Is there any good food in the Azores?
This summer we are heading off to Portugal (we supported the Greek economy last year, so this time we figured we would "help" another country). First we will be a week in Lisbon, and I see that there are plenty of posts on food there. Afterwards we head off to the Azores and will be doing some island-hopping. We are pre-warned from guidebooks that we should turn our culinary expectations way-down. This seems to be supported here as there is one (1) post that comes up with a search on "Azores" and it is not related to food on the islands.
If anybody has any experiences and/or ideas, would be very happy to hear about them. We are travelling around, so it does not really matter where on the islands.
If you don't get any responses here, check out the Anthony Bourdain episode on the Azores. It looked pretty good to me!
I found "The Wine & Food Lover's Guide to Portugal" by Charles Metcalfe & Kathryn McWhirter to be quite useful for food on the mainland, and it has a chaper on the Azores.
Hello Viking! I was wondering if you have already been on your trip? I am originally from Fall River, MA and my family is from the Azores. I went for the first time two years ago and enjoyed the food quite a bit. If you have not already gone on your trip, please reply and I will give you some restaurant names. Most memorable is Alabote in Ribeira Grande on Sao Miguel. Also http://www.aasm-cua.com.pt/defRest.asp in the village of Santana (on the way to Ribeira Grande from Ponta Delgada).
If going to Las Açores, I’d strongly suggest going to more than one island or city. IMHO, Ilha dasFlores is, by far, the prettiest (and most western) of the islands. The principle city is Santa Cruz which is on the eastern side of the island. The best food and accommodations can be found at the Hotel Ocidental (one C) which is within easy walking distance of the airport which is itself built right into the city. The hotel is owned by a local fisherman who brings the best of his daily catch to his own hotel kitchen. The food is typically Portuguese, meaning simple, substantial and tasty.
In Ponta Delgada on Ilha de São Miguel, the best hotel is the Hotel Atlantico which has an excellent restaurant. There are numerous other excellent restaurants; just ask at your hotel. I found the people at the front dest at the Hotel Atlantico to be extremely helpful and knowledgable. By the way, the Atlantico is where the President of Portugal always stays when he visits the island on his annual tour of Açores.
On Ilha Terceira, there are many excellent restaurants. I found a particularly good one in the little seaside town of São Mateus da Calheta just west of Angra do Heroismo, but there are many others.
Ilha do Faial attracts numerous yachts from all over the world and has some really good but somewhat pricy restaurants.
The short answer to your question is a simple YES. There is a lot of excellent food in Açores, and I found it relatively easy to find by just asking around. Don’t expect a lot of fancy, elaborately prepared food, but the seafood, in particular, is terrific. Most of the beef that is raised in Las Açores is shipped to the mainland because it is known to absolutely free of any possibility of “Mad Cow Disease.” (No beef of any kind is allowed to be brought to the islands from outside.) Go down to the docks in Horta to see the catch being taken off the boats to the adjacent fish market from where it goes directly to the restaurants and onto the tables in a matter of just a few hours. That’s as fresh as you’ll ever find anywhere. Wherever you go, you'll love those islands. The people are friendly but reserved. English can be a bit of a problem.