São Miguel off-season – where to eat & drink?

1. Café Central, Ponta Delgada

If you arrive to Ponta Delgada and you are heading to the center, most likely this will be the first place you would consider to give a try. Like everyone else, as it looks cool, cozy, very European, with a large terrace with an amazing view on the beautiful Church of São Sebastião. Exactly for this reason I wanted to avoid the place, as usual, I was looking for something more local, authentic and less obvious… 😉. But due to the fact that we have traveled to the island out of season, we needed to face the fact, that there are not that many choices of restaurants, nor bars to choose out from, and if you want to avoid visiting the same places several times after a while – meaning: in less than 2 days – you finish your list, likewise we did, and finally ended up at Café Central.

We arrived here quite late, and I was just in a desperate need of a sopa do dia (soup of the day), as the most convenient choice after a long and colder day. By that time we were already used to the fact that the choices are limited on the island in terms of the food, restaurants are closing the kitchens quite early, so I was very surprised when the waiter on this late hour offered not only the daily soup but their own fish soup was still available too. So we tried it, and no question it was the best – the richest, full of tasty seafood and rice – fish soup we tasted on the island during our whole stay. That good that even on our last day we decided to eat our last lunch there, and of course we chose again their fish soup. Highly recommended, even already on your first day! 😉

They are located in the heart of the old city, and right next to it you can find the simple but cozy Bar Trianon, which terrace also has a great view on the main square, so it’s just a perfect spot to enjoy your well-deserved gin&tonic with a view and observe the almost non-existing night life of Ponta Delgada during off-season.

Fish soup at Café Central (+1 tip: order it with some garlic portuguese bread on the side 😋)

2. Chá Porto Formoso

If you wake up for a rainy, gloomy and cold day, the best choice is to stop buy at one of the tea plantations on the island. In Porto Formoso they are offering a tour guide combined with tea tasting, but if you are not interested you can just skip the tour and try their teas for a reasonable price. They also have some cookie selection, but we stayed only with our teas.

They are located on the north coast of the island in Porto Formoso and this territory, including São Bras too, is the only tea plantation area for production purposes in Europe.

“For a long time tea was only used as an ornamental plant, but in the year 1878, and on the initiative of the Micaelense Agricultural Promotion Society, two Chinese came to São Miguel to teach the production transformation of tea. The Porto Formoso Tea Factory, labored between the twenties and the eighties. In 2001 the present owners reopened the factory which was considered of interest for the Industrial Patrimony of the Region.”

Azores Home Blend tea with cinnamon

3. Á Terra Fornaria, Furnas

Well, this place is really high-end category, located in a boutique hotel in Furnas. The interior is beautiful, elegant but still cozy atmosphere, outstanding service, with open and great kitchen and as they define themselves ‘it’s more than a restaurant, it’s a new concept’.

“In the land of fire, we combine the products of the land with the sea, cooked in the wood oven.”

It was a big surprise for me too, as we came here to celebrate my birthday ❤️.

Fresh fish with steamed vegetables on the side 😋

4. Bar Palmeira, Furnas

My favorite bar on the whole island ❤️. Strong statement, isn’t it? Especially if you suddenly think about any of your favorite bars where usually you go, or the cool one you discovered on a travel or during your latest holidays… well this is something different.

Regardless its name, it has nothing to do with palm trees, fancy cocktails, posh interior – actually it’s on the contrary: the simplest, most authentic place, with the best vinho verde on tap, and a free pool table, where you enter and all the locals are greeting you, while they are watching the daily football game… something authentic, something with real character… – I don’t need to say more, that we returned 3 times here during 3 consecutive days.

I think only Café Juventude in Povoação could compete with this place. 😉

🌴
My favorite picture of this place 🐶☺️

5. Bar Caloura, in Caloura, close to Agua de Pau

A random choice, we were hungry, on the go, and we just decided to look for the closest restaurant nearby on Google maps. This is how we found Bar Calouraone of the best restaurants of the whole island – on a sunny day, when the temperature was warm enough to sit outside to enjoy their amazing terrace above Caloura bay and in the background listening the ocean waves.

Their menu is based on daily fresh sea food, with different fish species – outstanding taste and quality, open salad bar, and fresh local cheese selection. It’s excellent!!

Lunch with a view 🤩
Beautiful location – Caloura