and the Portuguese have come up with so many different ways off eating it that you will find a different Bacalhau dish to try each time; reportedly there are 365 different ways of cooking it!
Chicken ("frango") dishes are also popular in Faro restaurants and you will frequently see chicken piri-piri ("frango piri-piri") on a menu. This dish uses the tiny bright red piri-piri chilli pepper, which is used to spice up many other Portuguese dishes too and is even used as table condiment. Barbequed chicken ("frango no churrasco") is also a favourite for the Portuguese and not surprisingly since the great all-year-round weather has created a tradition of out-door cooking.
Other Algarve specialities include "Feijoada", a thick bean stew with pork, bacon and sausage which originally came from Brazil and "Cataplana", a dish of Moorish influence which uses a clam shaped copper pan to cook clams, or a mix of fish and seafood, with spicy sausage, tomatoes, wine, garlic and herbs. Another popular Portuguese dish is "Bife à Portuguesa", which is beef sirloin topped with smoked ham, cooked in a clay dish served on a bed of French fries.
Desserts - "Sobremesas"
The Portuguese make the most wonderful desserts and pastries and a visit to Faro wouldn’t be complete without sampling one or two of them! The best-loved desserts are "Pudim Flan" (crème caramel), "pasties de nata" ( a creamy, custard tart) and "tarte de amêndoa" (almond tart) and are highly recommended! Figs, almonds and locally produced honey in various combinations also feature highly on dessert menus along with fresh fruit.
Dining with children
Children are always welcome, day or night, and although there may not be a special children's menu, they are always catered for...either ask for "meia dose" (pronounced 'maya dose') which is a half portion, or a meal to be shared.
Back to top
Local Gastronomy of Faro
The gastronomy of Faro is, of course, based around the lovely fresh fish and sea food that is so readily available. Dishes like 'Arroz de Lingueirão' (razor clam risotto), 'Lulas recheadas à Algarvia' (stuffed squid Algarve style) and 'Bifes de atum' (tuna steaks) often cooked with tomatoes and onions, are amongst them and of course - sardines, freshly grilled and served with a salad.
Broad beans (in season) are a firm favourite, cooked with spicy sausage (chouriço) smokey bacon, garlic and herbs ('Favas à moda do Algarve).
For the meat eaters - 'Carne de porco com amêijoas' (pork with clams), 'Perdiz estufada' (braised partridge) or tasty lamb dishes.
Desserts revolve around figs, almonds and eggs - 'queijos de figo' (fig cakes shaped like small round cheeses) and sweet almond paste shaped into fruits or flowers are typical. Normally fresh fruit and ice creams will be on the menu as well, so there is always plenty to choose from.
Finish your meal with a Medronho - a local spirit distilled from the strawberry-like fruits of the arbutus (but be careful, it's strong stuff!)
You certainly won't struggle for somewhere to eat in Faro! There are restaurants and cafés all around the town serving a wide range of foods - traditional Portuguese restaurants, fast food, Chinese, Indian, Italian and many we've no doubt not mentioned! The prices seem to be a little cheaper than some of the resorts - or we may just have picked well when we visit, but at a guess it isn't so orientated towards tourists, more to the local residents.
As with all areas of the Algarve there are favourite local dishes that feature highly on the menus, but most restaurants will also have a choice of salads, omelettes or pasta.
Back to top
Useful Portuguese translations for eating out in Faro
Here are some Portuguese words, phrases and numbers to help you order in a bar or restaurant, identify foods, order different quantities or listen to prices. To catch the attention of the waiter / waitress it is perfectly acceptable to just say "se faz favor" (please)!
- "O que você quer beber?" - What would you like to drink?
- "E para beber?" - And to drink?
- "Vocês têm um menú de vinhos?" - Do you have wine list?
- "Para beber quero..." - I would like to drink...
- "(Eu) queria uma bica / um espresso" - I'd like an espresso.
