Have you ever tried traditional Canary Island cuisine? During my recent trip to Tenerife with Jet2.com and Visit Tenerife, I was lucky enough to try a ton of local dishes and learn all about the area’s gastronomy, so I decided to create this Tenerife food guide featuring my favorite dishes and restaurant recommendations! I ate my way through Tenerife, and I loved (almost) everything I tried! Here’s what you need to know about Tenerife’s food scene and traditional Canary Island cuisine. Check out my guide to Tenerife for more tips and excursions you can’t miss!
I have written this post in collaboration with Jet2.com and Visit Tenerife.
What is Canarian Cuisine?
The Canary Islands’ unique history and geographical location has had a huge impact on their culture and gastronomy. The Canary Islands are located just off the coast of northwest Africa, near the Sahara Desert, so there is a slight African cultural influence on the islands, but the Canary Islands have a distinctly European feel. Spain colonized the Canary Islands hundreds of years ago, and the islands are still part of Spain today. The Spanish influence is visible in the architecture, culture, and food on the islands. Since the Spanish colonization, there’s been an influx of migration between the Canary Islands and Latin America, and in recent years, people from across the globe have settled here. This history and the combination of nationalities now living on the islands have resulted in the Canary Island’s unique, multifaceted culture. This distinctive culture is reflected in the foods you’ll find on the islands today. When you eat at authentic, local restaurants in the Canary Islands you’ll notice a mix of Spanish flavors influenced by the natural ingredients grown on the island. Much of the food I ate was cooked with garlic, peppers, and spices, and everything was fresh, with off-the-boat seafood and perfectly ripe, locally grown produce.
Must-Try Tenerife Food
Potatoes are a staple of the local cuisine on Tenerife. Over 50 types of potatoes are grown on the island, including some rare potatoes that you wouldn’t normally find in your local grocery store. Almost every meal I had in Tenerife was served with wrinkly potatoes, which are small potatoes boiled in salty water. Even though that may not sound like the most exciting dish, the way that the sea salt dries on the outside of the potato makes them absolutely addictive. To make it even better, they add mojo sauce to enhance the flavors and add a kick to the dish.
Wrinkly potatoes wouldn’t be complete without a generous helping of mojo sauce. Mojo sauce is the condiment of choice in the Canary Islands, and its garlic-y, peppery flavor is absolutely additive. There are two types of mojo sauce – red, spicy sauce and herby green sauce. Everyone has their own recipe, but the red version is normally made with garlic, red bell pepper, a little chili pepper, a dried red pepper, salt, olive oil, and vinegar, and the green version is made with garlic, green bell pepper, a green chili pepper, salt, cilantro (and/or parsley), olive oil, and vinegar. Combined, these ingredients create the perfect combination of acid, spice, and salt that goes well on so many dishes!
Thanks to its costal location, the Canary Islands have amazing seafood. Every restaurant I went to had a variety of seafood dishes available featuring local, fresh seafood. I tried a traditionally prepared fried octopus in Taganana while dining at a quaint restaurant across from the ocean. The octopus was cut into pieces and fried (without batter) and seasoned with red peppers and garlic, and it was served with a side of potatoes with mojo sauce. I had fish for several meals during our trip, and it was delicious each time!
The Canary Islands’ tropical climate is perfect for growing tropical fruits! Bananas are one of the most popular crops grown on the islands, and we passed several banana plantations while driving around Tenerife!
I was surprised to find out the Tenerife has a thriving local winery scene, with several wineries located on the island! There is a Tenerife Wine Museum that tells you all about the history of wine production in the Canary Islands and about how the local wines are produced today. I visited the Monje Winery and enjoyed a tour of the grounds and a tasting of some of their wines, and I thought they were all really good!
A barraquito is a sweet coffee drink made of condensed milk, liquor, and coffee – what’s not to like? Our guide mentioned this traditional drink on our first day in Tenerife, so I was excited to try it on my first night on the island! Depending on the amount of sweetened condensed milk, this is a super sweet coffee drink that tastes like you’re drinking a coffee truffle! It is so good, and it will certainly give you a lot of energy if you need a mid-afternoon pick me up!
Huevos al Estampido
While this egg dish may seem simple, it is so delicious. Made of fries, scrambled eggs, chorizo, and paprika, Huevos al Estampido is the ultimate comfort food (and possibly my favorite Tenerife food!).
Fried Goat Cheese
You’ll find goat cheese on menus everywhere in Tenerife, and it’s so worth ordering! When I saw fried goat cheese on the menu, I pictured mozzarella stick-style breaded and fried cheese. This dish is not breaded or deep fried at many restaurants- instead its pan fried or cooked on the griddle with some oil. I think the texture and flavor of the fried cheese is similar to that of halloumi or paneer- mild tasting with a springy bite. At some restaurants, you’ll fine the cheese topped with mojo sauce or palm honey, a sweet sap from the palm trees.
Other Spanish Favorites
You can find other Spanish favorites, served tapas-style, at restaurants throughout the Canary Islands. Dishes include croquettes, Iberico ham, and more!
Restaurants in Tenerife
Like I mentioned above, I took a mojo class at the Monje winery, but we followed it with dinner in the restaurant on site. We had an absolutely delicious pulled pork dish that I still think about. It tasted similar to Mexican carnitas, but it was topped with a spiced fruit I have only ever seen on the island.
La Bodeguita de Enfrente
For a spread of traditional foods served in a charming family restaurant, visit La Bodeguita de Enfrente. This restaurant has been run by the same family for 4 generations, and they’ve created a menu that really highlights the flavors of Tenerife. Definitely get the Huevos al Estampido here- they were SO good!
Step back in time hundreds of years at Regulo Restaurante in Puerto de la Cruz. This restaurant is built into an old Canarian style home, and the dining areas are located throughout the sprawling house. I got a barraquito for dessert here, and it was so, so good.
This seaside café may not look like much from the outside, but its fresh seafood is delicious. I felt like I was getting a really authentic experience when I was eating here, butchering Spanish phrases as I ordered the octopus for my main course and banana ice cream for dessert. Even better, its views of the ocean and the nearby black sand beach cannot be beaten.
Tenerife Food Guide
Experiencing the local food culture of a destination is one of my favorite things to do when I travel, and I loved trying all these unique dishes in Tenerife. What would you want to try in Tenerife? Have I missed one of your favorite Canarian dishes? Let me know in the comments!
I have written this post in collaboration with Jet2.com and Visit Tenerife.
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