Palma – the capital of Mallorca – is a gateway to the resort beaches either side and the gorgeous inland hill towns. People fly in and fly out, and maybe make a day trip there. Big mistake. It’s a lovely small city, easy to walk around and explore, and with the best range of bars and restaurants on the island.
Now I like quirky tapas bars, little cafés, catch-of-the-day fish restaurants, sitting in sunny courtyards at lunch with a bottle of something chilled, and occasionally something a bit fancier. Maybe you do too, in which case these fit the bill perfectly.
I could say ‘old-fashioned’, I could say ‘rustic’, or I could just tell you why the Bellver is brilliant. Need a seat? Someone will get you an empty beer crate. Need a beer? Up comes the lid of the rickety, chilled chest-cabinet. Food? That’ll be a skewer of pork cubes, splahed in cumin and olive oil and grilled to order behind the bar. A down-to-earth heaven, basically, among dusty barrels and battered tables. (Carrer Can Serinya 2).
We knew all about chef Marc Fosh and his lovely place Simply Fosh, and made a date to eat there. But then we stumbled across a charming, hidden-away courtyard where people were having a very boozy and very late lunch and thought, that’ll do. Turned out it’s Fosh’s other venture, a modern-Med brasserie, with an absolute belter of a bargain lunch menu. There was delicious sea bass steamed in paper, and farmhouse roast chicken, but mostly there was a bottle of icy rosado with our name on it. (Carrer Can Maçanet 1).
La Quinta Puñeta
Given that the Bellver isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, this buzzier, contemporary place right around the corner gives you a second go at limbering up with some fine tapas before dinner. It’s all on cocktail sticks, pinned to pieces of bread (pinchos), so just graze the bar, pointing at stuff you like the look of – when you’re done, they add up the sticks for your bill. We could have built a fort out of ours. (Carrer de les Caputxines 3).
Las Olas Bistro
Irish-Cambodian couple running a homespun little bistro in the old Jewish Quarter? Ticks all my boxes, that’s for sure. There are Asian dishes, from dim sum to Vietnamese salads, some unusual Sephardi Jewish dishes, and all sorts of daily specials – and a softly spoken sweetie of an owner who explains what everything is. Lovely for lunch, with seats on the shady street. (Carrer Can Fortuny 5).
La Madeleine de Proust
You’re going to Santa Catalina market, that’s a given, and it has some fine bars in there, but have breakfast in this little artisan French café first. Everything is a delight, from croissant to cake, and they make quiches and tarts and all sorts of other goodies too. (Carrer Anibal 17).