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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Valenti

What and where to eat in São Miguel, the Green Island of the Azores

The Azores archipelago, located in the Atlantic Ocean, consists of 9 islands: the main and largest São Miguel, then Terceira, São Jorge, Pico, Faial, Flores, Graciosa, Corvo and finally Santa Maria. They are islands of volcanic origin, wild, very green and uncontaminated, and the traditional cuisine reflects this simple and natural character. The Azorean cuisine consists of a few simple dishes, made with local and very fresh ingredients (given the geographical position of these islands it is not easy or cheap to import products from the mainland) and traditional Portuguese dishes. Moreover, eating in the Azores is extremely cheap: the value for money is excellent, so I suggest you try everything and enjoy every meal. The typical dishes consist of cheese, beef, grilled fish, stewed or in soup and seafood typical of these islands. Among the most famous dishes of the Azorean cuisine, these are certainly the real musts that you cannot miss during your trip to São Miguel:

Cozido das Furnas, São Miguel - Isole Azzorre
  • Cozido das Furnas: cozido is perhaps the most famous and traditional dish of the Island of São Miguel, typical of the village of Furnas. It consists in boiled meat and vegetables cooked for 6 hours in large cast iron pots inside holes dug in the ground, exploiting the heat of the natural springs typical of the island. If you pass by Lagoa das Furnas (click here to read more) at lunchtime, you can watch the preparation of this recipe and then taste it in one of the restaurants in the village! There are many restaurants in Furnas that offer Cozido, but if you want to play it safe then you have to go to Tony's, one of the most renowned - remember to book or it will be very difficult to find a seat!

  • Lapas: lapas are a type of seafood typical of the Azores islands and that you cannot miss! In Italian they correspond to limpets, sea molluscs with a taste more similar to oysters than to the classic mussels (even in terms of price, I dare say!) They can be served raw accompanied by lemon and parsley or baked or grilled!

  • Bacalhau: cod is an institution in Portugal, and the Azores are no different. You will literally find it in every restaurant, and you can taste it in different preparations!

Queijo, São Miguel, Azzorre
  • Cheese: as already mentioned, cheese is a protagonist in Azorean local cuisine; in fact, most of the Portuguese "Queijo" cheese comes from here. You will find many types, from the soft to the more seasoned one, the one with garlic, with chilli pepper, the classic one.. You'll have so much choice and you will find it served alone, or perhaps served with bread and some delicious sauce - absolutely try that of peppers, it's delicious! - or in more complex preparations, such as fondue!

Bolo Levedo, São Miguel, Isole Azzorre
  • Bolo Lêvedo: the bolo lêvedo is without any doubt my great love of this trip.. I swear I ate it for 7 days at every lunch: I also took some with me back to Italy - I had a supply that took up practically half a backpack! It is a small loaf of various sizes, tall and very soft, rather sweet and which can be eaten as a dessert, with butter and jam or honey, or grilled as a sandwich, with cheese and ham! However you eat it, it is simply divine, and you will find it literally in every corner of the Azores, even in the supermarket: it is perfect for a packed lunch or a snack, even to take on a hike - READ ALSO: Best hikes in São Miguel, in the Azores Islands - between volcanoes, forests and waterfalls

Pasteis de Nata, São Miguel Isole Azzorre
  • Pasteis de Nata: pasteis de nata are an institution, not only in the Azores but throughout Portugal (we had already talked about it here - what to eat in Portugal). These are small puff pastry tarts filled with cream and lightly caramelized on the surface. If you've been following me since last year's road trip to Portugal then you know that I'm madly in love with these treats, so I couldn't wait to eat tons of them.. but I was honestly a bit disappointed! They are not as good as the ones we tasted in Lisbon or Porto; among other things, be careful not to confuse them with the Queijada, which looks a lot like us aesthetically.

Queijada, São Miguel, Isole Azzorre
  • Queijada: the queijada may look like a Pastel de Nata but is actually a sort of mini-cheesecake, made with egg yolks, sugar, flour and cheese. The flavor is quite strong, very cheesy, maybe too much for my taste, but it's absolutely a super typical local sweet to taste at least once!

