Delicious food at the Restaurante O Arco da Velha in Alvor … never a truer word spoken … or written as the case may be. If you have never visited this little gem of a town in the Algarve, Portugal, well then you are seriously missing out. It’s a small fishing town with it’s own harbour and it is gorgeous both by day and by night. And if you have never eaten in this wonderful restaurant… consider your life incomplete and unfulfilled! They are couple and family friendly too!
As you approach the restaurant, you are greeted the welcoming, friendly, mustachioed Ricardo – the Owner who also works magic at the Grill all evening (and Oh how I mean that!!!). He always wears a big smile and it’s his sincerity that comes through in his manners to all the customer that makes you want to give him a big hug. OK… I think it’s clear that I like Ricardo 🙂 He is part of an amazing team of course – his lovely wife Josephine works in the kitchen inside and they run a system like clockwork. And the food… Oh My Oh My Oh My THE FOOD!!!! I have only just returned from Alvor and I am already having withdrawal… the food is simply prepared, simply served and simply…divine. There is also the handsome and charming Marco, who manages the Restaurant and service which is always excellent. The fact that their clientele consists of locals and tourists – mostly repeat customers – returning for the food and the welcome they receive each visit speaks for itself – just check out the reviews on TripAdvisor! It’s not just me!!
Fresh local fish is key to the menu in O Arco da Velha – Seabass, Stonebass, Seabream, Red Mullet, Squid, Prawns… whatever has been caught fresh will be on the menu. As I said the key here is simplicity – with these kinds of treasures available what else could you do. However, don’t mistake simplicity for easy. The skilled staff are amazing at what they do. From Ricardo ♥ on the grill cooking each different piece of fish to perfection or meat separately on the meat grill, to Josephine in the kitchen with other staff cooking vegetables to perfection, creating delicious salad, preparing starters such as baby squid in garlic and chilli oil (Oh My God…these are so completely YUMMY!!!), Prawns in garlic oil (also Delicious!) to various other delicious options. Or you can opt for Covers which include carrots in garlic, olives, sardine and tuna pate (both gorgeous) , local cheese (really tasty) with crusty bread… I’ve probably tasted most of the menu by now and there’s nothing I haven’t liked yet!
Mains also include meat dishes such as steak, chicken and lamb (which many of my extended family members have sampled to their great delight) or rice dishes such as Cataplana. I always go for the fresh fish though – it’s so good here there’s really no other choice for me. You make your fish choice from the fresh selection of the day and your fish will be shown to you so you can see it’s freshness and beauty. Then it is delivered to Ricardo ♥ to work his magic! The flavour when it comes off the grill is so moreish and it is served with big wedges of lemon – I am seriously making myself so hungry as I type this!! It also comes with garlic butter – the real thing with chunks of garlic for you garlic-lovers out there!! Each fish is expertly de-boned by Marco or one of his staff before serving to your table. The choice of sides are rice, potatoes, chips and vegetables or salad from the kitchen – always fresh and always delicious. Desserts range from Strawberries and cream to icecreams to Tiramisu (Scrumptious!) to more traditional Portuguese delicacies such as Almond tart (Oh So Yummy!).
They have a great selection of wines to choose from but I’m going to share our favourite with you – a deliciously, fruity and flavourful red called Chaminè. Marco will make recommendations depending on your taste, if you wish, but he knows this is our go to tipple 🙂 And of course, you should give the Green Wine a try while in Portugal – crisp, fresh, ice cold – it’s a refreshing alternative to white for a change.
At the end of the meal, it’s not all bad news either… along with the very reasonable bill comes complimentary port for all the adults… never though I would be a Port person but I am!! It’s yummy!
And so… we always leave with satisfied bellies and smiles on our happy faces…
You can’t really knock that now… can you?
Get yourself to Portugal… to Alvor… you won’t regret it!
Note: Photos all my own with the exception of the Restaurant front which is from O Arco Da Velha’s Facebook page @RestauranteOArcoDaVelha