Balearic Islands: foodie guide
Head to the foodie Balearic islands of Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza. Here you can try homemade fig jam, soft sugary buns and sobrasada for breakfast before exploring the islands' vineyards and olive groves
Looking for places to eat in the Balearics? Here are our favourite restaurants, hotels and foodie tours to take in the Balearics. The best foodie spots include farm-to-table restaurants, luxury hotels and cookery classes in Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza.
Mallorca: foodie hotels and things to do
Son Brull – best foodie farmhouse in Mallorca
Guests at gastronomic bolthole Son Brull can ask the kitchen to pack a gourmet picnic if they’re heading out to hike or bike around the surrounding hills. This elegant finca, or farmhouse, in the foothills of the Serra de Tramuntana, dates back to the 12th century but the approach to food is bang up to date.
The kitchen garden, where chef Rafel Perello sources the ingredients for his inventive menus and cookery classes, brims with home-grown herbs, salad leaves and vegetables while the trees surrounding the hotel are laden with oranges, lemons and figs. The hotel also has its own organic vineyard; pair its wines with dinner in the fine-dining restaurant, 365, where seasonal eight-course tasting menus showcase local Mallorcan ingredients. More casual, bistro-style, dining can be had in the bar (with its ancient olive press) during the winter or on the terrace in sunnier months.
Doubles from £361, check availability at booking.com
Culinary Tours – best food tour in Mallorca
For a private olive oil tasting or a tailor-made tour of Mallorca Deborah Pina Zitrone, of Deborah's Culinary Island, is the woman to call. Mallorca-born but with a French mother, the former lawyer now creates off-the-beaten track itineraries for visitors who want to explore the hidden corners and cultural heritage of this well-known island.
Olive oil is her passion, however, and she has trained as an Extra Virgin Olive Oil sommelier. She is also a private chef, and offers cookery classes and workshops on Mallorcan gastronomy between stints as a culinary guide for guests at gourmet bolthole Gran Hotel Son Net in the Serra de Tramuntana (sonnet.es). Full- and half-day bespoke culinary tours are available, as are olive oil tastings and themed lunches.
For a more in-depth culinary tour, look out for Deborah’s one-off events and holidays. In May 2019 she is co-hosting a week-long Mediterranean Retreat in partnership with Carmen Ruiz de Huidobro of Espanolita; guests will stay in a rustic-chic finca on the Son Rullan estate, near Valldemossa, and spend their time visiting local farmers markets, ancient olive oil groves and mills, vineyards and cookery classes.
Hotel Sant Francesc – best foodie hotel in Palma
Food-focused short breaks at design hotel Sant Francesc, in the historic heart of Palma, include a paella masterclass with the hotel's head chef, Alfonso Lillo, and a tour and tasting at a gin distillery in the Santa Catalina neighbourhood (with tips on how to distil at home).
With its historic setting – a restored 19th-century neoclassical mansion rich with original frescos and murals, cool verandas and wooden coffered ceilings – the hotel makes a perfect base for exploring Palma's gourmet markets and delis.
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Return from a hard day’s food shopping and spend time relaxing by the glamorous rooftop pool or splashing out on dinner in the restaurant, Quadrat. The restaurant, a vision of crumpled linen and painted wood in the property’s former stables, is the setting for Lillo's tasting menu peppered with Mediterranean-inspired dishes such as cream of grilled sweetcorn with tomato and avocado ceviche.
Doubles from £163, check availability at booking.com
Menorca: foodie hotels and things to do
Torralbenc – best luxury hotel in Menorca
A cluster of 19th-century whitewashed farm buildings, with views out over the sparkling Med, Torralbenc is now a luxury hotel, surrounded by 70 hectares of fields, orchards and vineyards in the south-western corner of Menorca. The restored estate not only makes its own olive oil but also produces wine.
Starting with just five hectares of vines in 2006, the property now has 16 hectares dedicated to growing grapes. Its first wine was bottled in 2016 and the estate now produces a merlot and syrah blend (all red berries and spicy black pepper with a tinge of toasted vanilla), a bright rosé from indigenous monstrell and parellada grapes (floral with strawberries and cherries on the palate) and an easy-drinking white blended from sauvignon blanc, viognier, chardonnay and parellada with citrus, stone fruits and floral notes.
Guests can book a vineyard experience with the hotel's oenologist, exploring the vineyards on foot or by bike, learning how the wines are produced and enjoying a tasting, with local Menorcan cheeses, among the vines.
Doubles from £178, check availability at booking.com
Menorca Food Tours – best food tours in Menorca
There's more to Menorca than mayonnaise (or mahonnaise) and gin – although the island’s Xoriguer gin is justifiably famous. This laid-back, low-key island has been flying somewhat under the foodie radar but Annie B's Spanish Kitchen is set to change all that by launching week-long gastronomic tours of the island, guided by local expert Lorraine Ure.
