Everyone knows that Portugal is famous for wines and that little egg tart pastry called a pastel de nata but what other food can you find in Portugal? Well, as it turns out…A LOT. I recently visited Faro and basically ate my way through Quinta do Lago which is a beautiful resort and residential area nested in the Algarve with some amazing restaurants. So, what did I eat? Well, let’s go on a food journey together through my Portuguese food diary…
The Casa Do Lago Restaurant & Bar was my first step on my Portuguese food journey whilst staying within the Quinta do Lago resort. And let me say, it certainly set the bar high! I love fresh seafood and fish and honestly, if you come here you must order the calamari. The restaurant has a fabulous ambiance and is perfect for daytime or nighttime dining as it’s settled on the shores of a lake. The chefs get all of their seafood from local markets in Faro so they are as fresh as they can be. In warmer temperatures you can also sit outside where there is a fire pit, outdoor terrace and pool. And when I visited there was even an adorable family of ducks in the pool!
When you are in Portugal of course you must try Portuguese wine which is not only very reasonably priced but very delicious indeed.
We ate at Casa Do Lago for lunch and shared so we could try everything. I would suggest sharing here because everything is so fresh and delicious. We first tried Seared Wild Scallops with Tomato fondue and champagne beurre blanc which were hard to beat – so succulent, tender and juicy. For starters we also had crispy calamari (my favourite!) and Tempura Prawns which came with a sweet chili and lime dressing. Hungry yet?
For the mains we went for the fish of the day which came with cherry tomatoes that were simmered with white wine and shallots, saffron and dill. The fish was so fresh and so tender and if you are holidaying by the sea, it makes sense to go for the seafood.
I’m all about the three courses so couldn’t resist dessert here either which was a trio medley of Key Lime Pie (tart and delicious), Banoffie Pie (how can you go wrong with chocolate and bananas?) and a Blackberry Macaron.
Casa Do Lago was an amazing first taste of Portugal and I would highly recommend it for the seafood and relaxing but chic vibes.
The Campus is a sports complex within the Quinta Do Lago resort where world-class athletes come to train. If you like being around athletes or want to play tennis or watch a football team practice, you can hang out at The Campus as there is a cute little coffee shop there where you can get fresh smoothies and coffees. Informal, fun and you might just spot a handsome athlete – what’s not to love?
The Magnolia Hotel, where I stayed is a cute boutique hotel within the Quinta Do Lago resort area. It’s beautifully decorated, with blush tones, palm prints and fashionable prints on the walls. Very instagrammable, I must say. And if you are staying here you will also be delighted by the food (and cocktails). The chef who runs the restaurant at The Magnolia used to work at Soho House in London so certainly knows how to put a twist on the traditional. The salads are innovative and fresh – honestly, if I could eat salads like that everyday I would. These are your run-of-the-mill salads either – think kale, goats cheese, mango, chicken, rocket. You will literally feel yourself oozing with health if you try one of these superfood salads.
Another recommendation are the fish tacos – again a twist on the traditional. These are open-faced tacos which are layered on top of a little piece of tortilla with salsa, guacamole and seared ahi tuna (the cherry on the sundae, I think). Fresh, delicious and healthy. I always want to eat well on a holiday but I don’t want to eat unhealthy food. I want to come back feeling fresh and healthy so definitely indulge yourself in a lunch or dinner at The Magnolia Hotel as there are so many fresh and delicious items to choose from.
If you feel like a boujie night out then I would highly recommend a night at Bovino. Meat lovers rejoice (!) because Bovino has some of the most succulent steaks in Portugal with fine cuts imported in from all over the world. And not only are the steaks out of this world but the cocktails are too. In fact, the bar has won best bar in Portugal several times. They make signature cocktails that are bespoke to Bovino and they are DELICIOUS! I tried one made with coconut that I am seriously still dreaming about to this day. So, whether you are going for a steak dinner or for some cocktail tasting, just make sure you GO. And also make sure that when you do arrive you are hungry.
We started off with some amazing cocktails and moved to the starters, which were cheese and onion empanadas (a stuffed pastry from Argentina), pulled pork empanadas, grilled tiger prawns, grilled Spanish Chistorra sausages and baked provolone cheese with herbs. All insanely delicious, rich and satisfying.
Next arrived the steak on a huge grill, much to our amazement. I don’t often eat steak but it’s a real treat if I do and we were served every cut I could think of under the sun including rump, fillet, rib-eye and New York strip! The meat was perfectly cooked, tender and absolutely delicious and it also arrives with grilled garlic, onions and tomatoes as well as sides of potato gratin, creamed spinach and fries. This is not a dinner for the light eaters I’m afraid so seriously make some room in your stomach before you go and plan on treating this like Christmas dinner (i.e. prepare yourself for gluttony)!
We enjoyed Koko on a sunny day that was nice enough to even sit outside (in February – can you imagine UK folks?). Koko sits along the edge of a beautiful golf course and attracts a lot of golfers who have been hitting the course all morning. There is definitely a relaxed vibe about Koko and I like the fact that you can sit outside in the sun if you so wish. The food is amazing and I surprised myself at the amount that I actually ate. Again, the food is so fresh and delicious you can hardly help yourself. I started off with a delicious and healthy carrot and ginger smoothie and a starter of curried mussels which OMG were so good. I had never actually come across curried mussels before and if you are in the area or visiting please do try them because they are delicious.
For a main I enjoyed a DELICIOUS burrata salad with fresh tomatoes and basil. I am a burrata fan and if you haven’t tried it, it’s an Italian buffalo milk cheese made from mozzarella and cream. The inside of a ball of burrata is super creamy as well – honestly you must have it. The salad was out of this world and just what I needed – fresh and full of flavour.
Again, I surprised myself at Koko thinking that I wasn’t going to eat that much but here I was again, ordering an apple pie for dessert. Again, fresh and delicious with the apples just tart enough and not overbaked or too sweet.
I would highly recommend Koko if you are looking for a nice ambience and fantastic food while visiting Quinta Do Lago.
Have you been to Portugal? If so what was your favourite food?
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