I have the same problem with El Cine that I have with Hollywood movies that have been hyped to the heavens and that everyone raves about. My expectations are going to be impossibly high and because of that the famous El Cine in Los Cristianos is unlikely to ever meet them.
Tucked away almost directly opposite the entrance to the port up an alley that feels a bit like Harry Potter’s platform 9 ¾, El Cine typifies the sort of restaurant you can find in the non-resort parts of Tenerife – The decór is basic to the point of being non-existent and the mainly fish and seafood menu is traditional fare. Restaurant and menu reflect Canarian cuisine; simple, honest and unfussy.
There’s nothing cosy, quaint or particularly enticing about El Cine and yet people queue to get a seat. It has a reputation in the south of Tenerife that borders almost on worship. Most reviews on Tripadvisor rave about how good the food is, some proclaiming it to be the best fish and seafood on Tenerife.
And yet when I visited El Cine for the first time I was disappointed. It took a couple of visits to realise that it wasn’t the food’s fault.
The Food at El Cine
There are only about ten items on El Cine’s menu and all but one come from the sea. If you’re not a fish fan, you probably want to give it a miss unless you’re happy with a main course choice of chicken wings, chicken wings or chicken wings.
If you like fish and seafood then a bijou menu including hake, octopus, sardines and cuttlefish shouldn’t be a problem. If anything, it’s a good sign. Prices are low and portions are generous and the food is freshly caught and nicely cooked.
The food in El Cine is enjoyable fare and it’s dished up in an authentically Canarian environment that feels quite different from just about anywhere else in the resorts of Los Cristianos and Playa de las Américas.
Despite being busy and with hungry people almost breathing down my back, I don’t feel rushed when I eat at El Cine. The food is cooked and served quickly, so it tends not to be the sort of place that you linger long but you’re allowed to move at your own pace.
There’s no denying that El Cine has a certain down to earth likeable charm.
By now you’re probably confused. I like the food and I like the place so what’s the problem?
The problem lies with the glowing reviews. El Cine is a good fish and seafood restaurant – nothing more, nothing less. I can name lots of good fish and seafood restaurants on Tenerife that also serve up tasty, honest Canarian cuisine at wallet-friendly prices. Almost anywhere there is a fishing community you’ll find a traditional restaurant (or two) that serves good to excellent seafood.
The difference in El Cine’s case is that it is something of a novelty because of its resort location; people respond extremely favourably to its refreshing authenticity because of this and subsequently give it glowing reviews that are based on the fact that they have thoroughly enjoyed a real Tenerife dining experience. If they haven’t tried many restaurants outside of the main southern resorts, it is a factor that may just have made their food taste that little bit better.
The bottom line is that El Cine is a good fish and seafood restaurant but it isn’t the best and neither is it quite as good as the five star reviews suggest.
C/Juan Bariajo, 8; Los Cristianos (+34) 609 10 77 58; main courses cost average €7
Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites plus lots of other things. Follow Jack on Google+