Tripadvisor can be an incredibly useful tool for planning trips and holidays. The information within comes from real holidaymakers (most of the time anyway) which means you can trust what people say… or can you?
What if a high percentage of those people just don’t like the same things you do?
In many ways it is like reading a British tabloid. There might be useful and trustworthy news in there but you’ve got to be able to sort the wheat from the chaff.
The recommendations for the best restaurants around Tenerife provide a perfect example of why Tripadvisor doesn’t always work as a good source of reliable information for anyone into enjoying quality culinary experiences.
Starting on the east coast, we worked our way around to see what Tripadvisor’s top restaurants were in some popular resorts
The Best Restaurants in El Médano
There are nice restaurants and tapas bars in El Médano so it was a surprise to find Calima Café in the number one spot out of 24. In second position was Pizzeria La Tartaruga whose friendly staff and huge pizzas earned it a big thumbs up.
Comment: Are burgers and pizzas really the best El Médano can offer? We don’t think so.
The Best Restaurants in Golf del Sur
Number 1 out of 31 was Rendezvous serving British and international dishes like prawn cocktail, steaks and chicken with a view over a bowling green. Second was Haweli Indian Tandoori whose €10.95, 3 course option was popular.
Comment: No real surprises. You’d expect an Indian restaurant and one serving international fare to figure highly in Golf del Sur.
The Best Restaurants in Costa del Silencio
With a mix of Asian, international and breakfasts Harvester came in at top spot out of 14. You can’t go wrong with steak and chicken dishes on Tenerife it seems. In second position was British flavoured Alejandra Café Bar and Grill whose Yorkshire puds are legendary… around there anyway.
Comment: By this time there seems to be a bit of a pattern emerging. Are British restaurants and cafés really the best dining options on Tenerife?
The Best Restaurants in Los Cristianos
We had high hopes for the former fishing village but number one out of 171 restaurants was another British joint, Oliver’s With a Twist; apparently good for fish and chips and turkey curry. In number two spot was another café, Via Via, whose Italian ice creams had elevated it to a lofty position.
Comment: Even by the time we reach a town with strong Canarian roots, there is still not a Canarian or Spanish restaurant. Is the local food really that poor?
The Best Restaurants in Playa de las Américas
Number one out of 123 is homely Italian First Love who serve home made pastas. In number two is Thai Botanico in the Safari Centre.
Comment: You’d expect an international rather than Spanish flavour in las Américas; both restaurants have a reputation for serving quality food.
The Best Restaurants in Costa Adeje
The top Tripadvisor restaurant in the area which usually comes with ‘upmarket’ attached to its name is… drum roll… Mickey O’Malleys where the omelettes and toasties are said to be ‘out of this world’. All I can say is that they must be to get a bar to number one position. In second spot is Harriet’s Tea Room whose English cakes and pastries seem to be ring the bell of a lot of visitors to the area.
Comment: A bar and a tea room; clearly ‘upmarket’ doesn’t mean what it used to. Still no Spanish entry.
The Best Restaurants in Callao Salvaje
Heading further south west, things start to change. In top spot out of 13 is Santa Lucia, a modern French restaurant which isn’t too much of a surprise as there is a French/Belgian influence in the resort. In second, por fin, is El Ancla serving Spanish cuisine.
Comment: A big thumbs up to the people who stay in Callao Salvaje for actually straying away from familiarity.
The Best Restaurants in Playa San Juan
In pole position is Arlequin whose Spanish/Chilean flavours are much appreciated by visitors to the town. Second is San Juan Creativo, a Danish restaurant dishing up creative nosh.
Comment: Again, a move away from the familiarity but, as these are picked from only 8 restaurants, it’s unclear if that’s because of limited choice.
The Best Restaurants in Los Gigantes
El Rincon de Juan Carlos is the top restaurant in Los Gigantes and one of the best in the island. That’s not a loosely thrown about ‘best’. Chef Juan Carlos was voted second best chef in Spain a couple of years ago. Second out of 24 is back to British with CK’s Bistro.
Comment: TA reviewers definitely got the No1 spot right in Los Gigantes.
The Best Restaurants in Puerto de la Cruz
The first big Canarian town must have a Canarian/Spanish restaurant in top position surely? Nope, not on Tripadvisor where number one out of 208 restaurants is Romanian Bambi. We live in Puerto de la Cruz and haven’t eaten at Bambi because A) the menu didn’t excite us at all and b) neither did the restaurant itself. Second place Tambo in Punta Brava has a Venetian and a Spanish chef and serves seafood dishes with flair.
Comment: A reviewer who said they ate at Bambi every day during their holiday because they were a fussy eater might have provided a clue about why some ‘unexpected’ restaurants feature highly in Tenerife’s resorts.
The Best Restaurants in La Laguna
Number one out of 68 in La Laguna was classed as Italian on Tripadvisor. However, a check of the menu reveals it to be more modern Canarian/Spanish which is what you’d expect in La Laguna. Second spot goes to El Anticuario Libanese.
Comment: It was a surprise that both weren’t Canario.
The Best Restaurants in Santa Cruz
So what of Tenerife’s capital? Number one out of 266 was The Emerald Lounge Irish Bar… WHAT? It’s a mistake, it’s in the south of Tenerife. But as the title Santa Cruz de Tenerife applies to the province as well as the city things got a bit confused on Tripadvisor. However, the real number one and two – El Libano and Mauma, both have a Lebanese flavour.
Comment: Again, not what you’d expect from a city where most of the restaurants are Canarian or Spanish.
So what do the results say about Tenerife and Tripadvisor?
In relation to restaurants on Tenerife, Tripadvisor’s results can be misleading.
A lot of the top choices don’t accurately reflect the best restaurants. They might reflect some of the most popular restaurants but that isn’t the same thing. The Sun might be one of the best selling newspapers in Britain but it certainly isn’t the best by a long shot.
Costa Adeje is the best example of how the results can mislead. Some Tenerife British ‘pubs’ might serve good food (so I’m told, I’ve yet to experience it first hand). But come on, there is no way pubs should be classed as the best restaurants in any area, let alone one that prides itself on its upmarket status and luxury hotels. Scroll further down Tripadvisor’s list and you’ll find restaurants that are far more worthy of top spots.
Tripadvisor’s reviews favour populist and budget rather than quality and, because of the sheer weight of numbers, it’s more likely results also reflect middle of the road palates. It’s why familiarity figures highly. The amount of British restaurants serving 80s style food are evidence of this.
Basically Tripadvisor’s top choices don’t always represent the full reality of Tenerife’s gastronomic scene. The bottom line is there are simply far better restaurants in many of the Tenerife locations mentioned but you need to scroll down those lists and read why people praise restaurants to find them.
Positions shift on a regular basis so by the time you read this, things might be slightly different. However, the pattern tends to remain very similar.
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+