- "Uma cerveja por favor. / Duas cervejas por favor" - A beer please / Two beers please
- "Um café, se faz favor" - A coffee, please
- "Uma água sem gás" - Still water
- "Uma água com gás" - Sparkling water
- "Um copo de vinho tinto" - A glass of red wine
- "Vinho branco" - White wine
- "O que deseja comer?" - What would you like to eat?
- "O que os senhores(as) querem comer?" - What would you like to eat?
- "O que (você) recomenda?" - What do you recommend?
- "Prato do dia" - Dish of the day
- "Para mim..." - For me...
- "(Eu) vou comer..." - I'll have the...
- "Qual é a entrada / prato principal / sobremesa?" - What starters / main course / dessert do you have?
- "(Eu) gostaria ver a ementa por favor" - I would like to see the menu please
- O menú de sobremesas por favor - The desserts menu please
- "Para começar quero..." - To start I would like...
- "Como prato principal quero..." - For the main course I would like...
- "Para sobremesa quero..." - For dessert I'll have...
- "Não como carne" - I don't eat meat
- "(Eu) sou vegetariana/o" - I'm vegetarian (f/m.)
- "Uma mesa para duas pessoas" - A table for two
- "Tenho uma reserva em nome de ..." - I have a table reserved in the name of...
- "(Eu) queria uma mesa perto da janela" - I would like a table near to the window.
- "Isso não é o que eu encomendei" -That's not what I ordered
- "A conta por favor" - The bill (check) please
- "O serviço está incluído?" - Is service included?
- "Acho que há um erro na conta" - I think there is a mistake in the bill.
|meio quilo (mayo kilo)
||half a kilo
If you are buying sliced meats or cheeses you can either ask for it by weight or by the number of slices that you want, for instance: 'Seis fatias.. se faz favor' (saysh fatee-ash..se fash fav-or) six slices...please.
Back to top
Vegetarians and Vegans
For those who adopt a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, traditional Portuguese restaurants in Faro can be a bit limiting. You won’t find many Portuguese vegetarians or vegans in the Algarve at the moment, and the understanding of vegetarianism has only really been introduced by tourists over recent years. Explaining a vegan diet is still a little hard in most places! There are however some vegetarian restaurants in Faro and most of the local restaurants do offer a vegetable soup, olives, omelettes and salads although this can obviously get a little restrictive if you are staying for a week or longer! It is always worth asking if they can prepare you a vegetarian or vegan dish as we have found some restaurants to be only too happy to oblige.
If you fancy a bit of variety, try restaurants offering international cuisine. Faro has lots of Chinese, Indian, Italian and Mediterranean restaurants to choose from and they can be great for different vegetarian and vegan options.
Useful phrases for vegetarians and vegans eating out in Faro
- "Eu sou vegetariano" - I am a vegetarian
- "Eu sou vegano" - I am a vegan
- "Você poderia me prepara um prato sem carne ,peixe, derivados do leite ou ovos por favor?" - Can you make a dish without meat, fish, dairy products or eggs please?
- "Eu não como carne, peixe ou frango" - I don't eat meat, fish or chicken
- "Eu não como queijo" - I don't eat cheese
- "Você tem algum prato vegetariano" - Do you have any vegetarian dishes?
- "Eu como ovos, leite e queijo" - I eat eggs, milk and cheese
- "Eu não como ovos, leite ou queijo" - I do not eat eggs, milk or cheese
- "Isso tem algum produto animal?" - does it contain any animal products?
- "Café sem leite" - coffee without milk
- "Eu não como nada preparado com gordura animal" - I don't eat anything cooked with animal fat
There is a word for "vegan" in the Portuguese language but it is so seldom used that no one seems to understand what it means! To qualify what you say, it is probably best to say "eu sou vegano, eu não como carne, peixe, ovos, leite ou queijo (derivados do leite) ou nada produto animal".
Back to top