Faro is one of the best places in Portugal to explore cuisine. Located down in the Algarve, its proximity to the coastline means that there is some fantastic sea food and fish to be found. However, there are many more flavours to discover here rather than just what comes from the ocean.
A massive amount of fish of various kinds is landed each day in Faro and nearby, so it is no surprise that many of the dishes you will encounter in restaurants are based on fish, with sardines especially popular. Cod also forms the basis of many traditional Portuguese dishes, while octopus, squid, clams, prawns and oysters can also be found in great quantity and quality.
Grilled sardines are often served with potatoes, vegetables and salad. Bacalhau, a cod dish, is also very popular, and you will find that almost every household has its own recipe for the dish, all of which are claimed as the most authentic possible. Chicken dishes are also very popular in traditional Portuguese restaurants in Faro. Chicken piri-piri, which utilises tiny chili peppers as its key ingredient, is a popular way of eating chicken, which is also frequently barbecued.
Another, much heavier, way of eating meat in the Algarve is in the form of Feijoada, a type of stew which contains beans, pork, bacon and sausage, and originally cam from Brazil. Another outside influence on the region’s cuisine can be detected in Cataplana. This is a Moorish dish in origin, cooked in a distinctive copper pot. It is a mix of seafood, usually with clams featured, which is cooked with spicy sausage, tomatoes, wine, garlic and herbs. Beef lovers will enjoy a dish known as Bife à Portuguesa, where steak is cooked in a clay dish, topped with smoked ham and served on a bed of French fries.
Portuguese deserts are excellent, and anyone with a sweet tooth will enjoy ending their meal with dishes such as Pudim Flan, which is a local version of creme caramel. Almonds form the basis of many of the flavours, and tarts are popular. The local wine is of variable quality, but is more than drinkable, while port is the traditional end to a meal. For something stronger, try Aguardente, a potent local brandy, or Medronho, a fiery spirit made from strawberries.
As with anywhere in Portugal, finding your own produce is possible in one of the many supermarkets in Faro. The best way to find exactly what it best though is to learn some Portuguese and ask the locals. They will probably also know the best restaurants too.