Sao Miguel has always been the most popular destination for visitors to the Azores islands. For foodies looking for locally-sourced seasonal food, her capital Ponta Delgada has some of the Azores’ best restaurants.
Here’s our handy guide on where to eat in Ponta Delgada.
#01 – My current favourite destination for an elevenses coffee and cake, lunchtime soups, or for wine and snacks in the evening is the Louvre Michaelense (just next door to the Igreja de Sao Sebastiao). The original shop was a milliners and haberdashery importing French fabrics in the early 1900s, and there’s a lovely pre-war Parisian grocer feel to the interior of the building. They don’t accept advance bookings so you might have a short wait for a table if you hit the lunchtime rush:
#02 – Another good lunch spot is a new addition to the city: the Terra Verde Tea House (on the hill heading up to the Teatro Michaelense). It’s a bright, up-market cafe serving soup, sandwiches, excellent salads and a wide selection of Pekoe teas from the island’s own Gorreana plantation:
#03 –A recent new find for me (although they’ve been open for almost four years) is Sabores – Local food. They’re inside the Mercado da Graça farmers market selling the best sandwiches in the city – made from homemade breads, Azorean cheeses and regional produce from their fellow stall holders. Be sure to pop into the O Rei dos Queijos shop at the entrance to the market – they specialise in Azorean cheeses but also sell a range of local produce which make great gifts for friends and family: biscuits, jams, wines, liqueurs and teas:
#04 – Heading back towards the Teatro Micaelense, you’d be forgiven for missing Boca de Cena with it’s discrete entrance. Owner Ricardo is a real one-man-band so this isn’t the place to eat if you’re in a rush. However, your patience will be rewarded with some of the best contemporary Portuguese cuisine on the island: crispy octopus, fresh tuna, slow-cooked Iberian pork and home-made pineapple tart. Throw away the menu and just ask Ricardo for his recommendations, you won’t be disappointed:
#05 –Another restaurant tending more towards the gourmet end of Azorean cuisine is Tasquinha Vieira (just behind the Teatro Michaelense as you head down the hill). Flores-born Chef Joel Vieira’s restaurant has just celebrated it’s second birthday – they don’t currently accept bookings so you might have a short wait for a table at weekends (avoid the pre-theatre diners if you can):
#06 – The Rua de Pedro Homem is fast becoming foodie-central for many of Ponta Delgada’s residents, with it’s interesting selection of small, independent restaurants. Rotas Ilha Verde is a firm favourite of ours – a charming, homely vegetarian restaurant. It’s irrelevant that they’re meat-free; they just make delicious, imaginative, scrumptious-looking food. The wine list is small but perfectly matched to the menu, and the service is always super-quick and super-friendly:
#07 – Up the street at Supléxio, they have a very different mission: hearty homemade burgers (with veggie options), craft beers and homemade ice cream. It’s quite small inside, so you might have a 1/2 hour wait for a table – we just headed out into the courtyard to peruse the menu over a G&T:
#08 – Another departure from traditional Azorean cuisine is Otaka – a Peruvian/Japanese fusion restaurant that would stand out in cities like London or New York. They have two seatings: 6:30 and 9:00:
#09 –Historically, the islands are a rural farming community and the traditional Azorean cookbook is filled with rustic, hearty dishes: big stews with heaps of potatoes and capacious portions of meat. As islanders, Azoreans also eat an exciting range of seasonal fish: – octopus, limpets, barracuda, tuna, and the ubiquitous bacalhau. Both sides are well-represented at A Tasca – their dishes are a little more refined than their home-cooked equivalents but their menu has all the classics: queijo fresco (fresh cheese, served with bread and a pimento garnish), caldo verde (kale and chorizo soup), chouriço à bombeiro (flame-grilled chorizo), lapas grelhadas, morcela com ananas and cozido (the famous stew from Furnas):
#10 – A Tasca’s a big, open-plan sociable space filled with families, friends and noisy chit-chat. If you’d prefer more peaceful surroundings, the Restaurante Alcides would be a better option. They have a similar Azorean-style menu to A Tasca, and serve some of the best steaks on the island (bife de casa in a red wine, garlic and olive oil sauce):
#11 – The Restaurante O Giro has a similar feel to Alcides. I’ve always had a soft spot for O Giro, having eaten there on my very first visit to Sao Miguel – I’ve returned many times over the years and the food has always been exemplary. Thanks to the recent renovation, their modern décor now matches their modern-Azorean menu:
#13 – And if you’re in need of an evening away from generous Portugese portions and prefer something a little lighter, look no further than the Reserva Wine and Tapas Bar. It’s not easy to find, tucked-away behind the Portugal Telecom building (with the pointy tower) on the main avenida, but it’s one of the island’s hidden gems: local charcuterie and cheeses, chestnuts and honey-roasted tomatoes – paired-up by owner Bruno with first-class wines from across Portugal:
Our Where to eat guides are based on our first-hand experience of visiting the Azores and our love of great Portuguese cuisine:
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