Food & drink in PortimaoEating and drinking in Portimao. Bars, restaurants, traditional dishes, cuisines available, supermarket shopping, dietary needs, average prices and more! Uncover your perfect meal in Portimao with AlgarveUncovered.com
Portimão Food & Drink Information
In Portimão you will never be short of somewhere to eat! There are fish restaurants, pizzerias, ‘fast food’, Chinese, Indian and more. Portimão is particularly famous for it’s sardines and along the river front just past the Visconde Bivar gardens near the bridge are several large restaurants serving the freshly landed fish. In Praça de Manuel Teixeira Gomes, again on the waterfront, are some cafes and restaurants with lots of outside seating to enjoy the view across the river Arade and in and around the town are cafes both big and small. Prices for eating out are generally very reasonable as Portimão, being a busy working town, has a lot of locals who like to lunch too!
The local gastronomy is, naturally, based around the lovely fresh fish and seafood so readily available but you will also find lots of chicken and meat dishes with pork being particularly popular. If you want to have a go at ordering in Portuguese we’ve given some useful portuguese translations. For vegetarian and vegan food you may 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 Portimão
Alcohol in general tends to be very reasonably priced in 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 (normally good sized measures) about €3 and small draft beers from €1 to €1.50, however they can also be a bit extortionate, especially in popular bars in tourist season, up to €6 for a spirit and mixer. 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 and the ‘house’ wine (“vinho da casa”) in white (“branco”) and red (“tinto”) is always 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 a sturdy palette! Aguardente is a 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!
Local Gastronomy of Portimão
Portimão, the next largest fishing port to Olhão, has fresh fish coming in on the boats every morning and with ideal conditions for clams, oysters and cockles in the river estuary in Alvor – fish and seafood is definitely top of the menu. There are numerous different ways of cooking the fish, whether it is a simple dish like grilled sardines with a tomato salad, a cataplana de marisco (seafood and fish cooked in the traditional clam shaped copper vessel)or a fish or seafood risotto. Even with all the fresh fish around there is almost certain to be a ‘bacalhau’ (dried, salt cod) dish as well – bacalhau com nata (with cream) being the most popular.
Chicken piri-piri (barbecued chicken with a fiery pepper sauce) is almost as much a part of the Algarve as fish, and pork or lamb dishes are nearly always on the menu – pork with figs or lamb chops (costeletas de borrego) are just two examples.
Desserts traditionally centre on the local figs, carob and almonds in combinations with eggs and cinnamon – pasteis de nata (portuguese egg custards), pudim flan (egg custard with caramel), bolos de figo (little fig cakes) or bolos de amêndoa ( fancy shaped marzipan cakes).
Eating out in Portimão
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 Portimão 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. It is worth pointing out that a helping of sardines may well be enough for 2 people (depending, obviously, on your appetite!) as the servings are very generous. 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. Portimão 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 Portimão 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”) and of course sardines (“sardinhas”)! 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 Portimão 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 Portimão 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 Portimao
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 Portimao
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 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.
- “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
one – “um”
two – “dois” (doysh)
three – “três” (tresh)
four – “quatro” (kwatru)
five – “cinco” (sincu)
six – “seis” (saysh)
seven – “seite” (sayte)
eight – “oito” (oytu)
nine – “nove” (nov)
ten – “dez” (desh)
twenty – “vinte”
thirty – “trinta”
fourty – “quarenta” (kwarenta)
fifty – “cinquenta” (sinkwenta)
sixty – “seisenta” (saysenta)
seventy – “seisenta” (saysenta)
eighty – “oitenta” (oytenta)
ninety – “noventa”
one hundred – “cem” (sem)
half a kilo – “meio quilo” (mayo kilo)
200 grams – “duzentas gramas”
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” (saysh fatee-ash) six slices; se faz favor (se fash fav-or) please.
Vegetarians and Vegans in Portimao
For those who adopt a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, traditional Portuguese restaurants in Portimão 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! 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.
Chinese and Indian restaurants normally have quite a few dishes on their menus suitable for vegetarians and vegans if you are looking for more variety.
Useful phrases for vegetarians and vegans eating out in Portimao
- “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”.