1 Sa Goleta
The restaurant review year got off to a great start thanks to Josefina Pérez’s incredible roast suckling pig at Sa Goleta in Avda Argentina 34, next to the San Sebastian church (Tel:971-450155). It was not only worth a perfect 10 it was also the best lechona I have ever eaten — and it costs only €14.50 for a most generous portion. You can also have it on the €12.50 menú del día, with a €4 supplement. But to eat Josefina’s perfect lechona at its best, you should get there at 1pm (when the restaurant opens). After a little shared starter or two you will then eat the juiciest lechona with the crispest skin you have ever had.
2 Sandro and Cien Duros restaurants
Sandro Putignano was doing a special pasta-pizza meal for two (€16.95 per person) at his Sandro and Cien Duros restaurants at Calle Ramon i Cajal 9 (Tel:971-962311). It was great value for money because the dishes, a shared starter and a pasta or pizza per person (plus dessert), were all à la carte. The parmigiana was scrummy and the linguine alla puttanesca came with Sandro’s excellent tomato sauce that had just the right touch of spicy heat.
3 Café Pino
New restaurants you know nothing about are sometimes a bit of a risk, but sometimes the risk pays off and you end up discovering a good eaterie. That’s what happened at Café Pino in Paseo Mallorca (Tel:971-679017) where we had a splendid little spring chicken that was grilled to perfection and was worth a 10. The chips that came with it were delish. The brownie had the right degree of moisture and a good chocolate taste. Their caña was beautifully pulled and its €1.95 price was most sensible — especially for the Paseo Mallorca area.
When you see fish and chips on the plate it looks like one of those dishes anyone can do: a piece of batter-fried cod, a few chips and Bob’s your uncle. But there’s so much that can go wrong. The most difficult part is the batter and they did a superb one at Delfinos at Crta Palma-Andratx Km 8 at the Marineland roundabout (Tel:971-676449). It was one of the crunchiest batters ever, but the high heat that made a fantastic batter also meant the fish was less succulent than it should have been. But it was still a lovely piece of fried fish and the chips were excellent.
5 Jonny Dhaba
Palma is very nicely served with Indian restaurants at strategic points all over the city. A place to remember in the Santa Catalina area is Jonny Dhaba in Calle San Magín 66 (Tel:871-235899) where the thali is an excellent meal in five parts. The lamb curry was delicious and the lentil dahl scrummy. The basmati rice was perfectly cooked and was worth a 10 and the chapati was one of the best three I have ever had and also got a 10 rating.
6 Enoteca 1918
IThe Caporale family is very nicely settled in Calle Fábrica. Father Michele runs La Bottega and has left two other restaurants in the hands of his son Manuel. One of these is Enoteca 1918 at Calle Fábrica 3 (Tel:871-531372) where Manuel runs it in an up-market style with plenty of sophistication. The fritto misto di mare was absolutely splendid, the best I have ever had, and was worth a 10. The fettuccine with red gamba tartar was a lovely surprise, the gambas as fresh as if they were plucked from the sea only a few minutes before.
7 Les Artistes
Ehere are very few French restaurants in Palma and I was delighted to discover Les Artistes in Plaça Comtat Rosselló 4 (Tel:871-504883) where I had the most authentic French meal I’ve had in years. The rillettes de porc was a good version and the fleshy harengs reminded me of bistro meals in Paris. An onglet, that very French cut of beef, was tender and tasty and was worth an immediate 10. The chips were superb in the best French style and were also awarded a 10.
8 Gastrobar of the Hotel Saratoga
For the third time I ate at the Gastrobar of the Hotel Saratoga (in the Paseo Mallorca) and their menú del día at €16.50 was great value for money. Their batter-fried skate was an unusual dish and pork spareribs were thick pieces and very nicely braised, which means falling-off-the-bone tender but without being stringy. Their brownie and cheesecake were moist and tasty — they take very good care of the desserts at the Gastrobar.
