#01 – Overlooking the bay at Porto Pim, Genuino’s is friendly, laid-back restaurant owned by Azorean sailing legend Genuino Madruga. Setting sail in October 2000, he became the first Portuguese sailor to circumnavigate the globe solo, returning to Horta almost two years later in May 2002. He did it again in 2007, sailing east to west this time and returning in 2009.
The restaurant has a strong maritime theme – a museum celebrating Genino’s sailing achievements. As you’d expect, the menu includes some excellent fish dishes: Gambas Rosadas (prawns), Polvo a Lagareiro (octopus), Goraz (bream), Bife de Espadarte (swordfish steak) and their signature Almondegas de Atum (tuna meatballs with a sweet potato puree). Senhor Madruga is usually on-hand to greet you when you arrive.
#02 – The Taberna de Pim is just next door. It’s a good evening for tapas (with local Morro cheese) and beer, especially if you can snag a table on the terrace outside (inside is pretty snug). You can’t prebook, but like a taberna of old their turnaround is pretty quick. If you’re staying at the Porto Pim Apartments, you’ve got the Taberna and Genuino’s right on your doorstep.
#03 – A short walk along the Rua Nova brings to you the Restaurante Canto da Doca. I’ll confess to having a soft spot for Canto da Doca – it was first choice for dinner on the first evening of my very first visit to Horta. You’re the chef – you cook your food to your own taste on a hot lava stone in the centre of the table. Steak, chicken, swordfish, shrimps, squid – with accompanying sauces, salads and sides. I wouldn’t say it’s the best food in town, but it’s a fun for an evening with friends and there’s always an excellent selection of Pico wines: Frei Gigante, Terras do Lava and Faria’s.
#04 – Arguably the most famous eatery in the Azores is Peter’s Cafe Sport. Peter’s opened it’s doors in 1918 – current owner Jose Henrique Azevedo is the third generation of his family to manage the bar. His Grandfather named the bar ‘Café Sport’ and the ‘Peter’ was Jose’s father’s nickname during his war service on the RMS Lusitana.
The menu is fairly traditional Azorean – lapas (limpets), bife da terra (steak, with a whisky sauce or a rum sauce), polvo (octopus) and chicharros fritos (fried mackerel). A victim of it’s own popularity, it can be pretty cramped in the evenings (if you can get a table), and the outside terrace similarly busy during the day. I’d recommend popping in at the end of a hot afternoon for a glass of their house Gin do Mar.
#05 – The arrival of low-cost airlines in the Azores has allowed restaurateurs from across the islands to spend more time on the mainland. Taking inspiration from their fellow chefs in Lisbon and Porto, there’s a whole new generation of cooks turning the traditional Azorean cookbook on it’s head to create vibrant and exciting modern Faialense cuisine.
One such example is the Gastro Bar Principe. They’re mixing seasonal fish and locally-reared beef with aromatic rices, seaweed and laurel, whilst their thoughtfully presented vegetarian and vegan dishes embrace the best of the island’s home-grown produce. And their pineapple crumble is exceptional.
#06 – Cantinho das Provas have successfully introduced five-star Sushi to Horta – perfect for showcasing Azorean yellow fin tuna. Provas is the brainchild of local couple Mariana Silveira and Franz Hutschenreuter and I’d highly recommend booking a wine tasting workshop with them (via their Facebook page). Their fantastically-fresh sushi is carefully paired with the best wines from the neighouring island of Pico – and from the Adega do Vulcao vineyard right here on Faial.
#07 – If you’re looking for a more traditional Azorean dining experience, seek out the Restaurante A Arvore on Rua da Conceicao. They offer a self-service, all-you-can-eat daily buffet for 9€ and it’s unfussy, rustic food: pork, chicken, chourico, battered bacalhau, slow-cooked cozido, with sides of sweet potatoes, rice, salad and fresh bread. They also serve franjazinha on the main menu, which is often hard to resist. Our thanks to Judi Brooker for the recommendation.
