• María Blanco

TOP 20 Best Restaurants in Tenerife

A Local Foodie’s Guide to Canarian Cuisine*

Are you a real foodie? Do you always want to try out local foods when you travel? Then this blogpost is the perfect guide for you when traveling to Tenerife. We will guide you through the most famous Canarian dishes, so that you know exactly what to order. You will also get a complete overview of the 20 best traditional Canarian restaurants, with a special section about traditional Canarian restaurants calledGuachinches.

Table of Contents

  1. Discover traditional Canarian food

  2. Famous dishes of Tenerife

  3. The 10 best restaurants in Tenerife

  4. Dine like a local in a Guachinche

  5. Fancy something more luxurious?

1. Discover traditional Canarian food Canarian cuisine is a blend of various cultures. It has a long history, starting with the eating habits of the island’s original inhabitants, mixed with the influences of the 20th century Canarian migrants who travelled between the Canary islands and Latin America. Its fertile volcanic soil and proximity of the ocean make Tenerife the perfect place to enjoy delicious traditional Canarian food.

2. Famous dishes of Tenerife The many bars, cafés and restaurants in Tenerife are a real treat for foodies. There is something for everyone, from fast-food restaurants to Michelin star restaurants with cuisines from all around the world. But if you want to try something typical Canarian, you cannot miss out on the following 17 dishes. 2.1 Mojo Verde, Mojo Rojo Mojo sauce is as traditional as it can get on the Canary Islands. It’s paired with just about everything. There are several versions of mojo sauce but the two most common types are mojo Rojo (made from red pepper and garlic) and mojo Verde (made from coriander and parsley). 2.2. Papas Arrugadas (Wrinkled potatoes) Potatoes, or “papas” as they are known in Spain, hold a special place in the local diet. These “wrinkled potatoes” are first boiled in sea salt water for around 30 minutes, before being roasted to wrinkle the skin and create a crusting of salt. The dish is usually served with mojo sauces. Even though potatoes are common almost everywhere in the world, here on the Canary islands they are famous for their rich flavour, thanks to the volcanic soil. Instead of choosing the usual “papas fritas”, you should definitely give these wrinkled potatoes a go while you’re in Tenerife. 2.3 Rancho Canario Rancho Canario is a tasteful thick noodle soup made with chicken, pork, chickpeas, vegetables and of course, potatoes. 2.4 Ropa Vieja Ropa Vieja is a very popular Cuban dish. The version in Tenerife is quite different, with chickpeas as the main ingredient. You can add leftover meat – sausages, beef, chicken – or you can use odd cuts of meat like trotters or ribs. The stew is well seasoned with different herbs and spices. This dish is typically served at family dinners and has many variations that inspire heated competition among restaurants. 2.5 Cochino negro You can find pork on every traditional Canarian menu, even though you see more goats on the island than pigs. People believe that before the conquistadors arrived on the Canary Islands, there were many pigs. The Canary Islands even have a special breed called cochino negro. Cochino negro is becoming increasingly popular on menus and it comes in various forms. 2.6 Carne Fiesta Canarias Carne Fiesta Canarias is one of the most famous Tenerife dishes. The pork is cut into small squares and marinated in a special sauce for a few hours. Then it’s put onto a skewer, mixed with vegetables and grilled. It’s deliciously served with pommes frites or papas arrugadas, the Canarian wrinkled potatoes. 2.7 Carne de cabra Goat is one of the must-try meats of the Canary Islands and you can find it on most traditional menus. There’s even a place on Fuerteventura where just about everything on the menu is goat (goat burgers, goat meatballs, goat lasagne). However, goat isn’t for everyone because the taste is much stronger than many other types of meat. It usually comes buried under a mountain of chips. 2.8 Cazuela de Pescado (fish casserole) Instead of eating paella, you should try cazuela de pescado. It is the perfect way to try local fish that is not fried or grilled. The type of fish and seafood used in cazuelas can vary but cherne is best. The meaty counterpart is called puchero. 2.9 Cherne Cherne is one of the most common fish in Tenerife. It is a large deep-water white fish. Cherne is often grilled, and is mildly flavored and meaty, making it a good fish to try even if seafood “isn’t really your thing”. 2.10 Conejo al salmorejo This rabbit stew with a lot of paprika is very popular in Tenerife. The rabbit meat is first marinated overnight in a sauce made of oil, wine, vinegar, paprika, chilli pepper, garlic, vinegar and herbs like rosemary and thyme. The next day, the meat is fried before being simmered with the sauce over low heat. 2.11 Baifo If you visit the Canary Islands at Christmas, there’s a high chance you’ll encounter Baifo, which is the name for a young goat. This dish is made from goat meat that was marinated in various herbs including oregano, bay leaves and thyme, as well as generous amounts of garlic. 2.12 Adobo de cerdo Ready for a taste of bacon? Adobo de cerdo is the shoulder of pork in a rich, spicy sauce. The sauce or ‘adobo’ is a tasty marinade of paprika, oregano, garlic, salt and some sherry vinegar. The slow cooked pork meat is so tender it falls off the bone. 2.13 Arroz a la Cubana Banana is the main crop in Tenerife and is one of the key ingredients in Arroz a la Cubana. This dish is allegedly borrowed from Cuba (although many Cubans are unaware of it). Essentially, it consists of rice, sausage and fried egg, along with one or two fried bananas. It is quick to make, healthy and delicious. 2.14 Gofio When talking to local foodies, you are likely to hear the term gofio often. It’s a legacy left by the Guanche people (the native inhabitants). Gofio is actually a type of flour made with toasted grains – most commonly from millio (sweet corn). Gofio is eaten throughout the islands. Hotels usually have a large bowl of gofio flour next to the cereals, so that people can sprinkle it on their cereal or eat it in milk. Restaurants use gofio in many dishes too. It’s often used in a dish called escaldón (gofio mixed with fish broth). Gofio is also very popular in desserts, such as gofio mousse, gofio ice cream and gofio chocolate. 2.15 Sancocho canario Fish is one of the most traditional dishes you can eat on the island of eternal spring. Sancocho Canario is a typical fish eaten on Good Friday. Sancocho usually means stew or thick soup, particularly in Latin America. But in the Canary Islands, the dish is presented without much gravy. This dish is made with preserved and salted fish. The fish has to be desalinated for 24 hours. After this, it is boiled on a low fire with potatoes and served with your favourite mojo sauce. 2.16 Queso de cabra (goat cheese) It is said that the residents on the Canary Islands consume more cheese per person per year than other parts of Spain. So if you are on the island, make sure to try a few local cheeses. ‘Fresco’ (fresh) goat cheese is the most common here. This type of cheese is only a few days old and has a soft taste. Cured and smoked cheeses are also very popular in Tenerife. They usually come from farms around Anaga. Some of the dairy farmers cover the cheese with pepper or Gofio. You can order them fresh, grilled (queso a la plancha) or fried (queso asado), accompanied by your preferred mojo sauce. 2.17 Bienmesabe What’s not to love about a dessert that is literally translated as “tastes good to me”? Dip your spoon into a bowl of Bienmesabe – a sweet, soft puree made with ground almonds, egg yolk, sugar, lemon zest and cinnamon – and enjoy. It is usually served with cream or ice cream.

