We’ve eaten at restaurants all across Tenerife – from budget food to Michelin star cuisine; in the most popular resorts as well as guachinches in out of the way places. Subsequently we know how price and quality differs from one area to the next. When it comes to reviewing restaurants it’s essential to be able to compare and contrast with similar establishments, especially as there are significant differences between resort and non-resort areas.
Whenever we eat at a restaurant I like checking reviews on Tripadvisor afterwards for two reasons. One, I’m nosy. More importantly given our jobs (we write about hiking and dining across Europe as well as specialising in Tenerife), reviews not only tell us about what others think, they reveal travel patterns, preferences and cultural variations.
Over a two week period recently we ate at a number of restaurants in various areas of Tenerife. Did our findings match English language reviews on Tripadvisor? Here are the results.
Cocina Urbana (Rambla de Santa Cruz, 114)
This stylish restaurant is located near a number of hotels so has more reviews in English than Spanish. Being located near hotels means getting more reviews than restaurants which aren’t, something which helps push places up those TA rankings. The food is modern and more international than traditional, with a menu to suit varying tastes – pastas, burgers etc.
TA reviewer praise: Good varied selection of excellent dishes! Friendly helpful staff! Nice chilled atmosphere!
TA reviewer criticism: This place serves reasonable quality lunch-time type food… but who wants to sit down and eat with a cold wind blowing through the wide open, and very large door?
Our view: We agree with the reviewer who praised it. You can’t blame a restaurant for a bad weather front which affected all the Canary Islands. However, when a cool wind blows Canarian restaurants can often be chilly places. Here’s why.
Mixtura (Calle Patricio Estevanez, 2)
Although located near the port, Mixtura has only a handful of English language reviews. The menu features Canarian ingredients shaken up by various culinary influences, featuring the likes of tuna tataki and falafel.
TA reviewer praise: Mixtura is a fantastic place to eat in Santa Cruz. Either if you are just visiting the city, on a business lunch.
TA reviewer criticism: The waitress of this restaurant was really friendly. Food was ok, we were expecting something better.
Our view: We veer towards the reviewer who thought the food was okay. It’s an interesting menu and the women who run it are lovely, but we weren’t wowed.
La Buena Vida (Calle Antonio Dominguez Alfonso, 10)
Located in one of the prettiest streets in Santa Cruz, La Buena Vida is a good lunch venue. The menu is contemporary Canarian and, like Mixtura, features dishes from other countries – hummus, French goat’s cheese.
TA reviewer praise: The food and service here was excellent. I highly recommend it!
TA reviewer criticism: Firstly the red wine was served freezing cold which was not a good start. And then my partner had the wrong dish delivered. On the positive my tuna salad was nice.
Our view: Tasty food, good value, great location. Red wine is often served too chilled on Tenerife. Again, a case of the negative reviewer not knowing local practices.
Veinte 04 (Plaza El Médano)
With views across the town’s plaza to the sea, Veinte 04 is ideal for sun, sea and people watching. The last time we ate there was with a friend who is conservative when it comes to food so we hadn’t really tested its menu properly. This time was with a more adventurous friend. We over-ordered squid tempura, ceviche, ensaladilla with almogrote, and hummus.
TA reviewer praise: Not really a restaurant but more than a cafe. Good burger and fun drinks overlooking the town square.
TA reviewer criticism: The fact the waitress never stopped texting the whole time we were there put us off returning as it affected the service for us and other diners
Our view: Great looking and tasting food at good value prices. There were more reviews from Spanish speakers than English which is in keeping with the personality of the town. Incidentally, waiting staff record orders on mini tablets.
Puerto Santiago/Los Gigantes
Abundia (Calle la Hondura, 10)
Abundia is a modern Italian restaurant with romantic sunset views and a menu which aims to be more imaginative than the average Italian restaurant. Nearly all the reviews are in English.
TA reviewer praise: Just lovely, personable and genuine service from the manager and staff. The sunset views are tremendous, the menu is a great mix of local tradition but with a definite modern twist.
TA reviewer criticism: At the time of writing there were no average or below reviews.
Our view: Abundia is a prime example of what I meant when I said there were differences between Tenerife resort and non-resort areas. We enjoyed the food, although there was an overuse of contrasting sauces. As resort restaurants go, we thought Abundia was better than average, but not on the same level as equivalent restaurants in more traditional areas. We thought it quite expensive for what it was.
El Rincon de Juan Carlos (Paisaje Jacaranda, 2)
It’s a Michelin star restaurant so you get a fantastically creative menu which uses the best of local ingredients in a way you couldn’t imagine.
