I resent when we’re out and about and happen to be in a purpose built resort on Tenerife when it’s time to eat. That might sound as though I’m being anti purpose built resort. It’s not meant to.

It’s simply that when we eat out, I want it to spend my hard earned dosh somewhere that really rings my bell, not necessarily only in terms of the food. On Tenerife there are loads of interesting restaurants in unusual settings that I want to try. They just don’t tend to be in the purpose built resorts.

La Cuadra de San Diego Montage

La Cuadra de San Diego in La Matanza is an example of what I mean.

La Cuadra de San Diego, near the old road through La Matanza, is one of those restaurants that is off the beaten tourist trail, yet is well known in Canarian circles. As well as being a restaurant, it caters for businesses and special occasions. Sometimes culinary exhibitions are held there.

Its main attraction for us is that it is located inside a 16th century colonial finca. Outside of the finca’s faded lemon walls, La Cuadra’s own vines flow down the hillside.

Dining Room, La Cuadra de San Diego, La Matanza, Tenerife

Smartly attired tables lay scattered around a tiled courtyard or inside a softly lit, rustic one story stone building with exposed beams, rough walls and hanging ferns. The courtyard looks over the main building with its red tiled roof and long tea wood balcony.

It doesn’t take much imagination to visualise weary travellers pausing here for refreshments in days of yore; it’s probably not changed much in the intervening centuries.

Olde Worlde Class: The Food at La Cuadra de San Diego
Despite the ‘step back in time’ surroundings, the cuisine at La Cuadra de San Diego has been updated to a 21st century version of Canarian cooking. Where most Canarian restaurants stick with tried and tested dishes that have varied little since Victorian travellers explored these shores, the chefs at La Cuadra like to have a bit of fun with their creations.

Almogrote Verde

Subsequently you get almogrote (a cheese paste for La Gomera) that is green instead of the usual orange – and with a fresh and savoury taste to seriously rival the traditional version. We loved it.

The menu can also include dishes flavoured by other country’s influences, like wontons filled with ham and cheese or Moroccan style pastillas.

After a lot of humming and hawing, and endless patience from the staff who reacted to a few ‘momentito más, por favor’ when they approached, we opted for the almogrote, churros de pescado with alioli (fish goujons with garlic mayonnaise), gofio amasado drizzled in honey, a huge salad of bacon, spinach and pine nuts and a centrepiece dish of a fondue of Canarian cheese inside a humongous bread roll. To keep us lubricated we ordered some of La Cuadra’s own vino tinto.

CCanarian Cheese Fondue, La Cuadra de San Diego, La Matanza, Tenerife

Some dishes worked brilliantly (the almogrote, the salad and the ‘messy but fun’ fondue) whereas the churros de pescado and gofio were good but not exceptional. But then churros de pescado are basically battered fish so no real scope for creativity and gofio amasado is an acquired taste at the best of times.

However the combination of ingredients – killer of a setting, friendly staff and food that surprised and was fun to eat – added up to a recipe for a seriously enjoyable lunch.

The problem is that the next time the stomach announces it’s time to eat and I’m standing in front of a row of restaurants in modern ‘locales’ somewhere along the promenade linking Los Cristianos with Costa Adeje, I’ll think of La Cuadra de San Diego and all the numerous other places like it on Tenerife and I’ll wish I was spending money on lunch at one of them instead.

La Cuadra de San Diego, Calle Botella,2; (+34) 922 578 385; open Thursday 1pm- 4pm and 7.30pm to 11pm, Sunday 1pm to 4pm; Main courses average around €10.

Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to lots of other places. Follow Jack on Google+

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