Name of establishment
Retiro do Campones, Vale Judeu
Traditional Portuguese village restaurant, homely inside (wooden vaulted ceiling, rustic décor) and functional outside (a collection of long benches and tables on the patio). Simple, unpretentious, and largely there to cater to the local community, plus any tourists who happen to stumble across it.
Relaxed and informal. The owning family and the staff are naturally friendly without being effusive. You sit down, exchange pleasantries, order, and get served promptly - it’s that simple. If you don’t speak Portuguese, they speak enough for you to more than get by.
Good, honest rustic fare - and huge portions! There’s chicken, sardines, squid, steak, black pork, fillet pork and spare ribs, whilst house specialities include goat cooked in the oven, razor fish rice, and pork & clams, as well as home-made desserts.
A good Portuguese wine selection, especially of reds. Some familiar names, and several you probably won’t have come across. Worth asking for a recommendation or taking pot luck - you’re unlikely to be disappointed. Or try the perfectly drinkable house wine at just €6 a litre.
Why do you like it?
There are hundreds of ‘traditional Portuguese restaurants’ in the Algarve. In some, the food is adequate at best. Others over-compensate for the tourist market. This gets it spot on - good food at a reasonable price and a place where you can enjoy a leisurely meal without feeling you are being rushed out of the door to make way for the next sitting.
What could be improved?
Looking out onto the car park from the outside patio isn’t the most scenic restaurant view in the Algarve, but does it really matter?
When to go?
Lunchtime to sit outside on the shaded patio. Evenings to enjoy the atmosphere inside, especially in the cooler months.
The portion sizes are enormous. You won’t be thought of as a cheapskate if you split one between two, or share several dishes around with a group of friends. Alternatively, ask for a doggy bag if you can’t clear your plate.
As often happens, there are one or two anomalies between the Portuguese menu and its English version. There are more pork dishes listed on the former, and on the latter, the goat dish is translated as lamb!
Around 60 comfortably inside, plus another 20 or so on the patio.
Vale Judeu is between Albufeira and Vilamoura. Follow the Vale Judeu sign off the EN-125, go over the railway line, and the restaurant is signposted almost immediately left. Plenty of parking.
Soup of the day - €2
Presunto - €7
Chicken - €7
Sardines - €7
Spare ribs - €7
Pork & clams - €12
Fillet pork - €13
Steak - €13
Goat - €14
Squid - €15
Razor fish rice - €15
Wine price guide: Chaminé red - €16
Lunch and dinner. Closed on Mondays.