I HAD JUST FINISHED watching Julia Robert’s spiritual journey in Eat, Pray, Love and figured it was time to embark on a little soul-searching of my own. When I say soul-searching, what I really mean is gastronomy-gorging. My relationship with religion has always been questionable but my relationship with food, well that’s a different matter altogether.
While Roberts’ character floated around Italy on a care-free gorging spree, I had an appetite for more diversity. This is when a good friend of mine suggested the beautiful Balearic island of Mallorca. In the Mediterranean, close to Italy and Morocco, Mallorca has diverse and colorful cuisine, from traditional Mallorcan dishes to Asian fusion. After checking out My Destination Mallorca, I was sold.
Tasty tapas: Forn de Sant Joan
To set the ball rolling in starter heaven, you might sample the Spanish delights of Forn de Sant Joan. Located in the Llonja area of Palma’s Old Town, this buzzing family-run restaurant is Mediterranean dining in Mallorca at its best, serving up traditional tapas with a tasty twist.
With a lengthy menu of half-portion tapas (full-portions for the brave) there are plenty of treats to choose from. Particular recommendations include the patatas bravas, grilled octopus and garlic prawns. Scrumptious!
Sant Joan 4, Palma
Gorgeous gnocchi: Ritzi Restaurant
For rich and rustic Italian food, you can count on Ritzi Restaurant and Lounge Bar. With carbs everywhere, this charming restaurant in the trendy harbour of Porto Portals won me over with its delicious selection of pizza and pasta. And, with plentiful portions this indulgent Italian does nothing by halves!
Meat-eaters will find much to enjoy, such as beef Carpaccio and beef medallions. After a few glasses of Ritzi’s hearty Italian wines, you will be left feeling supremely satisfied, (if a little giddy!)
Local 34-35, Puerto Portals
Sizzling sole : Azul Playa Restaurant
Pescatarians and fish fiends will love Azul Playa Restaurant. On the edge of a beach in Ciudad Jardín, you can see boats bobbing in the great bay of Palma from the terrace while you eat.
There is a wide selection of fresh fish and seafood including palatable paellas, tasty tuna and sizzling sole. The octopus carpaccio, marinated in a sweet almond and red pepper paste, is a personal favorite.
Isla de Rodes 24, Ciudad Jardín
Smooth sake: Sushi House
Sushi is everywhere these days. The Sushi House in trendy Santa Catalina serves up light and refreshing dishes including miso soup, edamame, dumplings, and sashimi. Each meal is meticulously prepared and beautifully presented.
Fresh, healthy, and wholesome, you can stuff yourself without feeling like you’ve done yourself much damage. Unless, that is, you decide to munch your way through several portions of banana tempura (it’s almost too tempting). There is a wide selection of Japanese beers, saki, and green tea.
San Magín 25, Santa Catalina
Fresh fish and chips: The Crispy Cod
From the healthy to the hearty option, die-hard Brits will happy to discover this little gem in Palma. With spit-roast chicken, scampi, meat pies, jacket potatoes, a full English breakfast, and the classic cod and chips, Crispy Cod has the menu of champions. Not the best place for the faint-hearted or carb-conscious.
Avda de l’Olivera, Magaluf
Rich ravioli: Portofino Trattoria Restaurant
Occupying the ground floor of the Portofino Urban Sea Hotel, this trattoria, bar and restaurant is a serves up Italian food with flair. Their tantalising selection of classics includes rich ravioli, rustic bread, smoky ham, and buffalo mozzarella.
You can also find some curiosities, such as pansooti pasta served with baked pear. A trip here can be as hedonistic as you want it to be. Desserts are traditional: tiramisu, panna cotta and tartufo — in case you really want to stuff yourself Italian style.
Hotel Portofino, Trafalgar 24, Ciudad Jardín
Creamy curry: Baisakhi
Time for some creamy curries and chapattis? I think so. Along Palma’s waterfront, this traditional Indian restaurant serves up a spicy selection of sweet and savoury curries. The best dishes on offer include a beef curry, chicken curry, banana curry and wait for it…an ostrich curry (truly delicious).
Decorated with vibrantly coloured Indian antiques and delicate rose petals, this restaurant is almost as much a feast for your eyes as it is for your stomach.
Paseo Marítimo 8, Palma waterfront
Wondrous wasabi: Opio
Housed in a historic 14th century building in Palma’s old quarter, this far-eastern fusion restaurant is a real treat. With exotic dishes such as Boracay beach tempura, Vietnamese tiradito (grilled scallops with miso paste), and Hotaka Tuna served with a pak choy, shitake sauté and grated wasabi, the food at Opio is a rich, colourful and flavoursome.
With the added bonus of a chic cocktail lounge on the lower level, a cool and classy atmosphere resonates throughout this trendy setting.
Puro Oasis Urbano Hotel, Montenegro 12, Palma Old Town
Spicy sausages: La Cuchara
Tucked away on a side street near Palma’s main shopping district, this tiny restaurant is a great casual, traditionally Spanish choice. The menu is made up of authentic recipes derived from Navarra, Galicia and the Basque country.
From summer tapas to hearty winter stews and casseroles, La Cuchara’s recipes are delicious and wholesome. My particular favourites include txistorra fritta, tiny little spicy sausages from the Basque region; gambas en garbardina, prawns in a light batter; and setas salteados con jamon, a delicious dish of wild mushrooms with smoky regional ham.
If it’s good enough for Claudia Schiffer, who claimed La Cuchara to be her favourite restaurant in the world, then it is definitely good enough for this luscious list!
Passage Santa Catalina de Sena 4, Palma City
A medley mix: Indiana John’s
Last on the list of gastronomic-gorging (phew) is Indiana John’s. For those of you with tastes different from your families, partners or friends, this casual café-style grill is the perfect choice. A whole medley mix of diverse cuisine including Indian, Thai, Indonesian, Italian, Spanish, and French food can be enjoyed here.
Select from Mediterranean dishes, including fresh fish and traditional tapas, to Asian favourites such as chicken tikka masala and sweet and sour chicken. American hot-plates are also served straight from the grill including hamburgers, jacket potatoes, and spare ribs. With a special kids menu, TV and free Internet access, this unusual venue with its relaxed atmosphere and eclectic menu is an unusual treat.
Toni Costa 7-9, Cala d’Or
*This is a sponsored article for Mallorca.