We recently spent a couple of weeks in northern Tenerife – more on that later at least in terms of photos, but there’s one subject that unfortunately deserves a special mention: food. A number of websites and visitors praised the selection and quality of food available there. With locals eating out frequently and demanding high standards, it was supposedly hard to find a bad place to eat at.
With two weeks of experience, I can tell that’s a load of bull. Take vegetables and fruit for starters. Some sources did warn us that vegetables were not used much in Canary Islands – and, boy, that’s an understatement of the year. Lack of good fruit was even more perplexing with bananas and other stuff growing right there. But apparently all the best fruit go to export as the stuff available locally was quite bland and of substandard quality. Anyhow, over the two weeks we sampled a quite extensive selection of the supposedly “best” restaurants in Puerto de la Cruz and elsewhere, and I must say the results were generally appalling; for this reason, a single post will hereby suffice to cover the restaurants there. Not every place is even mentioned – like the one restaurant who served us freezing cold spanish omelettes that I had to dump after the first bite.
In Puerto de la Cruz, disaster struck in the first days as one of the reputedly best places locally, Magnolia, served us cold, oversalted food and half-heartedly rewarmed(!) cooked potatoes. Downtown, Pomodoro & Il Rustico shared more than just the identical view (which itself was nice enough down to the bay at the heart of the city overlooking crashing waves) – they shared similar substandard food, though the latter was marginally less bad. Another place that came highly recommended was the Casino, set beautifully in the middle of the Lago Martianez pools. On our first night there, they served pretty good chateaubriand – so good that we came back on another night, only to be served pitifully overcooked lobster.
Generally, salt seemed to be the only spice used – and it was applied liberally. With the standards now being reset to a much lower level, some positive surprises managed to creep in. “Positive” at this stage meant the food was edible without nausea or queasiness. One such an occurrance was dealt by the unassuming Bar Bollullo near the Bollullo beach east of Puerto; their shrimp in garlic sauce was the best I tasted on the island. In downtown Puerto, La Herreria served good enough steak, which is ironic considering there is no cattle grown on the Canary Islands and the meat is from South America.. so much for relying on locally grown foodstuff being the best. Surprisingly, a mall cafe/restaurant El Rincon de San Diego in the LaVilla shopping center was a fairly good place for slice of cake or a quick snack. For breakfast, Cafe de Paris downtown was nice enough.
After a few tolerable experiences, La Casona by the Plaza del Charco brought us back to downright bad food. With a row of bad experiences of local food, we went to a Chinese restaurant for lunch. The reasoning was that they’re all the same all over the world anyway (except those in China of course), so it might be okay. That indeed was the case, with Shang Hai serving decent standard westernized chinese food – so decent, compared to the options anyway, that we went there for lunch more than once.
All said & done, we found only two restaurants which I would even consider visiting again should they be here in Helsinki: Los Roques in Los Abrigos on the southern coast of the island and Casa el Farol in Puerto de la Cruz. The former, pictured below left, was a very nicely decorated, clean & modern high-class establishment that served what quite possibly were the best tiger prawns I’ve ever had. The latter, below right, was a more rustic restaurant with a beautiful inner open courtyard. There we were treated with a hearty paella cooked just right.
Back home, it was a pleasure to roam in our local supermarket. Sure the vegetables, fresh fruit and all that is expensive – but at least they’re available.