Visitors to Tenerife looking for restaurant recommendations, particularly budget restaurants, often ask “where do the locals eat?”. Almost without exception, the answer they’ll be given by ex-pats is the name of a restaurant that’s popular with fellow ex-pats. But if you want to know where the real locals, ie the Canarios eat, follow the signs to a guachinche.
Existing only in Tenerife and only around the wine growing regions of the island, are the very distinctive guachinches. In all probability, the name comes from their 17th century origins and is actually derived from English.
Guachinches were small stalls by the side of the road, set up by wine growers for the English merchants to try their harvest in the hopes they would then buy it and export it. As the growers were getting samples, the merchants would say “I’m watching you!” so they could be sure the wine being tasted was from that owner’s vineyard. Not knowing English, over the years the Canarios reproduced the term as guachinche which is pronounced wah-chin-chay, watchin’ you. As merchants sipped their wine, housewives prepared a small selection of tapas to accompany it and from there, these rustic eating stalls developed. Today they are makeshift restaurants where the local population habitually enjoy lunch.
Guachinches primarily exist for the purpose of selling the year’s harvest and are therefore to be found most prolifically around the biggest wine growing regions. You’ll mostly find them in La Orotava, Tacoronte, Los Realejos, El Sauzal, Santa Ürsula and in the south you’ll find one or two around Guimar. By law, the guachinches are only supposed to open for a part of the year, so investment in fancy marketing and décor is not top of their agendas. Signs will usually run to a piece of wood nailed to a tree or propped on a barrel; premises will range from garages to garden sheds and tablecloths, where they exist, will be of the paper variety.
Menus are limited with only a handful of traditional dishes such as cabra (goat), carne fiesta (fried pork), escaldón (fish or meat stock thickened with gofio), salchichas (sausages), garbanzos (chickpeas) and costillas con piña (ribs with corn on the cob), but the food is plentiful, tasty and cheap and usually comes with lashings of boiled potatoes, papas arrugadas or home made chips. Of course the real star of the guachinche is the wine. Known as vino del país it will be chilled to within an inch of its life, soft, fruity and dangerously drinkable.
If you’re attending a local fiesta or a romería, you may well find a guachinche tucked into someone’s garden or courtyard. If you smell delicious barbecued meat and hear a buzz of activity emanating from somewhere that says ‘se vende vino‘ (wine for sale) follow your nose and see where it leads you. You just might end up somewhere where the locals eat 🙂
Category : about tenerife
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