Ananas, São Miguel, Isole Azzorre
  • Tropical fruits: the Azores Islands grow most of their fruit and thanks to the mild climate, it has a very wide variety of excellent quality tropical fruit. From pineapples, perhaps the most representative fruit of the island (in Ponta Delgada there is a beautiful pineapple plantation that can be visited for free - click here to find out more), but also bananas and passion fruit. There are many desserts made with these fruits that you will find in all restaurants, but above all one of the typical desserts that you will read on the menus of all the islands is a portion of fresh pineapple!

  • The Cha Gorreana: the Cha Gorreana tea plantation is a real peculiarity of this island. The plantation in the north of the island has been producing green tea for generations, and you can find it in many variations with different aromas: it is truly exquisite and lends itself very well to a different souvenir! READ ALSO: São Miguel, Azores - the amazing Green Island: one-week itinerary

  • Arinto dos Açores: it is the local volcanic wine that you absolutely cannot fail to taste! The Portuguese winemaking tradition is deeply rooted and extremely famous internationally, and the Azores Islands are no different!

Now that we know which flavors and dishes to try on a trip to the island of São Miguel, in the Azores, let me tell you about the best places to eat once here.


Ponta Delgada

Ponta Delgada is the capital of the Azores archipelago, as well as the largest city and certainly, in my opinion, the best place to stay, both in terms of of services and connections. The same thing goes for the culinary offer, here you will find among the best restaurants on the island and the options are vast!

Cafè Central

Colazione Regionale, Café Central Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel

Café Central is a great option for breakfast: the restaurant is in a fantastic location, right on the main square Largo Matriz, in front of the Igreja Matriz de São Sebastião. What I absolutely recommend is to try their Regional Breakfast, a set of bread (including Bolo Lêvedo) and local jams, artisan butter, fresh cheeses and a delicious portion of pineapple, all coming directly from the island. The portion is decidedly abundant, I suggest you take one for two, and the price is decidedly cheap: €9.50. The chance of having breakfast on the splendid Largo Matriz, in front of the Igreja Matriz de São Sebastião and this delicious local breakfast are the only two reasons why I recommend this place, because for the rest there is so much to improve. The interior is a very ordinary bar, and the staff is not particularly friendly!

A Tasca

A Tasca is undoubtedly one of the most renowned restaurants not only in Ponta Delgada but in all of São Miguel, which is why there is always an incredible queue and no, they do not accept reservations! But this is really a must, you cannot visit São Miguel without having dinner in this place, I guarantee you that it really deserves it! Getting a table may seem like an epic undertaking, but follow these two tips and you will see that it will not be such a traumatic experience:

A Tasca, São Miguel, Isole Azzorre
  • Show up very early, around 18:30-19:00 and leave your name: we arrived at 19:10 and there was already a good waiting list, we had to wait about 1 hour and a half;

  • After leaving your name, arm yourself with a lot of patience and take a seat in the room next to the restaurant: it's still A Tasca, but they only serve wine and snacks.

  • Once you have ordered a nice local wine and some appetizers, take a seat at the tables in front of the restaurant to wait for your turn, I guarantee you that time will fly by!

Cena da A Tasca, Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel, Isole Azzorre

We ordered 4 glasses of local wine, trying various varieties (ask them for advice) accompanied by cod croquettes and vegetable croquettes, all for €19. Needless to say, everything was delicious, excellent value for money. The same goes for dinner, which took a long time, but was one of the best of the trip and totally worth it: here we had a caldo verde (a soup of the day), a crocante de queso, a giant portion of cod in a single dish with various side dishes and another two glasses of wine, for a total of €32. On the menu you will find only traditional dishes and recipes with always fresh local products: super recommended!

