An old favourite of ours, and of many other people, Dona Barca is an award-winning seafood restaurant recommended in most of the Algarve guidebooks. The restaurant is on the pretty square of Largo De Barca in Portimao and, since our first visit five or six years ago, has grown in popularity and in size, now also taking up an area of the square immediately opposite.
This is a seafood restaurant – non fish-eaters need not apply. There is a huge display cabinet outside from which to select your fish, and a huge barbeque area where the fish is freshly grilled.
Alongside the typical bread and olives brought to the table as “couvert” there was also some tasty marinated carrots (as per my recipe elsewhere on this blog!) and a salad of tuna and chickpeas. Our initial thoughts of ordering a starter disappeared when these arrived. On this occasion we bypassed the sardines, which are the speciality of this restaurant, and ordered a huge two-person potion of Pork and Clams, cooked in a cataplana.
The service, as ever, was cheerful and friendly, and there were as many, if not more, local customers as there were tourists. Our cataplana was delicious – small succulent clams along with generous helpings of pork fillet and chorizo, peppers and onions. Some of the inferior cataplanas in Portugal lack the taste of tomatoes and onion in the base, but this was rich and delicious. A test of a good cataplana is our determination to mop up every last bit of the sauce with the dense rustic bread provided, and this one passed with flying colours. If I were to have to criticise, I would say it was slightly over-salty – the saltiness of the chorizo would have been sufficient and perhaps more was added – but salty is the way in Portugal, and it feels a tad pedantic to even mention it!
The house wine here is always good and my carafe of house vinho verde went down beautifully with the seafood. On this occasion, we didn’t have room for dessert, but I was brought some free churros stlye donuts and a free shot of almond liquor anyway – as is the typical welcome in this fantastic establishment. From past visits, I can assure you that the desserts are also very good, as are the sardines!
I really recommend this place – we always try to visit when we are in the Western Algarve and, as if it wasn’t enough – it is very affordable as well. The meal described above, including drinks, was under 35 euros. You really can’t go wrong at Dona Barca.