9 Made in China
If a Chinese restaurant has a tasting menu it’s usually a good idea to try it. That was certainly the case at Made in China in Calle Ramon i Cajal 15 (Tel:971-773084), Palma’s most elegant Chinese eaterie. Their €23 tasting menú included three kinds of deep-fried dim-sum and two steamed ones, steamed rice wrapped in lotus leaves, a fillet of sea bass, half of a Peking style roast duck served in five pancake wraps with sauce and shredded spring onions, and ice cream for dessert. The moist sea bass fillets and the basmati rice steamed in lotus leaves were impressive and each was awarded a 10.
10 Bar-Bistro Nostalgia
I don’t usually get as far as the other side of the island when I go for a meal, but the journey to Bar-Bistro Nostalgia in Calle Ecónomo Torres 19, Puerto Pollensa (Tel:664-135069) was worth every inch of the trip by car. Eating the fish and chips was like being back in England: a lovely piece of cod with a traditional English crispy batter. Michaela’s award-winning steak and mushroom pie made with Guinness was most memorable. Michaela’s tempura langostinos were absolutely splendid in every way, but especially in the juicy terse flesh of the langostinos. This was tour de force cooking for which 10-out-of-10 wasn’t a good enough score.
11 Las Sirenas
It’s always a lovely surprise to come across a fish place by the sea where prices are affordable — which was why we ordered three seafood dishes done on a hot plate at Las Sirenas in Calle Roses in s’Arenal (Tel:971-440039). The mussels a la plancha were plump and tasty and the calamar was tender but with that slight chewy texture that is the hallmark of a good calamar a la plancha. The butterflied lubina (ses bass) is a difficult fish to get right a la plancha but the cook hit the nail on the head and the lubina was worth a 10.
Several of the new-style fixed price menus in the centre of Palma are great value for money. At RamBar in La Rambla 10 (Tel:971-677163), the menu costs €18 with a choice of three starters from a list of 11 and a choice of six mains. The menu doesn’t include a drink or dessert. RamBar’s sweetbreads, chargrilled by a Uruguayan expert, were incredibly tender and tasty and also had a lovely spongy touch you don’t always get, even at the best Argentinian restaurants. They were the best I’ve ever had and were awarded an immediate 10 rating.
13 Parrilla Buenos Aires
The most popular cuts of Argentinian meats are not in the same league as fillet steaks and entrecôtes, but they are extremely tasty and make for superb eating when chargrilled properly. At Parrilla Buenos Aires in Avda Joan Miró, Cala Major, Palma, opposite the Hotel Nixe Palace (Tel:971-401842) the cook was spot-on with the entraña cut and it was a beautiful piece of meat, so tender, so juicy and so full of flavour — which is why it was awarded an immediate 10. A simple salad of lettuce, tomato and thinly sliced onion was the crispest, freshest and coolest ever — and it also received a 10 rating.
14 Casa Gallega
When the restaurants reopened after the second closing due to pandemic restrictions, some of them made a big effort to welcome back old customers.
At Casa Gallega in Avda Compte de Sallent they had a fillet mignon steak on their €15.50 menú del día that was worth a 10. It was an excellent generous chunk of fillet mignon (the flattish tail end of a beef fillet) well and truly rare and with bags of flavour in every chew. I have never seen a fillet mignon on a fixed price menu of any kind. It simply doesn’t happen…until Casa Gallega did it. Another 10-rated dish was a salad with Andalusian fried fish and the best ever dressing I’ve had on a salad of any kind.
15 Sa Goleta
When I was taking a vegetarian friend to lunch I had some difficulty thinking of a place that did decent veggie food. Then I remembered that Josefina Pérez at Sa Goleta in Avda Argentina (Tel:971-450155) does a superb vegetable paella — and that solved the problem. Her paella, with its nice mix of young veggies cut up small as tradition demands and with the right touch of moisture and lubrication, was a reminder that paellas are, first and foremost, rice dishes. In this paella the rice was right up front and the veggies, playing an important supporting role, were in the background. That’s exactly how it should be and that was partly why this paella was worth a 10. We also had tissue-thin slices of aubergine cut with an electric slicer, coated with a thin flour-and-water paste and deep-fried. This was another batter-fried tour de force and it was worth another 10.
