We were recently asked to write an article for the in-flight magazine of easyJet airlines (so if you are flying with them soon – look out for us in the magazine in front of your seat!) and we chose to write about the new lease of life that is springing up amongst some of the smaller independent shops in the town of Portimão.
We met some lovely shopkeepers and discovered some fabulous new little stores in the side streets of the town – far too many to be able to cover in one tiny feature article .. so we thought we would share some more of our finds with you all here on the blog.
Portimão has looked quite tired and run-down of late, what was once a proud and bustling quayside and shopping area has been passed by in favour of out-of-town shopping – but at last things are beginning to come back to life with a range of new shops opening up around the main Rua Direita street. If you can find your way to the waterfront, by the ice-cream shop outlets, then you need to walk into town past the banks .. and then find the main theatre above the Largo December 1 gardens (you may remember us telling you about the Organic market that happens there every Saturday) – then if you are facing the theatre you need to go left down the main street and you will find all the shops waiting for you!
The first shop we visited was one of our favourites for picking up an unusual gift or special present – the very enticing Opcão Decor, run by Marcelo Correia, who is an interior designer with a keen eye for a unique product.
The inside of the shop is beautifully presented with a range of gifts, home-ware and ceramics which are all original and traditional Portuguese brands:
Many items are sourced locally, from the raffia bags from Loulé, to the nativity scenes which are made in Ferragudo, and the kitchenware from casaalegre.pt
The interior designer at the helm means that everything is displayed beautifully, utilising space and old furniture to great effect:
And the best bit – eat your heart out Jamie Oliver fans … the wooden kitchen products here are all made from the same manufacturer that makes Jamie’s products – the artisan gradirripas.pt .. except you can buy everything here much cheaper than via Jamie Oliver’s outlets!
This is a real treasure-trove of a little shop – and Marcelo is a great guy, he is very engaging and passionate about his shop and products – he’s well worth a visit!
Next up a little further down the road is the fabulous Maria do Mar tapas restaurant and grocery supermarket with its fabulous niche market of products and flavours:
Run by the engaging Pedro Franco, who also runs a shop in Lagos – and on the day we visited hosted by the charming Maria – this is a real surprise of a shop – with a display cabinet full of amazing tinned fish products – all strictly Portuguese of course!
The idea was to create a shop which would appeal to both locals and visitors – with a passionate emphasis on the customer. This is the place to go if you want to know exactly where your food has been sourced from – and all about the canning and fish industry – and how to cook the food too.
They also have a fabulous looking menu – and everything is cooked fresh when you order .. we are definitely going to be returning soon for lunch here!
If you can’t make it to the café – then look out for their latest venture coming to a street near you soon .. they are about to launch their environmentally-friendly Piaggio van serving street food on the go – an exciting new venture that even has solar panels on the roof to power the fridge:
(pic taken from their FB page with permission)
Just along from them is the delightful little A Tentação gourmet shop:
A cute little shop selling a range of food products – including chocolates and desserts, jams and preserves and oils:
Run by the quiet yet welcoming Ana, this is another small shop proud of its Portuguese products – including these very yummy looking fig and chocolate numbers:
The final deli we visited was the delightful Mercearia do Algarve, situated near the charity shop at the top of the street:
This deli only opened last July and appears to already be a firm favourite with locals and holidaymakers alike. Run by the charming Elisa Malheiro this is a deli with the personal touch – and everything is beautifully presented and laid out for you:
All the products are from the Algarve, with the only exception being the coffee which is specially brought in from House of Coffee; and Elisa knows where every item is sourced from – as she told us “I know the person that bakes the biscuits, I know where the bread comes from.”
The attention to detail for a small deli shop is impressive – even down to the shop’s logo being on the jar labels, the paper bags and her apron. A customer came in as we were chatting and she was instantly offered a slice of Folar cake to try. Each item purchased is lovingly wrapped in brown paper and raffia string – and they even offer a packaging and delivery service across Europe for you.
Closer to home – the produce was all fresh and enticing – they have a different speciality bread to purchase each day – it was Pumpkin bread when we were there on a Friday afternoon! This is one special local deli worth a visit.
Portimao has so much to offer – there are traditional cork and leather shops, a haberdashery shop, children’s clothing shops, and lovely old lace and linen shops, and the most amazing old-fashioned barbers too.
And if all that shopping has made you thirsty – you can always end up at the charming A Casa da Isabel tea room – which we have previously written about here via this link – Anyone for Afternoon Tea?
Why not give Portimão another look? Wander the streets and enjoy this new plethora of small independent shops that are supporting each other and bringing life back to a tired area of the town. And if you pop into any of the shops we have mentioned – do say hello from us .. who knows – you might even find us in there already!
Here are the links to all of the social media sites linked to the shops mentioned in this article: