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MUST DO THINGS IN SÃO MIGUEL FOR FOOD AND WINE LOVERS

food on a table

In the heart of the Atlantic Ocean, São Miguel is the biggest island of the Azorean archipelago. Known as the “Green Island” due to its lush, emerald landscapes, São Miguel offers a spectacular blend of natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture. This enchanting island lies roughly 1,500 kilometers west of Lisbon, and about 3,900 kilometers east of North America, making it a crossroads of cultures, and also flavors.

Reaching São Miguel from mainland Portugal is a relatively straightforward journey, with regular flights from Lisbon and Porto taking approximately two hours. The island is also well-connected to other parts of Europe, with direct flights from major cities such as London, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam. For visitors coming from North America, direct flights are available from cities like Toronto and Boston, making São Miguel an accessible paradise for explorers from across the globe, as well as second and third generation Portuguese who historically left the island to seek a better life in the USA and Canada.

Why is São Miguel worth visiting, especially for food and wine lovers?

Beyond its breathtaking natural scenery, São Miguel boasts many culinary delights and vinicultural gems. The island’s unique geographical location and volcanic soil enrich its gastronomy and viticulture, offering unique flavors and experiences.

The Azores are renowned for their stunning nature, a fact that cannot be overstated. São Miguel, in particular, can brag for having such an array of natural wonders, from the mesmerizing blue and green lakes of Sete Cidades to the steaming geothermal pools of Furnas. The island’s rugged coastlines, craggy cliffs, and rolling hills are a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering activities such as hiking, whale watching, and diving in crystal-clear waters. But these lush and diverse landscapes are not just a backdrop for adventure. They are also a source of the island’s bountiful produce and the inspiration behind its culinary innovations.

While the Azores are incredibly popular as a nature destination, there is also a vibrant culinary scene waiting to be explored. São Miguel is a place where the richness of the land and the sea comes together, making it a must-visit destination for foodies and wine lovers. The island’s cuisine is a reflection of its volcanic terrain and maritime climate, with local dishes that can be both hearty and, depending on the context, refined.

As Portuguese experts in food and culture, we understand that the Azores culinary and wine experiences, such as our All-Inclusive Azores Pico Wine Tasting & Cultural Tour, are indeed not just about savoring products. More than that, it’s crucial to understand the history, the techniques, and the passion that goes into every bite and sip, something that shows respect for the ingredients as well as for the food and wine artisans, and that ultimately also helps maximize the appreciation for the delicious things we get to taste.

Besides our very own tips, our islander friends from São Miguel have helped us curate this list of suggestions for you to make the most of your time in the Azores. This is how we’ve gathered the tips on the best restaurants to eat “like a local” in São Miguel. Cátia Laranjo, enologist and owner of ETNOM Wines, who was recently highlighted as “Revelation of the Year” by the Portuguese wine publication Revista de Vinhos, is one of the partners with whom we work with during our Pico Culinary and Wine Trips. Even though she is from the island of Pico, she openly declares her love for São Miguel, where she often spends time, both for work and leisure. As a fellow foodie and wine lover, collecting experiences in the Azores during an entire lifetime, she has some really good tips that she has kindly shared with us below too, and which we are grateful for, as they include way less obvious things one wouldn’t necessarily easily come across.

If you are a food and wine lover and you’d like to explore São Miguel, these are some of the experiences you should definitely seek while in the Azores.

A curated selection of gastronomic experiences in São Miguel island

Visit Europe’s only commercial tea plantations

The Azores, and specifically São Miguel, hold the unique distinction of being home to Europe’s only commercial tea plantations, which are a manifestation of the island’s unique climate. While Gorreana often captures the spotlight as the most renowned tea plantation in the Azores, it’s important to note that it shares this distinction with Porto Formoso, another significant and historic tea producer on the island. Both estates offer visitors a fascinating glimpse into the world of tea cultivation and production in this unexpected corner of Europe.

Founded in 1883, Gorreana is the oldest and most famous tea plantation in Europe. Nestled in the lush landscapes of São Miguel, it has been producing tea for over a century, making it a pillar of the island’s agricultural history. Gorreana remains a family-run business, committed to traditional, pesticide-free farming practices, which ensures the production of high-quality teas. The plantation produces mainly black and green teas, which are known for their distinctive flavors attributed to the unique terroir of the Azores.

Visitors to Gorreana can enjoy free guided tours of the plantation and the factory, where they can learn about the process of tea production, from leaf picking to drying and packaging. After the tour, guests are invited to sample the plantation’s exquisite teas in the tasting room, overlooking the expansive tea fields against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean. As one would naturally expect after a free tour, there’s also a shop on-site, where you can buy Gorreana teas and other local souvenirs.

Porto Formoso, though less known than Gorreana, is also relevant. Revived in the 1990s, the plantation dates back to the 19th century and has since reestablished itself as a key player in the Azorean tea industry. Like Gorreana, Porto Formoso focuses on sustainable, chemical-free agriculture, producing exceptional black and green teas that reflect the region’s unique climate and soil conditions.

