If you haven’t heard of El Cine in Los Cristianos then you haven’t been talking to the right people; it’s Los Cristianos” worst kept gastronomic secret. Ask nearly anyone who knows Los Cristianos to recommend a good, traditional fish restaurant and the name that’s probably most likely to form on their lips is El Cine’s.

Such is El Cine’s reputation that it’s not uncommon to have to queue with the mix of Canarios, ex-pats and hungry visitors who quite happily wait for anything up to an hour to dine at what has become a culinary institution in the south of Tenerife.

Tenerife Magazine decided it was time that we feasted at this legendary establishment tucked away in a small alley behind Playa de Los Cristianos to discover why El Cine attracts praise that sometimes borders on the fanatical.

In the looks department, El Cine is hardly Hollywood glamorous. The décor is understated to the point of being non-existent; tables and chairs crammed underneath a lemon coloured canopy in a narrow alley – and maybe that’s part of its charm. When so much of Tenerife is being developed and given a ‘nip and tuck’ so that the term ‘upmarket” can be added, El Cine feels like a link to the town’s simple fishing village roots.

The Main attraction, El Cine’s Menu
Like the décor the menu is minimalist and features one salad, chips, papas arrugadas (wrinkled Canarian potatoes) and around ten main courses; all fish and seafood except jamoncitos de pollo (fried chicken wings).

We ordered the merluza (hake), pulpo (octopus), papas arrugadas and a tomato and onion salad and sat back in our chairs, excited at the prospect of sampling food that regularly receives rave reviews.

We didn’t have to wait long before all the dishes were brought to the table at the same time. The merluza (three decent sized fillets) and pulpo (again three good sized specimens) had a promising on-plate chemistry on the silver platter they shared. The portions were generous and with the papas arrugadas to boost them, added up to a substantial amount for not a lot of money. In fact the three of us dining together could have had a fish fillet and one whole octopus each ““ two dishes for the price of one in essence.

The tomato and onion salad on the other hand looked quite unappealing. I subscribe to the view that the best fish is simply prepared and served…but that’s fish. I like salads to have a bit of flair and creativity. Chunky slices of tomatoes and onions drizzled with olive oil just looked like a salad that couldn’t be bothered making an effort and it tasted like it looked…uninspiring.

Thankfully the main dishes lived up more to the reputation that had preceded them. The pulpo was nicely cooked with a taste-bud pleasing smoky flavour and satisfyingly crunchy tentacles whilst the merluza tasted as fresh as the morning tide and was pleasantly moist, although it did border on being very slightly overcooked for my taste.

The Closing Credits

I liked El Cine’s lack of fussiness and simplistic approach. Its lack of pretension means it’s a comfortably casual place in which to dine and although there was the ubiquitous queue by the time we’d finished eating, there was never any pressure to vacate the table. I thoroughly enjoyed the fried octopus, portions were big and extremely good value and I’d happily eat there again. But overall I thought the food was good rather than exceptional.

Tenerife magazine’s five star rating for El Cine
Décor ““ 2 stars. Simple…there’s not a lot else to say.
Menu ““ 3 stars. Very limited, but that’s not necessarily a negative. If it’s fish you’re after then it features the main stars.
Food ““ 3 stars. The food is simply prepared and presented which works fine for fish and seafood, but I really couldn’t see the point of the salad.
Service ““ 3.5 stars. Like the restaurant itself, unfussy. Food was prepared quickly and service was efficient.

Where, when and how
C/Juan Bariajo, 8; +34 609 10 77 58; behind Los Cristianos beach

Excellent value. Main courses are €7 except the chicken which is €6.