If you’re looking to visit the Canary Islands, consider visiting the more stylish, less hectic island of Gran Canaria – the food is really worth talking about.
While Tenerife might hog the limelight among the Canary Islands of Spain, make no mistake, its stylish sibling Gran Canaria is a winner in its own right – particularly when it comes to dinner. Spend your days beaching it on stunning stretches of shoreline, or discovering pretty mountain villages. When dusk settles, head off for a feast of Canarian classics from fresh fish to the much-loved wrinkled potatoes. Here’s our review of the best restaurants Gran Canaria has to offer. Enjoy.
El Santo restaurante
This restaurant in the headliner resort of Las Palmas charms everyone who stumbles across it. Long, exposed-stone passageways are perked up with palm-print wallpaper, tropical upholstery and bright graphic art – attracting a savvy crowd of foodies who like creative flair with their food. We’re talking the likes of foie-gras mousse with marmalade and earl grey, island speciality black pork with curry cream, and honeycomb creme brulée served with shots of sweet wine.
Inspiration is pulled from Mexico, Japan, Peru and Italy – among other lands – at this hip tapas bar, where the sea food, herbs and vegetables of the Canaries are used to create whimsical takes on ceviche, tapas, risotto and more. It’s in southern Maspalomas, home to desert-like dunes and sophisticated hotels – expect bold flavours to match the well-heeled diners: truffle, wasabi, five-spice and yuzu, served amid teal and copper interiors on pretty ceramics.
The menu at this hotel restaurant is a love letter to Canarian specialities – from suckling pig to rabbit rice presented with great care and style. Atop the swish Bohemia Suites and Spa in Playa del Ingles, it’s all curvaceous interiors in blue, pink and coral, with a glossy grand piano at the centre and neon signage on the walls. On top of all this are the endless, high-floor views of the otherworldly Gran Canarian coastline – a handful of outdoor balcony tables naturally get the best views.
This bright, breezy Las Palmas lunch spot is a study in monochrome, with high ceilings, white subway tiling and motifs of trams and light bulbs sketched onto huge chalkboards. The menu does all the Canarian classics in style: papas arruga (wrinkled potatoes with paprika-rich mojo sauce), sweet and sticky oxtail rice, and Iberian pig cheek sauteed in wine – but also international salads and Hawaiian-style pokē. A modern choice on an island of tradition.
Ibérico J. Cruz
Huge haunches of Iberico pork dangle from the ceiling at this butcher’s-vibe joint – with one or two more clutched in steel stands ready to shave slivers of meat from. The famous ruby-red ham may get top billing at this Maspalomas restaurant, but there’s also a nice line in smoked salmon and anchovy toasts, Canary Island cheeses and sea-fresh cockles. A youthful crowd is drawn in by the trendy presentation on boards and slates, wowed by the simplicity of the menu.
Restaurante Casa Brito
This down-to-earth grill in the village of Arucas attracts meat lovers from the beach resorts of Las Palmas and Telde. Housed in a custard-yellow building with red canopies, it’s the passion project of José González Brito, who oversees the menu – think chunky steaks, Iberico pork, octopus and morcilla (blood sausage) all sizzled on a wood-fired grill. It’s great fresh produce cooked well – rather than frills – with a friendly team to talk you through the cuts and steaks before you order.
Slivers of chargrilled, pink-centred steak lie fanned out on metal platters served hot at El Churrasco. Freshly crimped empanadas fill the room with the scent of pastry with bottles of malbec uncorked nearby. This slick steakhouse is a little piece of Argentina in Gran Canaria. It’s part of the Hotel Costa in the upmarket resort of Meloneras – the glam dining room is decorated wine red and gold, with ribbon-like features suspended from the ceiling while its windows are filled with a serene sea view.
Restaurante Los Guayres
This Michelin-starred spot in Las Palmas presents a whirlwind gastro-tour of Canarian specialities, elevated by star local chef, Alexis Alvarez. Tasting menus feature eight dainty courses, from around €100 (£85) with wine-pairing for around €40 (£34) on top of that. Diners rave about the crispy-topped diamonds of suckling pig with roasted pineapple, and the creamy mango, goat cheese and basil dessert – all in a modern, stylish, high-ceilinged dining room.
You’ll need to book three months ahead for this rustic-chic treasure in Las Palmas – all wooden beams and white tablecloths. The food is full of flavour: spiced, grilled squid topped with a scattering of chives, or a sweet brioche roll stuffed with steak and foie gras. Everything is photogenically presented and served on subtly mismatched ceramics. Non-Spanish speakers will need Google Translate to decipher the menu – so look out for the steak or tuna tartare.
For basic but delicious Canarian home cooking, head to this family-run bochinche (basic cafe- restaurant) in Las Palmas, for the signature roast leg of lamb, served with chunky chips, and garbanzada (chickpea stew). No-frills feels like an understatement – this is a converted garage with jugs and lanterns hanging from the ceiling, and a handful of check-clothed tables. But the beers are cold, the meat is tender, and there’s fresh crusty bread to dunk in your stew.
This is an updated rewrite of an article originally by Valeria Nikonova.
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