Best Azores Food and Drink To Try: A Complete Guide
What to try and where to find the best Azores food
A trip to Portugal’s Azores isn’t complete without sampling as many traditional Azores foods as possible. While the Azores are best known for their remote location and rugged scenery, they also offer a wide range of unique and delicious food.
The islands’ subtropical climate makes them the only place in Europe that can support crops like tropical fruit and tea. Pastoral hillsides dotted with “the happiest cows in the world” also make the Azores a great place to enjoy beef and dairy. And since the north Atlantic ocean is only ever about 10 miles away you’ll also have access to amazing fresh seafood everywhere on the Azores.
During our 8-day trip to Sao Miguel and Terceira Islands in spring 2023, we did our best to sample all the best Azores Food. Azores cuisine – like the islands themselves – has a flavor all its own.
You’ll notice plenty of Portuguese influence in Azores food, but since the Azores have historically attracted persecuted populations from mainland Europe such as Jews, you’ll find lots of other flavors in Azores food as well. Mix in the unique ingredients available in the Azores and you’ll find that Azores food is a world all its own.
If you’re a hungry traveler like me who likes to get to know a destination through their stomach, the Azores are a wonderful place to visit.
Read on for a round-up of the very best Azores food and drink to try during your visit, as well as our favorite Azores restaurants, and a suggestion for a great Azores food tour.
Pin this Azores Food Guide to make your Azores trip extra delicious!
A Complete Guide to Food in the Azores To Try
- What to know about Azores cuisine
- Must Try Azores Foods and Drinks
- Azores drinks
- Azores main dishes
- Azores breads
- Azores pastries
- Other unique Azores food delicacies
- Azores Food Tours
- Our Favorite Azores Restaurants
Some notes about Azores food
Lagoa Azul in Sete Cidades on Sao Miguel Island offers a daily lunch buffet full of traditional Azores foods including stews and limpets.
We found foods in Azores to be very well cooked. And I don’t mean cooked in an exemplary way, although it was tasty . . . . I mean cooked within an inch of its life.
While tuna is often served rare in places like Hawaii, on the Azores, your tuna will be well done. Stews are definitely a thing in the Azores. Far beyond the much-celebrated cozido das Furnas stew, many traditional Azores foods feature meat stewed in an aromatic sauce and served over rice or potatoes.
For whatever reason almost every meal, especially steak, came with a side of French fries. I’m not sure if the ubiquitous French fries comes from trying to pander to American tourists or if it’s something that Azoreans brought back from North America. After all, many, many Azoreans have relatives in the United States, especially in the Boston area.
Maybe seasonality was at play during our visit, but we struggled to find fresh vegetables. Side salads were basically nonexistent and when you did get fresh vegetables, it was often a vinegary mix of chopped peppers, onions, and tomatoes similar to salsa. We did eat a lot of root vegetables, including beets, sweet potatoes, and potatoes.
Again, I think seasonality was at play, but tuna was pretty much the only fish we saw on menus. Happily, we all like tuna, so this was no hardship.
Food in the Azores To Try
Some Azores foods certainly won’t be to your liking (more on that later) but more often than not, you’ll discover something new and delicious.
Whether you’re looking for a regional happy hour drink or something a little softer, the Azores food scene has a lot of fun beverages to choose from.
When Leah spied someone mixing orange soda with beer at the popular Lagoa Azul buffet restaurant in Sete Cidades, we knew we had to try it.
We had a couple missteps trying to order this (we were served beer and orange juice on our first attempt, which actually isn’t too bad, especially if you like Blue Moon) but we finally got the code cracked on our Ponta Delgada food tour.
Essentially you can mix any beer with Melo Abreu Laranjada soda. The “mix” we ended up drinking mixed the orange pop with Especial Melo Abreu beer.
It’s actually fairly common in the Azores to mix pop and beer. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!
Azoreans are very proud of the wine produced on their volcanic islands. Since grapes on the Azores needed to be harvested early to avoid hurricane damage, Azores wine is unlike any other wine in the world.
