As I have already mentioned here, on my last trip to São Miguel, Azores a massive storm led me to think about alternative activities to do during my stay on the island. Of course, with rain falling all the time, what better program than visiting São Miguel restaurants?
The extra pounds I gained at the end of this trip were totally worth it, as I was able to visit some of the island classics, but also some new gems with delicacies to eat and cry for more.
🍝 Authentic way to learn the island’s culture and cuisine is by visiting a local household. This experience provides an opportunity to enjoy an original 5-course meal prepared by the chef and great conversation about the local’s life and traditions.
1. Tasca Mané Cigano
I didn’t know this place, nor had I ever heard of it. But when I asked my friend Vasco Lello, Chef of the Príncipe Real restaurant, in Lisbon, who had been in São Miguel recently, this was the first place he recommended me for the best Azores food.
Once we got to the island, we proceeded straight to the center of Ponta Delgada to find this little tavern… with the biggest queue at the door! It was a weekday, and it was past 1:30 PM, so we opted to wait. After all, it shouldn’t be long before we could sit down. We waited… 1h30!
The truth is that the place is tiny and the demand is high. The reputation of the chicharros (little fried fish), the pickled salad or the octopus on Wednesday (which runs out as early as 11:00 am) leads locals and tourists to wait endless hours.
The spirit in the restaurant is communal: if there’s a free place you just have to grab it, sit down and say good morning or good afternoon to the person beside you. Maybe even learn some tips about São Miguel if he or she is a local.
2. Associação Agrícola de São Miguel
A classic of the classics in São Miguel. The Associação Agrícola de São Miguel is a society of local producers who opened a restaurant on the premises, which became one of the island’s ex-libris.
Located in the fairgrounds of Rabo de Peixe, the place is of modern appearance and, from what I understand, the team is made up of students from the local hotel school.
The menu is what leads everyone to the Associação Agrícola de São Miguel: the typical Azorean beef steak, plain or accompanied by a sauce (personally, I like the pepper sauce, but there are those who can’t resist the island cheese sauce).
Clearly not a restaurant for vegetarians or for those who eat light, since the steaks that arrive at the table are of considerable size.
Another good option is to split a hamburger… yes, one is fit for two!
3. A Tasca
A Tasca was another great tip from my friend Vasco and is right in the center of Ponta Delgada. This space offers a tavern atmosphere, with wood tables and chairs and decoration that fits the style, however, the service is of a first-class restaurant.
In the menu, brought in newspaper format with a bit of history about the place, are very typical dishes and other less traditional options, such as the entrance of crunchy octopus, aka breaded octopus with candied onion. Unmissable!
From all São Miguel restaurants, this one has a high demand, so don’t forget to book a table. The first night we wanted to go we had no place and had to book it for the next day.
Another classic of the Azores food is the Furnas stew. To tell you the truth, it’s always the one I go to when I’m visiting, so I don’t have a comparison term. But, as we say in Portugal, you don’t change a winning team, so I always stop here!
There are other dishes, but the local stew is definitely the star.
Ask the employee about the right dose to ask, because they are generous and don’t forget to book a table in advance or risk being left out.
And if you want to have the full experience, I recommend going to the hot springs before lunch. Look for the holes in the ground where some of the best restaurants in São Miguel cook their pots and find three or four tablets saying “Tony’s.”
5. Caloura Bar
On my first trip to São Miguel it was in Caloura that I stayed and I only have good things to say about this place. Beginning with Caloura Bar, a restaurant right on the sea, next to a small fishing port.
Because of its location, the menu is focused on the freshest fish.
The service is great and I also recommend that you ask for help choosing the best fish or the ideal doses for you and for those who accompany you if that’s the case.
Don’t forget to try the grilled “lapas” for starters accompanied by a good white wine.
6. A Casa do Abel
In Agua de Pau, on the way to Caloura, the A Casa do Abel was born recently. From all the restaurants in São Miguel, this was one of the great finds of this trip.
From the decor to the friendliness of the employees, to the fantastic meat that comes to the table, everything in this restaurant asks us to return again and again.
The atmosphere is intimate and just makes feel like spending there a good bit of time, preferably accompanied by one of the bottles that fill the walls of that restaurant.
The croquettes and patties presented as starters are homemade and if you want to taste the quality of the meat ask for an assortment of several pieces of steak that come to the table cooked just right.
7. O Galego
It was the last of the São Miguel restaurants that I visited on this trip and, of course, I ordered a nice piece of steak for the farewell.
The restaurant is modest and is in the neighborhood of Praia dos Santos, in Ponta Delgada. Don’t be alarmed by the size of the space when entering because there’s a larger room at the back.
Some say it’s the best steak on the island. For me it’s not “the best”, but it is very good and the unpretentious environment leaves anyone at ease.
My Best São Miguel restaurants
Did you like this post? Been to Sao Miguel? What was your favorite restaurant? Leave your tips in the comment box below.
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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
The opinion expressed in this post about the restaurants in Sao Miguel are a result of my personal experience and all meals were paid for by me. However, I can’t be held responsible for some experience that is less good for one of the readers.
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