From a sundowner on the roof terrace lounge to the freshest fish and seafood, Rei das Praias keeps the beach alive all winter
Imagine relaxing with your favourite cocktail, or a glass of champagne perhaps; the evening is chilly but not cold and you are sitting in the open-air rooftop lounge of your favourite Algarve beach restaurant watching the sun sinking into the ocean, a glorious sunset silhouetting the islet in the bay.
This is the start of a winter evening at Rei das Praias, a beach restaurant widely recognised as one of the Algarve’s finest that, save a few days around Christmas, stays open all year round.
The winter months, from November to March, are actually the best time of year to enjoy sunsets from the Algarve’s south coast, and Rei das Praias, being snugly set into a protected bay, is one of the best spots from which to enjoy them.
This restaurant, however, has always been most popular for lunch and on a mild winter day, even in January, the open-air roof lounge and dining area make for a beautiful suntrap.
Lunch or dinner for most regular clients is usually in the main restaurant dining room where, as we walk in, we are greeted with a stunning display of the large fresh fish alongside other seafood delicacies.
The excellence of the produce along with skilled cooking, great service and, of course, the location make Rei das Praias a hot ticket during the busier months of the year. But during the winter it is far easier to get a table, apart from at weekends for lunch when even in the quietest times it is still advisable to book in advance.
The restaurant has a loyal following amongst locals who come from all over the Algarve usually to enjoy a large fish between friends or family, such as a sea bass or a turbot grilled to perfection over charcoal and skilfully filleted table-side. Fish does not get any better than this and it is also worth noting that most of the fish species, such as sea bass and golden bream, are in peak condition for eating at this time of year.
Apart from fish, diners also know that they will always find excellent clams and oysters alongside the likes of carabineiros (scarlet prawns) caught off the Algarve coast and giant tiger prawns. But perhaps the most appreciated dish on the menu for those in the know is the Arroz de Lagosta, a rice stew flavoured with fresh herbs and homemade lobster stock, with a whole spiny lobster cooked to perfection with the rice. This is a favourite dish of some of the Algarve’s top chefs who are also regular visitors.
Wine is also a great passion of owner Luís Martinho, whose family have run the restaurant since 1976. Luís also has a small wine distribution business and ensures that all aspects of the wine service are of exacting standards.
Rei das Praias is open Wednesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner during winter. The restaurant will be closing briefly over Christmas from December 20 to 27.