The Top 10 Foods You Must Try In The Algarve

Oh the Algarve coast, how we adore you! It’s easy to fall in love with this stunning region skirted by sandy beaches, capped with rugged cliffs, and dotted with the prettiest of whitewashed villages. Surprisingly, though, the cuisine is often overshadowed by that of its eastern neighbor. Here at Mimo we know that is unfair, and we’re doing our best at Mimo Algarve to bring the Algarve eating experience to you, our friends and Mimo family.

Algarve’s traditional cooking is delectable, fresh fare rooted in the coastal nature of the region, with fish and seafood playing the stars of the show, bolstered by great produce from inland farms, seasonings and spices influenced by the county’s Moorish and Roman past, and a hearty peasant-fare sensibility.

We’ve consulted our Mimo Algarve team of experts to bring you the top 10 dishes you absolutely must try on your next visit to this corner of the world.

10) Feijoada

This hearty bean stew is made with beans, pork, and sausage (and sometimes, offal). Beans vary based on region (local varieties used).

9) Arroz de tamboril

Rice dish, a bit like paella or risotto, made with monkfish, tomatoes, spices, and fresh herbs. There are many different variations using different ingredients, such as octopus or codfish rice.

8) Chouriço

Similar to Spanish chorizo, this spicy dried pork sausage is marinated with paprika and garlic. Often theatrically served flame-cooked at the table (chouriço assado).

7) Pasteis de nata

If you’ve tried one thing on our list it’s probably this, the country’s most popular bite and world-wide export. This palm-sized tart has a base of crispy puff pastry filled with a creamy custard sprinkled with cinnamon and/or powdered sugar. Pasteis de nata can be found pretty much everywhere, though the most famous ones come from an old bakery in Lisbon’s Belém neighborhood, where the closely guarded secret recipe dates back to the 18th century.

6) Caldo verde

Typical peasant fare that you’ll find nearly on every traditional restaurant menu, this “green broth” is made of collard greens (or kale), potatoes, onion, and garnished with slices of chouriço.

5) Frango piri piri

Grilled chicken marinated with an addictive and flavorsome blend of spices and African Bird’s Eye chili peppers. Piri piri sauce is rubbed into the chicken, which is then baked or grilled. The piri piri pepper originates in Portugal’s former African colonies, where it grew in the wild and was later spread and cultivated in other territories by the colonists.

4) Amêijoas à bulhão pato

Clams, or amêijoas, are a must try when you’re in this region, and you’ll see them pretty much everywhere. The Bulhâo Pato style clams are simple yet delicious, cooked with garlic, olive oil, cilantro, and white wine. They are often eaten as a snack, preferably with a cold beer. The tasty sauce should be sopped up with some bread.

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We’ve come over all Portuguese tonight: whole barbecued sardines with nothing but salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon. In a bid to protest against the fact that it’s Sunday and the fact that we’re home from holiday, we’ve just eaten an epic al fresco feast of sardines, chicken kebabs and all the salads. It’d be rude not to in this weather right?! And we’ve got homemade gooseberry ripple ice cream to follow – an experiment I’ll report back on shortly. Hope you’re all having equally food filled Sundays! . . . . . . . . #sardines #grilledsardines #sardinha #barbecue #bbq #fish #seafood #seafoodandeatit #alfresco #eatfresh #nourish #Foodie #FoodiesofInstagram #InstaDaily #InstaGood #f52grams #LifeAndThyme #feedfeed #BeautifulCuisines #OnMyTable #HeresMyFood #WhatIEat #FoodBlogger #FoodStyle #FoodStyling #FoodPhotography #pinkladysnapsjul18

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3) Sardinhas assadas

Forget any preconceived notions that you might have about sardines and try these on your next visit! Sardines are eaten throughout Portugal and cooked in various styles, but the most typical way to prepare them is grilled. After being lightly salted and charred, they are served with boiled potatoes and a tomato salad: a simple dish, yet highly satisfying. You’ll see them at nearly every summer festival.

2) Bacalhau

Salt cod is a staple in the Portuguese diet — it is everywhere. This method of preserving fish in salt goes back ages; sailors would traverse the world on lengthy voyages and subsist largely on this salted fish for protein. Portugal is now the world’s largest consumer of cod, and there are countless ways to prepare it (popular refrain says one for every day of the year; some say thousands).

1) Cataplana

One of the most iconic dishes in the Algarve, the cataplana takes its name from the unique vessel in which it’s cooked. The clamshell-shaped pot has a hinged lid and is traditionally made of copper. Sealing it shut while cooking allows for steam and aromas to develop as it simmers away.  The cataplana originated in the Algarve, but it has roots in the North African tagine, another dish with a similar cooking technique named after its vessel. It nearly always includes fish or shellfish (particularly clams), and typically mixes them with spicy sausage, tomatoes, wine, garlic, and herbs. Cataplana de marisco is one of the most popular options, a seafood feast with clams, lobster, squid, and more.

You have your edible homework cut out for you for your next trip, but you should know there’s even more delectable fare to try when you’re in this stunning region. If you’re heading to southern Portugal, join us for a cooking class to try your own hand at cooking. We even do kid’s classes! If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, our supper clubs give you a behind-the-scenes look of our expert chefs in action, plus cooking tips to take home to your own kitchen.

Check out our experiences in the Algarve:


Did your favorite dish make the list? Leave us a comment!

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