I didn´t expect Tenerife food to be so different than the dishes we eat in Mainland Spain. Visiting Santa Cruz de Tenerife I was blown away by the food there. My reason for travel was TBM Tenerife. A conference for Spanish Travel Bloggers held in the Canary Islands.

I was happy to hear that Gastrocanarias was on at the same time as my trip. A foodie fair with all lots of Canary Islands produce all in one exhibition hall. With this local food show and a market tour in Santa Cruz, Tenerife´s capital. I got plenty of insight into the Canary Island food culture.

Mojo Picon Canary Islands Food Spain Blog

Typical Tenerife Food

On the Canary Islands the most typical foods are:

  • Bananas known as Platano Canario, they are smaller and sweeter than regular bananas.
  • Local Wine
  • Honey, There a 13 different varieties on the Canary Islands. Look out for avocado honey or one made from local plant Tajinase (Tenerife bugloss)
  • Cheese. Especially Queso Majorero made on Fuerteventura and Queso Palmero from Palma. Look out for many varieties of Sheep´s and Goats cheese made on the islands.
  • Coffee is produced on Gran Canaria (Agaete Valley)
  • Mojo
  • Gofio

Tenerife Food Spain Blog Tropical Fruit Papay

  • Potatoes
  • Papaya and other fruits.
  • Almogrote
  • Bienmesabe
  • Dishes with lots of herbs and spices such as the Spiced Chicken Pollo al salmorejo or Spiced Pork Adobo de Cerdo
  • Barraquito (a stripey coffee made with alcohol)
  • Almond based desserts such as Principe Alberto.

Photo by Michal Mrozek on Unsplash

Canary Islands – Fish Varieties

Fish is a main ingredient in many dishes as the islands are surrounded by ocean. Local fish include

  • Mediterranean parrotfish (pez loro/ la vieja)
  • Grouper (mero)
  • Damselfish (damisela)
  • Sea bass (la lubina)
  • Sea Bream (el besugo)
  • Mackerel (caballa)
  • Boga (Megaleporinus obtusidens)
  • Parrotfish (pez loro)
  • Dentex (el dentón)
  • Atlantic Wreckfish / Stone Bass (cherme pez naufragio)

These local dishes mainly come from the crops grown locally. For centuries they have grown on the islands things such as potatoes, beans, tomatoes, avocado, papayas, corn, cocoa and tobacco.

Tenerife Food Mojo

What is Mojo?

One of the most typical sauces is Mojo. This appears on most menus. It is also on sale in delicatessen shops and market stalls. Mojo comes in Red and Green varieties and is always served with the famous potatoes papas arrugadas. 

This sauce is made from peppers, olive oil and garlic. It is not spicy and makes a tasty addition to cheese and potatoes. Another typical sauce is Almogrote. This red paste is popular, a spread made from cheese and paprika. Often served with wine.

Gofio Typical Tenerife Food

What is Gofio?

A flour made from corn, wheat or other toasted cereals. This dish goes back a long way in history. The first settlers on Canary Islands used this as the main dish. Thought to come from the North of Morocco these cereals have been grown for over 2000 years on the islands. In the 16th century new grains and cereals arrived to the Canaries. New foods came from overseas so they began to modify their Gofio recipes with new fusions.

Now you can get Gofio from Millet, Wheat, Bran, Chickpeas, Corn, Blended, Spelt.. an endless list of varieties. It is used in different recipes to accompany meat and fish but can also be used in dessert too. One of the most typical local dishes with gofio is a fish stew. It´s the islanders version of chicken broth believe to restore as it´s packed with lots of protein and nutrients.

In Latin American countries they call Gofio, harina tostada, toasted flour, which is exactly what it is. The Sancocho canario is a fish dish where both gofio and mojo are served together. It´s even become popular in South America.

Mojo Rojo Papas Arrugadas

Papas arrugadas

Papas arrugadas are very typical and of course accompanied by Mojo sauce. As the Canary Islands has different varieties of potatoes, it´s an important food for the Islanders. It was also important historically as it helped beat hunger centuries ago in hard times. Potatoes grown on the island are different from potatoes in other places due to the volcanic nature of the soil on Tenerife.