TA reviewer praise: A fantastic small restaurant, where you really that it is driven by the love for good food and wine. No matter where you are in Tenerife it is worth the drive.
TA reviewer criticism: If you want to serve a big tasting menu, it must have a an edge. This was mostly one double cream cream after another. no crispy vegetables, no bite, and no acid in the food.
Our view: It’s the best restaurant we’ve eaten at in the Canary Islands. Fun, friendly and imaginative. A foodie’s wonderland which more than holds its own against other Michelin star restaurants we’ve dined at in Spain, France and Italy.
Puerto de la Cruz
El Gabacho (Calle San Felipe, 38)
The newest of a trio of restaurants on the same street; a magnet for anyone who enjoys new culinary experiences. The menu is mostly contemporary Canarian, the young chefs are French. It’s a good mix.
TA reviewer praise: Dishes are highly imaginative and perfectly cooked. Highly recommended for gourmets who seek out interesting flavour combinations.
TA reviewer criticism: The only negative review was from a group who were turned away because all the tables were already reserved. It was one of those petulant reviews designed to hurt the business. A side of TA I really dislike.
Our view: The food is beautifully presented and surprises the taste buds. I loved touches like blue curaçao butter with the bread, and black vodka sorbet to freshen the palate between courses. El Gabacho is an example why we’re less impressed with restaurants in purpose built resorts than many reviewers – there are lots of restaurants in traditional areas on Tenerife where the cuisine is more sophisticated in both presentation and taste and prices are also significantly lower.
Tasca Ihuey (Calle San Felipe, 34)
More creative cuisine with a local flavour, Ihuey has enjoyed a rapid rise through the TA rankings since it opened less than two years ago.
TA reviewer praise: The best way to describe the food, service and presentation is “Michelin”.
TA reviewer criticism: I ordered a basket of bread. After 30 mins it still hadn’t arrived. The main courses both fish were good but I feel that the kitchen staff are being let down.
Our view: I wouldn’t go as far as Michelin standard, but this is gourmet dining and restaurants like this are partly why Tenerife has earned such a good gastronomic reputation in recent years.
Meson Los Gemelos (C/ Peñón, 4)
Los Gemelos is a traditional restaurant specialising in simple meat and fish dishes. It appeals to differing nationalities. There are 129 reviews from German diners and 228 from English speaking ones. Blowing both out of the water is the number of Spanish reviews, 542.
TA reviewer praise: Great place, great atmosphere. You will probably have to wait a bit to get seated but it’s worth it. Try the Parrilla de pescado y mariscos. Simply incredible.
TA reviewer criticism: We were a little bit disappointed after the dinner. The service was not nice (it was hectic and crowded). The dishes (Sama fish and rabbit) were too cooked and not really tasty.
Our view: If you want good local fish and meat dishes simply prepared, this is the place. As for the negative review, authentic Canarian restaurants are often hectic and crowded.
El Jinete Sin Cabeza (Calle Bencomo, 23)
Located in La Laguna’s UNESCO World Heritage centre, El Jinete Sin Cabeza is a tiny, atmospheric restaurant with a small but varied menu which includes a mix of local and currently trending international dishes (carpaccio, steak tartare).
TA reviewer praise: The food was extremely delicious and for the quality actually much too cheap. We will gladly come again.
TA reviewer criticism: No average or below reviews.
Our view: We’d go along with the TA review.
Rincon Lagunero (Calle Herradores, 110)
There are any number of quaint tascas serving authentic Canarian and Spanish cuisine to be found in La Laguna, We chose Rincon Lagunero because they had a different take on a La Gomeran speciality on their menu – pistachio almogrote.
TA reviewer praise: Busy and all locals. Tasty tapas and raciones at good prices. Very friendly and professional service. Will return in the future.
TA reviewer criticism: Only two average reviews and one of them commented the food was good, but marked the restaurant down because of slow service – they waited 5 minutes for the menu. Maybe they’d have been far happier in MacDonald’s.
Our view: Rincon Lagunero is a typically good traditional tasca with dishes which have some individual touches.
Ultimately, what does comparing restaurant reviews tell me?
The breakdown of who reviews restaurants shows whether restaurants in any area are aimed at visitors or locals; useful for anyone trying decide where to base themselves. Additionally the reasons given for both good and bad reviews often reveal whether either are justified – e.g. many of the negatives might be as a result of visitors not knowing cultural practices. Basically I can tell which to take seriously and which to discard. Knowing this makes Tripadvisor restaurant reviews a valuable tool both from the point of view as a travel writer and as someone who’s constantly looking for new and interesting places to eat.