[South Tenerife, Spain] Some restaurant reviews

Anyone who knows the area will know that it’s very touristy. At this time of the year, we join the other North European swallows and have a three week stay in Playa de las Americas (and have just returned). We’ve given up cooking in the apartment - you havnt got the kit, you havnt got the ingredients, etc, that you have at home. And we certainly can’t be arsed to put the effort in, when we can eat a number of cheap touristy restaurants in less than five minutes walk from the apartment.

As always, a bit of restaurant research before going on holiday will work wonders. And, in amongst the bog standard tourist places with their pizzas and steak & chips, there are some very decent places, mainly cooking straightforward Spanish grills, etc. The following posts review the better ones, in the hope that other folk visiting the area might find them useful.

La Fresquera, Playa de las Americas

In several years of eating here, this was the first time we’d seen the owner looking at all hospitable. He’s usually a surly, unsmiling so-and-so but, this time, it’s a warm welcome, with handshakes and a mention of the “special” – a fantastic looking bit of suckling pig. So, that’s one main course sorted out without looking at the menu.

There’s a “free” tapa – fish and boiled potato, served cold, dress with mayo. It’s something to pick at while we’re deciding. For starters, there’s chopitos – tiny squid, lightly battered and deep fried. And, it’s a very generous portion. There’s also a pan con tomate. Six slices of tasty bread, toasted and slathered with olive oil, garlic and chopped tomato. Both plates go in the middle of the table to share. They’re excellent.

For main courses, there was the suckling pig. Another very generous portion – and one I couldn’t finish. It’s delicious – thin crisp skin, sweet fat and fantastic meat. There’s some potatoes that count amongst the best potatoes eaten in recent times. Very thin slices, cooked in the same pan as the pig and crisped up in the rendered fat. And, alongside, a simple salad which cut through the richness of the pig.

You can get paella for one in any number of the tourist restaurants. Places buy them in from the catering wholesaler and just need to microwave them. But Fresquera is a rare find – somewhere that will make it from scratch just for one person. You have to wait a little while, of course. But, it’s worth waiting for. Good, flavoursome rice studded with mussels, clams squid, prawns and fish.

Another meal where we were too full for dessert.

Meson Castellano, Playa de las Americas

On every trip, we have a meal here and one at next door Fresquera. And then try to decide which was the better of the two. This year, there was no doubt and Fresquera won hands down. That’s not to say that dinner at Meson Castellano was poor. It certainly wasn’t and the starters were excellent.

Padron peppers were just as they should be – tasting of themselves, the oil they were cooked and the goodly sprinkling of salt. Speaking of salt, there was a basket of bread which had a lovely crust but was just too salty. Much nicer was the very thin, crisped slices of bread that came with the other starter. This was simple dish of roasted peppers and anchovies .

Main courses were OK, but had their faults. Now you might think that bacalao - salt cod – should be salty but, when it’s been properly soaked and rehydrated, it isn’t. Well, this was still very salty. Not enough to ruin it but enough to make it less than great. Hake came with a really nice, light tomatoey and fishy sauce – more broth than sauce really. However, the fish was a bit overcooked for my taste – it had gone past the “just flaking” stage and was getting on for being a bit mushy. Also on the plate, a couple of clams and a couple of king prawns – both of which were excellent. There was no veg with either dish but the cod came with Canarian potatoes and the hake had some bog standard new potatoes.

Desserts were OK but we’d have missed nothing if we hadn’t ordered them. Ice cream was ice cream. Tiramisu was a pleasant enough creamy affair but was a very distant cousin of a proper tiramisu with its full flavours of strong coffee and booze.

Chiringuito Atlanticus, Los Cristianos

It’s a little out of the way – at the end of Las Vistas beach, on the port road – but well worth the extra few metres walk.

Fried squid rings may have been the best I’ve ever tasted . They’d just been tossed in flour and quickly cooked ( think the Spaniards call this “a la Romana”). Perfectly tender, totally delicious. Half a dozen langoustines had been simply cooked on the grill and were spot-on – very juicy and, again, totally delicious. Both plates came with a nice mixed salad and Canarian potatoes. And there was variety of sauces for dunking – red & green mojo, mayo and aioli.

Great spot for lunch.

Rincon del Pollo de Adeje, Los Cristianos

Adeje chicken without going to Adeje for it. And Adeje chicken is pretty much all they do.

Lunch doesn’t come much simpler. A plate of dressed salad – just lettuce, onion and tomato – to eat as a starter or to eat with the chicken. Then the plate of chicken – drumsticks and thighs, six or seven pieces in total for the two of us. It’s coated in garlic and, I think, pimenton (which gives it a lovely background heat and great colour) and then roasted with some oil. The spice bakes on to the meat but some also runs off, mixing into the oil to make a great sauce to dunk the chips that also come with it.

All really rather fab. And cheap (or should that be cheep?)

