Heading back to Portugal and I got all excited about my endeavor to find great but also affordable places to eat in the vicinity of my home. Until new discoveries, I want to share with you my favorite restaurants, the ones I consider the best restaurants in Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago. And I going to tell you also why are the best in my opinion, so you can see for yourself if this is a good fit for you too.
We live now part of the year in Vale do Lobo Resort which is right next to Quinta do Lago and both are located in The Golden Triangle area in Algarve Portugal.
If you never heard of this area, The Golden Triangle is situated about 30 mins from Faro airport, and is the region between Vale do Lobo, Quinta do Lago and Almancil. Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago are resorts but Almancil is a town, and you can take a peak here if you want to take a stroll with me trough this town.
Even if we want to explore and discover as much as possible in Portugal, the reality is that most days we are chain to a computer, working. So we go to eat mostly in this area. We have to make this area work for us, find something we like to eat at affordable prices for us. As you would expect this area is much more expensive than for example Tavira or Lagos but we got kind of use to this idea. Our goal is to find the best food, at least to worth the money.
After almost a year in this area, these are my top restaurants and beach bars or cafes, in no particular order, because they are all different and they are all suited for a different ocasion.
This could also be a kind of guide, if you are in the area and you don’t have an idea what to do today, well, you can do this!
FOR A ROMANTIC EVENING – GO TO IZZY’S BAR
Everybody talks about Maria’s, but we like Izzy’s bar. It’s situated right on the beach with stunning views over the ocean.
The first time we went there it was in the summer. I ordered myself a Margarita and drink it with the feet on the sand. They have this area where you can put your feet on the sand and just forget all your worries while breathing in the Atlantic ocean breeze.
Flavius likes to order their soup and I like the pork ribs and I remember once I ate a hamburger and it was quite tasty and the ingredients were very nicely combined together.
The cocktails are the same price as everywhere in the area and what I like there is the atmosphere. If you find a table right near the beach you have unlimited views over the ocean and it’s a perfect spot for an Algarvian sunset. Believe me, it’s very romantic, even for the ones who don’t find anything romantic anymore.
For us it was a special night! After watching the sunset and eating very well, we took the long beach walk back home, instead of the usual one trough the resort. Flavius, who usually doesn’t like the sand in his shoes, was very happy to make the trip. We chatted, made plans to do this more often and for a moment in time, we forgot about anything and everything. That sunset it’s magical and puts you in a special meditative feel good mood, at least for one night.
I have been to Izzy’s like 3 or 4 times and I had the same experience. In fact, I like it more and more. That says something very good about this place.
Algarve is all about feet in the sand, drink in hand and stunning views.
We love to have a view when we dine.
FOR SOMETHING HEALTHY AND GOOD CAKES – GO TO PURE IN QUINTA DO LAGO
I like the breakfast here and also the selection of salads and healthy stuff. The coffee is good and foamy. The view over the golf course is nice and can provide a good location to think or to put your thoughts in order. Definitely if I was living more closely after a morning run I would stop there to drink a healthy smoothie or juice.
We come here by car (we make 5 minutes but still pretty far from where we are) in the days I can convince Flavius to eat something healthy. Or at least watch me eating something healthy. Great place to work as well, since it’s fairly quiet.
Then we take a stroll trough the golf course to make our steps and then, is back to work for us. But the green of the golf course puts you in a good mood for the rest of the day.
FOR AN ATHLETIC MORNING OR JUST WATCHING SPORT – GO TO THE PAVILION in QUINTA DO LAGO
I think we hang out here the most. I like to start my mornings watching happy people playing tennis or squash while sipping a fresh juice. Sometimes there are tennis classes with kids and I like to watch and imagine what if I was that kid, having the chance to grow up in a place like this? But then I think: I am here now!
Other times I just like to sit and listen to the conversations of people at the tables. They are happy and loud and have stories about route bikes in Algarve or the latest vegetable market open in a town nearby.
Other times I just sit there reading their magazine. In Quinta do Lago they have a magazine depicting the lifestyle they offer in each season, as well as the events they organize and houses they sell.
FOR SUNDAY ROAST – MY FAVORITE IS THE CLUB HOUSE QUINTA
The first Sunday Roast I have eaten here was at the beginning of the year of 2021, sometime in May. We were just coming out of the second wave of pandemic and all the restaurants started to open in Portugal. I was very impressed about the size of the portions compared with the price. It was 25 euro/person not including drinks.