16 Restaurant Barretes of the Hotel Cal Bisbe
There are some very lovely hotel restaurants in Mallorca and Restaurant Barretes of the Hotel Cal Bisbe in Calle Bisbe Nadal 10, Soller (Tel:971-631228) is one of them. It has the added attraction of having been an ancient olive oil mill and the transformation to a modern hotel was done without spoiling the original architecture, which is positively stunning with its incredible dimensions of width and height such as you find in some churches. There is another built-in allure: from the dining area there’s a spectacular view of the Tramuntana mountain range. One doesn’t eat badly as Barretes, but there’s not much on the plates that’s in the same class as the surroundings. The best dish was a little parfait that was simple and perfect and worth a 10.
17 Restaurante Palet
Greek restaurants have never put down very deep roots in Mallorca since the first one opened in 1995 and none of them lasted for very long. But cook and co-owner Stavros Gkouliamanis of Restaurante Palet in Calle Jacinto Verdaguer 15 (Tel:871-034097) may have hit on the right formula: a good selection of Greek specialities plus food and drink that appeal to Mallorcan and Spanish residents in that area. The hummus bi tahina (with homemade pita bread) had the right texture and taste (although I missed a touch of garlic) and the courgette fritters were also excellent: so crisp on the outside with beautifully moist interiors.
18 La Payesita
In a busy restaurant kitchen at peak hours, rice dishes of all kinds can easily go wrong. This is particularly true of paella. Most places start off a paella on top of the cooker and finish it off in a very hot oven — and that’s an added complication where little flaws (and big ones) can creep in. So you can easily end up with a bad paella in places with a good reputation. But that didn’t happen at La Payesita in Calle de la Nanses, Can Pastilla (Tel:971-263367) and their paella was most memorable. I especially liked the perfectly al dente rice that was also moist and bursting with seafood flavours. It was admirable that they used small gambas and not the big gambón…which is cheaper but not so tasty. They served a lovely dish of steamed rock mussels that had the incredibly low price of €6.70. I had no hesitation in awarding them a 10.
Consistency is a quality that frequently goes astray in some restaurants — even the best of them. In my experience, one of the most reliable places in Palma is Blockhouse in Paseo Mallorca (Tel:971-434170). You can always count on the high standard of the raw materials and the kitchen staff’s culinary know-how. Beef is always well aged, tender and tasty and when you ask for something to be done rare, it is cooked exactly as you want it. I’ve had perfectly grilled lamb carrés and superb thick entrecôtes. The most recent dish, a T-bone steak, was flawless in every way and was worth a 10.
20 Bodega La Rambla
There are all kinds of reasons why the traditional Spanish tapas at Bodega La Rambla in Via Roma 6 (Tel:971-721190) have been so popular for just over 80 years. For most people the main one is that there are no trendy cooks in the kitchen. No one is being creative and trying to ‘modernise’ any of the tapas. Tradition is the name of the game at Bodega La Rambla. It’s been like that for more than 81 years and it will never change. No one wants it any other way. What I most admire about this bar is that batter-fried tapas do not go into the deep fryer until the order comes in. Their batter-fried hake and squid are so special they always get a 10. This time I also had a magnificent dish of mussels on the half shell with alioli. That was another 10.
21 Sky Bar at the Hotel Almudaina
If you like a meal with a view then you mustn’t miss the Sky Bar at the Hotel Almudaina in Avda Jaime III (Tel:971-727340) where the panoramic views from the eighth floor are quite sensational. The Sky Bar kitchen is extremely consistent: I have eaten the menú del día on three occasions and I have never had a disappointing dish. Everything has always been nicely and conscientiously cooked but they don’t get perfect 10 ratings. But I do give a very big 10 to another section of the hotel: the management. It gets the perfect 10 for an impeccable attitude towards their guests and outside customers — and for being so noble and generous. Most other places with such spectacular vistas from the dining area would have cashed in and served à la carte dishes only — and at inflated prices. Instead, Sky Bar serves delightful menús del día at only €15. That may sound incredible but it’s true. And it’s been happening six days a week for years. This is one place you mustn’t miss.
