This was our first visit back to Palma in seven years and this time we were renting an apartment in the old part of Palma in a neighbourhood called Sa Gerreria. This was the area of merchants and craftsmen and it retains much of the original character with narrow winding streets and small squares.
It is minutes from the main shopping streets and the Plaza Mayor but has it’s own unique feel. It had gone through a period of considerable decline but in recent years has seen many improvements and investment in the area. In estates agents speak it is up and coming, there is an excellent range of bars and eating places and a real feel of community. I cannot wait to return and to catch up with all the great people we met - in the meantime I thought I would share some of it’s highlights with you.
One is a restaurant called La Juanita, La Sala dels Flassaders 4, I was almost reluctant to share it as a really is such a gem that we ate there twice in two days and only wish we had found it earlier. It had been recommended by someone we met and although he did not know the name we were certain we had found the place one lunchtime, a blackboard with four dishes on it was outside the door and the owner came out and translated them from Mallorquin, the local version of Catalan. This did it for us and we sat outside shared some home made foccacia style bread then had loin of cod with grapes, and fideua (short noodle paella) of rabbit and squid, a Thai flavoured milk pudding, a decent bottle of white wine from Catalunya for 30 Euros, great cooking, wonderful fresh flavours, a bargain.
Next day we went back and ate at the counter with Albert, owner, chef, waiter, cooking in front of us. We shared a chicken confit with cherries and fruit to start, then had bonito, a type of tuna, with avocado, including an ice cream and melon, on a very hot day this was just fantastic. The other main merluza (hake) fried with garlic and chilli and served on potatoes was simple but just so perfectly cooked. Poached pears and raspberry sorbet to follow, the same white wine and all for 38 Euros left us speechless with the quality of Albert’s cooking. We had seen him shopping that morning in the market so can vouch for the freshness.
The reason I am sharing it is that three days after we got home The Guardian newspaper published a page on where to eat in Palma and included this place, so the secret is out, he also apparently does cookery lessons.
There are many other places nearby Quina Creu, Carrer de Corderia 24, was just below our apartment and is a more sophisticated looking place, there is a restaurant which offers a good lunchtime menu as well as a full a la carte menu and the bar has excellent hot tapas to order and pinchos on the bar, this is the cool and trendy side of the area and deservedly very popular.
Just opposite is a bar called Ca La Seu, the premises were a basket making shop which was in business for almost 500 years. The bar has kept the original feel, the owner Carolina is lovely and the pinchos both hot and cold are innovative. A real favourite with us and the locals we met.
An especially good night to visit the area is on a Tuesday when they have the Ruta Martian, where a number of bars offer a small beer or wine and a pincho (tapa on a cocktail stick) for 2 Euros. The bars get packed and there is a great atmosphere, it is not a late night as the bars shut at 11.30 to allow the residents a good night’s sleep some other ones to try are below.
El Carmen, Carrer Hostals, owned by Maribel a good local bar with a wide range of tapas and pinchos
Molta Barra, Carrer del Pes de la Farina, a buzzy bar with a youngish crowd, busy every night
Bar Flexas, Carrer Llotjeta, not on the Ruta but the original bar in the area before it became popular and definitely worth a visit
Ambigu, