One of the most fun ways to try tapas on Tenerife is to follow a ruta de la tapa, or tapas route.
Tapas routes are organised throughout the year in various municipalities and involve a number of restaurants and cafés competing with each other to create the best tapas dish.
For only a couple of euros you get to enjoy the sort of imaginative tapas you normally won’t normally on restaurant menus.
Over the years we’ve eaten swordfish pinchos with gazpacho, mini garlicky cuttlefish, chunky prawn kebabs drizzled with balsamic, serrano and mushroom montaditos and… err… exploding ravioli.
Although there are a plenty of tapas routes taking place across Tenerife, I’m not sure how many visitors actually take advantage of them.
We know lots of people enjoy tapas so it could be that visitors a) don’t know about them and/or b) possibly aren’t sure how they work.
Where do I find out about tapas routes?
This isn’t as easy as it should be, which is part of the problem. Many of the events that take place on Tenerife are aimed at residents and information is often passed by word of mouth.
Saying that, tapas routes are usually advertised on individual municipality’s websites; often only in Spanish. Sometimes, posters are put up around the area the tapas route is taking place. Participating restaurants sometimes display posters as well. It’s also worth calling into cultural centres as they are great sources of information about what’s happening locally.
Alternatively, keep an eye on our pick of monthly events; we include tapas routes when we find out about them as we’re massive tapas fans.
How do tapas routes work?
The pattern is nearly always the same with tapas routes. There is usually a ‘passport’ you can pick up at the local town hall, tourist office or from participating restaurants. The passport is your key to stuffing yourself with a mind-boggling range of tapas. It includes all participating restaurants and a map showing where they are. Sometimes it includes what tapas dishes are on offer so you can work out a route to suit particular tastes. In the most imaginative cases, the names of tapas won’t actually mean anything though. But discovering what they are is part of the fun. On one occasion ravioli sopresa turned out to be ravioli filled with space dust (that’s a more extreme example).
Next step is to go along to the restaurant/bar/café with your passport (make sure everyone in your group has their own) and let them know you’re on the tapas route.
For between €2-€4 (there’s a set price for each tapas route) you’ll get a tapas with drink included (glass of beer, wine, or water).
Then you get your passport stamped and move on.
There can be around 20 to 30 establishments involved. Basically, you clock up as many participating restaurants as you can manage – getting increasingly merry in the process if you try to fit in a load over the course of an afternoon.
Tapas routes usually last for three to four weeks, so there’s plenty of scope to notch up quite a few places. If you get 10 stamps, you can vote for your favourite tapas as well as having your passport entered into a draw to win a prize (usually a meal at the winning restaurant).
Where are the best locations on Tenerife for tapas routes?
You might think that it would be the north. However, there are as many, if not more, tapas routes in Tenerife’s southern municipalities. Subsequently, you’re as likely to find a tapas route in Arona or Adeje as you are in Puerto de la Cruz. However, the reality is that the bigger, traditional towns are the best places. There are usually a lot of participating restaurants over a more compact area so better for walking, rather than driving, around. Santa Cruz, La Laguna, La Orotava, Puerto de la Cruz are great for tapas routes. In Arona, Adeje, Santiago del Teide, Guia de Isora, Granadilla de Abona and San Miguel de Abona restaurants tend to be spread about the municipality.
Ultimately, tapas routes, wherever they take place, are loads of fun, giving you the opportunity to experience a taste of Tenerife that most visitors miss out on.
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+