The Porto Formoso tea plantation offers visitors an insightful experience into the world of tea, with guided tours that cover the history of tea in the Azores, the revival of the Porto Formoso plantation, and the intricacies of tea processing. The estate also features a charming museum, which displays antique tea-processing equipment, providing a historical context to the island’s tea production. After exploring the plantation and museum, guests can relax in the tea room, where they can taste the various teas produced on-site, enjoying the beauty of the surrounding landscapes.

Cozido das Furnas: enjoy a traditional dish cooked by volcanic heat

More than a meal, cozido das Furnas is an experience that embodies the unique geothermal landscape of São Miguel, particularly in the Furnas Valley. This traditional Azorean uses the volcanic heat from the earth to slow-cook a hearty stew over several hours. This method not only infuses the dish with a distinct flavor but also connects diners with the ancient, volcanic nature of the Azores.

The preparation of cozido das Furnas, which is essentially the island’s adaptation of the nationwide stew known as cozido à portuguesa, is a sight to behold. Early in the morning, cooks fill large pots with layers of meats, including beef, pork, and chicken, along with an array of local vegetables like cabbages, carrots, and potatoes. Portuguese cured sausage (chouriço) and blood sausage (morcela) are also added, contributing to the rich flavors of the stew. These pots are then sealed and buried in the hot soil in volcanic steam vents, where they remain for several hours, cooking slowly in the natural heat provided by the Earth.

The result is a succulent, tender stew that melts in your mouth, with the flavors of the various ingredients melding together in a delicious way. The meats become incredibly tender, and the vegetables soak up the meaty essences, creating a flavorful and comforting meal that’s unlike anything else.

Experiencing cozido das Furnas is a must-do for any visitor to São Miguel! Several restaurants in and around the Furnas area offer this unique dish, providing guests the opportunity to enjoy a meal that’s been cooked beneath their feet. To fully appreciate cozido das Furnas, it’s recommended to watch the preparation process in the morning when the pots are buried, then go explore the stunning scenery of the Furnas Valley or relax in the thermal baths while your meal cooks. Returning to the restaurant to savor the cozido is the perfect culmination of a day spent immersing yourself in the natural wonders and culinary traditions of São Miguel.

Steak lovers rejoice, eating a bife à regional

For aficionados of hearty cuisine, São Miguel offers an emblematic culinary experience: the bife à regional. This dish, directly translated as “regional steak,” is a celebration of the Azores’ rich tradition in beef production, presented in a way that elevates the simple pleasure of a good steak to something quite memorable.

The bife à regional has its roots deeply embedded in São Miguel’s long-standing history of cattle farming. The island’s verdant pastures, nourished by volcanic soil, provide an ideal environment for raising cattle. This abundance of high-quality livestock has made beef a staple of the Azorean diet, and bife à regional is a recipe that manages to showcase the prime quality of local beef.

The steak, typically a thick cut of locally sourced beef, is marinated in a mixture of local spices, garlic, and sometimes wine, enhancing its natural flavors. It is then grilled or pan-fried, ensuring a succulent interior with a slightly charred exterior. The dish is traditionally served with a rich, flavorful sauce made from local ingredients, including the distinctive São Miguel pepper sauce, which adds a unique depth of flavor. Accompaniments often include hand-cut fries, a fried egg, and a simple side salad, making it a very satisfying meal. It is indeed fairly simple, but the secret to the dish’s deliciousness lies in the quality of the beef, which is tender, flavorful, and impeccably fresh, thanks to the island’s standards of cattle raising and meat production.

While bife à Regional can be found in many restaurants across São Miguel, there are a few establishments known for their exceptional version of the dish. Associação Agrícola de São Miguel (Recinto da Feira Rabo de Peixe, Ribeira Grande), part of the local agricultural association, serves a bife à regional that’s as authentic as it gets. The beef used in their dishes comes directly from the association’s members, ensuring unparalleled freshness and quality. In Ponta Delgada, the regional steak at O Galego (Bairro da Praia dos Santos 21) also stands out. The ambiance here is cozy, and the steak is always cooked to perfection, making it a favorite among locals and visitors. A Tasca (Rua do Aljube 16) is another gem in Ponta Delgada, offering a more contemporary take on traditional Azorean cuisine. Their bife à regional is both a nod to tradition and a testament to the chef’s creativity, making it a must-try for foodies.

If you happen to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, or you are simply open to it, you can still enjoy the overall flavor profile of a bife à regional, with no animal products whatsoever on your plate. Plant forward restaurants in Ponta Delgada such as Santo Seitan (Rua Machado dos Santos 75) and Rotas da Ilha Verde (Rua Pedro Homem 49) make plant based versions using seitan, but with a similar marinade.

Enjoy stewed cow tongue amongst farmers

Enjoying lingua de vaca estufada, or stewed cow tongue, is an experience that offers a glimpse into the authentic and rustic culinary practices of the island. This dish, though perhaps less known among casual visitors, holds a special place in the hearts of locals, particularly among the farming communities that have sustained the Azorean way of life for generations.

