The first place I ate out in Tenerife, twenty-four years ago, was the village of Los Abrigos. I was charmed by what was essentially still a harbour of fishing boats, although almost all of the properties overlooking it had been converted into restaurants. We feasted on fresh fish and papas arrugadas with mojo, the signature dish of the island’s coastal region, whilst watching the boats bobbing gently in the bay. Los Abrigos translates as The Shelters, a place where boats found safety on this windy coastline, and lies on the coast parallel with the southern airport, just five minutes from Golf del Sur.
Back then, access was bumpy and winding, nothing more than a dirt track really. Now access is easy from Playa de las Americas, Los Cristianos or Costa del Silencio it’s a fifteen minute drive on good roads. The village is so well-known to regular visitors that people come much further too, from Callao Salvaje or even Los Gigantes.
I lived there for a couple of years and watched the fishing boats still coming and going as they must have done for decades or more. Sometimes in the wee small hours I would wake to the sounds of the unloading of a fresh catch. Around midday the atmosphere would change. The tourists would begin to filter down, strolling the promenade and inspecting the menus and atmosphere of each restaurant, before deciding where to lunch
Twenty-odd years ago all the restaurants served that same, basic but delicious fare, on plastic tables covered by paper cloths, but the food was unbeatable – fish fresh and a variety of seafoods for starters or tapas. Every now and then a non-fish restaurant would have a go, but none survived.
One of the most memorable meals of my life was dining at Perlas del Mar with the late Sir Matt Busby. To be honest, I couldn’t tell you what I ate that night, or even if I did eat, so enthralled was I with his stories, and his gently magnetic personality. Sir Matt was here for a golf tournament and a year later, here for the same tournament, Kevin Keegan confided that he always hightailed it to the village as soon as he arrived in Tenerife, to sample the traditional fare.
Today, things have changed. The harbour and seafront have been spruced up, the old seawater pool where the kids used to splash whilst we lingered over Sunday lunch is gone and neat stonewalled pathways wind down the hillside, so you can stroll a little after eating. But the village has expanded landwards, leaving the essential atmosphere harbour side the same as it always was.
Nowadays there is a wider menu choice too. My personal recommendations out of such a rich choice of eateries? If you want the traditional fish dishes, choosing your fish from the selection displayed, then try Perlas del Mar or Restaurante Los Abrigos at the end of the promenade, looking down on the harbour, or Vista Mar, right in the middle of the street. All three have been in business for as long as I remember – a good sign.
If you’re looking for somewhere really upmarket, and don’t mind paying for it (and it’s worth every penny) then the place for you is Los Roques, which offers a sophisticated menu worthy of any city in the world, but with that same tranquil harbour view.
If you want to soak up some local atmosphere, then go for Sunday lunch when the locals visit “en familia” and the village is most alive. If you like tranquillity then a weekday evening is better. Best of all, if you are here the second weekend of September then visit for the local fiesta when the fireworks are mirrored on the ocean. It’s an evening you won’t forget.
Category : days out
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