Most Azorean wine is white. The wine is known for its very dry character and high salt content. Make sure you sample wine made from the grape varieties that only grow on the Azores: Arinto dos Açores or Terrantez do Pico.
My favorite Azores wine was Terroir Vulcanico – Arinto dos Acores. A bottle of Terroir Vulcanico – Terras Delava also makes a worthy Azores souvenir.
In addition to the Laranjada soda used in “the mix,” Melo Abreu produces several other popular soft drinks. Among those is Kima, a passionfruit flavored soda. You’ll find this pop available in every restaurant and convenience store on the Azores.
Azores Main Dishes
In addition to the quintessential Azorean dishes listed below, plenty of popular Azores entrees don’t need an introduction. With its wealth of both cows and seafood, menus almost always offer a selection of steaks and fish – often tuna. While you probably didn’t fly across the Atlantic for a hamburger, hamburgers are also popular (and delicious!) on the Azores.
Cozido das Furnas
Cozido das Furnas is probably the best known Azores food. Made outside of the town of Furnas on Sao Miguel Island, this flavorful meat and vegetable stew is actually cooked in massive cauldrons buried along the shoreline of Lake Furnas. The stew then cooks for about seven hours using only the heat from the ground’s natural geothermal energy. Yep, nature’s crock pot!
We enjoyed our cozido at Restaurante Tony’s in Furnas. The stew features chicken, pork, beef, sausages, potatoes, yams, cabbage, kale, and carrots and comes with a side of rice and a sauce to drizzle on top. While the restaurants will tell you that a platter of cozido serves two, based on a tip from a fellow traveler, we just got one platter for all three of us and still couldn’t finish it.
Pro Azores tip: You don’t need to make a lunch reservation if you want to enjoy the stew in Furnas . . . no matter how much the folks by the cooking cauldrons try to convince you otherwise!
Another Azores stew to try is Alcatra. This stew made with beef, wine, onions, bacon, and garlic is a specialty of Terceira Island. While it’s traditionally made in a clay pot called an alguidar, this is a pretty easy dish to make if you want to try your hand at Azores cooking at home.
Lapas Grelhadas – grilled limpets
It looks like we’re squeezing clementines over our limpets, but that bright orange citrus in the photo is actually a lemon!
This popular appetizer or bar snack features the common north Atlantic shellfish limpets grilled in butter and garlic and served with a generous squeeze of lemon.
As Jenny put it, “It tastes like what the beach in Ireland smells like.” Depending on your tastes, that might not be what you’re looking for in a seafood snack. I found them perfectly fine – briny and chewy – but not something I’d go out of my way to enjoy.
We also ate limpets in a tomatoey rice dish we sampled at Lagoa Azul Restaurant in Sete Cidades. I personally enjoyed the limpets’ pungent flavor a lot more when they were used as an ingredient rather than eating them individually.
This open-faced sandwich is a spin off the Portuguese Francesinha sandwich. The Azores version consists of beef, sausage, and ham served on top of bolo levedo bread then smothered in cheese and sent swimming in Francesinha sauce – a thin spicy tomato and beer sauce.
Even if you’re a meat lover, this sandwich is a lot. One (okay, half of one) was more than enough for me!
Chouriço à Bombeiro & Linguiça
I think it was Anthony Bourdain who said if you really want to understand a place, you need to see how they prepare pork. While these Portuguese sausages can be enjoyed on Portugal’s mainland as well as the Azores, they’re too tasty to omit from a list of the Azores best food.
You’ll often find these pork sausages served as an appetizer and featured in cozido das Furnas. Chouriço à Bombeiro is especially fun because it’s served on a crockery dish filled with a small amount of grain alcohol which is then lit on fire so the sausage roasts in front of you at the table!
If you’re lucky enough to enjoy epic breakfast buffets at your Azores hotels like we did, you’ll probably notice several regional breads on the buffet line.
Bakery lovers will have a heyday in the Azores. It seems like almost every island, if not town, in the Azores has its own specialty pastry. These pastries all pair well with an espresso or cup of tea, so go ahead and indulge in the Azorean tradition of a mid-morning coffee break. You deserve it!