Taberna Açor

Taberna Acor, Ponta Delgada São Miguel, Azzorre

Taberna Açor is definitely my favorite restaurant in São Miguel: the place is located in the historic center of the city and is super typical and down to earth, with a traditional menu I simply adored it! Even here they don't accept reservations and it's always very crowded: as for A Tasca, the suggestion is always to arrive early! We were there at 19.15 and we managed to get a table immediately, without having to wait. It was our last dinner in the Azores, and we really didn't miss anything: we started with garlic bread with melted cheese on top, then an excellent cheese fondue served inside a giant loaf of bread, a potato sweet roast, and a pork and beef skewer with fries and salad, accompanied by 2 medium beers and 2 glasses of wine. I know it sounds absurd but we only spent 36€ in all, for 2! So it goes without saying that the value for money is simply excellent, and that we ate divinely! Super recommended!

Casa da Rosa

Casa da Rosa, Ponta Delgada, São Miguel, Isole Azzorre

Casa da Rosa was a pleasant surprise in the center of Ponta Delgada: compared to the first two restaurants we talked about, this one is a little less traditional and with some more international dishes. We chose it due to the vegetarian and vegan options on the menu and I have to say we ate really well.

The price is higher than the average, but it is a slightly more refined and modern place, where even the dishes are served with different attention. However, for what we ate, the value for money was excellent and I would go back without any doubt: we had a vegan burger, a rose steak (a local beef steak with a side dish), 2 medium beers, 2 glasses and a portion of San Jose cheesecake, paying €57 in total.

Tã Gente

Tã Gente - Wine Tapas & Gin is one of the few "fashionable" places on the island and is perfect for a drink, a tapas-based dinner or an after-dinner drink! It is always crowded, but with a little patience we managed to get a table for dinner! The menu is not vast, and is made up of a series of local tapas and other more international ones, as well as excellent desserts. The place is nice and we ate well, but if I have to tell you that you absolutely have to try it, I would be lying. Maybe drop by for a drink!

Cais da Sardinha

Cais da Sardinha is a lounge restaurant located on the old port, on Avenida Infante D. Henrique, with a splendid bay window overlooking the coast of the island and the sea. The restaurant is perhaps the most elegant and refined we've been to, but still the price is affordable. The menu is mainly based on fish, but there are also some meat dishes! I tell you about it more for the beauty of the place than for the food which is not bad, but nothing exceptional!

Louvre Michaelhense Bar Bistro Mercearia

The Louvre Michaelhense is undoubtedly the most beautiful place in Ponta Delgada and is located in the city center! They told me very well about it and I read a lot about it during my research when I was organizing the trip: unfortunately we weren't able to go, it's always very crowded given its fame.

I would recommend it both for dinner and for a drink! If you manage to drop by let me know if it's worth it or not and if it lives up to its fame!

Plantação de Ananás dos Açores

Plantacao de Ananas dos Acores, Ponta Delgada São Miguel

If you want to taste excellent pineapple, I can only suggest you to go to the Pineapple Plantation just outside the center of Ponta Delgada. In addition to being able to visit the plantation for free and understand how it is grown, stop by the bar outside the greenhouses: here you can have a small free tasting of pineapple-based products and order one of the many proposals based on very fresh local pineapple or other fruit from the menu tropical grown on the island! It's all just delicious! If you wish, you can also buy fruit or some products to take home: I had a delicious pineapple liqueur! Prices are great!


Furnas

Furnas is one of the prettiest and most famous towns on the island: it's located right in the center of São Miguel and in its surroundings there are many things to see.

Furnas is also quite famous on a culinary level: there are two dishes connected to this place, the Bolo Lêvedo and the Cozido das Furnas!

Tony’s

Tony’s is the restaurant you think of when you talk about Cozido das Furnas: located in the center of this small village, if you pass by here you can't help but drop by, it's a real institution!

A somewhat vintage, old-fashioned restaurant whose specialty is undoubtedly Cozido, a mix of pork, cow and chicken accompanied by different types of vegetables: potatoes, spinach and rice. The dish is quite generous and two people can eat well! Remember to make a reservation: Tony's is always very full and without a reservation it is not possible to watch the preparation of the Cozido!

Queijaria Furnense

La Queijaria Furnense is a local cheese shop/restaurant located in the center of Furnas, about ten meters away from the Parque Terra Nostra. We stopped by the cheese counter, to buy some to take back to Italy, and in the end we had lunch in the mid-afternoon! I highly recommend it because you eat really well and the cheeses are excellent! We chose among the various selections and cheese platters, taking 3 different ones: all exceptional, each with a different seasoning and aroma! I suggest you also try a nice glass of milk, very fresh and milked from cows on the island, really delicious! The restaurant is very spartan, but the staff is very kind and the value for money is decent: 3 cheese platters, a coca cola and a glass of milk for €26 in all!

