Read this guide if you want the inside scoop on the best Ponta Delgada restaurants and what to eat when you’re there. And don’t worry, we also provide restaurant recommendations for the rest of São Miguel Island for when you’re out exploring, hiking or visiting lakes or hot springs and get hungry.
Most São Miguel restaurants are in Ponta Delgada, which is why we suggest staying at least a couple days in Ponta Delgada unless you really want to disconnect from folks. But if you’re out for a hike or hot spring visit, we provide restaurant recommendations across the rest of São Miguel Island, in addition to the best Ponta Delgada restaurants. We’ll also provide a list of tips for each meal (like most Ponta Delgada restaurants are closed on Sundays) and must try dishes at the end of this guide.
If you want more details than what’s provided below, check out the Travel Honey Sao Miguel 7 day itinerary, map and regional guide. The regional guide has everything to eat, do and see in each part of Sao Miguel while the detailed Sao Miguel itinerary shows our favorite way to spend 7 days on the island and includes an interactive Google Map (including all the restaurants). And in case you need help with accommodation, we’ve also put together the Sao Miguel Hotel and Lodging Guide where we reviewed 35+ accommodations on the island. We’re also happy to plan your trip to discover the Azores and offer tons of free Azores advice here!
Ponta Delgada is the largest city in the Azores and home to the majority of the restaurants on São Miguel Island. Although there are a few high rise hotels and apartment buildings, most of Ponta Delgada’s streets are lined with charming, historic 2-3 floor buildings. You’ll also find the most variety and innovation at Ponta Delgada restaurants, so if you want to try different culinary styles, save your traditional Portuguese meals for when you eat outside Ponta Delgada.
The main square in Ponta Delgada is around Igreja Matriz De São Sebastião (the big church, you can’t miss it!). Everything is walkable from the church. Just to the south of the church is the harbor, where you’ll get wonderful views. TIP: The restaurants near the harbor tend to not be as high quality and are the most touristy. So grab a drink by the water then head into the city for a tasty dinner. Just don’t be surprised when restaurants and bars are empty early, pre-dinner drinks aren’t really a thing. You’ll find more people out and about at 11pm than at 7pm. You’ll also find Ponta Delgada restaurants the busy at 9pm, and later on Saturdays.
Below is a list of tasty Ponta Delgada restaurants – some are good for snack or drink before dinner while others we recommend as a meal. Except for the places we suggest for lunch or a snack, you’ll need to make reservations if it’s a weekend or if it’s the summer.
WEST COAST OF SÃO MIGUEL – SETE CIDADES & MOSTEIROS RESTAURANTS
If you’re visiting São Miguel Island for the first time, seeing Sete Cidades (the green and blue side-by-side crater lakes) is a must. Sete Cidades is also the name of the town where the lakes are located. Sete Cidades restaurants largely cater to tourists so try Mosteiros to get more off-the-beaten-path. You’ll also be rewarded to beautiful views on your drive to Mosteiros.
NORTH COAST OF SÃO MIGUEL – RIBEIRA GRANDE RESTAURANTS
These restaurants are north of Ponta Delgada, including in Ribeira Grande, which is on the north coast and is a smaller version of Ponta Delgada. Although Ribeira Grande is the second largest city on São Miguel it has a lot fewer restaurants and most serve more traditional Portuguese food compared to Ponta Delgada restaurants. But along north coast of São Miguel, you’ll find some of the best restaurants in São Miguel.
Furnas is charming town about a 45 minute drive east of Ponta Delgada. It’s known for its hot springs and strikingly green crater lake. If you’re going to São Miguel Island for more than two nights, spend one night in Furnas. Stay at one of the two awesome design inspired hotels; they each have one of São Miguel’s top restaurants.
SOUTHEAST COAST OF SÃO MIGUEL – CALOURA, VILA FRANCA & POVACÃO RESTAURANTS
Caloura has the best weather on the island and has a great outdoor restaurant option. Vila Franca and Lagoa along the South Coast are a good option if you want to stop for lunch if you’re taking the long way back from Furnas.
Most São Miguel hotels, especially the nicer ones, include a breakfast with your stay (but most smaller hotels usually don’t start serving breakfast until 8 or 8:30am). Look for bolo lêvedo, a round english muffin-shaped sweet bread that is out of this world – toast it and put jam and butter on it if you can.
It’s harder to find a restaurant in Ponta Delgada (and all of São Miguel) that has a sit down breakfast. Instead, visit one of the many awsome Portuguese bakeries. Order a cafe (they’ll bring an espresso unless you specify otherwise) and just point to the tasty treats you want to try. If you can’t find a bakery, many bars (also called “snack bars”) offer coffee in the morning and get baked goods fresh from the local bakery. The selection is smaller but they often have outdoor seating so you can sit and watch the locals start their mornings.
Be prepared for the fact that to-go coffee is not as popular as it is in the U.S.. One of the few places is Natur, a frozen yogurt shop in Ponta Delgada, they have both coffee and tea to-go.
Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and dinner at São Miguel restaurants are later than in the U.S. They’re the busiest around 2pm and 9pm. You need to make reservations for most Ponta Delgada restaurants we’ve listed and some of the other popular ones if it’s the summer or a weekend all year round. Some answer email, but your best bet is to call. If you’re in the U.S., pay for a small credit on Skype and you can call cheaply. But be prepared to call a few times, restaurants often don’t answer their phones, especially if they’re busy.
Restaurants don’t overbook though, so if there are no reservations, try walking in a bit later and they may have a table. Most restaurants are closed on Sunday so make sure you make reservations that night at a restaurant that’s open.
Like at many European restaurants, meals are not a rushed affair. The helicopter waiters just don’t exist and service at São Miguel restaurants is not usually a priority. You’ll have to flag down your waiter to order another bottle of wine and you’ll never get a check brought to you without asking. Ever. But at some of the nicer Ponta Delgada restaurants, they are trying to work on service, but it’s a work in progress. So our advice is to learn to enjoy the slower pace and don’t be afraid to politely waive your hand and make a request.
We’re not usually fans of the buffet, but they’re popular with locals and a good way to try a variety of local dishes. A restaurant with a buffet may be your best option if you’re outside Ponta Delgada, Furnas or Ribeira Grande.
You’ll almost always find seafood and steak at restaurants. Although there are exceptions, restaurants seem to cook steaks more rare than in the U.S., so if you like it cooked a certain way, show a picture. It’s the opposite for Tuna steaks, especially more traditional restaurants have not mastered the rare tuna. Vegetarian options are limited and salads, with a few exceptions, are pretty basic. Bread is usually extra but it’s usually cheap and homemade. There are more cows than people, so the butter and cheese is awesome.
We hope you’re now equipped to choose amongst the best Ponta Delgada restaurants and find good options on the rest of São Miguel island. Don’t forget to check out the Travel Honey Sao Miguel 7 day itinerary, map and regional guide if you want details on all the Sao Miguel restaurants and are keen to see the Sao Miguel restaurants on a Google Map! So chow down and bom apetite! 🌽
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