The Guachinches of Tenerife

Even after having spent a few months in Tenerife, and having eaten at well over a dozen of them… I’d be hard-pressed to explain exactly what a guachinche is. But here’s my best shot: an inexpensive, no-frills restaurant that serves hearty Canarian cuisine.

I had thought that the word “guachinche” must somehow be related to the guanches — the original inhabitants of the Canary Islands, who were conquered by the Spanish in the 15th century. But that missing “n” in the root syllable bugged me… “guach” is not the same as “guanch”. A better explanation might be the one found on Wikipedia. Suspicious and covetous of the best local produce, English merchants would warn the Canarians, “I am watching you”, which was transcribed as “Hay un guanchinche” in the local language.

That might be a stretch. At any rate, in the parlance of Tenerife’s modern visitors, “guachinche” should be understood as shorthand for “excellent, affordable, local cuisine”. These restaurants might as well be advertised with a red hexagon, because every time we saw a sign for a guachinche, we came to a full stop.

We had originally planned to write about our favorite guachinches on the island, but soon realized that wouldn’t really be necessary. The most exciting thing about them, is the fact that they’re uniformly great and affordable. I suppose Canarian cuisine isn’t wildly complicated; if you can throw garbanzo beans into a pot, you’re a natural. So the discerning factor is popularity and atmosphere.

Guachinches Best Casa Nene

Our favorites were Casa Nene in Anaga, La Cueva de Casiano in Tegueste, El Monaguillo in Candelaria, El Ramal in Orotava, and the Risco in San José de los Llanos. In general, the north of Tenerife, and especially the Anaga region, are known for their guachinches — we discovered a lot of great ones in and around Tegueste.

Make sure to show up hungry, because portion sizes are generous … and if you have a favorite guachinche of your own, please share it in the comments!

Meals To Expect at a Guachinches

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    We were staying in the south where guachinches aren’t as plentiful. There are only a few around there but they are always characterful and the food is generally excellent and very reasonably priced. One such place was Cueva de Chichio, Calle Esther Díaz Rodríguez, behind the colegio de las Zocas). Head due north of the traffic jam known as Las Chafiras on the TF-65, through and past Aldea Blanca. Colegio de las Zocas is off to the right down a service road and the guachinche is just past the school, partly in a cave, partly in what looks a bit like a school playground!

    Another that we fell across by accident – my favourite method of guachinche discovery! – was on a trip along the TF-21 past Cruz de Tea. Bbetween the entrance and exit roads of that pueblo, there was a typically poorly hand painted sign just saying “Guachince” and pointing to a track off to the left . The road was so long, rough and narrow we felt we must have long since passed it, but we did eventually come to El PInalete. It was worth the potential destruction of the hire car’s tyres! Their wine is amazing, the hospitality was of the high standard that you grow to expect in Tenerife and the food was beautifully simple home cooked delights.

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