While Majorca is widely known as a Spanish holiday island with an eclectic mix of historical locations, beautiful resorts and thrilling water-sports, its unique cuisine and food culture is often overlooked. One spring afternoon, we found ourselves wandering through its sunny streets looking for an authentic bite to eat that would not compromise our halal diet. A chance meeting with a helpful waiter who was a native to the island set us off on a gastronomic adventure that more than satisfied our curious palates.
Here, I’ve rounded up the most memorable restaurants in order from good to best to help out any future travellers to the island.
Marisqueria Alexandra, Magaluf
This was the first restaurant we dined in for lunch on a lazy Monday afternoon, after having scoured the tourist-laden Magaluf strip for the closest thing to authentic Majorcan cuisine that we could find. Although the dishes at Alexandre’s lacked a level of local authenticity, their menu did feature some regional staples which proved to be a great introduction to general Spanish cuisine; while their cornerstone location was a great place to relax and people-watch while basking in the glory of the summer sun.
Xocolateria Ca’n Joan De S’aigo, Ciudad de Palma
While technically not a restaurant, this historic 314-year-old cafe (it was established in 1700) is a Majorcan landmark worth braving the labyrinth of Palma’s old quarters for – something we actually did 8 hours before our flight being the gutsy young wanderers that we were. We were actually directed to this establishment by a shopkeeper in Magaluf when I asked where we could try the famous Spanish breakfast buns – ensaimadas. She claimed that if we wanted the best ensaimadas we would have to travel all the way to this quaint old shop in the heart of the city centre, where we could sample the treats at any time of the day. While the house classic is the ensaimada, best had with either their wonderfully thick hot chocolate or cafe con leche (their version of the Italian caffe latte), there are a selection of other delicacies to satisfy your palate – such as the Cuartos (cookie chips) and the Gato de Almendra (almond cake) which we chowed down with great pleasure.
Our breakfast-as-dinner spread of four ensaimadas, a couple of Gatos de Almendra (the puffy buns) and simple but nevertheless mouth-watering sponge cakes (the ones with a yellowish hue) complemented by three cups of deliciously rich cafe con leche.
3. Santa Eulalia Cafe Restaurante, Ciudad de Palma
Again, we stumbled upon this hidden gem while wandering through the backstreets of Palma on empty stomachs that refused to settle for the touristy replicas of authentic city cuisine. We needed the real deal in an atmosphere that exuded local charm while protecting us from the searing midday heat – and the Santa Eulalia did just that.
Upon entering the restaurant, we soon realized that it was a pretty popular joint as we had to wait nearly half an hour to get a table. Regular patrons seemed to be given seating priorities which, though annoying, was understandable as being from a small town myself, this was how a lot of the coffee shops worked back home. We opted to have the two-course lunch set that came at a bargain for just 10 euros. For starters, we had a choice of either a salad or a pasta dish while for the main course we had the option of a meat or a seafood dish. Complimentary desserts were fixed – a tarta or slice of cake – but even for that, we could choose the flavours we wanted… Simply amazing!
The casual atmosphere kept us in conversation throughout the course of the meal and we ended up staying until they absolutely had to close the place. To say it was a great afternoon is an understatement.
La Cantina, Portals Nous
Basil Witsqa was a freelance writer for Muslyfe.