3. The 10 best restaurants in Tenerife 3.1 Restaurante La Casona del Vino Do you want to eat like a real Canarian? Then you cannot miss out on Restaurante La Casona del Vino when visiting Tenerife. This remote restaurant is a well-kept secret amongst the locals of Tenerife. Tourists who discover this hidden gem are guaranteed to come back here! At first glance, the menu doesn’t seem special, with typical Canarian/Spanish dishes. However, it is the special blend of spices passed down from generation to generation that makes the dishes unique. 3.2 Taberna Marinera Agua y Sal The showpiece of Taberna Marinera Agua y Sal is fish, which is freshly caught every day. You can choose the fish you want to eat yourself from the large displays and from the fish tanks where live crabs and lobsters are kept. The restaurant has a large terrace. The fish tanks, the maritime decorations and the fresh sea breeze really let you enjoy the whole experience of dining in this small fishing village. The restaurant is very family friendly with a special area for children. While the children play to their heart’s content, parents can relax and enjoy delicious seafood and local wine. 3.3 Restaurante San Diego Don’t be fooled by the size of this restaurant. It may look small, but Restaurante San Diego has a large menu with something from everyone. 3.4 Restaurante Pedro/Casa Pedro Local wines, typical Canarian dishes, cosy setting and friendly staff. What more do you need? We recommend sitting on one of the tables in the front. They have a stunning ocean view. 3.5 La Tasquita de Mami La tasquita de Mami is a family run restaurant that serves authentic Canarian food with a modern twist. If you have a sweet tooth, you surely won’t be able to resist the desserts. We can recommend chocolate coulant, tarta de mami and the milhoja. 3.6 El Camino This cosy restaurant in Puerto de la Cruz is located on stairs leading down to the beach. The shared tapas are a perfect option if you are with friends or family. You get different small dishes, together with bread and the sauce of the day. The portions are quite generous, so you can easily share the tapas for three people with four. Finish your meal with a traditional barraquito, and your experience in this restaurant will definitely be one to remember. 3.7 Bodegón Mojo Picón If you are looking for typical Canarian food, freshly caught fish, papas arrugadas with a delicious mojo and a sweet wine, look no further. Bodegón Mojo Picón is the place to be for you. We can definitely recommend the stewed and fried octopus, paired with the Mojo Picón. High quality but low prices! 3.8 Restaurante La Pimienta This restaurant is a bit harder to find, but definitely worth the effort. Here, you can choose the fish and the preparation method yourself. A must try is the Frangolo, a typical Canarian dessert with ground millet flour as the main ingredient. It does not have a lot of sugar, so it is not very sweet, and it is usually served with a little honey or palm syrup. 3.9 La casa del Pescado Do you like fish? Then you should definitely stop here! This restaurant serves freshly caught fish every day. Make sure to leave some room for the dessert, seeing that they serve an irresistible milhoja here. 3.10 Tasca la Carambola This family run restaurant in El Sauzal is definitely worth a visit if you are in the neighbourhood. Be careful to not order too much because the portions are very big.

