El Diablo: The Restaurant Built On Top of An Active Volcano

In the south of Lanzarote, Spain, a series of ochre-coloured, rocky mountains rise above the Parque Nacional de Timanfaya. Formed between 1730 and 1736 following a series of violent volcanic eruptions in the region, these peaks are known as Las Montañas del Fuego — in English, Mountains of Fire. Often likened to a moonscape or the bald, reddish surface of Mars, these mountains are a breathtaking gem of the region, their violent origins transmuted to a geologically stunning present. But remnants of a volcanic birth remain; one of these mountain peaks, the Islote de Hilario, is surrounded by a two-hundred-square-kilometre sea of scorching hot lava.

This molten, active sea captured the attention of the late César Manrique Cabrera, a Spanish painter, sculptor, and environmental activist from the island of Lanzarote. A multi-disciplinary visionary, Cabera played an integral role in various development and tourism initiatives for his native isle; the artist recognized that the Canary Islands, which form an archipelago off the African coast, held enormous potential in their natural beauty and resources. And he worked to preserve that beauty, fighting the encroachment of high-rise hotels. To this day, those that do exist on the island have been designed with exteriors that emulate the natural colours and materials of their surroundings.

An idea was born: what if this vast, natural geothermal heat source could be tapped by the culinary arts?

According to the Daily Mail, this restaurant opened its doors in 1970 following complex efforts by architects to create the space; these architects used nine layers of volcanic basalt rock to form a grill that is equal parts modern and archaic.  

El Diablo has become a tourist draw in the region, complete with an adjacent gift shop. Glass windows in the restaurant offer panoramic views of the barren landscape beyond. A natural geyser makes for some mealtime entertainment.

Food is cooked over the restaurant’s signature grill — a furnace of sorts, located ten metres beneath the ground, operating at a temperature of almost 300 degrees.

Instagram: @cact_lanzarote, image by @theitalianchica 

Menu starters include local cheeses from Lanzarote, Iberian cured ham, and a variety of seafood and meats: garlic prawns, grilled octopus, spicy chorizo, and chicken croquettes whet the appetite for some seriously mouth-watering mains.

Here guests have the option to select catches from the sea, breaded dishes, pasta, or the star of the menu: meats heated over volcanic heat. Choose from grilled free-range chicken thighs, beef and lamb chops, a Heifer fillet or sirloin steak, pork and chicken skewers, and more.

Finish the meal by selecting from a variety of local desserts. An Explosive Lanzarote Volcano over Brownie Soil pays homage to the land; a Canarian ground almond syrup served with vanilla ice cream showcases the flavours of the region. And if the pervading fire motif is really doing it for you, opt for a delectable, scorched crème brûlée.

Interested in paying a visit to one of the world’s hottest — yes, literally — restaurants? Reservations can be made here.