Menorca’s capital until the early 18th century, Ciutadella has all the old-world charm you’d expect from a Mediterranean harbour steeped in centuries of history. And while one gastronomic foot is planted firmly in the island’s culinary traditions, the city’s buzzing dining scene is also producing some wonderfully innovative and exciting restaurants. Here is a selection of our favourites.
Recognised by the Michelin Guide for its particularly flavoursome food, the contemporary Menorcan cooking at Smoix is prepared using seasonal, local produce with an emphasis on meat and fish dishes. Everything is beautifully fresh and the presentation immaculate – the langoustine ravioli and the cod-loins come highly recommended. A pretty garden and courtyard also make it a popular destination for romantic dining by candlelight.
Mon Restaurant is a personal project of Michelin-starred chef and native Menorcan Felip Lluifriu, and part of the boutique Fonda Hotel just outside Ciutadella old town. The flavours and inspiration are drawn from the island, plus a mix of Catalan and French cuisine with innovative, even avant-garde cooking techniques. Unpretentious though creative, and first and foremost delicious, this is hands down some of the best fine dining on the island. Choose between the à la carte or as a tasting menu – all served in flawlessly elegant surrounds. Not to be missed.
Café Balear is a relaxed and informal restaurant overlooking Ciutadella’s swanky harbour on the edge of historic old town. Famous for its seafood, and in particular the Menorcan caldereta de langosta (lobster stew), this bustling restaurant has been running since the 1970s. It’s particularly popular with locals, and the catch of the day comes from the restaurant’s own boat. A great place to enjoy a casual but delicious lunch or dinner on their waterside terrace.
Unassuming from the outside, Cas Ferrer De Sa Font was once a blacksmith’s and was where the local farmers had their tools repaired and their farm animals shoed. It is now the place to go in Ciutadella for delicious and authentic Menorcan cuisine. All the food served is organic and locally grown or reared – the restaurant is committed to encouraging the reintroduction of indigenous livestock to local farms, and all the meat used comes from breeds native to the island. The atmosphere in the pretty courtyard and the low-beamed restaurant is relaxed and friendly, and the menu is a mix of creative and traditional; classics like the octopus carpaccio really shine through.
La cayena, cocina viajera, Ciutadella de Menorca | Courtesy of La Cayena
Opened in 2004, La Cayena is a small restaurant with a pretty courtyard located in the centre of Ciutadella old town. The concept is a cocina viajera (or traveller’s kitchen), whereby the owners create a menu inspired by their travels around the globe – mostly resulting in Mexican, Indian and Thai flavours and a rustic home-cooked feel while still delicious. Its wok dishes, Asian curries and Mediterranean salads often have veggie options for the less carnivorous amongst us, and breakfasts are also a treat, offering a wide range of cold-pressed juices, maple syrup butter pancakes and avocado toast with organic eggs.
Located in the former French consulate, Cas Cònsol has been beautifully renovated with contemporary styling that retains many of the original period features. Huge floor-to-ceiling windows allow for lots of natural light, and a terrace provides views over the port. Much like the building, the menu is traditional with a modern twist, serving some truly innovative tapas. The roasted suckling pig and the bream are standout dishes.
Tucked away off the main thoroughfare, Santa Clara is a small unassuming restaurant with tables out on the street. It serves up fantastic pizzas (with 100% Menorcan mozzarella), as well as some local dishes such as the deliciously tender slow-cooked Menorcan lamb. Pretty much always busy – with tourists and locals alike – the menu is limited and certainly not haute cuisine, but the food is really very good, and with fantastic friendly service to boot. Definitely worth stopping by.