We’ve a choice of restaurants within ten minutes walking from our house. Most of them are traditional, catering for mainly a local clientèle.
Las Casitas was a bit of an unknown quantity. Despite being beside one of the main roads into Puerto de la Cruz and despite being a beautiful little rustic restaurant consisting of three small buildings around a pretty courtyard, the restaurant has never been successful. In the time we’ve been here it’s changed from La Chaveta to the Swiss House to Tres Casitas to its current incarnation, Las Casitas.
Since it has reopened we’ve noticed that it has been consistently busier than it ever was previously. The courtyard was full of locals ever time we passed which we took as a good sign.
So if Las Casitas was so popular why did the menu disappoint us?
Unsurprisingly the menu was traditional Canarian. But where Tres Casitas was traditionally Canarian, it had some slightly different dishes in the mix, like deep fried courgette flowers. Las Casitas is very basic traditional Canarian.
There was nothing on the menu that isn’t on every other Canarian menu; all dishes that we’ve tried a million times before. It was Christmas, we wanted something a bit different. The avant-garde cuisine at Lucas, a few hundred yards up the road, beckoned
But Las Casitas is a lovely looking restaurant and the owners are typically Canarian friendly. Plus, the sound of laughter from the main dining room made it sound inviting, so we decided to stay put.
Fresh Canarian Cuisine: The Food at Las Casitas
Starters and mains at Las Casitas consist of a sort of top twenty of Canarian gastronomy, featuring cheeses, jamon iberico, salads, croquettes, churros de pescado (fish goujons), grilled meats, bacalao encebollada (cod in onion sauce) etc.
For starters we ordered a mix of semi-curado and curado cheese from La Palma and churros de pescado followed by cochinillo (suckling pig) and conejo a la brasa (grilled rabbit).
I asked for the wine list and the water produced a notebook with their selection of wines handwritten on it – sweet. The house red, from Santa Ursula, was stored in a big plastic flagon. They gave us a glass to try – it was typical vino del pais, perfectly drinkable but a wee bit on the rough side so we decided on a bottle of Ribera del Duero instead.
When the food arrived it quickly became clear why Las Casitas was popular with locals. The cheese from La Palma was quality stuff. The semi-curado packed a tasty punch but the curado was something else. We could smell it making its way to the table. A dollop of jam tried to cool it down but this was cheese with a real attitude; so mature it was spicy, leaving a burning sensation in the mouth. The churros de pescado were as good as we’ve eaten on Tenerife, moist fish in a batter that stayed perky and crispy till the last mouthful was devoured. Andy’s cochinillo was ridiculously sized, an overdose of tender suckling pig that the two of us failed to finish. My half rabbit (instantly recognisable) tasted of the nose-teasing smoky barbecue smells that had been dancing out of the kitchen since we’d ordered.
Being in-between La Orotava and Puerto de la Cruz makes La Casita a bit out of the range of most visitors. Everybody else, from small groups relaxing with vino in the courtyard to the two long tables hosting Christmas works outings (one of them a band who unfortunately were only there to eat and not play) were Canarian. As we ate a guy from one of the tables performed an impromptu Canarian rap which had his table in stitches (far too fast for us to translate).
People clearly enjoyed the food and atmosphere at Las Casitas and I was pleased to see it doing well. Maybe finally the restaurant will be successful.
There’s no denying the quality of the food and the people who run it are lovely. What’s interesting though is that when previous owners tried to be creative, they didn’t attract the crowds. Taking it back to familiar basics and doing what every other Canarian restaurant does, but doing it well, seems as though it might have done the trick.
Las Casitas – guachinche and bodegón; Camino Torreón, 80; La Orotava; (+34) 922 322 694; main meals average around €8.
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+