22 Restaurante Santa Catalina
I know of only three restaurants that will do a paella for one person — the others insist that a paella must be for a minimum of two people. This is an act of discrimination against people dining on their own and there should be a law against it. In the meantime, you can have an individual paella at Restaurante Santa Catalina in Calle Fábrica 8 (Tel:971-281751). Their seafood paella for one was most successful partly because the cook was aware that paella is, above all, a rice dish and rice must have the leading role. Too many cooks add all kinds of bits and pieces to a paella and the rice gets pushed into the background. That didn’t happen at Santa Catalina and the paella was a memorable one. Bacalao croquettes had great texture and taste and the portion of deep-fried tiny squid was large enough to share between four as a tapa.
23 Hotel Naisa
There are some absolutely marvellous menús del día in Palma in the €12.50-€17.50 range and one at €15 is especially good. It’s at the restaurant of the Hotel Naisa in Calle Simó Ballester 6, next to the National Police headquarters (Tel:971-211746) and it is one of the best bargains in town. A warm goat’s cheese salad with a trickle of fig confiture would have a price of €12 or more in most other restaurants. Both of the desserts, one a baked rice with coconut flavours and strips of mango, and the other a delish chocolate tart, were so magnificently splendid that they both received a 10 rating. A main course dish of bacalao (salt cod) a la riojana was also worth a 10. And this was a €15 menú del día.
24 Restaurante-Café Azabache
When you come across a Basque restaurant, or a place where the head cook is Basque, you must give it a try because you will almost certainly eat well. The Restaurante-Café Azabache in Avda Argentina 49 (Tel:971-222461) is owned by a Basque and does several well known Basque specialities. But even more important than that, they have true Basque culinary attitudes: they use high quality products, have admirable cooking standards and keep their prices down. Azabache’s hordes of Basque regulars are like Basques everywhere: they want to eat well at reasonable prices. The €3.30 for a glass of 10-rated gazpacho and €3.50 for a half portion of ensaladilla (also worth a 10) were impeccable prices. Their ensaladilla is the best I know and the gazpacho was faultless. But it didn’t stop there: batter-fried bacalao fillets, a favourite Basque way of serving salt cod, were also flawless and served with chips straight from the deep-fryer and very fresh salad greens. That was another 10.
25 Taste Avenidas
From the first day Tast opened in 1989 at Calle Unió (along from C&A) the cooks and dining room staff have built up a large and regular clientele. Taste Avenidas, at Avda Conde de Sallent 13 (Tel:971-101540) served a splendid piece of grilled bacalao for only €8.50 such as I have never had at Tast or anywhere else. And it came adorned with sprigs of crisply-fried parsley which no one does nowadays because it takes time and care to get it as crunchy and oil-free as this. The €8.50 bacalao was served with a bowl of chips that would have cost €3.90 to €4.50 in any other half decent restaurant. Little wonder I awarded it a 10 and as many gold medals that were won at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
26 La Mémé
Some very good and quite expensive restaurants have menús del día that are great value for money and they are always worth trying. One of them is La Mémé in Avda Conde Sallent 14 (Tel:971-902140) where I have had most memorable meals. Underdone strips of salmon were sheer perfection and the best salmon dish I have ever had. You would pay up to €18 for this dish in other restaurants and it wouldn’t be as perfectly cooked. It’s amazing that this 10-rated dish was part of a €14.50 menú del día.
27 Parrilla Tabaré
Argentinian and Uruguayan restaurants are always a good buy — both for what you get on your plate and for the price on your bill. They usually have a mixed grill deal that includes meats, salads and fried potatoes but not drinks. At Parrilla Tabaré in Calle Andrea Doria 62, opposite the old Son Dureta Hospital (Tel:871-714957) this mixed grill, called a parrillada libre in Spanish, includes two popular cuts called ‘asado de tira’ and and ‘vacio’, black puddings, fresh chorizos criollos, salad and fried potatoes straight from the deep-fryer. There is also basket of freshly-baked bread, alioli and two dips. This meal is called ‘libre’ in Spanish because diners can have seconds (or thirds) of anything on the special menu. All for €14.90 per person without drinks. It’s a great bargain. We asked for our meats to be underdone and they came very pink — absolutely bursting with juices and highly flavoursome.