Photo by Krzysztof Kowalik on Unsplash

There are more than 40 varieties of potatoes produced on the Islands. Some have Denominación de Origen (recognition from Spanish government of high quality specific to a region). 29 of the potato varieties have only been grown on the Canary Islands since 16th century. Most of the production is done on the Northern part of Tenerife.

Typical Canary Islands Food Potatoes

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Canary Islands Wine

Bananas grow on Canarias. Known as Platano, they are sweeter and smaller that the South American banana. Unsurprisingly lots of products are made in Tenerife from banana crops. They have a Banana wine called Platé, Banana vinegar and jam too.

Typical Canary Islands Wine

Tacoronte-Acentejo

Canary Islands has it´s fair share of wine production too. The biggest area is  Tacoronte-Acentejo in Tenerife. However six of the Canary Islands produce wine. In fact production has been going on for over 500 years.  The vines are some of the oldest in European as they werent affected by phylloxera blight in the 1800´s.

Other foods which are typical in Tenerife are Honey, fish, Cheese, papaya and other fruits, Barraquito (a stripey coffee with liquor 43) Bienmesabe and Almond based desserts such as Principe Alberto.

La Orotava Tenerife

In La Orotava you can visit La Casa de los Balcones a historic Tenerife manor with pretty wooden balconies. Enjoy your visit with Lunch with a glass of local wine included.

Mercado Santa Cruz Canary Islands

Tenerife Food Tour

On my last day in Santa Cruz, I got to go on a Market tour with Tenerife like a local

Santa Cruz market is El Mercado de Nuestra Señora de África. Built in a colonial style it´s a wonderful place to explore.  Although I was completed in 1944, it´s not that old it is so charming. I got to taste different cheeses and wines on some of the stalls.

Almond treat Canary Islands Food Spain Blog

Santa Cruz Food Market

After seeing the different parts of the market we had a challenge to do. The idea was to go shopping and buy typical Tenerife food ingredients. In our teams we would cook the most traditional recipes ourselves later that morning.

This was a fun activity and great for anyone whether you are into food or not. It´s good to enjoy an interactive experience rather than just observing. There are so many things to do in Tenerife, its not all about the beach.

Mojo verde Tenerife food

Where to eat in Tenerife

  • Bodegón Viana – A typical place to enjoy Tenerife food in La Laguna. Here I enjoyed baked cheese with green mojo, Carne fiesta, fried pork with herbs and papas arrugadas. Calle Viana, 35, San Cristóbal de La Laguna
  • La Huella Café-Bistro– A smart restaurant in the centre of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The menu del dia (Midweek set menu) costs 11 euros.  Calle Pérez Galdós 3, Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Typical Canary Islands Food Santa Cruz Pamelita

  • Palmelita – The sweetest café serving cakes, ice creams, coffee and more. Located in an old building with vintage tile adverts on the façcade, it´s been operating since 1968. On the main street Calle Castillo in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
  • Strasse Park – A smart chilled out place, located next to the municipal park in Santa Cruz. This new restaurant offers brunch, cocktails and great food. A smart stylish setting surrounded by lush vegatation, you certainly feel like you are in the tropics when you are here. Find them at Parque García Sanabria, Rambla de Santa Cruz.
  • Bar Concepción – This quaint little bar has outdoor seating and is next to the Concepcion Church tower in Santa Cruz. They offer a Midweek menu and is also a nice spot for wine and sharing plates in the evening. I enjoyed the honey drizzled aubergines topped with Manchego cheese. They are at Calle Antonio Dominguez Alfonso, 4, Santa Cruz de Tenerife

You may also like this Foodie tour in Malaga or to discover more on Street Food in Granada 

Tenerife Food Market

Tenerife Resources

While you are visiting Tenerife don´t miss some of the best attractions and experiences.

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All thoughts, feelings and opinions shared on this blog and in this post are my own.
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Tenerife Food Guide - My Canary Islands Gastro Tips
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Tenerife Food Guide - My Canary Islands Gastro Tips
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A guide to Typical Tenerife food + local Canary Island dishes. What I ate in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Market tour + visit to gastrocanarias. Local dishes such as Gofio, mojo and the wine varieties of the islands.
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