Bolo Lêvedo - Gloria Moniz

As for the very famous and my beloved Bolo Lêvedo, if you want to have a delicious breakfast and base for these soft sandwiches, stuffed with sweet or savoury, I can only suggest Gloria Moniz, a few steps from Casa Invertida. The place is very nice, a bit hidden - you will struggle to come across it by chance - and in addition to excellent Bolos, which I recommend in my favorite version, i.e. grilled with cheese inside, they also have an impressive variety of pastries and cakes they had looks very inviting! For two pasteis de nata, 2 grilled Bolos with cheese and cheese and ham we spent 7€. I highly recommend it, definitely the best Bolo Lêvedo eaten on the island!

Bolos Lêvedos - Rosa Quental

Bolos Levedos Rosa Quental, Furnas, São Miguel, Isole Azzorre

Rosa Quental's Bolos Lêvedo, on the other hand, I recommend them to take away: it is a bakery that has specialized in Bolos Lêvedos since 1970 and which only deals with the sale of these soft sandwiches!

To be clear, there are no tables, they don't sell drinks, they don't fill them for you: you can only buy them to take them home! I had spotted the place the first time we were in Furnas, so on the last day I stopped and bought a nice bag to take to Italy: once I got home I froze them and enjoyed them even in the month after my return! They are very good! I recommend this option even if you want to get some to stuff at home and take them on a hike, they are much tastier and cheaper than those you find in supermarkets!


Gorreana Tea Factory

On the north coast of the island of São Miguel there is the Gorreana Tea plantation, the oldest and currently the only existing tea plantation in Europe: without any doubt one of the most evocative places on this island.

READ ALSO: São Miguel, Azores - the amazing Green Island: one-week itinerary The visit to the plantation and the factory is free and at the end of the tour inside the building, immediately after the little shop - here, among other things, you can buy Gorreana tea at the best price on the island - there is a splendid café. I mention it for the breathtaking view of the tea plantations: it's not an everyday experience to sip a cup of Gorrean tea - a typical variety of the Azores - while admiring such a spectacle. So if you are visiting this marvel, don't skip the cafeteria.. it really deserves!


Vegetarians and Vegans visiting the Azores

I want to be honest with you: as a vegetarian, not to say vegan, in the Azores it is not easy. The cuisine is practically based on milk, meat and fish, so it was a bit challenging. For lunch I ate Bolos Lêvedos with cheese for 7 days - luckily I love them - and for dinner very often cheese, soups and some salads. This is what you will find in normal restaurants.. the choice is very limited, and for vegans it is even tougher. Luckily in Ponta Delgada there are a couple of specialized places to run for cover: as I have already mentioned, at Casa da Rosa there was a dedicated section of the menu, otherwise I had found two little places that I read about very well!

  • Rotas da Ilha Verde: vegetarian restaurant

  • Santo Seitan: vegetarian and vegan restaurant

Obviously it's not an impossible undertaking, with a little spirit of adaptation and patience you certainly won't die of hunger.. what I mean is that obviously there is much less choice than in more touristic and globalized destinations, but it is a price that one willingly pays for such an authentic and wild place!


Here ends our culinary tour in São Miguel, in the Azores Islands: as for things to do, even in food tradition this island reserves many surprises and I'm sure it will not disappoint you! If São Miguel is your next destination READ ALSO:Plan your low-cost trip to São Miguel, in the Azores Islands, in 6 simple steps To learn more about walking and hiking on the island READ ALSO: Best hikes in São Miguel, in the Azores Islands - between volcanoes, forests and waterfalls

While if you want to know what to do and see in São Miguel READ ALSO:São Miguel, Azores - the amazing Green Island: one-week itinerary I hope that reading has been useful to you.. in case please leave a comment and feel free to write me for any other information you need! Boa Viagem!



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