It was one of those special days when there wasn’t a cloud over the Anaga Mountains. The formidable peaks and lush forests were resplendent and sharp against a deep, blue sky. We’d managed to time our exploration of one of our favourite parts of Tenerife so that we arrived in Playa Roque de las Bodegas just in time for lunch.
Unfortunately so had a convoy of tour buses.
Roque de las Bodegas and the fish restaurants in the small caserío are quite unusual in the Anaga Mountains where many places are hidden away down tracks and roads that are too narrow for coach excursions. It is the most touristy spot in the Anagas – although that’s relatively speaking.
We love to see visitors out and about exploring Tenerife but we’re not keen on eating at places that cater for tour excursions because A) we usually like small, intimate joints and B) if a restaurant is trying to feed and army of people at the same time the chances are the quality is going to suffer.
So, feeling slightly claustrophobic at the number of people who’d descended en masse on Roque de las Bodegas, we jumped back in the car and drove on… beyond where the tour buses go.
Our back-up plan, a ramshackle beach bar in the next bay along, was thwarted. Sadly it had closed, so we carried on to Benijo where we found a reason to thank the coaches for motivating us to move on.
Restaurant El Mirador was unmissable – a shocking yellow façade was as blinding as the sunlight. A row of rickety chairs painted in pastel colours and a red-tiled roof contrasted sharply, yet were smile-inducing appealing. There was a childlike artistic quality that drew us in.
The interior continued the quirky theme, with images on the walls of surf dudes and Polynesian women à la Gauguin. It was cool and inviting… but a terrace with vistas overlooking the rugged north east Anaga coast was even more so.
There was hardly enough room to fit in the occupants of a mini bus let alone a coach. It was perfect.
Good to Look at and to Eat: The Food at El Mirador
Where the restaurants around Roque de las Bodegas are basic and the food won’t come as a surprise to anyone familiar with traditional Canarian cuisine, El Mirador is run by a young team who are a mix of Canarian and Italian. What that means is you get the same fresh ingredients as further down the coast, but you get them dished up with quite a bit more flair and imagination.
Even the mojo rojo and verde looked as though they had more pizazz. The menu isn’t extensive and leans towards fish and seafood – a fact that had our non-fish eating friend frowning and reluctantly taking our advice to go for the cherne if he wanted a meaty fish without bones.
He was still going on about how good it was by the time we were driving through La Laguna later in the afternoon.
Andy opted for a cazuela – a chunky fish stew where the fish part was a hake fillet and the stock had a tropical coconut base. Even the vegetables surprised because they included fresh sprouts and broccoli – rarities in traditional Canarian cuisine.
I went for octopus and sweet potato with green beans in a sweet and sour sauce – more Can-Asian than Canarian but a combination that was so good I gave it a mental round of applause… at least I hope that happened inside my head.
Washed down with cool, crisp white wine and views that brought crow’s feet to your eyes, it was one of those lunches where the world felt perfect.
Restaurant El Mirador was a hit with us on so many levels.
Go. Eat. Drink. Enjoy the views. And say to yourself, maybe allowing a wee bit of awe into your voice, ‘this is Tenerife’.
That’s what we still do in places like this.
Restaurant El Mirador; Benijo; Anaga Mountains; (+34) 922 590 217; main meals average €10; open Saturday to Thursday, midday to 5pm, closed Friday