Santa Maria Food: 10+ Regional Dishes to Look Out For

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Last updated on June 14, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

Santa Maria, the southernmost island in the Azores archipelago, boasts an incredibly diverse gastronomy steeped in local tradition and unique flavours. This culinary richness reflects the island’s fertile land, abundant sea and the resourcefulness of its inhabitants. From heart-warming soups and robust stews to sweet desserts and distinctive wines, Santa Maria’s food scene offers a tantalising array of flavours to savour.

Finding these foods on Santa Maria is, unfortunately, very challenging. While plenty of restaurants serve traditional Portuguese food or locally-caught seafood or meat-based dishes, it can be hard to find restaurants that serve these traditional dishes.

Seafood Delights

  • Sopa de Peixe: A hearty fish soup, making full use of the abundant local marine life, including bluefish bream, amberjack, conger eels, stone bass, grouper, mackerel, snapper, and anchovies.
  • Caldeirada de Peixe: A mixture of fish or seafood stewed in a flavourful broth, a staple of the local cuisine.

Hearty Dishes and Local Specialties

  • Caçoila: A thick meat stew cooked in a traditional ceramic pot, a significant feature of the local cuisine.
  • Molho de Figado: A savoury liver stew or sauce, another prominent element of Santa Maria’s cuisine.
  • Alheiras de Santa Maria: Hand-made local sausages, showcasing the island’s knack for charcuterie.
  • Caldo de Nabos de Santa Maria: A turnip soup, reflecting the use of the island’s fertile land and its bountiful harvest of fresh produce.


Santa Maria has a number of regional biscuits, most famously the Biscoitos de Orelha, which are shaped to look like ears. However, these are far from the only local biscuits.

Others include:

  • Biscoitos de cerveja
  • Júlias
  • Dedos da Dama
  • Encanelados Fósseis Doces
  • Roletes
  • Biscoitos de aguardente

These are produced by A Cagarrita and sold in Continente or at the Handicraft Cooperative Santa Maria in Santo Espirito.

Cavacas are also sold in various locations on the island, including the Handicraft Cooperative Santa Maria in Santo Espirito.

Cheese and Wine

  • Local Cheeses: Queijaria de Santa Maria produces some cheeses, including a cured sheep’s milk cheese. This is quite a smaller level of production than on the other Azores islands, particularly São Jorge.
  • Aguardente: Portuguese brandy. This is made throughout Portugal.
  • Vinho de Cheiro: A fragrant, light-bodied wine that’s typically consumed young, a perfect accompaniment to the island’s bold, flavourful dishes​. This wine is typically only produced for personal use, so it can be hard to find a bottle for sale.

Local Produce

  • Meloa: A type of melon known for its sweet and juicy taste, often enjoyed as a refreshing dessert or snack during the island’s warm summer months​. You can usually find it between July and September.

Local Brew

  • Cerveja A Nossa: An American IPA produced in Santa Maria. It has a clear colour with dense foam, and offers a citric, floral aroma with a hint of malted sweetness​. You can buy this beer in some of the local supermarkets, including the Pingo Doce, as well as at A Travessa in Vila do Porto.
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