There’s a new air of consciousness blowing through the gastronomy of the Algarve. Organic and vegetarian, local and seasonal, it tells a story of dignity and diligence…and it comes straight from the heart of the Portuguese people. Here, I share with you where to go en what to taste if you’re into soul food. Come, follow me and enjoy the experience!
If you’re a conscious eater or try to be, such as a vegan or a vegetarian, you need to plan your food destinations in the Algarve carefully. Because if you don’t and just drop down at any terrace or restaurant chances are your options are very limited and you’ll end up with yet another sopa de legumes (vegetable soup with mainly potatoes) and a saladinha.
It bewilders me that ordering a vegetarian option, let alone vegan, is still such a hassle in the coastal Algarve restaurants. Who’s buying, cooking, and eating all these incredible forgotten vegetables fruits, seeds, beans, and nuts that I see in local food markets?! I don’t intend to insult the Portuguese kitchen because I know it does have a tasty traditional cuisine, but in the Algarve, it’s hard to find diversity in restaurants and the menus often bore the hell out of me(at)…
Furthermore, the interior designs of most cafés and restaurants aren’t very inspiring, to say the least, with their plastic furniture, plastic menus, plastic flowers, and fluorescent lighting. Now if you’re on a summer holiday for two weeks you probably don’t give a fig. Temporarily blinded by the sun, you might even find it charming like I used to do. But if you’re a resident or a long-term visitor during the winter, believe me, you crave healthier food and warmer ambiances!
Since 2015, however, I’ve noticed a refreshing uprising of creative new concepts all around the Algarve. Young Portuguese entrepreneurs are daring to step out of the characterless “plastic era” that has dominated the Algarve for the last decades and are blowing life and consciousness into food and interior design. Most aren’t at the prime touristic places, obviously, so you need to know where to look and it’s a bit easier to find “good mood food” for lunch than it is for dinner. But I’m confident this will change in the near future as well. The Algarve has so much potential to lead people away from plastic food and back towards natural food!
So let me get you started on where to look. Here’s a quick overview of my favorite breakfast and lunch places in the Algarve, as discovered so far…
1. Earth shop & café – Carvoeiro – Breakfast & Lunch & Deli Shop
“Heaven on Earth”, as I like to call it, is my favorite all-day-brunch hotspot in Carvoeiro. Here you not only enjoy the food and drinks but you also feast on the ocean view, the dreamy background music, the mise-en-place, its people, the gift shop, and just the entire ambiance. It’s a sensory trip and you’ll feel right at home. Also a stimulating place for creative’s and flaneurs with a taste for quality food. Excellent vegan and vegetarian options. Don’t hesitate to ask for vegan options!
Go HERE to read more in my post about Earth café.
Full Breakfast – Lunch – Wine Bar – Deli – Take Away Possible
Earth Café Facebook
2. Vegetarianus – Portimão – Vegan Lunch & Take Away
I adore this tiny place in the center of Portimão! It’s just a hopscotch away from my yoga classes at Villa Prana and a true gem for Vegans. This family-owned business serves two fresh vegan dishes a day, soup, pastries and yummy desserts (with or without sugar). No caffeine.
TIP: Go early at 12 pm when they open or go for a late lunch or you’ll probably have to stand in line outside during rush hour!
Vegan Only – Lunch Only – Take Away Possible
3. Mercearia Bio Café – Portimão
After my morning yoga classes, when I’m in the mood for sipping endlessly and quietly on a barley coffee with almond milk this is where I go. The café is also an organic food store with fresh fruits and veggies so you can kill two organic birds with one stone :-). Unless you prefer to order online, which is also an option. And it’s one of the two places where I’ve found fresh turmeric!
TIP: Try their super shake special with fruit, avocado, yogurt (or vegan option), cereals, and nutmeg. It’s delicious and gives you a real boost.
Simple Breakfast – Lunch – Organic Food store
Mercearia Bio Website
4. Armazém Integral – Portimão
Just around the corner of Mercearia bio café, you find this very conscious health shop and café. Most products like grains, flours, cereals, and dried fruits come in containers from which you can buy by weight which of course saves the environment of unnecessary packaging! All products are vegan except for the honey. They serve one lunch a day, tasty empanadas, vegan ice-cream, and heavenly vegan desserts.
TIP: Don’t forget to take a look in their fridge where you might discover vegan cheese and home-made miso paste.
Simple Breakfast – Lunch – Organic Food Store
Armazém Integral Facebook
5. Quinta da Calma – Almancil
The lovely rural cantina of Quinta da Calma offers a vegetarian serve-yourself lunch every Wednesday. Here you will not sit alone. It’s like a big family lunch and you’ll meet incredibly nice people who visit or work at the Quinta. You might even sit next to the admirable founder of this amazing yoga hide-away. When they serve Banofie pie for dessert I feel so lucky I’m alive and in Portugal. It’s worth making a 40-minute car trip for! Outside you have a stand with organic vegetables and fruits for a very friendly price. Or you can buy other yoga-inspired stuff such as incense, minerals, malas, and organic crèmes.
TIP: Combine it with a healing treatment or a yoga class and you got yourself a rewarding day. And if you can’t make it on Wednesday, then just join my yoga classes here on Tuesday’s.
Lunch Only On Wednesday
Quinta da Calma Website
6. Bloom by Cantina dos Sabores – Almancil
“Food with love and take away”, it says on their business card and you certainly can taste the love for homemade soul food. I’m not a big fan of tofu, to be honest, but I go here especially for their different tofu dishes. They’re all very tasty and you get large portions. The option of takeaway is handy of course if you like to take your healthy power lunch to the beach. Bloom has a lovely sunny terrace with super kind and adequate staff members.
TIP: Do save some room for their homemade desserts because they’re to die for!
Breakfast – Lunch – Take Away
7. Hello Sailor – Arrifana
I’ve only had the pleasure of eating here once but I have been dying to go back ever since. It made a very good first impression on my company and me. I’ve forgotten what we had for dinner (except for the heavenly risotto on the photo) but I do remember that we as vegetarians loved their menu (and not being able to choose), the presentation, and the quality of their food. It had a very casual atmosphere and kind staff members. The food was surprisingly tasty and I was almost sorry I couldn’t eat more than my body would allow. I might get back to you on this one but for now, I didn’t want you to miss out on Hello Sailor if you’re visiting the West coast of the Algarve.
Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner