We followed the car in front as it weaved around corners and sped down narrow roads. Eventually it screeched to a halt in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere, on the edge of a small road running parallel to the TF5 motorway. Leaving the vehicles we then followed our hosts on foot down until we reached a large wooden gate. A gentle rap on the wood and the gate opened fractionally for a pair of midriff-level eyes to peer out. The gate creaked open and a small boy grinned “Hola!” as we entered and were led down an allotment path to a large wooden shed.
Outside, two barbecues were smoking, joints of pork and beef dancing on the hot griddles of one, chicken breasts sizzling on the other. Inside, the beams were festooned with flags above long trestle tables with paper cloths. Latino music emanated from a small hi-fi sitting atop a counter in one corner; flanked by large flasks of wine and ranks of beer bottles, this was clearly the bar.
We’d arrived at our lunch venue; a local guachinche.
A guachinche is a makeshift, no-frills restaurant in which the wine comes from the owner’s own harvest, the menu is limited and the food is home cooked and ostensibly only there to keep the wine company. Guachinches spring up in sheds, garages, back gardens and courtyards all over the north of Tenerife at the mere mention of the word “˜fiesta’. Usually a piece of cardboard or paper stuck to a wall serves as the menu and trestle tables, oak barrels and upturned crates serve as the furnishings.
But don’t let the rustic ambience put you off; you’ll be served with good, wholesome, tasty food and dangerously quaffable wines at a price that’ll have you wondering if they accidentally lost a zero.
Although usually “˜temporary’ in nature, some guachinches are “˜temporarily’ always there and have become popular eating places with more and more tables being added and a guaranteed large turn-out on most days that they’re open, particularly Sundays.
Barbecued meats and roast chicken are frequent menu flyers but you’ll also find a selection of tasty tapas starters in many and even a sweet option if you get a really sophisticated one. Some even have proper tablecloths.
Tenerife’s fiesta season kicks off this month with San Abad in La Matanza and Buenavista, and RomerÃa’s in Los Realejos and Arona. While you’re filling your plastic cup from passing floats and trying not to lose an eye from a wayward missile of hard boiled egg, don’t miss the opportunity to visit a genuine guachinche. I can pretty much guarantee that there’ll be one somewhere lurking amongst the piles of manure and discarded popcorn; you just have to know where to look”¦ nod, wink.