Mallorca–our Balearic island of choice for a laid-back Mediterranean escape. Hazy childhood recollections of sun-soaked resorts urged us to revisit the island that had lingered fondly in our memories. We returned to find the island more charming than remembered, struck by its raw beauty, diverse landscapes and colourful history.
Also apparent was the significant transformation that Mallorca has undergone in recent years. An influx of hotels and restaurants populating every corner of the island has broadened its appeal to a more luxurious and eco-friendly market.
The island though is still widely recognised and adored for its proud artisanal heritage. There exists a dynamic scene of homegrown artisans who carry the torch for age-old traditions, creating everything from woven baskets to ceramics, olive oil and wine. We found much pleasure trawling cobbled back-streets and market squares, eyeing the shelves of bottled liquid gold and marvelling at the craftsmanship on display. Mallorca has also attracted many iconic creative figures, including Joan Miró, who have spent portions of their life on the island helping cement the island’s rich artistic identity further.
The quiet coastlines and vast countryside presented a calming contrast to the daily urbanity of Barcelona that we were used to. We found ourselves pausing often to appreciate the stillness of our surroundings and drink in the rolling carousel of scenery–winding roads that cut through soaring mountain ranges, dusty plains dotted with weary windmills and secluded beaches that breathe character and charm.
For us, the most memorable moments of a trip often take place around the dinner table. Which is why when seeking out restaurants, we consider not only the menu but the following three criteria too; setting, authenticity and sophistication.
In this guide, we’ve curated an intimate selection of our favourite places from experience, captured first hand. We hope that it will help you find the same joy that we discovered here.
The crown-jewel of the illustrious La Residencia hotel, El Olivo offers a fine-dining experience of Mediterranean cuisine according to the vision of Executive Chef Guillermo Méndez.
Occupying the building that once housed the old olive press, the restaurant has given the site a rather more grand purpose–entertaining the who’s who of the island and its visitors. El Olivo’s most impressive asset perhaps is the principal terrace, which is truly a sight to behold as the early evening draws in. An intimate courtyard lined with olive trees that commands panoramic views across the valley below, uniformly dressed tables are arranged facing expectantly outwards waiting for the setting sun to cast the dying embers of it’s golden glow across it’s diners–a backdrop fit for royalty.
In the spirit of supporting the local artisans, everything here is sourced locally from the seasonal menu to the crockery laid in front of you. The summation of everything described makes for a sincere and romantic evening that you’ll want to hold onto every detail for in your memory.
Inhabiting an ancient fortress within a Protected Natural Area, Cap Rocat is every bit impressive in person as it is on paper. Professing to be the Mediterranean’s most private and secluded resort, it’s difficult to argue otherwise as you are ferried by white uniformed staff in a private buggy from the main entrance to the water-side restaurant.
One of two restaurants at the hotel, the Sea Club is the epitome of Mediterranean sophistication. The atmosphere is more casual than the rest of the hotel, largely credited to the open-air setting and visible ease of guests basking in the sea breeze. The restaurant is sheltered handsomely amongst rolling, green coastal cliffs, set within a cosy bay and featuring a private jaunty, stone jetty. Looking out over the water, the bay of Palma is in full view sparkling in the background.
Immaculate table settings are arranged throughout the space, offering the choice to dine on a stretch of sun-spoiled terrace or under a shaded canopy. As for the menu, we got blissfully lost in the starters alone–a selection of mainly seafood tapas dishes–but the fresh fish from the market and prime cuts of local meat are the primary attraction. Our eyes were also drawn to the pasta dishes, with the prawn tagliatelle being a quiet hero of our meal. The wine list certainly did not disappoint either with plenty of crisp whites suitable for the setting. Booking ahead is most required here, but can be fortunately managed very easily online.
Ca’s Patro March
Few restaurants offer a more intimate experience with the choppy waters on the north of the Island as Ca’s Patro March. Informal, rustic and remote–the much sought after restaurant terrace is carved into the rocky outcrop of Cala Deià, directly overlooking the popular cove just below. The seafood menu is comprehensive and undoubtedly fresh, however it is the grilled prawns in particular that we notice arriving in their sizzling bowls at nearly every table–and for good reason. Reservations are required and can only be made by phone at certain times. During Covid, we found this to be once a week between 11AM-12PM on Sundays.
Perched high upon the coastal cliffs between Sóller and Deià, Béns d’Avall is a polished setting for a gourmet experience of traditional Majorcan cuisine. The restaurant champions local producers and the menu celebrates the history of the island, featuring such dishes as fish & veggie raolas–somewhere between a croquette and fritter–and ‘fishermen’s cuisine’ sharing-style dishes. Even more remarkable than the food, is the view from the terrace–the Mediterranean stretches out below as far as the eye can see, until it is swallowed up by the horizon. A scene that is hard to tear yourself away from when it’s time to leave. Definitely one worth bookmarking (and booking) for a special occasion worthy of the ensuing sunset.
Also, not to be missed is the small cove directly below that can be reached by foot and is worth packing your swimming gear for a dip after lunch.
Walking into Nama on any night of the week leaves no doubt that it is one of the places to be in Deià. Perhaps not the typical restaurant you would expect to find in a small coastal village, but this wildly-popular Asian restaurant has grown a strong international following due to its commitment to organic produce and vegan options. The restaurant is deceptively larger than its humble terraced exterior would suggest, as you are led through multiple rooms and floors to your table. Tasteful decor runs throughout, accompanied by a playlist of chilled beats, the combination of which made us particularly susceptible to the cocktail menu on offer. The best seats in the house are those on the restaurant’s terraces, where you can comfortably soak in the spectacular views of the valley below–the atmosphere becomes particularly electric once the sun has gone down.
Folded quietly within the island’s broad countryside lies a five-star retreat that provides the utmost tranquility and laid-back luxury for its guests. Removed from the surrounding world, this traditional rural property–known as a finca–has been renovated into a small estate comprising intimate accommodations, restaurant, swimming pool and its very own orchard. To our delight, restaurant bookings are available to the public for lunch and dinner, which we habitually take advantage of whenever we visit the island. The rotating set-menu offers refined dishes that lean on seasonal and local produce, lunch sittings are served on the front veranda overlooking the rustic landscape below, whilst dinner is conducted in a more intimate terrace setting out back.
The largest of the Balearic islands, anywhere in Mallorca, is still reachable within a day. But with so many restaurants, bars and hotels continually emerging, there are simply never enough days to explore everything that the island has to offer. The intention of this guide is to cut out the noise and help you get straight to the island’s finest offerings.
There are still, however, many more stones to be unturned and we will endeavour to delve further into the island’s to uncover these gems. We’ve also put together a guide of our favourite coves on the island.
Explore our favourite beaches.