You get an appetizer, the main dish – the roast and a dessert! Pretty consistent if you ask me for 25 euro in a stunning location overlooking the golf course in Quinta do Lago!
For appetizer you can choose between a soup or a salad with goat cheese. The main dish, a slow roast was very consistent (like 3 or 4 slices), the brioche is very smooths and the gravy tasty. And if you ask they give you extra gravy to put on your sides too, if you like it this way. The sides are multiple and we got potatoes with cheese, roasted cauliflower and carrots.
For the dessert you usually get to choose between a very good chocolate brownie with caramel, fruits and a scoop of vanilla ice scream or something like an apple strudel or a panna cotta.
When I came back for the same Sunday Roast menu in November also in 2021, unfortunately the portions were smaller, for the same price. The food was also good, and to be honest, it was quite enough even for Flavius, but compared with the first time, the portions were smaller.
Still, a very loved place by us at a very fair price, in my opinion.
FOR A NIGHT OUT WITH GUYS OR GIRLS – GO TO DANOS
Danos is a sports bar with a great atmosphere, especially if you go in a night when there is an important game. They have great Guinness pints and burgers, their fish and chips is really authentic in style, but also you can find salads with a twist!
I like that they have a daily menus with a very good price and new dishes each week, for the ones in need of a little diversity or if you stay longer. They organize events with live music during the summer and all in all is a joyful place to be.
But speaking of daily menus, check out the next recommendation!
FOR A DAILY MENU AT A GREAT PRICE IN A STUNNING LOCATION – GO TO MAGNOLIA HOTEL
Magnolia is great place with wonderful memories for us. During the first year of pandemic, when they didn’t have so much clients, they let us use their pool all day long when we came for Sunday brunch. No extra charge, just the fact that we came for brunch, we could make a day out of it and stay before and after the brunch enjoying the wonderful pool, even if we were not guests at the hotel. This, while our resort charged us 16 euro per person for a day at the pool. Of course now, they can’t do the same because the tourism is back, but still, very nice gesture from their part.
Magnolia is also the place where you can watch a movie projected onto the wall of the hotel, while sitting comfortable on a chaise longue near the pool and eating popcorn provided by the hotel. They also have these nice pools organized on Instagram and you get to vote on the movie you are going to see.
But getting back to the daily menu, they have a great lunch menu for only 12,5 euro/person that includes a main dish like the Mag Burger (their recipe for burgers that contains their Mag sauce) or Grilled beef steak with fried egg, fries and salad), a soft drink and a coffee (an expresso).
BUT WHAT ABOUT VALE DO LOBO?
There is no mention of my resort so far! This is because I really think that between Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago, the best restaurants, quality/price wise, are in Quinta.
From Vale do Lobo my favorite place was the Fish and Chips cart that now is closed (we don’t know the reason or if it’s coming back). They had an amazingly tasty box that contained a very big portion of fish & chips and the taste it was… like the one I ate for the first time in Brighton in the UK! Amazing! The price was only 10 euro or 11 euro/portion.
On Fridays they had live music and it was a pleasure going there and contemplate life with a box of Fish and Chips, a glass of wine (4 euros) while listen to live music.
But this is close now, unfortunately.
The other spot I like in Vale do Lobo is U&Co. We discovered this place because they do Sunday brunches with live music. It’s not the brunch we are used to, they have a menu and you order a la carte, but the food is good and the view over the ocean is stunning!
Also they manage to create quite an atmosphere with the live music and overall joyfulness of the staff, which is special. I think people, besides food and the cost, they go to a place first and foremost because of the good vibe and the way they are received.
And speaking of being received very good, this is a place where you need to make a reservation because you will not find a table just walking in on a Sunday. But the owner of the restaurant was so nice to us that got us a table, for 2 hours even if we didn’t have a reservation. It was not for the whole duration of the brunch but we had the opportunity to sit there with Flavius’s parents who were visiting us and were there only for that day. A very nice gesture in a place where I don’t find this to happen very often (meaning in Vale do Lobo).
But apart from these 2 locations, I wasn’t impressed with any other place in Vale do Lobo, at least so far. We are still discovering and testing places. More articles will follow.
Also read this next! – 4 ways living in a resort in Portugal helps us with the lockdown in Portugal
Are you in Vale do Lobo or Quinta do Lago and fancy a walk to Quarteira?