I’m a sucker for lunch venues with a difference on Tenerife. If I’m going to eat out I like it to be somewhere that not only serves good food but that also has an interesting vibe going on whether it be a colonial courtyard, a terrace overlooking the sea or somewhere that’s just plain quirky.
Humboldt’s Mirador (or Mirador de Humboldt to give it the proper Spanish name) nestled into the hillside at the eastern end of the La Orotava Valley overlooking Puerto de la Cruz, La Orotava and Los Realejos ticks a number of boxes. It’s the place where German explorer Alexander Von Humboldt was captivated by Tenerife’s glorious scenery back in 1799. So special views are on the menu, especially if it’s a clear day and Mount Teide joins you for lunch. It’s also near the spot where Guanche king, Mencey Bencomo hung out when he wasn’t battling for survival against the conquistadors. There’s a plaque dedicated to him and his cave is nearby but isn’t obvious. Humboldt’s Mirador itself is an unusual building. The bunker-like design doesn’t immediately seem aesthetically pleasing but its attractiveness grows on me every time I visit it, partly because of the fixtures and fittings that have added a bit of colour.
Having a sculpture of Humboldt enjoying the view is inspired and jazzing up the grey bunker with arty touches and lime green furniture drains the building of its austerity; it’s delightfully retro in character and an ultra contemporary contrast to another unique lunch spot, the gorgeous El Monasterio on the other side of the valley.
But no interesting lunch venue would be complete without an attractive menu and Humboldt’s Mirador comes up with the goods. There’s an imaginative breakfast menu including Canarian themed breakfasts with names like the Romería, featuring gofio amasado and chorizo de teror amongst loads of other goodies, and the in-jokey Panza de Burro breakfast. Snacks range from bocadillos to traditional offerings like chicharrones (pork crackling – a Canarian favourite) supported by an extensive coffee and tea menu. Ingredients are fresh, local and although, at first glance, the menu might not seem that adventurous, the bocadillos have a quirky personality missing from most other places and look and taste fab.
Bocadillos filled with local goats’ cheese and avocado are as fresh as a spring morning whilst last visit I opted for a bizarre bocadillo combo of calimari and fried egg. Why? Because it was there. Some menu items change on a semi-regular basis, so you never know what snacky delights are in store.
As well as being a great venue for lunch, there’s a decent little shop as well. But despite its attraction the majority of the clientèle to date tend to be quite chic Canarios and expats of various nationalities. It hasn’t quite made it onto a lot of visitors’ radar yet, possibly because it’s not on a road that’s used much by tourists and therefore not the sort of place many are likely to stumble across.
It’s a shame as they’re missing one of Tenerife’s little treasures. The Mirador de Humboldt is the most wonderful spot to while away warm, sunny afternoons with a glass of vino in your hand whilst the sun kisses your face and vistas tug at your breath. The views might have been better in Humboldt’s day, but he didn’t have a chic café in which to relax and soak them up.
Since December 2011 the café has been complimented by a restaurant situated below the terrace which sounds equally enticing and whose floor to ceiling windows offer fantastic views even when darkness falls and the night air turns cooler. We haven’t eaten there yet but when we do we’ll let you know all about it. Note: Mirador de Humboldt is currently closed due to technical issues (a long and typically Tenerife story) whilst the local council go through a tendering process to find another business to run the place (a long drawn out and typically Tenerife process).
Mirador de Humboldt, Crta. El Pinito, Las Cuevas, La Orotava; (+34) 681 09 22 67; www.miradordehumboldt.com; open daily 1.00-4.00pm & 7.00-11pm (1-4pm only on Sunday); Bocadillos are from around €2, breakfasts cost from €8.