#08 – The Oceanic Cafe is a popular edition to Horta’s cultural scene. Oceanic is a bar-cum-music venue providing a much-needed stage for Faial’s music community. Food-wise, if you’re looking for a bar with food (as opposed to a dinner venue) it’s perfect – steaks, burgers, excellent toasted sandwiches and one of our favourite Azorean staples: chourico bombeiro. Their Oceanic Store is a great place to pick-up wildlife and whale-related souvenirs.
#09 – A long-term favourite of ours is the Casa Cha e Bar tea house. It’s a great lunchtime option, perfect for a mid-afternoon cuppa and an indulgent sweet treat; even better for a G&T in the early evening. Homemade soups, lemon meringue pie, cherry cheesecake, nutritiously fresh fruit juices, and service is warm and friendly. There’s a relaxed ambience to the garden, and the fruits trees provide a welcome escape from the midday heat in the summer months.
#10 – If you’re self-catering during your stay on the island, Horta’s small Mercado Municipal is a great please to pick-up fresh produce (although you’ll need to be there early to pick up the best of the fish, veg and fruit). The market is also home to two excellent eateries – the first is a restaurant called Cantina da Praça: particularly popular for their fish soup and a killer chocolate desert, but it’s a good higher-end Azorean menu right across the board. Open for lunch and dinner.
#11 – The second is Ah! Boca Santa – more of a snack bar than a restaurant, but still highly recommended. They serve tasty homemade beef, pork and veggie burgers, sweet potato fries, chicken wraps, and freshly squeezed fruit juices, and the service is spot-on. They’re open Tuesdays & Wednesdays for lunch, Thursdays/Fridays/Saturdays for lunch and dinner (opening at 9:00 on Saturdays and I recommend their pancake breakfast). Look out for their takeaway van around the island.
#12 – Leaving Horta and heading over to the island’s east coast, you’ll come to the village of Praia do Almoxarife and the Restaurante Praya. It’s all-glass frontage has a wonderful view across the channel to Pico, and it’s a great lunch option if you’re spending time on Praia’s dark sandy beach or walking the Ribeirinha trail (PRC09 FAI). Lunch service is Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, the restaurant is closed on Tuesdays, and menu is a nicely-concentrated selection of well-presented Portuguese staples.
#13 – Faial’s north coast is often overlooked by visitors to the island – it’s a less-populated, agricultural part of the island which has some nice, off-the-beaten track places to eat. Pasquinha and the Aldina Restaurant and Bar are both good locals’ spots for lunch. The Restaurante o Esconderijo deserves a special mention – with Rotas Ilha Verde on Sao Miguel, Esconderijo is the only other dedicated vegan/veggie restaurant on the islands.
In the words of owners Benjamin and Verena, ‘…we are offering a four-course menu with seasonal, regional, organic and daily fresh(ly) harvested vegetables, fruits and greens which we source from our garden, local neighbours and farmers. Trying to avoid packaged and processed food as much as possible, it will be a positively forward-looking experience for us and our guests…’.
#14 – One of unsung heroes of Faial’s walking trail network is the Rochas da Faja PRC02 FAI. This area suffered greatly during the famous Cabeco do Fogo eruption in 1672, which is commemorated by the Império dos Nobres shrine in downtown Horta. In modern times a container ship, the CP Valour, ran aground in the nearby Baia da Ribeira das Cabras in 2005 – and ultimately sank just off the coast after an unsuccessful salvage operation.
The start and end point for the trail is the Restaurante Rumar – a dyed-in-the-wool, Azorean family-run restaurant with typically-large Azorean portions. A good place to refuel after walking the Rochas da Faja.
#15 – Crossing back down to the south coast, the seawater pools at Varadouro are one of the most-popular swimming spots on the island. It’s also where you’ll find the Restaurante O Varadouro – it’s the natural go-to for lunch if you’re spending the day swimming and if you’re visiting Capelinhos it’s just a short drive away (although their closed on Mondays). For anyone staying at the lovely Casa do Nuno, the restaurant’s south-facing outdoor terrace is the perfect spot for dinner and cocktails at sunset.
#16 – Almost completing our circuit of the island, if you find yourself between flights on Faial with time for lunch the Restaurant Tipico Petisca Aki is a five-minute walk away. They usually offer an excellent lunchtime buffet for around 9€ per head and good value Bife a Regional.
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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