Seafood on the island of Sao Miguel is by far the most popular cuisine with both locals and tourists, due to the outstanding variety and freshness, often caught fresh daily. A lot of local fishermen go out daily and sell there catches directly to the local restaurants and fish markets upon there return to land. The Azorean waters are located in the North Atlantic ocean which allows a wide variety of fish, lobsters, crabs, shrimp, etc to be responsibly fished here. There are some local delicacies that are a staple and worth a try when on the island. They are prepared grilled with butter and lemon and are served at 75% of the restaurants, not only on Sao Miguel but on all of the 9 Azores islands. They are called Lapas and are best when they are caught big, which makes them extra tender. Most restaurants will have their daily fish specials on the menu board out front of the restaurant or your server will let you know when taking your drink order what is recommended and fresh. The majority of restaurants and hotels have incorporated the regional dishes and have added some unique cultural flairs that have enhanced and utilized many fish that otherwise would not have been generally fished, including some very light whitefish. The meat in the Azores is something that is truly special as well and worth tasting if you are still a carnivore. The cows in the Azores which are grass feed and spend their days grazing in small local pastures where the organic method of farming is still predominant. The love for the cows on the island by farmers ensures the happiest, healthiest cows as the treatment of cows here in the Azores are of the highest standards. The island is filled with many local butchers that can help you find any cut of meat you require, perfect for BBQing on one of the dozens of outdoor, free bbq pits that exist throughout the island. This is truly a locals thing to do and many tourists love going to the butcher and getting some burgers and steaks with all the trimmings and setting up a picnic at one of the unique wood or coal bbq pits that surround the island. These bbq pits are usually in locations with outstanding views, which are perfect for making memories in unique, majestic locales. This is highly recommended for a truly traditional, Azorean experience. The restaurants in the Azores have many local, unique menu items while adding local ingredients to enhance traditional dishes. Above we have the grass-fed steak with a passionfruit sauce, which utilizes the best the region has to offer. As an entrée it is wise to try the local cuisine while visiting and if high quality, grass-fed, organic cut of beef is what you are looking for then your in luck here on Sao Miguel. The majority of the cows in the Azores are grass-fed and can graze on the green pastures at will, which allows them to live stress-free, happy lives, ensuring high-quality beef and dairy. The flourishing fruit and vegetable market in the Azores has become increasingly widespread now that production quotas have been increased on the island. The Azores is a bountiful and fertile group of islands, with a unique climate pattern and ample amounts of rain throughout the year that allows many unique and exotic plants and fruit trees to thrive here. Everyone in the Azores has a garden in their backyard and a large majority of the population is still very agriculturally based, where farming is a pre-dominant means of work while providing many healthy fruits and vegetables for regional consumption and export. The Azores are famous for their unique pineapples, which are grown in greenhouses, and is one of the few places in the world this is done. This is an iconic symbol of the Azores and it is seldom that you hear about someone visiting the Azores without trying a local pineapple, as they are just that good. The passion fruit is a symbolic fruit as well in the Azores and everyone always wants to get their hands on a local grown Passionfruit when visiting these exotic group of islands in the mid-Atlantic. This is a must if you are visiting the island whether in fruit form or juice. Here on Sao Miguel, there are small fruit and vegetable markets in every village on the island, that have a wide variety of locally grown fruits, including the famous but expensive passion fruit.
Another unique thing in the Azores is the abundance of fruit trucks! Every morning on a different part of the island the trucks will be circulating, while ringing their bells with large carriages filled with fruits and vegetables for sale. Here you just wave them down, since they are driving slowly and let them know what you want or ask for their recommendation on what is in season. They are known to be very helpful and friendly and everything is weighed out right in front of you, and you are even given a receipt if needed. This has been going on in the Azores, most notably on Sao Miguel island for centuries, and is one that locals and tourists still love. It brings the best of the island right to your front door while preserving a centuries-old tradition. Make sure when you visit the islands that you go to the local fruit market and ensure you are buying the local fruit or vegetables, which goes without saying supports the local farmers. Of course, no trip to Portugal, especially the Azores would be complete without the traditional bread and cheese that are produced on the islands. These are dairy and gluten lovers dream with fresh warm Portuguese buns baked fresh nightly and then delivered to the local homes and stores before sunrise daily. There are many choices when it comes to bread in the Azores with sweetbreads, cornbreads and flour-dusted rolls all available and baked fresh nightly. These go perfectly with the outstanding variety of cheeses and Portuguese chorizo “spicy sausage” that are produced here in the Azores. If your mouth is starting to water then make sure to try the local goat’s cheese with spiced red pepper paste at your next Azorean dining experience; served of course with Portuguese bread. Another popular cheese is the Sao Jorge cheese which is produced on the island of Sao Jorge in the Azores. This is more of a tangy, spiced cheese comparable to an English stilton and is a personal favorite of most islanders and is even incorporated in many local dishes.