Given the Canaries reputation as a party paradise you could be forgiven for thinking that Tenerife is all about fried eggs and French fries. There is however, a traditional Canarian cuisine lurking behind the Brit-style pubs, fast-food joints and international eateries serving up Chinese to Italian and everything in between. You just need to know what you’re looking for…
Local dishes are rich in fresh fish and vegetables and a good way of sampling these is by opting for a ‘menu del día’ or ‘plato del día’ when you order. This is also a very wallet friendly way to eat out – just try and hunt out where the locals are dining (a sure sign the food is good and the prices are fair). Alternatively, mix and match from the à la carte menus and look out for the following:
Papas Arrugadas: ‘Wrinkly’, salted potatoes with a red or green mojo sauce. A total classic in Canarian cuisine and if you only try one local dish, make it this.
Mojo Sauce: Worth a mention of its own since there are over 20 different varieties of this sauce which appear on many a chefs menu. The red is made with chilli and cumin while the green is based on parsley and coriander.
Gofio: A roasted wheat or maize creation that forms part of many Canarian dishes (including bread and ice cream to name just two).
Fish: As an island this has to be one of the more expected local delicacies. Sancocho Canario, sea bass with potatoes and spicy sauce, is one of the dishes well worth looking out for.
Conejo en Salmorejo: Marinated rabbit.
Puchero Canario: A hearty stew with chickpeas, meat and potatoes forming the main ingredients.
Bienmesabes: A great name (translating as ‘good-I-think’) and worth seeking out. These mini honey and almond cakes are a delight for the taste buds and a nice way to round of any meal.
Of course, if you want to gen up of the local, fresh produce it never hurts to hunt out a local market and Tenerife hotels and accommodation normally have information on local markets in their area displayed – so make sure you check it out. As for restaurants there are a number worth keeping your eyes open for. Irache Gara is located up in the hills of Vera de Erques near Guia se Isora and serves traditional fare in a rustic setting. Come on Sunday and you’ll also be entertained with some Canarian folk songs as a band sings – adding even more authenticity to the whole experience. Meat eaters will be in their element here, and if you like your meals large opt for the T bone steak!
For another memorable setting El Monesterio is worth looking into. This former monastery is blessed with a gorgeous setting overlooking Los Realejos. There are five places within the Comedor Principal where you can eat: the Confessionary, the Cave Room, the Bodega or the two terrace restaurants. The food focuses on traditional dishes as well as some international options – and even a roast suckling pig. Other buildings within the complex are used for wedding parties – making the most of the setting and food this special venue brings to the table.
Given the gorgeous Tenerife weather, outside venues are a perfect way to dine (assuming you’ve got some suitably positioned shade under which to position yourself). The courtyard restaurant of Sabor Canario in La Orotava fits the bill nicely – traditional Canarian cuisine with an outdoorsy feel. An ideal place in which to sit down and tuck into Tenerife…
For more information head to My Destination Tenerife.