Rissois de Camarao
These small creamy, shrimp filled pastries are a popular appetizer on the Azores as well as mainland Portugal.
Fofas da Povoação
Hailing from the Sao Miguel town of Vila da Povoação, these fennel flavored pastries look like eclairs, complete with a creamy filling and chocolate frosting.
Dona Amelia tarts
These sweet, sticky corn cakes flavored with warm spices and raisins originated on Terceira Island. The recipe was adapted in 1901 to showcase the Azores’ cereal crops for the visit of the last Portuguese king and queen, D. Carlos and D. Amelia. It’s said that Queen Amelia liked the cakes so much that they became known by her name.
Pasteis de Nata (Custard tarts)
Another treat that originated in mainland Portugal, these small custard tarts were everywhere in the Azores. And for good reason; they’re truly simple and delicious! Monks developed these tarts to use up excess egg yolks.
Queijadas De Vila Franca Do Campo
These little cakes are another sweet treat that come compliments of a Catholic monastery. The nuns of St. Andrew’s Convent in Vila Franca Do Campo developed these custard cakes which use fresh cheese. When you’re in the actual town of Vila Franca Do Campo on Sao Miguel Island, you might see these cakes referred to as “Queijadas Do Morgado.”
One Azores pastry I didn’t notice on the islands? Malasadas! While many of us associate these filled donuts with Hawaii, they were actually brought to the Pacific by Azoreans who came to work the Hawaiian sugar fields.
Other Azores foods to try
Mel dos Azores
People started keeping bees on the Azores almost as soon as they arrived from mainland Portugal in the 16th century. Since so many varied crops grow on the Azores, bees can collect nectar from wild flowers, tropical fruit blossoms, and especially pittosporum trees. The end result is dark, very sweet honey with a truly unique flavor.
This roasted pineapple served ala mode is a delicious Azores dessert.
Don’t miss your chance to sample local cheese during your time on the Azores. The most commonly served local cheeses are Sao Jorge cheese and a soft, salty fresh cheese often paired with a red pepper sauce. Another soft creamy cheese to try is Omorro Amanteigado which comes from Faial Island.
Azores Food Tour
If you want to experience the best of Azores food and drink, I definitely recommend checking out the Hungry Whales Azores Wine and Food Evening Walking Tour in Ponta Delgada. This 3-hour tour takes you through the city’s historic center and works a bit like a progressive dinner.
Along the way we sampled five wines as well as a beer and got to try so many traditional Azores and Portuguese foods including octopus, Rissois de Camarao, and pineapple ala mode. We even got a table at the popular A Tasca restaurant (located in a 16th century prison!) which is celebrated for its traditional Azores cuisine.
We loved our engaging and informative guide and walked away from the experience not only with full bellies but also deeper understanding of the islands’ history and culture. If you’re a food lover visiting the Azores, check it out!
Dining at the multi-level dining room at Atlantico in Vila Franca do Campo.
Our Favorite Azores Restaurants
Verde Maca Cafe – Angra do Heroismo: This ingredient-forward cafe is a particularly good spot to grab brunch.
Tasca Das Tias – Angra do Heroismo: Located in the historic center of Angra do Heroismo, check out Tasca Das Tias for seafood and other typical Azorean cuisine.
Lagoa Azul – Sete Cidades: A lunchtime buffet restaurant, Lagoa Azul specializes in traditional Azores dishes. While there’s no guarantee what will be served each day, it’s a good option if you’re looking to try some foods that are less popular with tourists such as eels or limpets.
Atlantico – Vila Franco do Campo: We had our best meal of the trip here. Both their seafood and steak offerings were amazing and I enjoyed a beautiful platter of sushi.
A Tasca – Ponta Delgada: Another great option for sampling traditional Azores food. The restaurant is located in a 16th century prison.
Restaurante Tony’s – Furnas: You’ll find the traditional cozido das Furnas at pretty much every restaurant in Furnas at lunch time. We had an excellent experience at Restaurante Tony’s.