Food & drink in Olhao

Eating and drinking in Olhao. Bars, restaurants, traditional dishes, cuisines available, supermarket shopping, dietary needs, average prices and more! Uncover your perfect meal in Olhao with AlgarveUncovered.com

Olhão is a large working town and fishing port with lots of restaurants offering great value local Portuguese dishes of fresh fish, seafood and meat. You will find Olhão restaurants or café-bars on virtually ever corner of the town so you will be able to sample somewhere different every day or night of your Olhão holiday!

To get the most out of your stay we recommend checking Olhão Restaurants on TripAdvisor to see other diner’s reviews and check opening hours as some may close for holidays out of season. If you set your heart on somewhere book it, especially during peak season and for the popular restaurants as they’ll be busy.

If you’re staying in self-catering accommodation and fancy a takeaway, there are dedicated takeaway restaurants but most restaurants will also provide a take-out service if you pop in and ask.

Olhão food and drink information

Olhão is not a ‘touristy’ town, it’s a working fishing port and a lot of the restaurants and cafés are simple affairs that cater for the local population with delicious fresh fish dishes. So if you want to get away from the normal resorts and sample good, local cooking then do visit Olhão. As with any large town you will also find a selection of Indian or Chinese restaurants and there is even a McDonald’s!

Here you will find lots of useful Olhão Food and Drink Information:

  • General information about drinks and approximate prices
  • The food you can expect to find when you eat out in Olhão restaurants and approximate prices for meals
  • Food shopping in supermarkets, including Portuguese translation for everyday foods and shopping for dietary requirements and babies
  • The local gastronomy of Olhão
  • Useful phrases and numbers for ordering in Portuguese
  • Information for vegetarians and vegans, including supermarket shopping and useful phrases for eating out in Olhão.

Local gastronomy of Olhao

The gastronomy of the area reflects Olhao’s international appeal with restaurants specialising in Chinese and Indian food as well as a wealth of traditional Portuguese restaurants. Due to Olhao huge popularity with British visitors there is also an abundance of cafés and restaurants serving traditional British food – anything from a good cooked breakfast to Sunday roast!

As with the rest of the Algarve fish and seafood is widely available and always fresh. Some of the popular dishes include “Arroz de Marisco” – a deliciously moist and tasty concoction of rice and and different seafoods; “amêijoas” (clams) cooked in a cataplana and simply served with bread and of course, barbecued sardines. There is always a large variety of fresh fish to choose from and a lot of restaurants will ask you to choose your own fish before they cook it! As well as the fresh fish, “bacalhau” (salt dried cod) will normally be on the menu often served in a delicious, creamy sauce with potato on top. It is a staple food in the Algarve and reputedly there are at least 365 ways of cooking it!

Eating out in Olhao

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 Olhao 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. There is always a wonderful aroma of barbecuing fish at the restaurants around Fishermen’s beach!

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. 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 €10). Obviously prices can vary enormously depending on location.

In a portuguese restaurant the meal traditionally starts with “Entradas” followed by “Prato principal” and lastly “Sobremesas”:

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. Olhao 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 Olhao 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 Olhao 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 Olhao 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 in Olhao

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.

Useful Portuguese translations for eating out in Olhao

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)!

To eat:

  • “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.

To drink:

  • “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

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