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(Almost) secret restaurants to eat great fish in Algarve!

Peixe fresco no Algarve

Filipe Farinha

There are many flavors to discover across Algarve, places that are not included in tourist guides but where you will find the best that the sea can offer. These are discrete places, whose customers usually live in the region. Their common features are simplicity, affordable prices and, most importantly, a sure hand for grilling and seasoning. The Boa Cama Boa Mesa guide presents you eight hardly-known restaurants where you can have the best fish in Algarve

Os Manos

The house specialty is squid or monkfish kebab, but there is always - at least - 18 kinds of fish ready for charcoal grilling. Anchovies are always large, perfect to throw over the coals, but let's face it, with this weather sardines are the most popular fish. Before checking the menu, take a look at the showcase to see the daily specials. All fish is served with a "mountain salad" with tomato, cucumber, pepper, onion and oregano. On weekends there's complimentary corn porridge, or "xerém", for all customers. Average price: €20. Rua Professor Egas Moniz, 94, Faro. Tel. +351 289 817 335

O Américo - Rei do Peixe Assado

Being hungry is a convenient thing here, because fish keeps flowing to the table, fresh from the grill. A large venue, it specializes in all-you-can-eat fish grill, which never fails to include gilt-head bream, sea bass, salmon, sardines, horse mackerel, waterspouts and sharpsnout bream, in addition to all kinds of fresh fish available in the market. But the best part is that all this will only cost €10 per person. There's also oven-roasted fish, but in this hot weather grilled fish is the most popular option. EN 125, Torrejão, Olhão. Tel. +351 289 323 007

Casa Chico Zé

The restaurant is located by the famous EN125 road, two kilometers before Lagos. It doesn't take reservations, so you should come early or have some patience to wait for a free table, despite the sizable room and terrace. Renowned fish specialists, they use nothing but salt and hot coals to prepare the fish they get from the market every morning, Only open for lunch. Average price: €15. EN 125, Sítio da Torre, Odiáxere. Tel. +351 282 798 205

O Retiro

Specialized in grilling, they serve nothing but fresh fish and the menu depends on what fishermen catch the night before. But they usually have sardines, mullet and grouper. Gilt-head bream and sea bass are rarely absent from the menu. There is also Portuguese tuna, and slightly grilled tuna belly is the restaurant's most popular dish. Take a look at the highly diverse wine menu, with Douro, Alentejo and Algarve wines. Average price: €25. Fonte de Boliqueime, 118, Loulé. Tel. +351 289 366 339

O Ramos

Fresh fish is used to prepare a magnificent rice or a typical cataplana. The menu always includes large fish, such as croaker, to cut into slices and sear. Razor clams also come from nearby, to be served with rice or simply open to the heat. And if you go for the sardines, horse mackerel, sharpsnout bream, sea bream or snapper, you won't regret it. Average price: €20. Rua Professor Doutor Egas Moniz, 179, Faro. Tel: +351 289 818 481

Casa de Pasto Zé Leiteiro

The proximity to the fishermen's beach immediately announces that there will always be fresh fish at this restaurant, which retains the classic moniker of Casa de Pasto (something like Eating House). There is no menu, and you won't need one, since the costumer can only choose one dish. The restaurant serves all-you-can-eat grilled fish, always with sea bass, croaker, salmon, squid, mackerel and conger. The side dish is usually boiled potatoes and Algarve-style salad, with tomato, onion, roasted pepper, cucumber and oregano. Drinks and desserts are extra. The portion costs €12.50. Rua Portas do Mar, 17, Armação de Pêra. Tel. +351 282 314 551

A Grelha do Ti Manel

Since this is the restaurant's main specialty, the time you'll have to wait between different kinds of fish, which seem to jump from the grill straight to your table in a fast all-you-can-eat rotation service, is minimal. The offer changes according to the sea's bounty, but the freshness of all fish served here - either whole, sliced or cut in half - is guaranteed. Salmon, sea bass, gilt-head bream and black bream, as well as sardines, mackerel, horse mackerel, sharpsnout bream and gray bream are served as dishes, with salad, either Algarve- or "mountaineer"-style. Average price: €25. Estrada da Galé, Vale Rabelho, Albufeira. Tel. +351 289 591 851

A Caravela

This restaurant's location beats the competition, since it is right in front of the Quarteira fish market. They promise that if anything is missing they will simply cross the street, and if that particular fish is available in the market it will go straight to the grill. The most popular choices are sea bass, gilt-head bream, swordfish, the inevitable sardines, horse mackerel and sharpsnout bream. We also recommend the monkfish cataplana and the garlic skate fish. Average price: €25. Largo do Mercado, Quarteira. Tel. +351 289 312 280