Tenerife Food Experience
...Capturing the Flavour of the Canarian Culinary

This article of Tenerife Food Experience is our umpteenth article talking about cuisine in the island. You won’t find the other articles on the web, simply because the majority weren’t published. Initially I described in various sections all of the dishes and typical food that you can find in almost any restaurant which serves Canary Island food, but that is just a list which you can easily find in any recipe book … So we deleted that contribution :):)

Instead, we started to consider what it is that we would always like to find on our holidays (gastronomically speaking) and how to combine it with our visits … So, after many errors, as almost always happens, this article emerged that we hope will be useful for you, you will like and will savour.

When we speak of ‘Tenerife food experience’ cuisine I think about delicious dishes that I would want every visitor to be able to taste with the same flavour and passion that my family did.

… and for Fabio and my Father, a nice barbecue is always an option. You can find many different cuts of meat, typical from the Canaries, Brazil and other places around the world. So, with quality meat the barbecue will make you feel at home.

Tenerife Travel Secret

When I say Tenerife, this is also extendable to all Canary Islands, but of course, since I was raised in Tenerife it is easy to reference them as this island only… but I know that the other islands also have many other delicious flavours, that would be difficult to mention in one article only. Some of the dishes and flavours of our Tenerife Food Experience might have origin in any of the other islands, but we also had the luck to taste them while living in Tenerife, and vice-versa.


Tenerife Food Experience: According to the Season in Which You Visit Tenerife

If you go in the summer then it is definitely not the appropriate time to eat the following dish … a good stew of potato, corn and ribs (guiso de papas, piñas y costillas). I always complain about the bad coincidence about the harvest period of the corns and potatoes, and the time of year when they meet :):). It is an extremely tasty a dish as any, but if you can, eat it at midday and perhaps after having been on an outing as it should give you your strength back.

Pilgrimages and ‘Bailes de Magos’ (local dances and parties) are a good time to enjoy authentic Tenerife Food Experience and Canary Island cuisine, even when made by individual families. To enjoy something like that you have to be in Tenerife mainly between May and August. At pilgrimages, stewed potatoes, boiled eggs and lupins (pulses), (in the islands called papas guisadas, huevos duros, y altramuces / chochos) are on offer for tourists to enjoy. Go on and ask for a glass of one (or more :) ) of the delicious local wines, something which is never lacking at these festivities. Eat some lovely rabbit in Salmorejo sauce (conejo en salmorejo), kneaded gofio with banana (gofio amasado con plátano), and a ‘frangoyo’ for dessert. There is no way you won’t enjoy it and you’ll feel even more like a Canary Islander with all of that in your stomach :)

Tenerife Travel Secret

Gofio is a kind of flour made from roasted grains, more commonly maize and wheat, of very high nutritive value. You can eat mixing with soups, milk or fruit. Gofio used to be the main staple of the diet of the former inhabitants of the islands called Guanches. My favourite is "ball of gofio" kneaded with banana, but will also add raisins, sugar, water, ...

In winter, because even though you can go to the beach the temperature is chillier than in summer, the time comes to enjoy certain dishes which require a spoon. If you are in the north (which is where ‘winter’ is more noticeable) I would recommend a good puchero Canario, escaldón (stew with gofio), a watercress stew (potaje de berros), ropa vieja (meat, potatoes and chickpea) or any dish with vegetables as chickpea soup (garbanzas), beans, lentils,... accompanied by a nice wine from one of the designations of origin which there are on the island.

During the season of ‘guachinches’ (makeshift local restaurants) – generally from November to May – it is another opportunity to enjoy Canary Island cuisine in a Tenerife Food Experience. Each year these popular establishments open to sell wine which they have produced that year. To be able to sell the wine they serve it with extremely inexpensive quality and tasty food prepared in a homely way, although to be exceptional Tenerife restaurants they cannot serve desserts and other alcoholic drinks.

Tenerife Travel Secret

The Guachinches are perhaps the cheapest and most authentic option that will have for a nice Tenerife Food Experience. They are only open four months a year, and their food and wine are particularly tasty.

Ask for baked cheese with red or green sauce (queso asado con mojo rojo or verde), fried ribs with chips (costillas fritas con papas fritas), mixed scrambled eggs (revueltos), croquettes and, if you’re lucky, diced potatoes and carrots salad (ensaladilla). Don’t forget that you can visit any of the best wine cellars on the island during your Tenerife Food Experience, some of which have lively programmes and activities.