Stewed cow tongue is a classic example of the nose-to-tail eating philosophy, which emphasizes the use of the entire animal to avoid waste. This approach not only respects the animal by ensuring that no part is discarded without purpose but also showcases the culinary creativity required to transform less commonly used cuts of meat into delicious meals. In São Miguel, where farming plays a crucial role in both the economy and the daily life of its residents, dishes like lingua de vaca estufada exemplify the practical and respectful relationship between the islanders and their livestock.

The dish itself is a slow-cooked recipe, where the cow tongue is tenderized over several hours in a flavorful stew of local herbs, spices, and vegetables. The result is a surprisingly tender and richly flavored meat, which is often served with a side of local carbohydrates, such as potatoes (batata), sweet potatoes (batata da terra) or taro (inhame), to soak up the savory sauce.

For those seeking to enjoy this dish amongst the very people who cherish it most, local eateries in rural areas of São Miguel are your best bet. One of the favorite tascas amongst locals to eat lingua de vaca is Restaurante Farias (EN1-1A 29, Ribeira Grande), the kind of eatery which you won’t usually see highlighted in mainstream travel guides. These places often serve as gathering spots for local farmers and their families, offering a warm and inviting atmosphere where visitors can immerse themselves in the authentic Azorean way of life. Dining in such settings not only allows for the enjoyment of traditional dishes like stewed cow tongue but also opens up opportunities for engaging conversations with locals, providing insights into the island’s culture and traditions.

Take a fishing trip

São Miguel offers a unique and exciting opportunity for fishing enthusiasts, who here will be able to enjoy the Atlantic’s vast biodiversity and complex marine ecosystems. This, combined with its temperate-oceanic climate moderated by the Atlantic and the Gulf Stream, creates an ideal environment for a rich variety of marine life, making São Miguel a premier destination for fishing trips all year round.

The seas surrounding São Miguel are characterized by a mosaic of habitats, ranging from coastal zones and island flanks to seamounts, hydrothermal fields, coral aggregations, and vast abyssal plains. This diversity supports a wide array of species, offering anglers the chance to encounter everything from coastal fishes to large pelagic species. The island’s waters serve as crucial aggregation points for migrating species such as tuna, sharks, cetaceans, and turtles, making it a hotspot for sport fishing, big game fishing or simply marine life observation.

For those interested in experiencing the thrill of fishing in São Miguel, there are various options ranging from chartering local fishing boats, which offer guided trips targeting specific species, to participating in big game fishing tournaments. These experiences offer the excitement of the catch while also providing a close look at the local marine ecosystem and the islanders’ connection to the sea.

Feast on the freshest seafood (including some rare species)

In São Miguel, the Atlantic offers an array of fresh fish and seafood that is diverse and delicious. Even if you’re not inclined to embark on a fishing adventure yourself, as suggested above, the island caters to seafood enthusiasts through a variety of dining venues, each providing a unique experience to savor the freshest marine flavors. From cozy local eateries to more upscale restaurants, there’s something for every palate and budget.

Cantinho do Cais (Rua do Ramal 1 502, Ribeira Grande) is a haven for fish lovers. Nestled in a picturesque setting, this spot is famed for its fish soup (sopa rica de peixe), a comforting bowl of broth brimming with the catch of the day, herbs, and vegetables. It’s a must-try for anyone seeking a taste of local seafood based culinary traditions.

Mariserra (Rua da Praia dos Santos 61, Ponta Delgada) also stands out as a destination for those with a particular fondness for seafood. This restaurant offers a sophisticated take on Azorean seafood, with dishes that showcase the freshest ingredients in inventive ways. Whether it’s succulent shrimp, tender octopus (don’t miss the polvo guisado, a deeply flavored octopus stew with red wine!), or a variety of shellfish, Mariserra’s menu is a celebration of the sea’s offerings, prepared with a touch of elegance.

For a more traditional Azorean dining experience, Mané Cigano (Rua Engº José Cordeiro Antiga da Calheta 3, Ponta Delgada) offers a rustic charm that is hard to beat. The focus here is on hearty, traditional dishes that have been passed down through generations. The seafood rice (arroz de marisco), a rich and flavorful dish packed with various types of seafood, cooked in a savory broth, is a standout choice.

Borda d’água (Largo Do Porto 52, Lagoa) is yet another gem for those seeking traditional Azorean cuisine. This restaurant in Lagoa prides itself for following traditional cooking methods. Here, the grilled fish, simply seasoned and perfectly cooked, paired with a side of local vegetables or a fresh salad, allows the natural flavors of the local ingredients to shine.

Cais 20 (Beco Major Moniz 41, São Roque) is a versatile spot that caters to all tastes, whether you’re in the mood for fish, seafood, or even meat. Known for its generous portions and wide variety, one of the standout dishes is the seafood platter, a lavish spread of the day’s freshest catches, simply grilled and served with sides that enhance the flavors of the sea. It’s an ideal choice for those looking to sample a bit of everything.

If octopus is your jam, Gazcidla (Rua da Ponte 16, Mosteiros) in Mosteiros is unmissable. They are also famous for the grilled limpets (lapas grelhadas), which we think are a great option for appetizers before your polvo comes to the table.

