Taking a trip to Olhão you are drawn to the waterfront, the amazing Municipal market open daily where your eyes and senses will be awoken by the shear array of colour and smell of the fresh produce of every kind and no doubt get your mouth watering and remind you that it’s time to enjoy a bite to eat. There are many cafes and restaurants along the waterfront and integrated into the Municipal market buildings and yet more to be found in the old town with its amazing labyrinths and alleys. A mix of Portuguese and other European cuisines: the choice almost overwhelming. For those of you wishing to enjoy the freshest of seafood for which the Ria Formosa is famous, the best of other local produce presented as wonderful tapas, seeking out ‘Tapas e Lendas' is a must. Situated in the old town, down a street set just back from the waterfront you will find this gastro bar/restaurant set over two floors (R. Dr. Manuel Arriaga 18, 8700-493 Olhão).
Not only will your mouth water with the choice of imaginative dishes on the menu at affordable prices but walking in you will be met by a bar/restaurant scene rarely experienced in the Algarve. The walls and ceilings are covered in an eclectic mix of artwork, artefacts, fishing nets and baskets, shelving displaying a selection of wines, a mural to one whole wall and others painted in vibrant colours and a mismatch of tables and chairs that sit so comfortably in their surroundings. The establishment benefits from two outside covered terraces: the first as you enter the bar and the other on the first floor.
The choice of dishes to mention but a few includes fresh oysters from the oyster farms on Culatra Island when in season, padron peppers, tuna bruschetta, oyster bruschetta, chevre with honey and almonds, roasted homemade chorizo, breaded cuttlefish, pork cheeks, black pork strips, three peppered beef loin, three cheese beef loin, roasted prawns, clams, crispy chicken, fried squid, razor clams, breaded soup with octopus, razor clam rice and cataplana. Wash it all down with a glass of wine from the good selection on offer and you will leave satisfied that you have eaten extremely well.
Go on a Friday evening and there is real magic in the air! Tapas e Lendas (Tapas and Legends) was inspired by the legends of Olhão: the best known being Moura Encantada “Floripes”: Local Legend tells the story of this beautiful Moorish Enchantress and on Friday evenings an alcoholic caldron is ceremonially heated up and set fire too with a frenzied atmosphere and more often a customer being invited up to chant “Floripes, I conjure you, and when this burn is out you will leave, never to return''! It’s great to experience and every diner receives a glass of the hot beverage with the staff going round and refilling your glass until the caldron is empty.
The staff are friendly and attentive and if you do go at lunchtime you should be able to get a table without booking. If you choose to go in the evening then booking in advance is a must to avoid any disappointment.
Renato Mendonça, the owner of Tapas e Lendas is passionate about presenting traditional cuisine with a difference and you cannot help but feel that the decor to the interior of the building is also an extension of his passion and own character. He will be found at both lunchtime and in the evening keeping a keen eye on the dishes leaving the kitchen and chatting to diners, many of whom I am sure are regulars. Having now eaten there several times both at lunchtime and of an evening when the place is buzzing with the chatter of diners and music this for sure is now one of our favourite places to eat in Olhão.
To book a table phone them on +351 289 706 429