Tenerife Food Experience by Location

If you are in Los Cristianos or Las Galletas you will be able to find the best freshly-caught fish dishes. Vieja con papas arrugadas or cherne is a very tasty salty fish dish with stewed potatoes and green mojo (with coriander). During my Tenerife Food Experience I also wouldn’t miss out on eating some fried ‘chicharros’ or horse-mackerel, which is thus on the island of the ‘chicharreros’ (that’s what the residents of the capital are known as, although generally speaking it extends to everyone from Tenerife) with stewed potatoes and red or spicy (picón) mojo. I forgot … I also wouldn’t miss out on eating some cuttlefish with green mojo (chocos con mojo verde) – delicious!

If what you want is a good chunk of meat we think that the areas of La Matanza, La Victoria and Santa Úrsula (north) have the best restaurants on the island, in terms of price and contact with locals.

If you want to savour a drink and some finger food, an island like Tenerife with so many kilometres of coast and colourful, relaxing sunsets, hides (or doesn’t) beautiful pubs and bars for chilling out where you can enjoy a nice cocktail, company and music. Try Sunset 290 in Villa de La Orotoava or Monkey Beach in Playa de las Américas. Of course, this is more for a Tenerife Drink Experience article… but here you have already a glimpse :).

Wherever you are on the island, after (or while) playing sport or doing an outdoor activity don’t forget to eat the best fruit to recover your lost energy: bananas, which in Tenerife are usually small and have dark marks on the skin. They may not look very appetising, but you will be rewarded when you take the first bite :):). As well as bananas, the variety of common and tropical fruit is wide, and so that you don’t miss any of them pop into the Mercado Municipal Nuestra Señora de África (Municipal Market) in Santa Cruz. You won’t see that much colour in so few boxes very often.

Tenerife Travel Secret

Banana is the emblematic fruit of the Canary Islands. The Canary version is small with black spots on its shell, but that sometimes unappetizing appearance is easily overcome with its sweet flavor that invites to eat bananas at all hours. With high level of potassium, is the best fruit you can eat after your physical exercise to recover your energies. When in Canary Islands don’t miss the opportunity to try the famous Plátano de Canarias.

Types of Tenerife Restaurants and Budget for your Tenerife Food Experience

I talked before about the ‘guachinches’, and in this section we refer to them because of how economical they can turn out to be. As I already mentioned, they are usually open from November to May. The food is simple and always comes accompanied by wine of the latest vintage. Imagine how cheap it can be, when at some of them you can eat until you’re full for less than €10 per person. The advantage is not just the price, but also the dress code, as you can go dressed however you want. That's why this is one of the Secrets we highlight.

In the north of the island, in Palmar close to Buenavista del Norte, is located the well-known restaurant El Palmar. The place is famous for the delicious dishes at very low prices. Don’t miss the famed pollo a la brasa (grilled chicken).

If you have an intermediate budget, without doubt we would recommend the restaurants which you can find at any time of year (except when they are closed because of holidays or on Mondays – the normal day when Tenerife restaurants are closed). In the touristy areas (Puerto de la Cruz, Los Cristianos, Las Américas) the majority of restaurants will always be open. Like anywhere you will be able to find food of all types: Italian, Asian, Spanish, South American, fast food, Greek, etc. In the area between Santa Úrsula and Santa Cruz you will find many Tenerife restaurants where the average price is €15 per person. One of my favourite restaurants in Tenerife, I know since I was a child and that improve their menu options often, is Casa Matias in La Orotava (which serves traditional Canary Island food); these kind of places don’t usually require formal dress.

If you can afford a slightly higher budget, the offering is also wide and varied. I’m thinking particularly of El Monasterio in Los Realejos (European food and typical German desserts), at around €20 or €25 per person. These places generally require men to wear long trousers.

Those who have a large budget available to them are also in luck if they want to enjoy a unique culinary experience. For Asian food I would without doubt go to The Oriental at the Hotel Botánico in Puerto de la Cruz, and El Jardín at Royal Garden Villas, offering a wide menu of international dishes. The prices are more than €30 per person. These restaurants require formal dress, so you can make the most of it and celebrate something special in an unrivalled environment.

Final Comments from the Authors

Writing this article has been one of the most gratifying that I have done, not only because I’m sharing some details of our beautiful islands with our readers, but because talking about food is always a pleasure :) We hope that you have the opportunity to taste at least two or three dishes which we’ve mentioned and let us know your thoughts about Tenerife Food Experience.

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