28 Bianco e Rosso
I’ve mentioned two of the restaurants Michele Caporale has in Santa Catalina — a third is Bianco e Rosso at Calle Fábrica 6 (Tel:971-905015) where we had three excellent Italian specialities. The carpaccio de ternera was an especially fine version. It was sliced thicker than usual (which I prefer) and was served on a bed of salad greens with slivers of parmesan to add extra flavour and contrasts of texture. We had it with the best kind of side dish: a foccaccia topped with fresh rosemary needles — and straight from the oven. Panzerotto, a deep-fried mini calzone with a mozzarella and cooked ham filling, came on a bed of salad greens that included rocket, with shards of parmesan and a dusting of grated cheese. We also had a half portion of spaghetti bolognese that was just the right amount for sharing between two. A brownie with ice cream was the best ever for texture and taste and was worth a 10.
29 Trattoria-Pizzeria Modigliani
Long time Mallorca resident Cynthia Nolan invited me to a meal at Trattoria-Pizzeria Modigliani at Paseo del Mar, Palmanova (Tel:971-683279), a place I first visited when they opened about 18 years ago. They did us an off-the-menu dish of deep-fried baby squid that was worth a resounding 10 and large New Zealand lamb chops were butter-soft, juicy, tasty and also worth a 10. Spaghettini with a succulent pesto sauce was perfectly à point, the portion was a generous one and the €12.90 price was right. It all added up to another 10.
30 Café-Restaurant Siduri
Palma has some restaurants that make very few mistakes and where you always eat well. One of them is Café-Restaurant Siduri at Calle Francesc de Borja Moll 24 (Tel:871-804701) where owners María José Mulet and her husband Sergio Covacevich are in the business not to make money but because they love growing fruit and vegetables and cooking them in recipes from the five continents. They do a €17 menu del día that is always interesting and great value for money. María José and Sergio handle herbs and spices most judiciously, one of the reasons their dishes are so packed with lovely flavours. And then there are the lovely homemade breads María José bakes for eating in the restaurant and for takeaway. I don’t know any restaurant, on the island or anywhere else, that does such a marvellous range of breads. The one I ate, flavoured with turmeric and rosemary spikes, had a superb compact texture and a most rustic crust. This is the kind of excellent bread that one should find in bakeries…but doesn’t.
31 Bar Día Lonja
A couple of bars in the centre of Palma used to be very popular with British residents and young people who worked on yachts at the Real Club Náutico and the Club de Mar. One of them was the Bar Día Lonja in Calle Apuntadores 18 (Tel:971-716264) where the boquerones (fresh anchovies) were indeed very fresh and nicely deep-fried. The sardines a la plancha were smallish ones but also very fresh and juicy. The lubina (sea bass) a la plancha was delightful because we asked for it to be cooked for a shorter time than usual so that it would be moist. The cook did it exactly as requested and the lubina was worth a 10.
It’s not at all easy to do a good fish and chips because cooks must know basic deep-frying techniques and they need experience. They must have a batter that really works, meaning that it has a crisp finish and is oil-free. I have no idea of the ingredients and methods used at O’Neill’s in Calle París 98, Palmanova (Tel:971-681751) but I do know it produces one of the finest batters I have ever come cross. I asked for a batter with a good crispy finish but I also wanted the fish to be juicy and not at all overcooked. I got everything I desired — and the cook got a 10 rating. An apple crumble was most unorthodox but the diced apple compote would have received top marks from Escoffier and the crushed digestive biscuit topping worked like magic. So that was another 10.
33 Bar del Atlético Baleares
If you’ve never been to a Palma neighbourhood bar, then Bar del Atlético Baleares in Calle Gregorio Marañon (Tel;971-447294) in the precincts of the Atlético Baleares football club, will be an ideal introduction. It’s got everything. It’s noisy, with a tremendous buzz supplied by the customers who all know each other (they are mainly Atlético Baleares fans). You can eat Mallorcan tapas and special seasonal dishes, so it’s also an introduction to Mallorcan food cooked by a Mallorcan for his Mallorcan customers. The dining area is all very basic with no frills whatever — but you’ll eat well. Their list of tapas includes old favourites such as ensaladilla, albóndigas (meatballs), pica pica (chopped squid in a picante sauce) and frito mallorquín, among others. They are priced at €7 per portion. A seasonal dish of lamb with broken noodles called fideos de vermar is served on Thursdays and is extremely popular, so don’t turn up without a reservation.
