Tenerife, the small, mountainous Spanish island off the coast of Africa, is known for its sandy beaches, mountainous terrains and year-round sunshine. The island is surrounded by yellow and black sand beaches, filled with banana plantations and has many water sport activities to try in both summer and winter. It is a common and popular spot for UK tourists and expats, with the restaurants and cafes reflecting their diets. Cha Siu Papers Times’ contributor Rosie Fay explored the diverse region of Tenerife to try the best vegan eats in town.
A niche but accessible market (upon closer inspection)
As a practising vegan, I really struggled to find healthy food options for the new life I was living over here. I was walking, doing beachside yoga, swimming every day and wanted my diet to provide my body with healthy energy. However, it was harder than originally thought.
Across the boardwalk in Tenerife, and up corresponding streets, is a mecca of British and Irish food. Lots of English breakfasts, burgers, steaks and roasts on special deals – often thrown in with a cheap pint or a jug of sangria. It was disappointing to see restaurants promoting a €9, multi-course meal, with no salad or veggie options to choose from on their extended lists.
As a result, I spent some time on my phone—researching, reading menus, requesting opening hours across the island. The cafes and restaurants I did find were unbelievable—some of the freshest fruit I’ve eaten, unique food, and generous portions. Here is a list of some healthy and vegan food options in Tenerife, tried and tested by yours truly on a trip through the city.
Image courtesy of Suka Fruit
Suka Fruit was the first café I found on the island, and I went to recommend it to all of my friends and digital nomads on the way. They have two locations on the island—Las Americas and Fanabe Beach.
Both the locations have the same hours and menu. I visited both and really enjoyed the Americas location. It was slightly bigger and had lots of tables in the sunshine, making it easy to work there at all hours of the day. Suka Fruit has an extensive menu of juices, breakfasts, sandwiches and fruit dishes. They have combo options, alcohol and great coffee available at both locations. In my multiple visits here, I tried the Fruit Pancakes, Detox Juice, Acai Bowl and Vegan Aubergine Sandwich.
They also have a menu that allows you to make your own salads and crepes, picking up to 15 ingredients to include. Each menu item I had was fresh, well-prepared and full of fresh ingredients from the island. I was happily filled up with each item without feeling overwhelmed. It gave me a great healthy outlook to the days I had it and would recommend!
Recommended Dish: Acai Bowl combo. An acai bowl is like a deconstructed smoothie. It’s a berry base, topped with fruit from the island and granola. A combo comes with your choice of juice from their menu or a glass of OJ and an espresso.
Suka Fruit, various locations in Tenerife, +34 642 47 14 11, instagram.com/suka_fruit
Image courtesy of The Burger Cafe
The Burger Cafe
My favourite food of all time—burgers. As a practising vegan, I love trying all different types of burger combinations. I like burgers on a night out, the morning after, or just because I feel like it! I always get excited when I find a food vendor that has a vegan burger. The burger café not only has multiple vegan burgers but tacos, buddha bowls, loaded fries—the vegan options were endless here, hence why I again went multiple times. It is located in a small alleyway, close to Las Americas beach. You can’t drive past it—the best bet is to park close and walk down. Otherwise, pop by after a day at the beach.
On my multiple visits here, I tried to make my way through their menu (all pictured). I had the Joker Burger, comprising soy patty, caramelised onions & beetroot ketchup, on a night out with friends. I had the Pattaya Jackfruit Poke Bowl before a yoga class, and I tried the Vegan Meat tacos with their homemade mango lemonade after a sun-soaked day at the beach.
Image courtesy of Rosie Fay
I really enjoyed the Poke Bowl as my favourite out of the menu options. The rice was perfectly sticky, the jackfruit cooked to a meaty texture, topped with fresh cucumber and tomatoes—it was a perfect, healthy dish to enjoy at any time of the day. As the Burger Café menu is so large, both meat eaters and vegans can eat here with ease. Their ingredients are all locally sourced and of high quality, the price on the menu reflects that. Sitting outside is a rare delight, feeling immersed in the tropical nature of the island. If you head here on a night out, there is a great bar downstairs to attend afterward (Princess Di’s), with fantastic drink specials and a Rockin Karaoke machine.
The Burger Cafe, Paseo Guadalajara 50 38650 Arona, Tenerife, Spain, +34 634 97 40 88, theburgercafe.es
Image courtesy of Delhi Darbar
Dehli Darbar has multiple locations all across the island, we were north for this dinner, up in Santiago del Teide. The restaurant also has a location in Costa Adeje, with plans to open in more locations in 2021. The Santiago location was situated with views of the ocean, in a small strip of shops on the main road.
