#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 island hopping holiday to the Azores was absolutely amazing,
This is a long email, so you might want to go grab yourself a cuppa before you start reading.
We just wanted to send you an email to say thank you so much for everything.
Our island hopping holiday to the Azores was absolutely amazing, it was far beyond our dreams and expectations, and that is certainly because of you and all your plans in putting this together for us. We just loved every second (apart from me and canyoning, we do not get along, but the boys absolutely loved it!) we just can’t believe all the things that we have seen, and done, and learned about! What an incredible place!
We have certainly been bitten by the Azorean bug and we can’t wait to get back there to explore the other islands. They’re very special places, each of them for their own right.
We felt as though we were treated like royalty from the minute we arrived in Sao Miguel, even the weather was kind to us (largely) we seemed to miss the adverse weather, either arriving somewhere that had had storms the day before, or leaving just before they arrived. We did have one morning of heavy rain when we went to the tropical gardens at Furnas, but we did manage to see some of the gardens before we gave up and went back to Caloura, where there was glorious sunshine, so we spent the afternoon at the pool and made the most of the Especial and fresh lemonade from the snack bar.
Every single person that we met, we were struck by how hard they work, and how happy they all are. Many of them never leaving the island they were born on, because, why would they want to?!
We love the Azorean people and their love and pride for their islands. Their sustainable way of living also struck deep with us. It’s the way we try very hard to live ourselves. Dave’s business is retrofit insulation, preparing old housing stock to a better more eco friendly way of conserving energy, so the way they live and respect their land, was of great interest to us.
For us all, Flores is a very special place. We went to the restaurant maresia while we were there and met the owner and his son. Although the restaurant itself is eclectic to say the least, after chatting to Vincent, we understood his dads way of living and the food was outstanding! We can’t wait to visit again.
All of our guides were amazing! Their knowledge and passion is admirable.
We just loved every second and can’t thank you enough for making our trip so smooth and completely stress free.
I will spend today writing reviews online for all the companies and guides that helped us on our trip.
A million thanks to you all Jake.
The Cole family
Personal service and efficient!
You really listened to what type of holiday we wanted and tailored our week accordingly. You understood what we were looking for and were so helpful and knowledgeable. Very personal service and efficient!
Linda from Norfolk
Professional and personal service!
Everything you do, you seem to do it professionally. I know I’m not your only client, but you make me feel like I am.
Bryan from Stoke
Azores Choice provided a prompt, helpful service. they found us the perfect accommodation for our needs and provided superb, expert advice on how to spend our week walking on San Miguel. I would certainly use them again.
Joan from Durham
Recommended small travel company!
Great little company with friendly staff. Organisation of flights & accommodation very efficient. When problems arise they are helpful and very reasonable in their efforts to resolve them. We would definitely use them again for a return trip.
Really great! Would use again!
Very efficient, friendly, helpful. Excellent local knowledge. Everything ran very smoothly, from supplying the tickets to airport pick ups and hotel bookings. Lovely accommodation selected. No complaints!
A wonderful break in a beautiful environment!
Everything was excellent. The information and organisation, the hotel and the island itself all exceeded our expectations. Whale watching and other trips out, fantastic. We will book again!
Great honeymoon package and experience!
They provided a great package at a good price. We found them to be helpful and a quality service was provided.
Nicola and Christopher – Winchester
Top notch service. Highly recommended!
Excellent service throughout. Very informative, with lots of literature, maps and the like. Attended their offices in Ponta Delgada – very impressed with Olivia, friendly and helpful. Paul was first class.
Lynne in Welton-by-Lincoln
Great company for first time Azores visit!
Really great company, will be recommending them. We had never visited the Azores before but this company helped us decided which islands to visit.
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