Each of these restaurants in São Miguel offer a unique perspective on how the best ingredients from the Atlantic can be transformed into mouth watering dishes. Whether you prefer the simplicity of grilled fish (which we do believe tastes best enhanced by molho de vilão, a slightly spicy sauce made from pimenta de terra, the local chili pepper), or the complexity of a seafood stew, dining in São Miguel is an opportunity to celebrate the freshest flavors the ocean has to offer. If you have previously had tuna (atum), mackerel (cavala) or Atlantic wreckfish (cherne), we recommend looking for local fish species such as European conger (congro), greater amberjack (lírio), blackbelly rosefish (boca negra), white trevally (enchareu), scorpionfish (rocaz) or forkbeard (abrótea), amongst many others – just ask to your restaurant server what’s fresh on the day. If this still sounds a little too mainstream for you, ask for shells such as limpets (lapas) or barnacles (cracas) – learn more about the best food in the Azores, so that you know what to order!

Visit Ponta Delgada’s municipal farmers market

When you find yourself in São Miguel, a visit to Ponta Delgada’s Municipal Farmers Market, known locally as Mercado da Graça (Rua do Mercado 15), is an experience not to be missed. Situated in the heart of the city, this vibrant market is a focal point for both locals and tourists seeking the freshest produce and a genuine slice of Azorean life.

Mercado da Graça is conveniently located in downtown Ponta Delgada, making it easily accessible to anyone exploring the city. There is perhaps no better place in the entire island than this market, to showcase the rich biodiversity of the Azores. Here, you’ll find a colorful array of locally grown fruits and vegetables, including staples and more exotic varieties that are seldom seen in supermarkets or featured on restaurant menus.

Among the exotic fruits you might discover are passion fruit (maracujá) varieties unique to the Azores, including the maracujá-banana and maracujá-pêssego, known for their distinctive tropical notes. You may also come across the Azorean pineapple (ananás dos Açores), a delicacy grown in greenhouses (which you can actually visit – see more below!) that offers a sweeter and more aromatic experience than its international counterparts. Another rare find could be the prickly pear (figo da Índia), which is appreciated for its watery flesh and sweet taste, making it a refreshing treat on a warm day.

The Mercado da Graça is a cultural experience that offers insight into the daily lives of the island’s residents. Vendors at the market are often the farmers themselves or family members, providing a direct connection between the consumer and the source of their food. This setup encourages conversation and offers visitors the chance to learn about the produce, including tips on how to enjoy them at their best.

Moreover, the market is an excellent spot to sample local cheeses (not only from this island itself, but across the archipelago, including the famed cheese from São Jorge, which we explore from up close when visiting the island on our day-trips from Pico, as part of our culinary journeys in the Azores), charcuterie, and other artisanal products, making it a one-stop shop for those looking to truly sample the flavors of São Miguel.

Take a farm tour (and learn about the farm-to-table movement)

Embarking on a farm tour in São Miguel allows you to better understand the farm-to-table movement, an experience that forges a profound connection between visitors and the places where their food comes from. Across the lush landscapes of São Miguel, a variety of farms open their gates, welcoming those eager to learn about sustainable agriculture and the intricacies of Azorean farming practices. These tours are usually quite immersive, potentially enriching your understanding and appreciation for the local agricultural processes.

During a visit to one of São Miguel’s farms, such as Quinta do Agricultor or the sustainable havens of Amago Wellness and Lapsa Garden, guests can experience what a day in the life of a farmer is like. Activities might include milking a cow, or assisting in the ushering of cows from the pasture to the milking barn. It’s not just about cows, though. Many farms also offer the chance to feed and care for a variety of other animals, with hands-on interactions that have to do with their dietary needs and care routines.

When you do these farm visits you can usually expect tastings of farm-fresh produce, such as delicious raw milk, homemade jams, and freshly crafted cheese. Beyond the tangible experiences, farm tours in São Miguel provide an invaluable opportunity for dialogue and exchange. Conversations with farmers offer insights into the realities of agriculture and life on the island. These discussions can transform perceptions, highlighting the challenges and rewards of farming and the overall importance of supporting local agriculture.

Farms like Lapsa Garden take the experience a step further, integrating farm-to-table dining into their offerings. Here, visitors can savor five-course meals crafted from seasonal ingredients harvested directly from the earth. Such experiences underscore the philosophy of simple, humble cooking methods that celebrate the farm’s produce.

Cheer to São Miguel’s craft beer scene’s health

In São Miguel, the craft beer scene is flourishing, thanks to local brands such as Korisca, Azores Brewing Company, and the newly opened Vulcana.

Korisca has established itself through a dedication to capturing the essence of São Miguel’s rich natural landscape in their beers. With offerings that range from aromatic IPAs to crisp lagers, Korisca’s brews are a celebration of the Azorean spirit, marrying traditional brewing techniques with local flavors. This and other Portuguese brands of craft beer can be enjoyed at several venues across the island. But if you are a craft beer lover in Ponta Delgada, we would certainly recommend heading to Suplexio (Rua de Pedro Homem 68) or 3/4 Café (Rua do Dr. Guilherme Poças 12).

