A “tabla” of ham, cheese and a couple of wedges of tortilla. | Mia Naprta

My search for interesting and innovative restaurants around town often brings me to unlikely but fun places. One such place is Bicho Raro (meaning “a rare bug”), a fusion tapas and a cocktail bar with Cuban and Colombian influences, right at the edge of Santa Catalina neighbourhood in Palma. The place opened a couple of months ago and it is still evolving. I really liked he sunny terrace with a view of the nearby church. Inside, there are several rooms with an eclectic mish-mash of furniture, encompassing a restaurant, an exhibition space and even a very informal co-working space where I met a friend of a friend typing away.

I came with a friend who introduced me to one of the owners, Kevin, some months before. Rather that picking items of the menu ourselves, we asked Kevin to bring us a selection of his favourite choices. For a starter the waiter brought out a “tabla” of ham, cheese and a couple of wedges of tortilla de patatas (potato frittata) and tortilla de patatas y espinacas (potato frittata with spinach). We liked the jamon and the smoky mature cheese, but thought that the tortillas would have tasted better if served warm.

Next, we were presented with a plate of deep fried chipirones which were nicely crispy and salty, with the obligatory squeeze of lemon giving them a touch of a contrasting citrusy flavour.

The star of the day was pupusa. While I am familiar with arepas, pupusas are new to me, so I did a bit of research on the subject. Pupusas and arepas are both popular dishes made from corn dough, but they originate from different countries and have distinct characteristics.

Pupusas are a traditional dish from El Salvador. The dough used for pupusas is made from masa, which is a mixture of corn flour, water, and sometimes a bit of salt. The dough is slightly thicker and softer than that used for tortillas. Pupusas are typically stuffed with various fillings, such as cheese, beans, pork, chicken, and sometimes vegetables. The filling is enclosed within the masa dough before cooking. Pupusas are cooked on a griddle until they develop a crispy outer layer while maintaining a soft interior.

Arepas are a staple in Colombian and Venezuelan cuisines. The dough for arepas is made from masarepa, which is precooked cornmeal. It is mixed with water and salt to form a dough that is then shaped into discs. Arepas are usually not filled with ingredients before cooking. Instead, they are typically split open and filled with a variety of ingredients like cheese, meat, avocado, or beans after they’re cooked. Arepas are grilled, baked, or fried until they develop a crispy outer crust. They are usually sliced open and filled with desired ingredients before being eaten.

In summary, while both pupusas and arepas are made from corn dough and involve griddling or cooking on a stovetop, they differ in their origins, dough composition, filling methods, and how they’re served. Pupusas are a Salvadoran dish known for their stuffed nature, while arepas are Colombian and Venezuelan creations often served split open and filled with various toppings.

At Bicho Raro their pupusas are made with three types of flour, including maze and yucca. They are filled with pulled pork and cheese and garnished with guacamole, chopped tomatoes and fried kale. As we ate them, they got a bit disintegrated and it was quite a messy experience, but they were absolutely delicious. I would definitely come back here for another pupusa.

For desert, Kevin suggested we tried leche frita i.e. fried milk. I was told that it was made from a thickened milk mixture, infused with cinnamon and lemon zest, chilled, sliced into squares, coated in breadcrumbs, and then fried until golden. The result is a crispy, warm exterior encasing a creamy center. While leche frita might sound strange, it was really tasty and we finished every last cube.
While this place is still evolving as it goes along - and we will probably hear more about their food and their events - I would say go, check it out and let me know what you thought of those pupusas!


Carrer de Sant Magí, 80, Palma

The bill

Pupusa 10.50€
Leche Frita 6.50€

Opening hours

Daily 9:00-2:00