I’ve been travelling to the Algarve several times a year since my childhood and my family have a second home in the area. My mum has coeliac disease and when she/we are on holiday, we like to seek out new restaurants that can cater to her needs. So here are some of our favourites, of the many places to eat that don’t cost the earth.
O Veleiro is situated on the far end of the “tunnel street” in Albufeira’s old town. As you walk through the tunnel from the beach and up the street, there is a plethora of restaurants to choose from, but head to the end of the street to O Veleiro and grab a table. Inside can be busy, but the seats outside are pretty close to the road. The menu at O Veleiro features mainly traditional, home cooked Portuguese fayre at very reasonable prices, including their fabulous Portuguese steak.
The other great thing about this fabulous spot is their tourist menu for approx. €10. This includes bread, butter and cheese, a choice of piri piri chicken, pork chops, pork fillets or hake fillets and fruit or pudding for desert, accompanied by a beer or half a bottle of wine. If you don’t fancy the set menu, main courses start from €5. It’s not just the prices that make this a must visit spot for a dinner during your holiday though, the staff here are guaranteed to give you a warm welcome too. It was my mum who introduced me to this place about five years ago, and as the food is generally very simple, and all home made, it gives her loads of choice.
A Gale (A Gar-lay) is located on the main street in Carvoeiro, about half way down on the left as you head down the hill. It is only open in the evenings and is fairly small, with about six tables inside and another two or three outside, so it’s best to book ahead – there are usually staff around in the day, so pop by on your way to the beach! Personally, I prefer the inside tables, as the outside ones are right by a parking area, and this is one spot in town without picturesque views. The staff here are friendly and welcoming, and I’ve been visiting this restaurant for over twenty years, and it never disappoints. The steaks here are fantastic, but my favourite dish is their garlic mushrooms. Like most Portugese food, they serve simple tasty dishes with fresh ingredients, great for those on a gluten free diet.
For when you want simple English food, cheap cocktails, football on the TV and a family friendly environment, head to Scooby’s. Scooby’s is situated in a residential area in Gale, approx. 10 minutes drive out of Albufeira. It’s a little hidden away, but is signposted from the main road. This is my “local” when I’m in Portugal, and I’m a big fan. They’ve spent a lot of money refurbishing the whole place over the last couple of years, and it looks great.
As well as the bar/restaurant area there is also a fantastic pool for customers to use, and it’s often busy with holidaymakers awaiting their airport transfers. Other facilities include mini golf and cabana beds for hire. Happy hour is excellent value and cocktails are all half price. Food is served all day and their sandwiches are generously portioned. The only time I’ve been here with my mum we just had chips and cocktails, so I can’t vouch for their gluten free credentials, but they do serve jacket potatoes and omelettes.
Cais 44 is a new addition to our restaurant repertoire in Portugal. We were drawn in by the friendly patter of the guy on the street, and the fact that all of the food was home made. This was great for my mum and made it easy for her to find out what was in the dishes, and the staff were knowledgeable. We both had the steak, which was actually four small steaks, cooked to perfection and accompanied by vegetables. The restaurant has a great view over the street below and this makes for a great atmosphere. The restaurant also has an ice cream shop below, which is where we headed for desert. Their waffles were excellent (although not GF).
On the opposite side of the main road to Scooby’s bar is the Curry Club, as with many Indian restaurants, they have an excellent selection of gluten free dishes. If you are staying nearby, I highly recommend grabbing a takeaway from here to take back to your villa or apartment. The food is really good, especially their chicken tikka masala, but it can get quite breezy out on their terrace. It is usually quiet here – except for people popping in for takeaways, so not one for those who feel awkward being the only table in the restaurant.
There’s another place that I should mention when talking about gluten free restaurants in the Algarve. Although I haven’t visited yet, I can’t really include it in my top 5, but the newly opened The Brasserie in Sesmarias has a fully gluten free menu, as my mum very excitedly called to tell me yesterday! She had the pasta earlier in the week and was very impressed. This is also the closest restaurant to our house, so this has made her very happy!
This post is based on my own/family experiences, so please do your own research and ask the relevant questions before deciding to eat gluten free at any of these restaurants, especially as cooking standards, ingredients and processes may change over time.