The Azores Brewing Company, on the other hand, is a brand with a diverse selection of beers, crafted with a nod to Azorean ingredients and traditions, but that invites exploration and enjoyment in their welcoming taproom. Furthermore, they organize brewery tours to see from the first row how beer in the Azores is brewed from scratch.

In March 2024, Vulcana burst onto the scene, aiming to broaden the craft beer experience in São Miguel. More than a brewery, Vulcana envisions itself as a cultural hub, where the worlds of craft beer and Azorean culture converge. The space is dedicated to beer making and beer tasting, enriched with great music, creative workshops, yoga, and more. Alongside high-quality craft beer, Vulcana also features a clothing store with merchandise designed in the Azores, making it a unique destination for those looking to immerse themselves in the local vibe.

Drink a beer at Rabo de Peixe… and open your appetite for more!

Rabo de Peixe, a vibrant fishing village located on the north coast of São Miguel, offers a more authentic and unvarnished experience of Azorean life, away from the trendier spots in Ponta Delgada. Known for its strong community spirit and deep connection to the sea, Rabo de Peixe presents a unique backdrop for those looking to immerse themselves in the local culture, especially through its food and drink.

The village’s culinary heritage is deeply tied to its fishing roots, and the daily catch plays a central role in the local diet. Grabbing a beer at a local bar or café in Rabo de Peixe allows visitors to engage with this vibrant community, observing the flow of daily life, often overlooked by mainstream tourism. Rabo de Peixe offers a down-to-earth setting where enjoying a beer becomes an exercise in people-watching and cultural immersion. Local bars and cafés, unpretentious and welcoming, serve as gathering points for residents, providing a window into the genuine Azorean way of life. Here, conversations flow as freely as the beer, inviting visitors to partake in the communal atmosphere.

Dining in Rabo de Peixe is an opportunity to explore the village’s seafood cuisine. Restaurants and local eateries serve up traditional dishes such as caldeirada, a rich fish stew bursting with flavor from various types of fish. Visiting Rabo de Peixe and choosing to drink and dine there is a celebration of the simpler pleasures in life, set against the backdrop of one of São Miguel’s most characterful communities. It’s an invitation to slow down, savor the moment, and connect with the Azores’ rich cultural and gastronomic heritage in a setting that’s so very real.

Visit a pineapple plantation

The cultivation of pineapples on the island is a fairly contemporary practice which results in a fruit that stands apart from its tropical counterparts found in supermarkets around the world. The Azorean pineapple, or ananás dos Açores, is renowned for its exceptional sweetness and aroma, a direct result of the island’s specific microclimate and the meticulous, labor-intensive cultivation process it undergoes. Unlike the typical pineapples grown in tropical climates, the Azorean pineapple is cultivated in greenhouses, a method developed in the 19th century to adapt to the cooler, more temperate Azorean climate. This unique cultivation method, along with the use of natural fertilization techniques, contributes to its distinct taste and higher nutritional value. The complexity of its cultivation does make the Azorean pineapple pricier than the average supermarket variety.

Visitors to a pineapple plantation on São Miguel can expect an educational journey through the different stages of pineapple growth, from planting to harvesting. These tours often include walks through the greenhouses, where the unique glass structures create the ideal environment for pineapple cultivation. The process is fascinating, involving careful temperature regulation and even the application of smoke at certain stages to stimulate the flowering of the pineapple plants.

Beyond the raw fruit itself, the Azorean pineapple has inspired a range of local products and delicacies, showcasing the versatility of this island treasure. Pineapple jam (doce de ananás), made from ripe pineapples, is a popular treat, offering a sweet and tangy flavor that captures the essence of the Azores in a jar. Azorean pineapple liqueur (llicor de ananás) is another exquisite product, blending the fruit’s natural sweetness with the warmth of locally distilled spirits, creating a delightful beverage that visitors can sample and take home.

If you’re keen on taking a pineapple plantation tour white in São Miguel, you can visit:

🍍Plantação de Ananases Augusto Arruda

📍Rua Dr. Augusto Arruda, 9500-454 Fajã de Baixo, Ponta Delgada

www.ananasesarruda.com/en/plantacao

🍍Plantação de Ananás dos Açores

📍Rua das Laranjeiras, 9500-317 Ponta Delgada

www.instagram.com/ananasdosacores

🍍Ananás Santo António

📍Rua Jose Manuel Bernardo Cabral 1, 9500-450 Ponta Delgada

www.facebook.com/AnanasesSantoAntonio

Visit a winery and do a wine tasting

Exploring the volcanic islands of the Azores, one quickly realizes how the unique terroir, shaped by volcanic soil and the salty air of the Atlantic, gives local wines distinct characteristics. This fascinating interplay of elements has placed the Azores, and particularly Pico Island, on the world wine map as a region producing some of the most distinctive and sought-after wines globally. The harsh, rocky terrain of Pico, seemingly inhospitable for agriculture, has been transformed through human creativity and perseverance into a viticultural marvel. Since the 17th century, this young volcanic island has been producing exceptional wines, including those from renowned producers like Czar, the Azores Wine Company (AWC), and Etnom, which have gained international acclaim for their quality and complexity, and with whom we get up close during our Culinary and Wine Trips in Pico.

