Like the rest of Spain, Tinerfeños take their main meal in the middle of the day between 1.30pm and 3.30pm and it’s usually a fairly drawn out affair. In the evenings a lighter meal is taken, usually tapas or a fish dish.
Restaurants generally open from 1/1.30pm to 4pm and then close until the evening service at around 7.30-8pm when they re-open until 11pm or midnight.
Traditional Canarian food is rustic, basic and lacking in imagination. Away from the coastal resorts and in the north of the island where you get lots of restaurants specialising in typical Canarian food, there’s little to distinguish one menu from another.
However, in the kitchens of the best five-star hotels and the restaurants of the capital city and the north, a new wave of exciting chefs are taking traditional dishes and giving them a gourmet makeover. The result is haute cuisine of a standard good enough to feature on the menus of some of Europe’s top restaurants.
Tenerife specialities include a rich rabbit stew called conejo en salmorejo, a hearty vegetable stew called puchero, a tasty watercress soup known as sopa de berros and the addictive salty, wrinkled potatoes known as papas arrugadas which are served with spicy mojo sauces.
Meat tends to be pork chops, steaks and lamb which is expensive here but very tasty. Goat is commonly seen on rural restaurant menus.
Few dishes are served with vegetables and even fewer with salads. Most will come either with chips or with papas arrugadas and mojo.
In most traditional restaurants, vegetarians will struggle to find anything to eat, particularly if they don’t eat fish.
Fish and seafood frequently dominate the menu with the local cherne (grouper) and the speciality vieja (parrot fish) being the best for tasty flesh with few, if any bones. On the seafood front, chocco (cuttlefish) is popular but a bit rubbery for my liking. Highly recommended are chopitos - deep fried baby squid which are like whitebait and chipirones - small whole squid.
In terms of prices, you’ll find restaurants in Playa de Las Américas and Costa Adeje to be considerably more expensive than those in Puerto de la Cruz but still inexpensive compared to UK prices.
The best value is always the menu del día which will give you three courses, bread and a beer, wine or water for between 7 euros and 15 euros usually.