Just 4 hours on an Easyjet plane and we were transported from cold, grey London to balmy Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands, closer to Africa than Spain. It is a land of cacti, volcanoes, quiet white-washed villages, rugged rocky coastlines, beautiful gold or black beaches, and never-ending skies. Thanks to the influence of the artist Cesar Manrique, there are very few advertising billboards or electricity cables across the island. It felt a long way from home as we stepped off the plane.
That was until we arrived in Costa Teguise with it’s multitude of English or even Scottish Breakfasts, Sunday lunches ‘with real Bisto gravy’, steak houses, Chinese buffets, pizza palaces or Guiness Irish pubs. Suddenly we were in Skegness not Spain. Tasty and fun it may be, but it was not what we came for. We were determined to track down the real Spanish and Canarian cooking, obscured by the shiny tourist restaurants. So here’s the hidden places we found:
- Isla Bonita – Avenida el Mar 25, Playa Bastian, Costa Teguise. Closed Sundays.
This restaurant’s been cooking Canarian food for 30 years. Every day at lunch time there’s two local dishes – and they’re a bargain. We went several times as it was near our apartment and the food was always so good. The lentil soup had deep meaty flavours with bay leaf and sweetcorn (both common in Canarian cooking) for about 6 or 7 Euro. Rabbit Salmorejo is another local dish marinated overnight in vinegar, wine, bay and minced offal, then fried in the sauce. Served as always with salty Canarian boiled potatoes and spicy mojo sauces only 8.50 Euro. Squid and octopus feature on many menus, here with fried potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce for 8.50 Euro. The full menu includes Spanish tapas, pasta dishes for 6 Euro, and grilled fish and steaks for around 12 Euro. House wine is Canarian, red or white and only 2.50 Euro a large glass.
- El Guachinche de Luis – Avda. Islas Canarias 19, Costa Teguise (opposite the big Hipo Dino). Closed Sundays.
The only Guanchinche in Costa Teguise – a Canarian word for a ‘rough and ready’ restaurant serving local food. Here Luis prides himself on serving local produce from 7am til 4pm, Monday to Saturday. He runs around serving up hearty tapas and raciones including a board of daily specials translated into English. As we were usually on our way to the beach we rarely had a phone for pictures, but again we went 4 or 5 times for lunch. The fried garlic rabbit with potatoes was amazing for 6.50 Euro. The soup of the day is 3.50 Euro and this was another local recipe including thick vermicelli, chickpeas and watercress. He also sells local cheeses, wines and jams at the back.
- El Muelito- Avenida de las Islas Canarias 22, Costa Teguise
A very cheap, and therefore easy to overlook, restaurant and bar specialising in rotisserie chickens, hamburgers, breakfasts and bocadillo sandwiches. The house burger costs only 2.50 Euro and is grilled to your liking with roast peppers, cheese, salad and spicy, garlic sauce in a soft, floury bun. Perfect. Indoor and outdoor seating. Seems to be permanently open. Here I discovered my new favourite coffee addiction – leche de leche – espresso, milk and condensed milk.
- Las Maretas – Plaza las Gaviotas 2, Costa Teguise
And finally a quirky place run for 20 years by Domingo and his wife. It opens at unpredictable times, has a loyal following and very mixed reviews online. The prices on the menu feel like they’ve not been updated in years, maybe since they opened. Pasta dishes start at 4.50 Euro. However when he serves each table Domingo (the only waiter) reels off a list of specials without revealing the prices. Some people feel duped by this when the bill arrives. So after a bit of negotiation and clarification, in the cheapest restaurant in town we spent the most money on any meal in the whole holiday. But for about 70 Euros we had a stunning dry white wine – Vega de Yuco malvasia, a tray of dainty salt-baked local-caught prawns, delicate sea bass carpaccio, and finally local creamy baked lobster thermidor! This was a total seafood blow-out and worth every Euro.