4. Dine like a local in a Guachinche What is a Guachinche? If you really want an authentic Canarian dinner experience, you have to go to a guachinche. Guachinches, pronounced as “wa-chin-chey” are local restaurants, often located in garages or lounges of a house (and sometimes even a garden shed). The tables don’t match, the chairs are rickety and if there is a tablecloth, it will be a paper one. There are no fancy interiors, you won’t find wonderful views from your window table – there may not even be windows in the room. But don’t be put off: guachinches are lively places where you can enjoy some good local food for incredibly cheap prices, and they are nearly always full of people. In fact, you may well be the only non-locals there. But as far as experiences on Tenerife go, they really don’t get more authentic than this. Typical dishes you can find include:

  • Carne fiesta (marinated chunks of pork),

  • Carne de cabra (goat),

  • Costillas con papas (pork ribs with boiled potatoes),

  • Conejo salmorejo (rabbit in a white wine sauce),

  • Papas con mojo (salted potatoes with the traditional Canarian red and green sauces) and

  • Puchero (a selection of boiled vegetables and chickpeas, usually prepared using meat stock).

Two pieces of advice for you: vegetarians will have very few options and portions are huge. Where can you find them? As the main purpose of guachinche is to sell wine, most of them can be found in or around the island’s most important wine-producing regions, which are almost all concentrated in the northern areas and include Tacoronte, La Orotava, El Sauzal, and Los Realejos. There are also a few in the Güímar region towards the south of the island. Legally, guachinches are only allowed to open for a few months a year. Their main purpose is to sell wine, so once the harvest has gone, and there is no wine left, in theory, they should close. This is “in theory” of course, because there is generally quite a generous amount of rule-bending that takes place in the canaries, and the guachinches are no different. Generally speaking, they are open from November until the wine runs out and then reopen again in April. The best Guachinches in Tenerife Now, the best way to truly experience a true authentic Guachinche is finding it on your own by following the random signs posted up in the trees and other obscure places, or by asking the locals for directions. As they say, the journey is just as important as the finish. Nonetheless, we’ve made an extensive list of our favorite places for you to try, and for even more Guachinches, take a look at the following 60 listed guachinches. 4.1 Guachinche Lomo Santo Guachinche Lomo Santa is located near Puerto de La Cruz and gives you an amazing view over the Atlantic. You can enjoy delicious local wines. If you still have some place after your main dish, make sure to try the home-made flan with cream for dessert. 4.2 Guachinche La Huerta de Ana y Eva They offer a big selection of traditional foods for a very reasonable price. The portions are big so make sure to bring some friends with you. 4.3 Guachinche La Suertita In the suburbs of La Pin̄era in Los Realejos, this hidden gem is very small so a reservation is a must, but that’s the charm in it, bringing the authentic atmosphere of a guachinche to life. 4.4 Guachinche Casa Lito Casa Lito is a cosy guachinche with an open air grill. The friendly staff will immediately make you feel at home. We can recommend “Ropa Vieja” and grilled cheese with tomato and honey sauce. 4.5 Guachinche Casa Bibi y Mana If you’re exploring the north-east of the island this guachinche in Taganana village is a must. The service is quick and attentive. The waiters will gladly recommend you popular dishes, but we advise you to try the queso asado and the pulpo. 4.6 Guachinche El Cubano In the east of La Orotava this guachinche offers an amazing view of the entire Orotava valley and the sea. 4.7 Guachinche La Finca – La Vitoria Charming decoration, a mixed grill to die for and one of the best lemon mousses around. What more could you ask for? 4.8 Bodegón Guachinche El Primero The friendly staff at Bodegón Guachinche El Primero immediately makes you feel like a part of the family. The portions are large but the price is small. Make sure to try out the local wines! 4.9 Guachinche el Miradero The way to this restaurant is not easy, but you will be rewarded for your effort. Located on the grounds of the family vineyard, Guachinche El Miradero will surely give you a unique Canarian eating experience. If the weather is nice, you can sit on the terrace outside, while your kids play on the playground. 4.10 Guachinche Casa Pepe This guachinche is a well kept secret amongst the locals. If you are a meat lover, you are at the right address here. You should definitely give the Galacian steak a try.

5. Fancy something more luxurious? Although not famous for it, Tenerife has no less than 5 Michelin star restaurants. For those who’d like a more luxurious experience, we can recommend El Rincón de Juan Carlos. Run by the Padrón brothers, this outstanding restaurant lies in the popular tourist spot of Los Gigantes on the cliff-fringed south coast of Tenerife. The Michelin-starred restaurant offers a choice of à la carte or tasting menus, with an emphasis on seafood and seasonal island-sourced market produce. The food remains traditional Canarian with the only Western and Eastern influence being in the form of its presentation. For the full experience, we recommend you order the complete tasting menu with 12 wine pairings from around the Canary Islands.

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