Pico’s wines, celebrated for their volcanic minerality and unique flavor profiles, offer an experience that goes beyond taste. They tell a story of the island’s landscape and the human effort to cultivate it. This connection to place is so strong that experiencing these wines on Pico itself, amidst the UNESCO World Heritage vineyard landscapes, offers a profound sense of the wine’s origin that tasting it elsewhere simply cannot replicate. The island’s wines, such as the esteemed Czar, embody centuries of winemaking tradition, with some vintages reaching remarkable values (up to 7000 euros per bottle!), reflecting their exclusivity and the extraordinary story of wine production in this unique setting.

While Pico stands out for its wine heritage, São Miguel also offers its own vineyard experiences, albeit on a different scale. Of course we would always encourage you to come hang out with us in Pico to be able to live these experiences. But if time doesn’t allow, we’re positive the Green Island will also take very good of you. So don’t whine and open a bottle of São Miguel wine!

The island of São Miguel is home to several wineries that, while not as widely recognized as Pico’s, provide insightful glimpses into the Azorean winemaking process and the diverse profiles of the island’s wines. We recommend visiting Quinta da Jardinete, a winery that prides itself on combining traditional winemaking methods with modern techniques. They offer guided tours of the vineyards and cellars, followed by tastings of their exquisite wines. If you favor organic wines, then Quinta Nossa Senhora de Lourdes may be a better option. At this farm dedicated to wine but also fruits and vegetables, they produce the so-called vinho de cheiro (scented wine), which is the typical Azorean wine made from the grape variety Isabela, and which does not usually make it into the larger commercial circuits – this is why! At this farm, which is also a rural hotel, the owners will proudly showcase their family’s approach to food production and wine making, in a relaxed setting. During your visit, you can also sample regional Azorean products, such as cornbread, cured sausages aka enchidos, cheese and yams, perfectly paired with their wines and liqueurs. Whether you’re a seasoned wine connoisseur or simply curious about the local flavors, a visit to one or more wineries is a must-do while exploring São Miguel.

Though Pico may be the crown jewel of Azorean winemaking, São Miguel ensures that wine lovers won’t be left wanting. Open a bottle of Pico wine in São Miguel, or have a local brand instead, perhaps directly at a winery. Either way, through these experiences, one can appreciate the flavors of the Azores and the deep connection between the islands’ wines and their volcanic origins, providing delicious taste and a tremendous sense of place.

If you visit during October / November, go to Wine in Azores

For enthusiasts of viniculture and gastronomy, timing your visit to São Miguel during October or November presents a unique opportunity to experience Wine in Azores, the archipelago’s premier wine fair. This annual event is the largest of its kind in the Azores, showcasing the burgeoning wine scene of this remote island group. We also organize low season trips, and this just goes to confirm that there is a lot to experience in the Azores, all year round!

Wine in Azores takes place over three days, transforming São Miguel into a hub of oenological and gastronomic exploration. The fair attracts winemakers, distributors, sommeliers, and aficionados from across the globe, making it a great event for networking, discovery, and, of course, straight up tasting. Over the course of the event, attendees can partake in extensive tastings, which generally include a wide range of wines, including local Azorean vintages that highlight the distinctive terroir of the islands, as well as selections from mainland Portugal and other renowned wine-producing regions. These tastings are often accompanied by insights from the winemakers themselves, providing a deeper understanding of the craft behind each bottle.

Wine in Azores also features an array of workshops and masterclasses led by industry experts. These sessions cover a broad spectrum of topics, from the nuances of wine tasting and the specifics of Azorean viticulture, to broader discussions on global wine trends.

Recognizing the intrinsic link between wine and food, the fair also includes a variety of gastronomic stands and food pairings. Local chefs and producers showcase the best of Azorean cuisine, offering dishes and products that complement the wines on offer. This aspect of the event highlights the importance of local ingredients and traditional methods, providing a taste of the Azores’ culinary richness.

Beyond wine and food, Wine in Azores is a cultural event that celebrates the Azorean spirit. With live music, art exhibitions, and other cultural presentations, the fair offers a broad experience of the islands’ heritage and artistic expressions.

Pack your own picnic with Azorean food and drinks

One of the most authentic ways to immerse yourself in the lush landscapes and vibrant flavors of São Miguel is to curate your very own Azorean picnic. As you venture into the island’s great outdoors, you’ll find that dining options amidst nature are sparse. Venturing into the local supermarkets and markets, you’ll encounter an array of products distinct from what’s typically served in restaurants, which have much more to do with the island’s everyday eating.

