Taste Portugal’s Mercado Municipal de Loulé

First opened in June 1908, the Mercado Municipal de Loulé was designed in neo-Arab style by Lisbon architect Alfredo Costa Campos. It covers an entire block.

First opened in June 1908, the Mercado Municipal de Loulé was designed in neo-Arab style by Lisbon architect Alfredo Costa Campos. It covers an entire block.

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An extensive, three-year restoration preserved the decorative revivalist architecture in 2007.

An extensive, three-year restoration preserved the decorative revivalist architecture in 2007.

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Follow the crowd of locals toting shopping bags through the arched door.

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Tag along with Faro-born Luis Cristina, sous chef at the award-winning Emo restaurant at the Tivoli Victoria resort.

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A vintage cafe in the market says “taste the best thing in the world”.

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Pair espresso with pastel de nata at the cafe.

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Pastel de nata is Portugal’s traditional custard pastry. It’s served piping hot from the oven and sprinkled generously with cinnamon at the cafe.

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Pastry shops are brimming with filho, sheets of fried dough dusted in sugar.

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A local orders bread at the bakery.

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Cakes made with apples, oranges and more are sold by the slice.

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Peppers hang over a stand of confections made with dried figs, crushed almonds and honey — the original energy bars.

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Decorative almond fig treats are displayed.

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Specialty sweets are often made with carob.

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Marzipan, fashioned into colorful shapes, is another favorite treat in the Algarve.

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Large, fresh, colorful produce is displayed beneath pale gourds and hanging peppers.

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Locally grown cactus fruit is displayed.

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Tomatoes come in all shapes and sizes.

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Bright persimmons are grown locally and sold here.

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Pastel pears are piled high among the produce.

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Rustic potatoes are piled high.

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Plump mushrooms are offered.

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Carrots, oranges and bananas are sold in the produce area.

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Lush mangoes are sold.

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Cluster of white grapes are available.

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A variety of cheese, or quiejo, wheels are displayed.

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Signs show cured sheep and cow’s milk cheeses with pictures for non-Portuguese speakers.

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The most bustling corner of the market is where the fishmongers sell enormous quantities of fresh fish.

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Find eels, crabs, sea bass and Sargo (bream) caught from the windswept cliffs at Cabo de São Vicente, Europe’s most southwestern point.

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Mackerel and bream are sold.

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Visitors can buy large cuts of fish with the entire fish head for flavorful stock.

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Large tiger shrimp overflow in piles.

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The Algarve’s seafood bounty is not limited to fish.

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There are stalls piled high with clams, oysters, mussels, cockles and whelks.

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Shop stacks of conch shells.

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Giant oyster shells are collected.

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Pork chorizo links are displayed in a deli case.

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Ham, salami and other meats are displayed in a deli case.

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Sausages and cured meats are available.

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A variety of tuna pates, sardines, oils and more goods are available.

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Piri piri chili pepper, a favorite when smeared on grilled chicken, was carried on Portuguese ships to Goa, India via Mozambique. Visitors can find the sauce here.

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The market is fragrant with spices, sold in slender tubes here.

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An array of local liqueurs are lined up in tall, skinny bottles.

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Bottles of white, ruby and tawny port are available.

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Varieties of local honey are stacked in jars.

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You can find great gourmet gifts to-go like this bag of nuts.

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Chef holds a box of sardines in olive oil.

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Fig and almond nougats and sweets are displayed.

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The knife sharpener sets up shop in the corner where people bring their kitchen knives to be sharpened.

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Colorful artisanal ceramics are available.

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When you visit in person, note that the market is closed on Sundays.

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Chef Luis prepares a meal with many of his market finds at Tivoli.

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Chef Luis makes an appetizer with goat cheese from the market.

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Chef prepares to cook Cataplana, the Algarve’s signature seafood specialty.

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Cataplana takes its name from the dome-shaped dish in which it is slow-cooked and resembles a stew or paella.

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Chef Luis makes a dessert with fresh plum soup.

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