Beautiful Menorca, the second-largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands, has developed a vibrant culinary scene in recent years. Diners can now expect Michelin-star cooking, harbourside seafood cuisine, and even a highly recommended restaurant in a vineyard. Here’s our pick of the best.
Menorca is often overlooked in favour of its larger, more glitzy Balearic siblings, Majorca and Ibiza. But this gorgeous island is becoming more and more popular, not only for its pristine beaches and turquoise waters, but also for its vibrant and creative culinary scene. Below, Spain-based writer Mark Nayler takes you to Menorca’s 10 best restaurants, giving you some top tips about the local food and drink along the way.
This cosy tapas joint overlooks the harbour of Mahon, Menorca’s colourful capital. Set yourself up at the bar or on one of the outside tables and order a vermut (vermouth, the house tipple) as you browse the small but freshly-prepared menu. Standouts include the superb homemade croquetas and meatballs and a delicious aubergine lasagne. Also popular among both locals and travellers is torrade (an open toasted sandwich) topped with sobrasada (a spicy cured sausage native to the Balearics), Menorcan cheese and honey. Friendly, helpful staff make a visit here even more enjoyable.
Found in the heart of Mahon, this unassuming eatery offers an imaginative fusion menu, star dishes of which include the foie gras – served on a sweet biscuit with either a plum relish or eggs – and a succulent tuna ‘T-Bone’. The real draw at Ses Forquilles, though, is a stunning version of good ol’ fish and chips made with sea bass. Reservations are essential in summer – the place is often packed minutes after opening – but staff are friendly and willing to move tables around. And if you fancy something different from wine or beer, why not go for a sake instead?
Overlooking the shiny yachts moored in Mahon’s port, Passió Mediterrània is run by local foodies Teresa and Aleix, who invite you to “try the music that is composed in [their] kitchen”. They’re not overstating the quality and inventiveness of the food here, with Spanish classics such as croquetas and Iberian jamón on offer alongside a shepherd’s pie of Menorcan lamb or octopus with guacamole and wasabi (you’d be hard-pressed to find the last two dishes anywhere else on Menorca). Accompany lunch or dinner with a tipple from the varied and well-priced wine list.
Enjoy spectacular views from the terrace of Cap Roig, a stylish restaurant perched on a clifftop about a 15-minute drive north of Mahon. It’s sought out for its arroz caldos – brothy stews made with fresh fish stock, which differ in taste and texture from the more ubiquitous paella. The juicy fried prawns and lobster caldereta (a rich stew from the Balearic Islands) are also fantastic. Reservations are recommended, especially at weekends, as the quality and freshness of its food has made Cap Roig a real hit. Like many of the island’s restaurants, it’s closed during the off-season (from around mid-October to Easter).
This Menorca institution is situated on the seafront in the charming town of Ciutadella, Menorca’s former capital. With the restaurant’s own boat, the Rosa Santa Primera, bringing in a fresh catch every morning, Balear is a seafood-lover’s paradise. Its kitchen excels at local classics such as lobster caldereta, while other must-trys are crispy fried squid, an exceptional paella, or if you prefer something a little less fishy, the homemade pizzas. No reservations are taken for the outdoor terrace, so arrive early or be prepared to wait a little before being seated.
Pins 46 is part of the Balear Group and boasts a prime spot on Ciutadella’s main square, Plaza dels Pins. As with its sister establishment, the focus is on locally caught fish, with the tuna tataki, cod and octopus popular choices. What makes Pins special, though, is the different spaces in which to enjoy food and wine: choose between a table out on the plaza, in the elegantly-restored townhouse’s dining room or on the intimate patio out back. A competitively priced menú del día offers original dishes such as seafood ravioli or tomato tagliatelle, made with the best of Menorcan ingredients.
Situated in between Ciutadella’s main square and waterfront, stylish Mon is the brainchild of Menorca-born, Michelin-star chef Felip Llufriu. Choose between a €20 (£16.70) three-course set menu or the more extensive tasting menu for just under €50 (£41.80), both of which showcase local produce such as lobster, cod, prawns, suckling pig and beef. The team is friendly and always happy to provide off-menu alternatives if you don’t eat meat and/or fish: just ask what’s available when you order. Seating is in a classy, modern interior and several rooms are available above the restaurant.
Widely touted as destined for a Michelin star, Rels is tucked away on a narrow street in the centre of Ciutadella and boasts a romantic little courtyard. Beautifully presented dishes such as sobrassada croquetas (raw, cured sausage croquettes), shellfish on a bed of spiced rice and smoked mackerel with almond hummus show off Menorca’s world-class produce. Waiting staff complement the five-star food with discreet, attentive service and make excellent wine-pairing recommendations. Rels is not especially cheap, but you wouldn’t expect it to be: this is some of the most exciting cooking to be found on the island.
Situated in Punta Prima, a half-hour’s drive south of the gorgeous cove of Alcaufar, La Oveja Negra offers some of the tastiest carnes (meat dishes) in Menorca. Must-eats for travellers who love their meat include the suckling pig and the chateaubriand steak, the latter of which arrives at your table on a sizzling hot stone. If you’re after a lighter meal or snack, go for the seafood spaghetti or prawns with chilli sauce. And for dessert, try the artisanal ice creams: the Catalan and Menorcan cheese variety is especially popular. Seating is in a simple, light-filled interior or out on the shaded terrace.
Situated near San Luis, a 10-minute drive south of the island’s capital, Bodegas Binifadet is a must-visit for wine lovers. Hour-long tours of the vineyard and cellars – where the wine-making process is explained by knowledgeable, English-speaking guides – include a tasting and cost just €10 (£8.40) per person. Afterwards, head to the restaurant’s attractive terrace and choose from a menu that ranges from fresh fish to perfectly cooked steaks (one of which is easily enough for two or even three people). Before leaving, buy a bottle or case of your favourite wine to take home.