For the ultimate São Miguel picnic basket, you should consider including a variety of sweet and savory options, as well as drinks. For starters, São Miguel is renowned for its dairy products, thanks to the rich, volcanic soil feeding the island’s lush pastures. Look for the unique Queijo Ilha São Miguel, a semi-hard, tangy cheese that’s perfect for snacking, even more so when tucked inside bolo lêvedo, the island’s traditional sweet and fluffy bread. Another delicious option would be queijo fresco, a mild fresh cheese, more often than not paired with pimenta da terra here in the island, that is, a paste of locally grown not too spicy peppers, with a kick that complements the softness of the dairy beautifully. While perhaps not as widely known as its cheeses, the Azores produces an incredible selection of local charcuteries, namely chouriço and linguiça, which are smoked sausages full of flavor.

By now you’d know that the Azores have incredible wines. The island of Pico produces some unique volcanic wines that are gaining international acclaim, and which can also be purchased in São Miguel. But to go fully local during your picnic, you can also opt for wines produced in this island itself, namely by Quinta da Jardinete (the first commercial winery in São Miguel – see above), or try the Vinho Furnas by the brand Eduardo Ferreira, just to name a few. If you prefer to keep your refreshments non-alcoholic, opt for local sodas such as Laranjada Melo Abreu, a local orange flavored soda, or Kima Maracujá, a passion fruit beverage which has the perfect balance of sweet and tangy.

Depending on the season, your picnic basket can be enriched with a variety of local fruits. Pineapples from São Miguel are incredibly sweet and not to be missed, alongside passion fruit, bananas, and other tropical varieties that thrive in the island’s microclimates, such as banana-ananás, which translates as banana-pineapple, but that is actually the very peculiar and tremendously aromatic fruit of the Monstera Deliciosa plant.

For sweet snacks that are perhaps a little less healthy but can also be a decent source of energy to keep you active outdoors, hunt the supermarket shelves for local confections such as Mulata dos Açores, a much beloved cacao biscuit, or pack a cake from the nearest bakery. One thing is for sure, we wouldn’t recommend for you to end your trip in the Azores without trying at least once massa sovada, a sweet bread mostly consumed during festive occasions but available for sale all year around; queijadas da Vila, cheese based tarts available all over the island, but that can still also be purchased at the original bakery in Vila Franca do Campo known as Queijadas do Morgado; bolo de fruta, a compact confection with honey and crystallized fruits; or even the more contemporary Bogangas, which are cookies made with local teas and herbs.

Go eat out where the locals go

To truly savor the authentic cuisine of São Miguel we would say for you to go off the beaten path and dine where the locals do. There is just so much to be savored beyond the popular tourist trails and the bustling streets of Ponta Delgada so, whenever possible, go to places cherished by those who know them best: the locals! Through conversations with our friends scattered across São Miguel, we’ve compiled a list of their favorite spots to eat out. These are mostly eateries that might not grace the pages of your typical guidebook but are beloved for their exceptional food.

Enologist Catia Laranjo shares her favorite places in São Miguel Island

Amongst the knowledgeable Azorean folks we have asked for tips to be shared with you, we count our trip partner and friend Cátia Laranjo, who is the founder of Vinhos ETNOM. During our trips in Pico, we spend time with Cátia, visiting her vineyards and engaging in leisurely wine tastings, during which this young enologist, who is right now considered one of the most promising talents in the Portuguese world of winemaking, shared with us her passion and what makes her Pico volcanic wines so incredibly unique. Just like us, when she goes somewhere other than her native island, she likes going out to eat where the locals do – but this doesn’t mean avoiding trending spots! As Cátia spends a lot of time in São Miguel, where she often mingles with other people from the worlds of gastronomy and wines, she’d been kind enough to share some delicious, refreshing and culturally relevant recommendations with us:

Tasquinha Vieira

📍Rua António Joaquim Nunes da Silva 21, 9500-056 Ponta Delgada

🍴To eat your way around the Azores in a contemporary way

www.instagram.com/tasquinhavieira

Otaka

📍Rua Hintze Ribeiro 5, 9500-049 Ponta Delgada

🍴An Asian fusion restaurant which makes incredibly good use of local Azorean ingredients, namely fresh seafood. Often regarded as the best restaurant in Ponta Delgada.

https://otaka.pt

Out of the Blue

📍Rua da Boavista 38, 9500-035 Ponta Delgada

🍴A hostel with a super cool restaurant based on Portuguese petiscos, where travelers and locals get to mingle

www.outoftheblueazores.com

Casa do Abel

📍Rua Largo do Barracão 1, 9560-226 Água de Pau

🍴Grilled meats with a signature touch by chefs Rui Viveiros and Rúben Cabral

www.casadoabel.com

Bar Caloura

📍Rua da Caloura, 20, 9560-211 Água de Pau

🍴For great food and drinks with a stunning view

www.instagram.com/bardacaloura

Tã Gente

📍Rua Manuel Inácio Correia 38, 9500-018 Ponta Delgada

🍷According to Cátia “a must in Ponta Delgada’s nightlife”

www.instagram.com/tagentebar

Raiz Club

📍9500-094 Ponta Delgada

🍸Cocktails, live music, and a whole lot of fun

www.instagram.com/raizclub

Cervejaria A Lagoinha

📍Rua da Igreja 57, 9680-304 Água de Alto

🍻In their own words “the best beer in the Azores”!

www.facebook.com/people/Cervejaria-A-Lagoinha/100063624278072

Wild goose chase – not literally, ‘tho!

