If you want to get the most out of your dining experiences in Gran Canaria, I can offer you a few tips. First of all, if you want to try authentic Canarian cooking you need to go to the traditional Canarian restaurants.
This might sound obvious by the touristy places aren’t going to serve traditional Canarian food – they are just going to serve the things they assume Westerners like.
For real Canarian food like ropa vieja (chickpeas, meat and potatoes), papas arrugadas con mojo (wrinkly boiled potatoes in their skins with mojo sauce) and paella (which is strictly from the mainland but popular in the Canaries) you should head to an authentic eatery.
El Balcon Canario
El Balcon Canario is somewhere that I often recommend because it has won awards and is very popular with the locals. Found in the main shopping centre in Puerto Rico, El Balcon Canario is a great choice. I like the mixed snack plate – you get a bit of everything.
The octopus is pretty good too and so is the tomato tart (which is actually sweet and eaten for dessert). The prices are also reasonable 🙂
Set Meal of the Day
Look out for the “menu” – no that doesn’t mean the list of meals, but the menu del dia (pronounced men-OOH). This is the lunchtime (or sometimes dinnertime) special where you pay 7 euros (average price) for a starter, main course, dessert and tea or coffee. Sometimes you get 2 or 3 options for each course. You will see the blackboards outside saying what is on the menu del dia (set meal of the day).
Take your Spanish-English dictionary if your Spanish is below par. The menu del dia is designed for the locals and workers usually, and the tourists tend to order the more expensive dishes. Using the menu del dia, you can often get the same dishes but cheaper.
Some cafes and restaurants have metal trays of food at the counter and you can point to what you want and order a tapa (a small plate) or a racion (a larger plate). A racion (pronounced rah-see-ON) is usually a meal-sized amount so don’t order a load of those! Tapas are usually not labelled since Canarians will be able to identify them.
You can usually see whether the tapas contain beef, fish, meat or something else (and some, like the marinated olives or Canarian cheese, are pretty obvious) but you can ask about the tasty Canarian tapas to try if you are unsure. Not every waiter will speak English, especially in the out-of-the-way places, but you can try. Or take a risk and point to something you don’t know. It might be really nice! 🙂