Lauren Linzer lived in Las Palmas on the Canary Islands. We are lucky to have her advice as she’s buddies with the locals and has eaten at out-of-the-way places most tourists don’t know about. Goat cheese, fish, mango juice and more.
By Lauren Linzer
It is said that of the five senses, smell and taste provoke the strongest association with memory, melding an aromatic or flavorful experience to a nostalgic snapshot in time. This phenomenon was apparent to me recently as I returned to Las Palmas of Gran Canaria Island this spring. Six months had passed since my departure from Las Palmas, and returning to my favorite dining spots brought back a myriad of happy emotions, where many fond memories were born. Such a wide variety of incredible eateries in Las Palmas uniquely highlight the fare of the Canaries and I made it my duty to revisit my favorites.
Just a block shy of the boardwalk of Playa Las Cantaras (the main beach), I experienced my first traditional Canarian meal at a hidden tasca (Spanish wine bar) called Galileo. Upon first arrival to the two large wooden doors that were open to the warm air but tucked quietly away, this eatery appeared to be nothing more than a hole in the wall. Crossing the threshold, the cozy atmosphere, filled with the exuberant chatter and enticing aromas, immediately charmed me. We ordered from a single overhead chalkboard that listed a variety of meats, fish, and traditional Canarian tapas. The queso frito (fried cheese) arrived first, accompanied by a sweet melon sauce and a basket of bread. The rich queso de cabra (semi-soft goat cheese) paired with the heavenly sauce had my taste buds singing.
Next, a platter of croquettas manzana, with the delicately fried crust wrapping around the warm dough center of these sweet creamy marvels. A simple salad topped with crispy fried onion and a light sweet dressing, and a filet of local white fish, drizzled in a balsamic reduction left me full and happy.
Another sparsely known treasure, El Roque, is difficult to find, but worth the search. Located outside of Las Palmas on the edge of a tiny, carless pueblo called San Filipe, this Italian fine dining experience offers an assortment of the freshest fare from the sea, savory pastas, and succulent meats. The incredible cuisine pairs perfectly with a glass of wine, the stunning view, and the impeccable atmosphere. Before 9:30 p.m., the tables will be empty, but grabbing a seat on the rounded stone terrace that juts out into the sea in time for sunset is a priceless treat.
They offer light blankets and heat lamps if the evening sea breeze is chilly, but the private, classy interior also creates the ideal ambiance. The best part of this locally owned establishment is the incomprehensible affordability for such a high quality experience.
After a long day of lounging on the beach, when I craved a simple, casual bite, I beelined to my favorite burger joint, Natural Burger. Only a short, lazy stroll away from Playa Las Cantaras, this eco-friendly fast food creation offers a wide variety of hamburgers and hotdogs, topped with whatever your heart desires. And the best part for this former vegetarian? They all have meatless, soy alternatives.
The highlight of Natural Burger is not the burgers at all; for just two euros you can have a large glass filled to the brim with fresh local juice made from tropical fruit. Blending peach, mango, and papaya or simply a full glass of pulverized watermelon has a body-quenching capacity like nothing else.
Unlike Mickey D’s, Natural Burger isn’t open late night, but there’s a bar situated in the Las Cantaras district of Las Palmas that serves more than Tropical (the local beer). My first impression of El Veril Pizcos y Papeo was that of your typical dive bar, the walls covered in photographs of wild patrons, the small space filled shoulder to shoulder with inebriated locals.
It was quickly disproven when the jovial bartender plopped down a heaping portion of papas arrugadas (typical Canary dish of new potatoes that have been boiled, baked, and salted) and a tray of clam-like shellfish called lapas, all drizzled with mojo verde (a popular dipping sauce on the island, made with garlic, olive oil, and herbs). The lapas tasted like a bite of the ocean and paired perfectly with the warm salty potatoes and a cold beer. What better way to start an exciting night of laughter and dancing than with a plate of the freshest bar food imaginable.
These finds aren’t likely to be listed in travel books and don’t show off their menus on websites. If it weren’t for my local amigos, I would have never stumbled upon these special places. In many ways it makes them even more precious to me and will always be a valuable piece of my cherished experience in Las Palmas.
Lauren Linzer writes at http://linzersadventure.blogspot.com/