Need to know
San Sebastian may be the motherland as far as Spanish foodie destinations are concerned but on the basis of two recent trips to the Balearics, Mallorca shouldn't be that far behind. We've wined and dined our way around the south western corner and can heartily recommend it. The good news is that it's barely a two hour flight from London and eating well there is very affordable.
Where we ate
La Rosa Vermuteria, Carrer de la Rosa, 5, 07003 Palma
This tapas spot specialises in - as the name suggests - all manner of vermouths. The menu also features a lot of their own canned food - very much like London's Taberna do Mercado. We had a super (and cheap - 2 euros!) glass of Godello along with some fantastic jamon and a pincho of their tinned tuna with artichoke and carta musica.
La Tortelleria de Palma, Plaça Quartera, 1, 07002 Palma
As the name suggests, this place focuses on tortilla. Grab a glass of their homemade lemonade (or a cold beer) and enjoy a slice of their sobrasada tortilla.
Wine Industry, Carrer de Pou, 31, 07013 Palma
Specialising in natural wines, this lovely wine bar, tucked in off one of the streets near the Santa Catalina market, has loads of local wines on the list and a regularly changing selection by the glass. They also do tapas too.
Cafe la Lonja, Carrer de la Llotja, 2, 07012 Palma
Tiny, old school cafe, just a block in from the seafront and a super place to prop up the bar with a cold beer and some Russian salad.
El Camino, Carrer de Can Brondo 4, baixos, 07001 Palma.
If the decor (pictured above) looks familiar, it might be something to do with the fact that the owners are Sam and Eddie Hart who brought us Barrafina in London. Yes it's an all counter, no reservations restaurant. And doesn't it look beautiful?
Less than a five minute walk from the bus station in Palma, this is the island's main indoor market and you're going to want to leave plenty of time to browse and eat here.
There are distinct areas for fruit and veg, meat and fish - head to the fish section for a bit to eat at Yosushi (no relation) - a sushi stall run by a German chef who left his two Michelin star kitchen and set up shop here. We grabbed four bits of delicious sushi and a glass of cava for 8 euros. You'll also want to pull up a stool at Bar Can Jaume for some of the best calamari you'll ever taste. Make sure you swing by the wine stall/bar here too to pick up some great Mallorcan wine for taking home with you.
Restaurante Astir - 07181 Portals Nous
As the main restaruant at Iberostar's first five star hotel on the island, you'd expect big things of this luxe spot and you'd be right. The head chef here is Iván Crespo whose training includes time at El Paso del Agua in Spain as well as - closer to home - Cringletie House in Scotland. Our tasting menu here was ALL about the meat - or more specifically El Capricho steak from chef Jose Gordon's farm in the Basque region. As old dairy cows, the closest you'll get to it here in London is what you'll try at say Brat or Lurra.
Our meal kicked off with it in cured form simply dressed with almonds and local salt, then as a more elaborate tartare. Finally they popped out of the kitchen with a chop quite literally bigger than our heads before taking it off to be cooked in the Josper and re-presented beautifully cooked, with a saucepan of the rendered down fat to boot. The whole thing was a carnivore's dream.
This western port is popular with the yachtie set, so start with a drink at Tim's Bar right on the waterfront for a great view of the sunset.
We had dinner at another institution - Miramar - a restaurant which first opened back in 1927 and where there's just a few feet between you and the nearest fishing trawler. It may focus on fish, but the dish we really rated here was the beef tartare, prepared tableside. A nice touch was a spoonful of the tartare after seasoning and before plating to check we were happy with it. Our langoustine ravioli was pretty great too.
Where to stay
The Melia chain is the third largest hotel company in Europe and they've taken it upon themselves to upgrade their properties on Calvia beach to luxe status. There's no getting around the fact that you're in Magaluf, but they own all three hotels at this end of the bay and have spent a lot of money upgrading them. You're also right next door to Nikki Beach. Personally, we enjoy a bit of Balearic beat while we're sunbathing, but appreciate that might not be everyone's thing.
Our hotel was the Melia Antillas Calvia Beach which was a chic hotel right on the beach. To get the most out of any stay here you'll really want to upgrade to "The Level". This gives you access to your own part of the hotel complete with exclusive pool and restaurant. Soft drinks at The Level are free all day - just grab a water from the fridge by the pool - but the best bit is tapas-o-clock, an hour of free tapas and drinks every day from 4-5pm. One day there might be slices of roasted courgettes topped with local cheese, shots of gazpacho and fried prawns. Top that off with free glasses of cava or G&Ts and you've got the makings of a great holiday right there.
The hotel has three restaurants (and access to Pez Playa at the ME Mallorca next door). There's sushi at Cafe Nao down at sea level, high end cuisine at the Level's own restaurant and the main restaurant with a beautiful terrace overlooking the bay features a nightly buffet that knocks most others into a hat. Whopping great veal chops or red prawns were cooked to order at various stations, or you could grab a bowl of paella or graze the jamon, sobrasada and cheese selections to your heart's content.
There's also a handy branch of the trendy Mallorcan cafe Fibonacci in the lobby if you just want to grab a coffee or a midday sandwich or salad. And we really enjoyed popping to the beach bar next door to the hotel - Bar Chaval has been here forever and their steak and chips, served with a backdrop of the sea, was so good we went twice.