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Jul 28, 2009 08:12 AM

Porto, Lisbon, and the Algarve

NOLA Hound will be with 2 friends traveling in Portugal in mid-August as a last hurrah between the bar exam and starting the real world. I write the food articles for a local magazine here in New Orleans, but all of us are in our mid-20s and love food and wine. (We already have 2 tastings set up in Porto through some distributor connections.) We will be spending 2 nights each in Porto, Lisbon, and the Algarve, traveling exclusively by train.

I have searched the board and have picked out a few places to eat in Porto and Lisbon, but I have not come up with much for the Algarve. As of now, our plan is to stay in Faro because that seems to be the city easiest to access by train. (We will not be renting a car.) From my research, most posters recommend visiting the smaller towns in the region, but unfortunately that does not fit with our budget or time frame for this trip.

Does anyone have any suggestions for places to stay and to eat in Faro? Should we go to Lagos instead of Faro? Any and all thoughts would be much appreciated. I am very much interested in eating where the locals do... as long as I can get there without renting a car.

Lastly, any information on off-the-radar spots in Lisbon and Porto would be great.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. In my opinion, Faro town does not have much to offer in term of either food or hotels... May be the hotel Eva, if you absolutely have to stay in Faro. There are lots of places around, like in Estoi, Almancil, etc. but you would need a car.
    Without a car, you would be much better in / near Lagos. The train connection is direct on the same platform in Tunes. You could look at the Tivoli Lagos, or assuming short taxi rides are within your budget Vila Palmeira in Meia Praia: which has a fantastic restaurant called Vivendo.
    Restaurant Don SebastiĆ£o in Lagos is quite good too, and there are plenty of other choices in the pedestrian centre.

    In Porto: Foz Velha is the restaurant not to miss at the moment!

    Lisbon has been well covered in recent posts

    Hope this helps,

    4 Replies
    1. re: monchique

      Thanks for the heads up re: Foz Velha;) Interesting menu- hope to give this a place a try next time I'm in Portugal!

      Have you tried any of their tasting menus?

      1. re: phoenikia

        Yes, I have been there several times with the "Chaine des Rotisseurs" as Carla and Marco are members, and we always have the degustation menu, which changes regularly. The matching wines he suggests are also very good, and alltogether the value for money is excellent. A sort of traditional Portuguese cuisine with just a touch of molecular...

      2. re: monchique


        I figured that you would be my best source for info, but I could not figure out how to send you a direct message (if there is such a thing on CH).

        Your Lagos vs. Faro analysis is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you so much for replying, and I may come back with more questions in the coming weeks.

        1. re: Bocuse NOLA

          Hi Bocuse,
          You're welcome to contact me directly, although I don't think this goes with the open forum of ChowHounds... But I might be able to organise you in the Algarve if you need help.
          You will find my address on this website:

      3. It's been some time, but Lagos was clearly the better destination for food...much more variety...of course, there are tourist trap places all over, but generally, the seafood is superb...

        1. I was just in the Algarve in early July. Lagos is definitely prettier/less touristy, and you are not far from the smaller town of Salema (12km) with the German-owned beach place, Mira Mar- fabulous traditional fish stew! Skip the Atlantico if you go to Salemma. Food was not good and service was lousy. We found a WONDERFUL traditional place, A Eira do Mel, in Vila do Bispo, just east of Salema. Best octopus I have ever had, and homestyle cataplana- prawns, pork, chorizo in the copper pot. They are slow-food subscribers. If you are in this area, be sure to visit Sagres and the fortress at the end of the world.

          1. Really wish I had seen your question earlier - we spend a lot of time at in alvor directly between Lagos and Portimao - its a stop off on the "linea algarve" the train line that runs from faro along the coast. In my opinion this area has some of the best seafood resteraunts you are likely to come across - fresh fish barbequed - fantastic!. Also monchique is close by with resteraunts serving local produce we had plum and wild boar stew which was amazing. Also inland the prices are more reasonable. where did you choose in the end - and where did you eat?