How Tenerife swapped a full English breakfast for Michelin stars

Tenerife has raised the bar in the culinary field – Reinhard Schmid/4Corners Images

As a resident of the Canary Islands, I can proudly say that times are changing on the island of eternal spring. What was once a holiday destination with all-English vending machines and cheap chips is growing into a place for more refined palettes.

I know, it’s a bold statement, but it’s backed by a certain tire manufacturer-cum-restaurant authority, which has awarded the island another two Michelin stars by 2024, bringing the total to nine. Taste 1973, in the resort of Playa de las Américas, and Haydée, amid the Renaissance charm of La Orotava, are the latest restaurants to be praised by the guide. Meanwhile, around twenty restaurants have been given the official thumbs up as Michelin recommended.

Taste 1973 was recently awarded a Michelin starTaste 1973 was recently awarded a Michelin star

Taste 1973 was recently awarded a Michelin star

The vast majority of these take Canarian staples, such as dry-aged fish, and give them a gourmet twist – so it’s out with greasy burgers and in with Haydée’s baby goat wrapped in banana leaves and marinated for 24 hours (a traditional recipe prepared and presented for the modern age). ). Centuries-old Canarian classics such as Ropa Vieja Canaria (literally translated as “old Canarian clothes”, but actually a warming stew of chickpeas and pork) and Conejo and Salmorejo (rabbit in a garlic and pepper sauce) are universally loved across the eight Canary Islands – but nowhere else do they taste this better.

Haydée's baby goat wrapped in banana leavesHaydée's baby goat wrapped in banana leaves

Haydée’s baby goat wrapped in banana leaves

While Tenerife’s restaurants rack up the praise, its products and ingredients are also attracting international attention. Canary Islands won nine major gold medals for their vintages at the 2023 Mondial des Vins Extrêmes competition, which celebrates local wines made in unique terroirs.

In fact, the last few decades of fast food sales have been just a small part of Tenerife’s long history of satisfying taste buds. During the 16th and 17th centuries, Canarian wine became very popular after Shakespeare included ‘a cup of canary’ in two of his works (Twelfth night And The Merry Women of Windsor) – the Elizabethan equivalent of product placement.

One of the best ways to get to know the local juice is at the Casa del Vino museum in the coastal town of El Sauzal. Set in a 17th-century mansion, it offers tastings and a wine shop selling the best of the island’s more than 100 wineries.

The Casa del Vino museum is the place for education about the wines of TenerifeThe Casa del Vino museum is the place for education about the wines of Tenerife

The Casa del Vino Museum is the place for an education on the wines of Tenerife – Alamy Stock Photo

Or you can cut out the middleman and go straight to the vines. Head to Bodegas Monje, where neat terraces overlook the windswept Atlantic Ocean, or Cumbres de Abona, where you can taste my favorite drink, the fruity red Flor de Chasna.

Recognizing the increasing interest, Tenerife’s hotels and resorts are selling food-inspired holidays with extras like cooking classes or art and wine workshops (where you can sample the good stuff and lay your tipsy hand on a souvenir masterpiece at the same time). You can also wander the island’s numerous farmers’ markets in search of its most famous food: cheese.

Visit the numerous farmers markets for local cheeseVisit the numerous farmers markets for local cheese

Check out the numerous farmers markets for local cheese – Alamy Stock Photo

At the 2023 World Cheese Awards, tears were shed and mothers were thanked for each of the 38 medals awarded to quesos Canarios. You’ve never really tasted goat’s cheese until you’ve tried the local version, with a little bit of Tenerife’s ubiquitous green mojo sauce on the side.

Four more surprising destinations for food lovers


For such a small island, Malta has enough Michelin stars: six in total. Three of them are for chefs cooking in the woefully underrated capital Valletta. Best of all is ION Harbour, where the views over Grand Harbor are as good as chef Simon Rogan’s seasonal dishes. There are also cheaper places for delicious food, focusing on the island’s unique blend of Italian and Arabic flavors, which has resulted in dishes such as rabbit stew and lampuki pie, made with just-caught dolphin fish. They are best at Gululu, situated in an unlikely waterfront location amid the tower block hotels of the seaside resort of St Julian’s.

ION Harbor is located on top of the Iniala Harbor HouseION Harbor is located on top of the Iniala Harbor House

ION Harbor is located on top of the Iniala Harbor House – Annie Mackaness


Thousands of years before the British embraced drinking on the island, the Minoans gave us Linear B, the language from which the ancient Greek word ‘gastronomia’ is derived. That goes some way to explaining Crete’s rich culinary heritage and a new kind of tourism that has emerged as a result: the island’s cakes, wines and protected cheeses have even inspired a specialist tour from cultural tour provider Martin Randall. For traditional cooking done to perfection, head to Ntounias near the city of Chania. Here the chef recreates the recipes of his mother and grandmother over a wood fire and also serves homemade raki. Expect snails with rosemary and melting lamb.

Nerja, Costa del Sol

What it lacks in glitz, this Costa del Sol town makes up for in paella. Along the busy stretch behind Burriana Beach, where marauding toddlers run to the playground and large families stroll lazily, lies the city’s standout star: Ayo Nerja. Here, guests sit at plastic tables in a sandy, unadorned garden, patiently waiting for large portions of the restaurant’s famously delicious rice dish, doled out from giant pans. And while Nerja has its fair share of all-English cafes and Irish pubs, there’s also a thriving tapas scene in the alleys of the old town. The most atmospheric is La Tasquita del Sevillano (00 34 951 32 51 19), where two floors full of space merge into a terrace with a romantic view over the rooftops.

Paella is a must-try on the Costa del SolPaella is a must-try on the Costa del Sol

Paella is a must-try on the Costa del Sol – Getty

It may be gaining popularity in Britain as an affordable beach destination, but Albania has a long history of delicious food – and it’s as cheap as chips. The country’s burgeoning Riviera is not (yet) a place full of Michelin stars, but rather a destination where you can taste simple local delicacies: mussels harvested from Lake Butrint; beach snacks from freshly made petulla (fried dough) topped with smooth syrup; or grilled octopus served in the Ibiza-like setting of Sanur Beach House, on the sands of the whitewashed and bustling beach town of Dhermi. Meanwhile, just inland, a slow food scene is emerging. About a 20-minute drive from the coast is Agroturizëm Gjepali, a hotel, restaurant and winery with an emphasis on local ingredients and grape varieties.

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