Tenerife food guide – what is worth trying?
Beach, sun, palm trees… and food! We all know that satisfying our taste buds is an essential part of any trip. Through food, we get to experience the culture, traditions, and atmosphere of the places we visit. Every corner of the world stands out with its own cuisine, so what exactly makes the Tenerife food special?
Coffee has a beneficial impact on health due to its numerous healing properties. That’s why coffee beans are highly valued by the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries, among others, because they contain substances that delay the aging process of the body. Coffee is popular worldwide, and there are countless types and ways to serve it.
But what is the Canarian way of serving the drink? Barraquito, which is brewed coffee with double milk (regular and condensed), Licor 43 liqueur, lemon peel, and cinnamon, layered in a glass. Licor 43 has an orange liqueur-like taste, and the number “43” is just part of the name, not the alcohol content. The entire drink is prepared in such a way that each ingredient is visible separately. To fully experience the flavor and ingredient composition, it is recommended to mix it well. This is one of the specialties that you must try in Tenerife.
Canarian sauces “Mojo – Rojo and Verde”
Sauces enhance the flavor of food and give dishes character. In different parts of the world, they have different tastes, ranging from spicy, sweet, sour, to, in this case, predominantly garlicky. Practically every Tenerife food is served with mojo sauces. They are the most commonly used sauces in the Canary Islands. They enhance the taste of every dish, whether it’s meat, fish, or even tapas with goat cheese. Both sauces are based on olive oil and wine vinegar. Mojo rojo is a red sauce mainly made from red peppers, spicy chili peppers, and garlic. Mojo verde, on the other hand, is a green sauce made with green peppers, cilantro, parsley, and garlic. In theory, the red sauce is for meat, and the green one is for fish, but in reality, both work equally well with everything. They also pair wonderfully with tapas and goat cheeses!
Potatoes “Papas Arrugadas”
When talking about mojo sauces, we cannot forget about the popular Canarian potatoes called “Papas Arrugadas”. The best feature of these potatoes is how they are served, with their skin covered in salt residue. In the past, due to a high demand for drinking water, papas arrugadas were cooked in salty water straight from the ocean! Nowadays, they are cooked in fresh water with the appropriate amount of sea salt added. In the Spanish language, potatoes are called ‘patatas,’ but due to the significant influence of Latin America (from where papas arrugadas also originated) on the Canary Islands, the name ‘papas’ has remained until today.
Rabbit in “Salmorejo sauce” – “Conejo en Salmorejo”
A typical Canarian dish, perhaps because rabbits have always inhabited Tenerife. The rabbit is served with fries or papas arrugadas. It is most commonly prepared with Salmorejo sauce, which somewhat resembles ‘mojo rojo’ sauce. However, we recommend ordering this rabbit dish with the aforementioned Papas Arrugadas, as they perfectly complement the meaty sauce. Many food enthusiasts claim that the meat somewhat resembles chicken and a bit of pork ribs. However, you won’t find this dish in every restaurant on the promenade; rather, it is commonly found in small local bars or mountain villages.
If you are a meat lover, this is a must-try dish in Tenerife, along with goat meat, which you will read about shortly.
Goat meet – “Carne de Cabra”
Goat meat possesses undeniable nutritional qualities. This meat, especially kid goat meat, is characterized by its high nutritional value, excellent digestibility, and lightness.
Similar to rabbit, goat meat is a specialty in Tenerife food. It is served in the form of a stew with fries or papas arrugadas. The meat has a distinct flavor, slightly fatty, and melts in your mouth. The sauce should have a slight spiciness, although it may not be served that way everywhere. It is a treat for the taste buds. It pairs wonderfully with “Papas Arrugadas” potatoes, but there are also advocates for goat meat with fries (“Carne de Cabra con papas fritas”).
Goat cheese – “Queso de Cabra”
Cheeses, known and served worldwide, are beloved almost everywhere. However, in the Canary Islands, goat cheeses are particularly popular, and what’s more, they contain all the important nutrients for health. They are rich in protein, zinc, folate, and vitamins from the B and A groups. They are a treasure trove of minerals such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium, essential for building the skeletal structure, bones, muscles, brain, as well as maintaining proper heart and kidney function.