Showcasing local food producers, the trips include a wine tasting and lunch at Binifadet Vineyard, a visit to a cheesemaker and cocktail-making classes. Add in time for mooching around markets, cookery classes focusing on traditional Menorcan specialities, gin-tastings and gourmet dinners in a smattering of the island's best restaurants and you have the recipe for a delicious introduction to the local food scene.
Hotel Ses Sucreres – best quirky hotel in Menorca
Hotel Ses Sucreres, in the village of Ferreries, is a quirky bolthole that epitomises the laid back, low-key authenticity of the island a world away in style from high profile party isles Mallorca and Ibiza.
The hotel is decked out with reclaimed furniture, geometric prints and modern photography. There are six bedrooms and relaxed breakfasts are served in a leafy courtyard garden – think homemade fig jam, soft sugary buns, local slithers of Mahon cheese and salty air-cured ham, sobrasada, the local sausage, smashed tomatoes and olive oil smeared on freshly baked bread.
Doubles from £105, check availability at booking.com
Ibiza: foodie hotels and things to do
Finca Can Marti – best rustic retreat in Ibiza
A pine-cradled rural idyll in a leafy valley in the north of Ibiza, Finca Can Marti is a 400-year-old, whitewashed farmhouse turned rustic-chic retreat. All muted cream and beige tones, with terracotta tiled floors, ancient beams and white walls, the finca is surrounded by 42 acres of organic orchards, vegetable plots, strawberry fields, olive groves and vineyards. The fruit and vegetables are sustainably grown on the farm and sold in the estate’s small organic shop, along with homemade jams, extra virgin olive oil and free-range eggs – which you can also enjoy at breakfast, along with a feast of fruits and freshly baked bread. Once a week the finca also offers dinner.
Ten minutes’ walk away is the sleepy village of San Juan, with its smattering of local restaurants and a traditional market every Sunday. Or you can simply hole up on site lounging by the natural pool (the water is free from chemicals, circulated through a lava stone filter, oxygenated by a waterfall and cleared of impurities by aquatic plants). Then zone out, with an Ayurvedic and Thai massage under a pergola, trying not to peep at the dreamy view beyond.
Love Food Ibiza – best plant-based workshops in Ibiza
Chef and food editor Tess Prince launched Love Food Ibiza as an outlet for her recipe blog and YouTube videos after falling in love with the island and relocating there from the UK in 2013. She arranges tours of the island's gastronomic hotspots, organic farms and artisan producers and can be booked for private dinners or vegan cookery classes; smaller workshops take place in her outdoor kitchen in San Carlos, followed by lunch on the terrace with dreamy views over Tagomogo island, while larger groups are hosted at organic farm Ca'n Pere Mussona, in the heart of the countryside, the ingredients hand-picked that day for a real field-to-fork experience.
Plant-based food, gut nutrition and the ayurvedic approach to eating are all discussed over a welcome kombucha-based mocktail at the workshops, while typical lunch menus include Ibiza white sweet potato with crushed avocado, preserved lemon and crispy dulse, or pink cauliflower falafel in beetroot pancakes with minted vegan kefir labheh and pistachio dukkah, followed by raw vegan desserts such as stacked cheesecake with berries and acai and pitaya puree, or chocolate, orange and cardamom mousse.
Casa Maca – best farm-to-fork restaurant in Ibiza
Almond, carob and fig trees surround Casa Maca, a rural hotel in the hills of Can Palau with a restaurant headed up by chef, David Reartes, and views down towards Ibiza Town. This converted whitewashed farmhouse is 300 years old; an olive oil press in the lobby is a nod to its agricultural heritage.
The restaurant's ethos has been dubbed “farm to table with flair”, its Mediterranean menus showcasing local organic ingredients. Think snapper ceviche with mango to start, followed by a Buddha bowl of bulgar wheat, chickpea, pumpkin, sesame, hummus, avocado, kale, radish and fresh greens or tuna poke with salmon roe and crispy garlic.
Formentera: foodie hotel
Can Tres – best foodie retreat in Formentera
Hop on the ferry from Ibiza to Formentera, the barefoot baby of the Balearics, for endless sweeps of sand backed by dunes and pine trees, crystalline waters and a hippy-chic vibe. This is where jaded clubbers come to hide out – and eat (sustainable) sushi and ceviche washed down with caipirinhas by the beach.
There's a slower pace of life on Ibiza's chilled-out little sister, with its peppering of traditional villages and a nightly market during the summer. Base yourself at Can Tres, a clutch of three architect-designed houses surrounded by citrus and olive trees, all hanging beds and heavenly hammocks, thatched terraces perfect for lazy breakfasts of fruit from the gardens, freshly baked bread and homemade jam, and vivid splashes of colour against a pure white canvas. It’s also just a pebble's throw from Migjorn beach with its smattering of funky beach bars and restaurants.
Doubles from £87, check availability at booking.com
Words by Lucy Gillmore