The octopus capital

St. Luzia (Polvo) Composit

The best octopus in Portugal comes from Santa Luzia, a small village near Tavira in the Algarve. The locals proudly call it octopus capital.

The shores of Santa Luzia are full of small shrimp that attract the octopi. Old-time fishermen lay clay pots called “alcatruz” in the water. The octopi cuddle in these pots to sleep and get caught when the pots are removed from the water.

Younger fishermen don’t like to wait for the mollusks to fall asleep, so they prefer to use a “covo,” a plastic trap with a sardine inside.

Old timers swear that the octopus caught with the alcatruz tastes much better than the one caught with the covo. But young and old agree that Casa do Polvo is a great place to eat octopus. There are many preparations to choose from, including carpaccio, stewed, fried, and roasted. Our favorite is “polvo panado,” octopus combined with egg and bread crumbs and then fried. No matter which preparation you choose, the octopus is tender and delicious.

If you’re traveling in the Algarve, it is a great idea to include Santa Luzia on your itinerary. You’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful meal and earn the right to brag that you’ve visited the octopus capital.

Casa do Polvo is on Avenida Eng. Duarte Pacheco, N. 8, Santa Luzia, Tavira. Tel. 281-328-527. In the Summer reservations are a must.

António Tá Certo

It is always pleasant to have lunch at a beach side restaurant, with sea and sky as backdrop and the sound of waves as soundtrack. And, when you find a restaurant like António Tá Certo that serves freshly caught fish, just off the boat, the experience can be idyllic.

Tá Certo is located on the beach of Vale do Garrão, close to Faro in the Algarve. It offers an impressive assortment of robalos (sea bass), douradas (sea bream), garoupas (grouper), and pargos (red snapper). If you ask the staff why their fish tastes so great, they smile and answer: our fish slept in the sea.

There is only one problem with enjoying these simple moments on the seashore: you might never want to leave.

Rua Maria Etelvina Teodósio, M21, Praia Vale de Garrão, Almancil, Loulé, 8135-012, tel. (289) 396-456. GPS: N’ 37.03815 / W’ 8.04699.

Boia Bar

At Boia Bar, a restaurant in Salema, near Lagos, Algarve, we always feel we are in a movie set. Everything is too perfect to be real. The restaurant is right on the beach. At dinner time you see the sky drowned in yellow and the sea getting ready for sunset, covering its dark blue color with washes of lighter hues. The warm air and the fresh sea breeze create the perfect temperature. Then, the wine and food arrive. The best item on the menu is the “robalo” (sea bass) grilled Algarve style. Before grilling, the chef makes diagonal incisions on the fish and fills them with thin slices of garlic and some olive oil. It’s that simple. But simple things are often the hardest. You have to have the freshest fish. You have to know the right temperature for the coal, the right amount of salt to use, the right moment to take the fish from the grill to the table. It’s this perfection of simple things that you can enjoy at Boia Bar.

Rua dos Pescadores 101, 8650-199 Salema, tel. 282 695 382, email:, click here for website.