A foodie’s guide to the Canary Islands

Food is an important factor to consider when choosing a holiday and exploring local cuisines, bars and restaurants is all part of the fun of going abroad. Watch our video below to get a taste of the main foods and dishes of the Canary Islands. Your tummy might rumble - don't say we didn't warn you!

One of the best things to do on any holiday is to enjoy the local food and drink offerings and the Canaries are no exception. Visiting local cafes and bars and eating like the locals is one of the best things to do.

In all the islands, the ingredients and influences are a mixture of African (its close neighbour), Spanish (of course) and then Latin American as well. The latter is because for centuries locals had to emigrate to find employment and adventure and off they would sail to mainly south and central America, bringing back much of what they had tasted and learned.  

This is when potatoes, tomatoes, beans, maize and sweet corn became an important part of the cuisine and locals began to grow them at home. Nowadays, tropical fruit from pineapple to papaya is grown on the island and is the sweetest you will find anywhere in Europe, so make the most of it while you're here.

What to eat

Whether you're holidaying in Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria or Lanzarote, one thing you have to do is head to a local tapas bar and order a few dishes. 

Here we list some of the most popular dishes and ingredients so you can find your way around the menu – although many will have the translation underneath.

  • Papas arrugadas are served everywhere, a true Canarian potato national dish. Arrugadas, means wrinkled which is exactly what happens to these potatoes which are boiled in their skins in salty water. They are then served with either a mojo picon (a spicy red sauce) or a mojo verde (a coriander sauce)
  • Parrilada is a good way to try the different types of fish on offer, it’s a mixed platter of friend fish and shellfish
  • Ropa Vieja is a stew of mixed meats with chickpeas and vegetables
  • Sancocho bass boiled with ordinary or sweet potatoes and served with a mojo
  • Conejo de Salmorejo rabbit stewed with tomatoes

  • Puchero canario a stew of cabbage, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, pork and beef

  • Chocos asados is one of the most exciting things to order in any Canarian restaurant – a whole cuttlefish (tentacles included) served with a mojo 

Much of what the locals eat is quite hearty but to get a true taste of Canarian food you should at least try one dish.

Every street, promenade, square and beach has a selection of tapas bars and while originally they were served as just a taste to accompany a drink, many people like to make a whole meal of them and an evening in a tapas bar is one of best things to do in the Canary Islands.

If you're in Gran Canaria, head to Vegueta area on Thursday evenings and do a tapas bar crawl. Known as Tapas Thursday the area is one of the best places to visit in the city and its where locals and visitors try different places and tastes between 8pm and 10pm.

Local sips

A number of local wines are made throughout the Canary Islands so you can always add a wine tasting experience to your holiday. Be warned though some of them are on the sweet side, although the sweetest come from the volcanic soil of Lanzarote, while other islands have experimented with a banana flavoured sparkling wine and a banana liqueur!

If you're looking to visit a winery, consider Winery Bermejos (Lanzarote), Bodega Conatvs (Fuerteventura), Destilerías Arehucas (Gran Canaria) and Bodegas Monje (Tenerife).

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