Traditional tapas are reliably good on the windswept island of Lanzarote, part of Spain’s Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa. But there’s a new wave of inventive cuisine that weds traditional flavours with cool presentation. Here’s our pick.
From chorizo to patatas bravas (spicy potatoes),there’s plenty of excellent tapas to be found on Lanzarote. But courtesy of chefs with flair and imagination, there are exciting gastronomic innovations to discover, too. And they’re often in beautiful settings, whether that’s a simple beach shack or a sleek architect-designed space.
Orlando Ortega runs his open kitchen behind an impressive glass facade overlooking the gleaming marina in Arrecife. Awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand, he crafts Canarian classics with MasterChef pizzazz; ropa vieja, a simple stew, is livened up with local octopus and chickpeas. Book a terrace table to watch the gin palaces bob in the sun, and end your meal with some sweet-potato ice cream.
Restaurant Costa Azul
Restaurant Costa Azul is a simple-looking blue-and-white spot on the beach in the tiny seaside village of El Golfo, but it’s one of the best places on the island for fish and seafood – best devoured with a bottle of crisp malvasia white from Bodega La Geria on the island. Take a jacket as the breeze can be strong, and walk off lunch along Avenida Marítima. If you have kids in tow, there’s great rock pooling on the black pebble beach.
Chef-owner João Faraca brings the flavours from his native Brazil to this inventive restaurant in Puerto Calero. He won Best Chef in the Canary Islands in 2018 for his unique cooking, including gazpacho with goat’s-cheese ice cream, cocoa-braised pig cheeks and wagyu carpaccio with silky burrata. Dishes are served on lava-esque tableware, wood and rough ceramics – try small plates or the tasting menu.
Villa Toledo Restaurant
Villa Toledo Restaurant offers upscale dining in a spectacular setting above the ocean in Costa Teguise, opening onto volcanic rocks that descend to the sea. It was built in the 1960s as a private home for a wealthy salt-mining family, and with glass walls, the sea is visible whether you’re dining inside or out. The dish to try is fideuà; it’s similar to paella but made with noodles rather than rice. It’s perfect with a crisp glass of local malvasia wine.
La Cabana Macher
Small and intimate, La Cabana Macher is the place to visit if you fancy something a little more international than regular tapas. Chef Darren Spurr did a stint alongside Marco Pierre White before relocating to Macher village to create simple yet artfully presented food that packs a punch – think lamb chops with mint aioli and fillet steak with chimichurri. Save room for the avowedly British puds – the bread-and-butter pudding is delicious.
La Cocina de Colacho
Everything about La Cocina, in Playa Blanca, feels very special, from the angular, glass-walled exterior to the moodily lit dining room with mighty arched windows overlooking the open kitchen. Chef-owner Nicholás Machín, known to all as Colacho, mixes Canarian flavours with Michelin-esque styling. You’ll be lured back by the slow-cooked Iberian black pig – and the welcome from Colacho and his wife, Anabel.
Casa de la Playa
Casa de la Playa may not look like much from the outside, but this beachfront fish restaurant in Arrieta is always busy. So, arrive early, order a bottle of chilled dry white wine and relax as you mull over what to eat; the flame-grilled prawns, salt-crusted fish (fresh off the boat just hours before) and stonking seafood platters are a few options. The staff speak little English, but it all adds to the fun – as do surfers on windier days, cavorting while you eat.
If you prefer authenticity over attitude, try this Canarian classic in a historic, whitewashed building in Teguise, the former capital of the Canary Islands. The zamburiñas (Galacian scallops) are the must-order tapas; for heartier appetites, larger plates include black angus steak and freshly caught fish. Book Sunday lunch, and spend the morning in the town market among locals and tourists buying cheeses, wines and handicrafts.
La Carmencita del Puerto
Tapas is more than patatas bravas, and the proof is at this charming little restaurant in Puerto del Carmen, run with real flair by the lovely Alvaro and Irena. The experience is memorable due to the time they spend with each diner, discovering their food likes and dislikes and recommending particular dishes. Instead of wine, try Irena’s Rebujito – manzanilla (sherry), lemonade, mint, raspberries and ice.
Natural Nada Màs
Lanzarote hasn’t overly embraced plant-based and gluten-free dining, but this brunch spot in Puerto Calero sends out delicious smoothies and shakes made with milk alternatives to go with the vegan Beyond Burger. It’s very good, as are the croissants and Spanish omelettes. The terrace, with its palms, is a lovely spot, and the English-speaking staff are happy to tweak dishes to suit dietary needs.
This is an updated rewrite of an article originally by Peggy Lee.
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