Who likes it when their vacation offers surprises? Eyebrows were raised among friends when I, a decidedly greedy foodie, found out I wanted to go to Tenerife to find out why it’s become a true foodie hotspot – provided you know where to look.
I wanted to try Canarian food beyond its justifiably famous, extremely tasty wrinkled (seawater cooked) black potatoes.
And visiting my cousin, who has lived in Santa Cruz de Tenerife for seven years, was the highlight.
Curve appeal: Santa Cruz’s Auditorio de Tenerife concert hall, which “claims the architectural spotlight with its 190-foot curved, eclipse-like roof”
Sudi stayed at the Royal Hideaway Corales Beach Hotel (above), which opened two years before the pandemic. She reveals that it’s “located on Tenerife’s well-heeled southern Costa Adeje… away from the more flashy resorts.”
All in white: A suite at the Royal Hideaway Corales Beach. Sudi said breakfast at the hotel included “heaping platters of local cheese, a Canarian take on sobrasada, every imaginable subtropical fruit and bread selection to make a Bake Off winner swoon, plus a carving of Iberico Bellota (acorn-fed ham). included. ‘
We had become close to Zoom over lockdown but I had not set foot in Tenerife since living with her mother, my late aunt, more than 20 years ago. Then I’d partied all night at the wildly crazy carnival.
This time the excursions were a little quieter. My days revolved around fabulous food, especially seafood, in refreshingly affordable restaurants, captivating architecture and quiet uncrowded swimming spots.
The breakfast spread Royal Hideaway Corales Beach (barcelo.com, from £368 per night) my retreat for serious culinary indulgence – is a prime example of this form. Heaping platters of local cheeses, a Canarian take on sobrasada, every imaginable subtropical fruit and bread selection to make a bake-off winner swoon, and a slice of Iberico Bellota (acorn-fed ham) set the gastronomic bar high.
Opened two years before the pandemic, the curvilinear hotel was designed with sustainability in mind. Located on Tenerife’s well-heeled southern Costa Adeje, it’s a far cry from the more flashy resorts. Its suites and their terraces, some with jetted tubs, all with sea views, are huge and decorated in white.
According to Sudi, the Royal Hideaway Corales Beach is an “adults-only” affair for foodies, so the pools and restaurants are “happily quiet.”
A seafood special at Starfish Restaurant
This is an adults-only affair for foodies, so the pools and restaurants are delightfully quiet. The range of culinary offerings is impressive, with ultra-local sourcing.
Starfish Restaurant has island specialty grilled limpets with green mojo (cilantro, garlic and olive oil sauce); Sublime chipirones with slow-cooked onions, jumbo carabinero prawns smoked from the Josper grill, and luxurious hake nuggets with seaweed mayo.
san ho features Nikkei cuisine (Japanese meets Peruvian) with standout local tuna sashimi served three ways. The rooftop Maresia Atlantic Bar presents progressive Canarian cuisine by the Michelin-starred, Tenerife-born Padron brothers.
Most surprising is The Bocconcino, offers exceptional contemporary Italian cuisine surrounded by cool sculptural cacti. In an incredible coup, three-Michelin-starred world-renowned Massimo Bottura was the star guest of the hotel’s eighth Special Chef program, cooking an exciting dinner with Executive Chef Niki Pavanelli.
Specialties at Starfish Restaurant pictured include grilled limpets with green mojo (cilantro, garlic and olive oil sauce); ‘Sublime’ chipirones with slow-cooked onions, grill-smoked jumbo carabinero prawns and chic hake nuggets with seaweed mayonnaise
LEFT: Cocktail time at the Maresia Atlantic Rooftop Bar. RIGHT: One of the culinary creations at Starfish Restaurant
Il Bocconcino, says Sudi, offers “outstanding modern Italian food surrounded by cool sculptural cacti.” Shown is an example of one of the menu items in the hotel restaurant
Pioneering chefs visit the hotel every two years. Guests can book tailor-made trips to an organic farm, La Calabacera, and its spectacular plantations of platana, small, caramel-sweet Canarian bananas, mangoes, papaya and lychee. Visits include a local cheese and palm wine tasting.
Coral beach hotel is just a short walk from Enramada Beach and the fishing port of La Caleta, which has retained its traditional Spanish flair. It’s a nice spot for a sunset paella.
To truly experience what makes Tenerife more than a suntan destination, spend a few days feeling the pulse of Santa Cruz, the waterfront capital, and historic La Laguna, the former capital built in 1496 sense. Both boomed as the island’s trade with the New World grew. Today, La Laguna is an elegantly preserved college town with Renaissance buildings painted in bright, suntanned hues.
Be sure to visit Cayetano House Museum – a Canarian gem with typical wooden balconies. Also find beautiful cafes – Mollini & Co serves the best coffee and pastries on the island. Stay at La Laguna Gran Hotel (lalagunagranhotel.com, from £128 per night). It is an imposing mansion with a rooftop pool.
Join the Chicharreros — the slang name of Santa Cruz locals — and start your days around a late lunch (note that most places don’t open until 1:30pm). It remains a town for locals, rarely visited by tourists except during Carnival. stick with Hotel Taburiente (hoteltaburiente.com) with rooftop pool from £73.
Les Teresitas is described as “a kilometer-long strip of Saharan sand dotted with palm trees and beach bars.”
For a dip in the city, Parque Maritimo Cesar Manrique features three saltwater pools “dramatically set amongst exotic succulents and waterfalls.”
Most of the bars and restaurants are mostly filled with locals so you will find authentic food. Bodegon El Puntero is tiny and cheerful in its simplicity: painted blue and yellow and adorned with old carnival posters. Everything is excellent – especially the squid dishes. come the evening Calle de la Noria is invariably lively. Its historic buildings house the carnival associations, along with a dozen restaurants – all with outdoor terraces.
The market is nearby Nuestra Senore de Africa – a rich hunting ground for culinary souvenirs from cactus jam and agave honey to mojo dipping sauce, gofio (a curious local roasted grain), turron and honey rum, a rich, complex liqueur with top notes of blood orange and elderflower.
Locals like a chupito (shot) after dinner. Auditorio de Tenerifethe spectacular concert hall is in the architectural limelight with its 60 meter high, curved roof resembling an eclipse of the sun.
for a city swim, Parque Maritimo Cesar Manrique features three saltwater pools dramatically landscaped among exotic succulents and waterfalls. To really relax, head to Chicharreros Les Teresitas (a short bus ride from Santa Cruz), a mile-long sub-Saharan beach lined with palm trees and beach bars. Over a stunning local rum mojito, I reflect with satisfaction: Tenerife really isn’t the island it used to be – and for foodies like me, that’s a delight.