Las Lanzas, Playa de las Americas

I’m not sure why Las Lanzas isn’t busier than it is. Perhaps it’s because it’s set back from the road a little. Perhaps it’s because it’s always given the impression of being a “locals place”, rather than somewhere for tourists – and it is only in the last couple of visits that I’ve that I’ve heard customer voices that weren’t Spanish.

There’s a short menu of, generally speaking, simple to prepare dishes – mainly lumps of fish or meat cooked on the grill or in the frying pan. There was a really excellent basket of bread, which we scoffed with the starters. A dozen or so king prawns had been given a brief seeing to on the grill and were as good as you might expect them to be – just tasting of themselves. Croquettes are homemade and come in ham or prawn versions. I ordered the prawn one – about eight crispy balls, enclosing an absolutely spot-on flavoured béchamel.

Less than spot-on was the first attempt to cook a steak. Or, to be precise, not to cook a steak. It’s extremely rare that we have to send food back but this was more raw that rare. The second attempt was accurate – juicy flavoursome meat with some fried peppers and onions counting towards your five a day. And there’s a separate plate of chips that tasted and looked as though spuds had been peeled, cut and fried in the kitchen, rather than a packet of frozen opened and thrown in the fryer.

Sole was “off”, so there a second choice of cod, simply cooked on the grill. There were other fishes on the menu but we didn’t recognise their names in English or Spanish. The chef certainly knows how to cook fish. This was perfect – the fish just breaking away in big flakes. There’s the same fried veg to accompany and Canarian potatoes.

We know from past visits that desserts here are not good. So, we just had coffee and it was excellent. But we still needed something sweet, so walked down the road to La Venezia for pancakes – can thoroughly recommend the Nutella and banana one as a real rib sticker. And, with that, we waddled off back to the apartment having been very well fed.

Rincon del Arroz, Los Cristianos

Without doubt in our minds, this is the best restaurant in the PDLA/Los Cristianos area. There’s an imaginative menu, top class ingredients and a kitchen that knows how to cook and present a dish in a modern style. But, it can also take those top class ingredients and present them seemingly simply. As in a bowl of clams, served with a deeply savoury seafood broth. They went well with the basket of really good bread that was refilled as soon as we’d scoffed the first lot.

The other starter was scallops – six of them – in a light as a feather tempura batter. It’s a matter of real skill from the chef to get the batter crisp but leave the scallops ever so slightly underdone. There’s another powerful sauce, like a concentrated seafood chowder.

For a main course, we ordered a seafood paella. They have several paellas on the menu, along with other rice dishes – perhaps twenty in total, along with a handful on other non-rice dishes. This was excellent. Lovely rice with squid, clams, mussels and a couple of langoustine. Always strikes me as odd when I see langoustine on a Spanish menu as I know many of them are exported from Scotland as there isn’t enough of a British market for them. It’s a generously sized paella, which does both of us for seconds but does mean only one of us can manage dessert. That was tiramisu, which although OK, didn’t have the quality of the other courses –often the case with restaurant desserts in our experience.

We would have had coffee but the previously spot-on service took a nose-dive and there was suddenly no-one around to take an order. We’d got bored by the time someone re-appeared, so just got the bill.

Cuevita del Mar, Playa de las Americas

We came here with a firm determination not to order the seafood platter that we’ve had on every previous occasion. It was a difficult decision as the platter is an absolute belter which uses whichever fish are freshest on the day. And, at €17.50 a person, it may be the best value for money meal in the area.

There’s good bread to start, served with aioli and a liver pate. Starters are in tapas sized portions or the larger “racions”. There was tapas sized portion of chopitos – baby squid no bigger than your thumb, battered and fried. And there’s enough to make a generous main course. And there’s a racion of chistorras – because I’m a greedy northerner and can’t resist a good sausage, not least as it comes with a few chips. And, because we hadn’t expected quite the amount of food, we’d also ordered a tapa of “pan con tomate” – toasted bread, chopped ripe tomatoes, garlic and oil. Everything put in front of us is fab and it all got scoffed.

Main courses were pretty much spot-on. And, after the big starters, it was a good job we’d brought appetites with us. There was a simple dish of grilled sole. To be really picky, yes, it was a tad overcooked. But only a tad. It came with Canarian potatoes and a little salad. No complaints about the cooking of the other dish. A very generous piece of hake was cooked perfectly to “just flaking”. It sat on some thinly sliced fried potatoes and was topped with prawns and some shreds of leek. Really tasty.

This is all classic Spanish cooking – take top quality ingredients and do very little with them. It works so well. We were too stuffed to even consider dessert but coffee was good.

Other places I’d recommend that are not particularly Spanish in flavour are:

First Love, PDLA (Italian)

Ilili, PDLA (Lebanese)

Carne a la Piedra, Los Cristianos (steak)

Xoti, PDLA (Italian)

Balkonen, PDLA (Lebanese)

Nonna Fina, Los Cristianos (Italian)

Gula, PDLA (Pan-European ??)