Goat cheeses can be found everywhere here. Fresh, smoked, with peppers, and more. They are also available in grilled versions, often served with jams. They are commonly served as tapas in local restaurants. They pair well with mojo sauces as well as palm honey. Interestingly, the local goat cheeses don’t taste anything like other European goat cheeses. Make sure to try them, as they are a culinary delight Tenerife food that should not be missed!
Palm honey – “Miel de palma”
Palm honey is the popular name for a unique product originating from the sunny Canary Islands, mainly from the island of La Gomera. Ripening in the favorable climate, the date palms of the Phoenix canariensis variety give humans their most precious gift: a wonderful sap that, through exclusively natural and traditional methods passed down from generation to generation, becomes a perfect, thick, and dark syrup known as miel de palma.
To produce 1 liter of this delicacy, it takes the collection of 10 liters of resin from palm trees and boiling it for several hours until unnecessary 9 liters of water evaporate. Palm honey tastes very similar to natural flower honey. It is served with most desserts and is also a key ingredient in the popular liqueur “Ron Miel”.
The beverage we call wine is actually composed of over 100 diverse components. Its base is water, which can make up as much as 90 percent of the drink. In addition to water, wine also contains alcohol and valuable macro and micronutrients derived from grapes: phosphorus, iron, small amounts of zinc, copper, selenium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, vitamins A, B group, C, H, and PP. Of course, to experience only the positive effects of drinking wine, it is important not to exceed a portion of 1-2 glasses per day. Such a small dose is ideal for maintaining the health of our blood vessels and heart.
In the Canary Islands, “Afrutado” wine, meaning sweet, fruity wine, enjoys fame. It has nothing to do with Sangria. It is a specialty of the local vineyards. It is definitely worth trying during your stay on one of the Canary Islands. Even those who are not fond of wines, especially dry ones, will be pleasantly surprised. If you come across wine in a blue bottle here, it is certainly Afrutado!
Honey rum – “Ronmiel”
For fans of delicate, sweet alcohol, we have something that will delight your taste buds!
Rum, which captured the hearts and minds of Caribbean pirates, is an alcohol produced wherever sugar cane is cultivated. It serves as not only the base for many famous cocktails but is also essential for rum babas, rum-infused cakes, and candies with a “rum and cola” flavor.
It’s well-known that rum is popular in tropical regions. However, in the Canary Islands, a rum with palm syrup, known as “Ron Miel”, was created. It is perfect to enjoy in the form of chupitos, poured into a shot glass. We recommend consuming it chilled, and for variety and to break the sweetness, adding a little lemon juice is suggested – satisfaction guaranteed!
Cactus fruit / Prickly pear – “Higo pico”
“Higo” in Spanish means fig, while ‘higo pico’ refers to the prickly fig. This is how the local residents here refer to the fruits of the prickly pear cactus. We do not recommend picking them by hand. In the town of Masca and in many local vegetable shops, you can buy them quite cheaply, already cleaned of prickly hairs. There are two types of them: ‘higo pico rojo,’ which is the red prickly pear, and ‘higo pico blanco,’ which is the white prickly pear (which is actually green). These fruits are sweet and refreshing, definitely worth a try!
Prickly pear fruits are used to make various jams and preserves. In the past, on Tenerife, prickly pear was cultivated for the purpose of breeding cochineal insects. These pests, related to aphids, settle on the prickly pear leaves. These insects produce cochineal or carmine acid, which is used to red dye in food products and cosmetics.
Every bar, restaurant, or local “Guachinche” offers their unique recipes for local dishes. Feel free to try everything and judge for yourselves. Tenerife food can pleasantly surprise you! If you already know what you want to try but are unsure where to find it, take a look at our article “Recommended Bars and Restaurants in Tenerife”. You’ll definitely find something for yourself!