The Etiquette of Eating Out in Traditional Tenerife

Fri, September 19th, 2014 - By Jack Montgomery

Recently I was in a packed restaurant on Tenerife where nearly every other table was taken by large, extended families.
The noise in the place was deafening. Not due to the army of children, but because anywhere frequented by Canarios of any age buzzes with laughter and loud chatter. In traditional restaurants on Tenerife there is no chance of feeling as though you’re eating in a church or in a place where the slightest noise brings a disapproving look from other diners, possibly over the top of horn-rimmed spectacles.


Bustling tapas bar, Tenerife


The children, as is usual on an island where family and community are vitally important, were all wonderfully behaved. Even the youngest members of the family enthusiastically tucked into plates filled with the same sort of food their parents were eating. Slightly older children congregated in an area set aside for them to practice making pizzas.

At one point a young couple pushing a twin buggy tried to squeeze between tables. The waiters happily shifted furniture to let them pass, joking the buggy was as big as a car. Nothing was too much trouble to get the young family seated.

It was a fun, relaxed environment in which to eat and the amiable waiters went about their business smiling and chatting with everyone.

Restaurant early at night, Tenerife

People often ask if children are welcome in restaurants in Tenerife. The above example is typical of the way families are treated in traditional restaurants on the island. Not only are children welcome, they are doted upon.

Like everywhere you travel, there can be little differences when it comes to eating out on Tenerife. Attitudes toward children is one. When to eat is another.

On numerous occasions I’ve heard visitors criticising restaurants for lacking atmosphere. A couple of questions reveals that the person usually making the comment ate at a local restaurant at the same time they normally eat at home (Britain), around 6.30pm.


Restaurant later at night, Tenerife


In the resorts populated mainly by Northern Europeans (Playa de las Américas, Costa Adeje, Los Gigantes etc.) they’d have plenty of other diners around them. In traditional towns like La Orotava or La Laguna there’s more chance of having lively company eating a picnic in a graveyard as eating dinner in a Canarian restaurant at 6.30pm. We go out to eat at 8.30pm and are still early birds.
In traditional areas if you want a table without reserving one, go early. If you want atmosphere with your food, eat later… after 8.30pm.

In many restaurants waiters will clock what nationality you are and offer you a menu in the appropriate language. If the menu is multi-lingual, cross-check the Spanish menu items with the English ones. They don’t always match up. Before we sussed this out it led to some ‘surprises’ turning up on the plate. On one occasion a ‘fish pie’ turned out to be a cold fish terrine.



Finally, there’s the question of tipping when the meal is over. On Tenerife it’s quite simple. If you’re pleased with your meal and service leave around 10%, but there’s no pressure at all. Tips are sometimes accepted with genuine surprise, especially in the more traditional areas.

Eating out in traditional Tenerife is a relaxed and enjoyable affair where, in reality, you don’t really have to worry too much about etiquette at all.

Posted : Friday, September 19th, 2014 at 9:44 am
Category : about tenerife
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