In São Miguel, more often than not, the most acclaimed spots and dishes are actually to be found in small towns, coastal villages, and rural outposts. So, as you explore the island, let the locals lead the way to the best meals you’re yet to have, in places which in most cases aren’t the fanciest around, but they sure are where good regional food reigns supreme:

Canto da Pia

📍EN1-1A 320, 9500-663 Relva

🍴Mão de vaca, a hearty stew with cow’s trotters and chickpeas

www.facebook.com/p/Restaurante-Canto-da-Pia-100068731450494

Raião

📍Rua da Ribeira da Ferreira 132, 9555-040 Candelária

🍴All you can eat lunch buffet with local dishes cooked inside a traditional wood oven

www.facebook.com/restaurante.raiao

Casa de Pasto O Amaral

📍M518 28, 9625-425 Porto Formoso

🍴Arroz de lapas, saucy limpets rice

www.facebook.com/Casadepastooamaral

Café Canto do Cais

📍Rua de São Pedro 1, 9545-133 Capelas

🍴Excellent home cooking, with daily specials below 10 euros

www.facebook.com/p/CAF%C3%89-CANTO-DO-CAIS-100057160733512

Café Cervejaria Menino Germano

📍Estrada Regional de São Vicente 1, 9545-526 Ponta Delgada

🍴Iscas de fígado, pan-fried pork liver with sauteed onions

www.facebook.com/p/Caf%C3%A9-Cervejaria-Menino-Germano-100057297795858

​​O Cordeirinho

📍Rua das Casas Telhadas 51, 9625-116 Lomba da Maia

🍴Your choice of fish na telha, that is, a typical way of cooking and serving food on a clay tile. For a sample platter with a variety of seafood, ask for the peixe misto na telha.

Casa de Pasto O Cardoso

📍Estrada Regional, EN1-1A 19, 9630-103 Lomba da Fazenda

🍴Visit on wednesdays for a fabulous cabrito, that is, roasted goatling

www.facebook.com/cdpcardoso

Rabaça

📍Rua da Boa Vista 9, 9560-088 Lagoa

🍴For the freshest fish served in a cozy family atmosphere

Casa de Pasto Tavares

📍Rua do Melo 74 9500-114, 9500-114 Ponta Delgada

🍴Polvo guisado, that is, the typical Azorean octopus stew

Floresta

📍Rua da Grande Guerra 20A, 9500-173 Ponta Delgada

🍴Chicharros fritos com molho vilão, little deep-fried horse mackerel (a staple of the everyday kitchen across the Azores) with spicy sauce

Digest everything you’ve eaten in São Miguel with local spirits and liqueurs 

After indulging in the rich cuisine of São Miguel, from hearty seafood stews like caldeirada or polvo guisado, to the sumptuous bife à regional, there’s no better way to conclude your gastronomic journey than by savoring the island’s traditional spirits and liqueurs. São Miguel’s distilling tradition is quite rich, offering a spectrum of flavors that encapsulate the essence of the island, from the robust notes of aguardente to the sweet, fruity nuances of its numerous liqueurs.

Aguardente, a potent spirit distilled from wine, is often enjoyed as a digestif, offering a warm, invigorating conclusion to a meal. But the island’s repertoire of spirits extends far beyond aguardente, embracing the amazing range of local fruits to create liqueurs that taste wonderfully, while also being reflective of São Miguel’s agricultural spectrum. Pineapple (ananás), passion fruit (maracujá), blackberry (amora), and banana liqueurs are just a few examples of the flavors available. In addition to fruit-based liqueurs, São Miguel is home to unique creations such as arroz doce liqueur, mirroring the beloved Portuguese dessert of sweet rice pudding in liquid form, and honey (mel) liqueur, which combines the island’s floral nectars into a sweet, soothing drink.

Adding to the island’s distillery achievements is Goshawk Azores Gin, proudly proclaimed as the first distilled spirit from the Azores, originating from the Ribeira Grande municipality. This premium gin, along with its passion fruit variant, captures the botanical richness of the island and, we’re speaking by experience, works mighty fine on a G&T Azorean style!

If you are planning to travel to the Azores, we hope our tips come in handy for you. If the so-called “Hawaii of Europe” is calling your name but you’re not sure how to best organize a trip, use Oh! My Cod’s services as a gateway to experiencing the true essence of the Azorean spirit. Whether you are joining us directly in Pico island, or coming along for one of our day trips to the islands of São Jorge or Faial, all part of our Azores Culinary Trip, you can be rest assured that we will guide you through an epicurean journey that showcases the best the Azores has to of

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The Azores islands are an internationally certified sustainable destination and the remote island of Pico is yet to know the effects of mass tourism, welcoming each visitor to its black and green landscape in a distinctive and slow-paced way.