The Algarve is known for its sparkling fresh fish, and for good reason. Simply grilled with olive oil and salt, it’s one of the key culinary attractions of the area.
If you’re a fish lover and staying in the Tavira area, you’d be well advised to avoid ordering a single portion of bream or sea bass somewhere, because there’s a very special place hidden away where you can eat as much of it as you can manage. That place is Vela 2.
A few years ago, Vela 2 was located in Tavira itself, near the library, but its huge popularity with locals and visitors alike forced it out to larger premises on the outskirts of town. It’s now situated in the village of Santa Margarida – an easy five minute drive or taxi ride away.
Upon arrival, you won’t be given a menu. Instead you will be asked a simple question: “meat or fish?” Everyone in the know asks for the fish.
After a short while, you will be presented with all the Portuguese staples: bread, olives, potatoes, and a simple salad. Then the fish will begin to arrive.
The fish will be whatever’s been caught that day, but usually includes bass and bream. You’ll often be presented with a platter of cuttlefish or squid too.
The waiting staff will then continue to bring you new platters of fish until you’re begging them to stop. You are guaranteed to leave satisfied, though it’s fair to say you’ll probably have had enough fish to tide you over for a day or two!
It is worth trying to leave a little room for a dessert. As you enter the restaurant, you’ll notice a display cabinet containing an array of homemade local puddings, with the lemon meringue pie being the standout option. It would be a crying shame to miss out on it.
Finally, don’t forget the wine! Although there are plenty of bottles available here, the best bet is the house vinho verde; slightly sparkling, quite low in alcohol, and served from a pump into large carafes. It’s the perfect foil for the fish, and costs next to nothing.
As if this weren’t enough to warrant a trip, the fish costs next to nothing too. With desserts, drinks and coffees, you will really struggle to spend more than €20 per head here. It’s a bargain and an experience, and something that simply cannot be missed if you’re in the area.