I ordered the Onion Bhaji, Mushroom Rice, a Plain Naan and a Soy Meat Karahi. All of this was recommended by Sam, my server. He understood that I needed no meat, no dairy & no cream, and simply pointed at the curry I should have. When the meals came out, the curry was aromatic and flavourful, the Soy Meat flavourful and tender. It was washed down well with the bubbles, and we were even treated to a free bottle from the restaurant. Both tables enjoyed a belly-filling meal, and as we bundled into taxis after the night finished, I expected we all went into a mini-food coma, on the way back to our accommodations.
Delhi Darbar, Av Ernesto Sarti 14 38660 Adeje, Tenerife, Spain, +34 640 50 57 11, delhidarbar.es
Image courtesy Yim Siam Thai
Yim Siam Thai
A Thai noodle is a guaranteed go-to for a lot of plant-based and healthy eating people, as it can be made veggie easily—any likelihood of extra butter put in abolished by the simple cooking style. Yim Siam is traditional Thai food, cooked by Thai chefs. The food is kept to what you know and love, and it’s centrally located.
Yim Siam is located in the restaurant-heavy streets of Los Cristianos, with both indoor and outdoor seating. If you choose an alfresco dining option, be wary of the street sellers and performers, who will continue to approach and try to sell—no matter how far into a meal you’re in. It’s with this I recommend Yim Siam as a casual dining experience, rather than a special romantic dinner. I went to Yim Siam with a fellow veggie, and it was so great to get a bunch of food to share between us two. Together, we ordered the Chicken Satay (substituted for Tofu), a Veggie Pad See Eiw, Veggie Fried Rice, and a Fried Banana (pictured) to finish. Our meals were washed down with ice-cold Dorada pints, in frozen glasses.
The servers at Yim Siam understand Vegetarian and Vegan, however, there is a small language barrier. My pal ordered the Tofu Satay as a main, but it came out as a starter. I asked for the Ice Cream on the side for the fried banana, it came out in the middle of the dish. One thing I’ve learned travelling and eating abroad is you can choose to battle with the language, or you can adapt to what you’ve been served. Ella and I went with the latter, sharing my main, ordering extra rice, and me eating around the ice cream. If you feel like some genuine Thai food on the island, and know your diet will be catered for, this is the best place for you to go—but we recommend visiting with a local to avoid language miscommunication.
Yim Siam Thai Food, Calle La Paloma 11 38650 Arona, Tenerife, Spain, +34 639 86 28 42, yimsiamtenerife.com
Image courtesy of Pistachios Coffee Brunch
Pistachios Coffee Brunch
Situated within a 10 minutes walk from the tourist areas, this café is quiet and filled with locals. It has extensive outdoor seating, which varies from upright tables to lounging couches. Tenerife’s Pistachios pride themselves on a ‘no-sugar’ menu. Their mixture of breakfast and lunch foods identify this in the descriptions—giving you the reassurance you are definitely feeding your body the best.
I ordered the Oatmeal pancakes, my friends going with an egg dish and the mushroom toast. We all ordered the same drink—an iced oat milk coffee. The iced coffees came out first and need a post of their own—great espresso, a great balance of milk and coffee without being too sweet. I’d arrived and ordered before them (those surfers and their ‘schedules’), so my meal was the first to arrive. The carrot and oatmeal pancakes, lined with fruit, a side of granola and dark chocolate. You can have an option to top it with honey or Nutella. I chose the recommended Nutella option. The fresh fruit and pancakes were fresh quality, the strawberries being the first good ones I’ve had on the island. I’ve never considered carrots and oatmeal together, but it made a great combination. I liked dipping into the Granola and munching on the dark chocolate as the meal went on.
I hit another language barrier, I ordered the pancakes thinking the Nutella would come on the side as indicated on the menu, however, it comes layered between the pancakes. I’m not a huge Nutella fan, so it felt a little overkill at times, especially with the chocolate on the side. However, a simple re-order specifying this would resolve this issue. The chefs and FOH at Pistachios are accommodating and relaxed, nothing would bother them in regard to customising your order.
Pistachios is a great spot for brunch, before a day down at Los Cristianos. The café is located in a building with two charity shops & massage parlours nearby. As you walk down to the beach, you pass some great shopping areas and souvenir shops.
Pistachios, Av. Juan Carlos I, s/n 38640 Los Cristianos, Tenerife, Spain, +34 608 29 68 51, pistachocoffeebrunch.com