For over five decades, the recipe for the best tuna sandwich in Tenerife has been a closely guarded secret, known only to two individuals. The legendary Kiosco Rojo, situated on the Vía Transversal within the Dársena Pesquera in Santa Cruz, has been the go-to destination for this culinary delight. Throughout this remarkable half-century journey, the Samarín family has been at the helm, led initially by patriarch Antonio and now by his son David. Their unwavering commitment to their craft has seen them never close during the summer season, remaining steadfast in serving their loyal clientele.
The tale of Kiosco Rojo in the Darsena and its delectable sandwiches traces back to the early 1970s, a time when the surroundings were desolate. Antonio Samarín made the audacious decision to construct a small kiosk to cater to the local labor force. In his own words, “There was nothing around.” Soon, however, the kiosk began to draw sailors from Dutch, Korean, and Russian ships, becoming their first patrons.
Days were demanding, commencing early at 5:30 in the morning, a tradition they uphold to this day. Over time, their customer base expanded even further with the arrival of several fish processing companies in the vicinity. Antonio even kept the kiosk open 24 hours a day to serve the needs of all the workers. At one point, they even offered complete meals, a testament to Antonio’s culinary passion. Although they closed at 4 p.m., many people flocked to get takeaway food, and the place buzzed with activity.
However, if there’s one thing Kiosco Rojo is renowned for, it’s their sandwiches. While they offer various types, three specialties stand out: tuna, larded meat, and mackerel.
Kiosco Rojo: The Art of Crafting the Perfect Tuna Sandwich
The closely guarded recipe for the tuna sandwich is known only to David Samarín and his mother. The tuna is notable for its exquisite marinade and the rich flavors imparted by tomato and onion. Crafting each sandwich requires painstaking effort and attention to detail. David explains, “We do all the preparation. For example, with the mechada, it takes us a considerable amount of time to complete the entire process. Last Monday, we prepared nearly 50 kilos, which lasts us about a week and a half. Then, we have to start all over again.”
David serves around 200 sandwiches daily, and the shop remains open “until the bread supply is exhausted” but never later than 2.30 p.m. For the past 50 years, they haven’t missed a single day, except for Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays. David reflects, “When I open at 5.30 a.m., there are already people waiting outside, and I can’t let them down. Only once, my father and I had to leave, but we returned and opened the kiosk.”
Today, while the primary clientele includes dockworkers and sailors, people from all corners of the island pilgrimage to savor the renowned tuna sandwich from Kiosco Rojo, known as the best in Tenerife.