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Restaurant Review, Vela 2, Santa Margarida, Tavira

This place was recommended to us by several readers of the blog and a few guidebook as well. The night we visited we hadn’t intended to go out for dinner, but the smell of grilled fish filling the pavement outside drew us in.

Initial impressions were mixed. It is a cosy place, decorated liberally with football memorabilia, and the service was slightly surly. We were not given a menu and offered a simple choice: fish or meat. We had heard fantastic things about the fish so both chose that option, along with a very cheap bottle of Porta De Ravessa (5 euros) – a white wine from the Alentejo we are both fond of.

We were given the usual Portuguese couvert – bread, tasty olives and some sardine pate. It was quickly followed by a generous plate of salad and a bowl of boiled potatoes – the textbook accompaniments to a Portuguese fish meal.

Then came the fish….to start with a silver tray containing four fish, including dourada (bream) and mackerel, grilled to perfection and SO fresh. When you live here you get used to fresh fish, this was REALLY fresh fish, amongst the best we have tasted.

Before we had finished one fish each, they were already offering more, we asked for just one, but were given two anyway. Our smiles and enjoyment of the food seemed to bring out a more friendly side in the waiter/owner by this time – either that or our stubborn determination to speak Portuguese to him rather than English finally won him over!

After six fish between us we were bursting at the seams, the craving for fish more than satisfied. We did, however, manage to follow with a shared pudding – a Molotov. For those who haven’t tried this, it is a Portuguese egg based dessert, almost like a soft meringue, served with nuts and caramel sauce. It is served in huge portions, but it so light and easy to devour. This was a good example of a Molotov, with lots of flavour.

Two espressos and two amendoas (a light Portuguese liquor, like a weaker version of Amaretto,) completed this meal….and the price? 30 Euros. This is hands-down the best bargain we have had in Portugal so far. We will be back, and this is now top of the list as a must-do restaurant whenever we have visitors.

Try one of these posts:

10 Responses to “Restaurant Review, Vela 2, Santa Margarida, Tavira”

  • Arild Haugan:

    There is another restaurant similar to Vela 2, called “Tres palmeiras”, but it is only open for lunch. It is situated on the roard from town to Tavira Gran Plaza, oposite the large open field that is used for outdoor markets. The fish is superb, and it’s a joy to watch the two old men grilling. They have probably done so since WW II. “Best fish-restaurant in Portugal”, said a taxi-driver to me. Ande he was right. It is always packed, so you have to wait in line for some time. But it is worth it.
    Kind regards
    Arild Haugan
    Oslo, Norway

  • admin:

    Hi Arild,

    Thank you for your recommendation. I know the place you mean – it is always packed with locals on a Saturday afternoon and a friend of ours here recently recommended it as well. i will be sure to check it out and report back.

    Best wishes,

  • Miacat:

    Tres Palmeiras is sometimes open in the evening during the summer months but they start cooking early and there is a queue by 7.30. Also excellent, however did find the smoke from the Barbie a bit over powering at times. I went there in late July so I assume it is only open in the evenings in July/August. Haven’t seen it open in the evening when we have visited later in the year.

    Last time I went to Vela 2 they had no fish – the meat was good and plentiful but not quite the same as the fab fish

  • admin:

    Hi there, Thank you for posting and thanks for that info! I can’t imagine Vela 2 with no fish! I did see some people with some nice looking chicken and pork when I went in the other day but it’s fish all the way for me!

    Best wishes, B

  • Hello! Great to read these reviews, I’m doing some research on places to eat in Tavira as we’re two friends with a food blog and we’ll be coming to Tavira in a couple weeks. We of course are really looking forward to the food and you’re site is very helpful. Can’t wait to try some of those wines! Thanks!

  • admin:

    Vela 2 is a “Must do” – hope you enjoy it :-)

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  • Ged:

    Just to update you on Casa Azul.. it is now in new hands Portuguese/Scottish/Belgium… great combo
    We will open again on the 1st Nov 2011 open house for the first night will be great to meet new friends and old….Philomena & Ged/Chris & Rita

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