34 La Consentida
Cuts of underdone red meats are very popular with Mallorcan and Spanish men and a good place to try them is La Consentida in Calle Simó Ballester 5, opposite the National Police headquarters (Tel:610-829467). We had an entraña, a traditional South American cut, and a rib eye steak. We asked for both meats to be of a deep universal pink and that’s how they came. The entraña was tender, juicy and tasty and had a beautiful deep pink hue. We could ask nothing more of it and gave it a 10 rating. The rib eye steak was a splendid piece of meat but it wasn’t quite as satisfying as the entraña — even although it was much more expensive.
35 Can Carrossa
There were huge changes at one of the island’s best restaurants when I returned after an 18-year absence. Owner Joan Abrines, the best Mallorcan cook of his generation, had retired and the kitchen at Can Carrossa in Carrer Nou 29, Lloseta (Tel:971-514023) is now in the hands of his Moroccan wife Halima Oudades. But she is mainly doing the dishes of Joan’s catalogue of old Mallorcan recipes that he has been updating for decades. So in a way nothing has changed because Halima is reproducing the tasting menus that have made Can Carrossa a ‘must visit’ eaterie for Mallorcan foodies. A lamb ‘rostit humit’, a pot roast on a bed of Mediterranean veggies, was incredibly succulent and memorable. A sea bass fillet wrapped round a smooth filling and topped with a gamba was delish and unusual, and little sardines stuffed with sobrasada, breadcrumbed and deep-fried was a scrummy surprise. A savoury mangeblanc was a new look at a recipe from the Middle Ages. The tasting menu at €35 without drinks continues to be a gastronomic bargain.
36 El Gallego
I have never eaten in a Galician restaurant in Mallorca that was anything less than very good. Some of them are absolutely excellent, such as El Gallego in Calle Joaquín Botia 9, opposite the main entrance to the Instituto in Vía Portugal (Tel:971-312059). Our little squid a la plancha, the mussels steamed in the water clinging to their shells and the little tortillas of transparent goby were perfection and each was awarded a 10. There was another 10 for the famous tarta de Santiago that is done mainly with eggs, ground almonds and sugar. This is another place you must not miss.
37 Restaurante-Café Azabache
Cocido madrileño, a great hot pot of a dish made with several kinds of meat, ham and other charcuterie, vegetables, chickpeas, ham bones, marrow bones and poultry isn’t very easy to find in Palma and when I come across one everything is usually overcooked. But for the first time in many years I had one that was spot on at Restaurante-Café Azabache at Avda Argentina 49 (Tel:971-222461) and it was a real joy. They do it as the dish of the day on Thursdays and it costs €16.50, a good price for what you get. It’s best to go in a group of four or, even better, six.
38 Brondo Urban Architect Hotel
One of the most delightful restaurants in central Palma is part of the Brondo Urban Architect Hotel in Calle Brondo 4 (Tel:971-720507). I’ve eaten there three times and the last visit was a total success from start to finish. We had two superb batters, one very light and crisp in the best tempura fashion, and covering rings of squid, and the other on the juiciest breast of chicken I’ve ever had in a restaurant. Both batters were worth a 10 and so was the breast of chicken, which came with the most perfect sweet potato chips, another 10. A tataki of fresh salmon was perfectly underdone, juicy and tasty, and was worth another 10. That was five 10 in a €16 menú del día — and that’s a meal with a record scoresheet.
39 Es Romaní
My last review of the year took me to Santa María where I had a most memorable €11 menú del día at Es Romaní in Plaza Hostals 12A (Tel:971-140315). We had sopes mallorquines, fideos with meat, two portions of fried skate, 2 pudins, a litre of wine, a bottle of gaseosa, a bottle of water, a dish of green olives and a plate of Mallorcan brown bread. It was such a lot for €11 per head and so enjoyable. I’ll be returning soon to Santa María fort another menú del día at one of the town’s several restaurants.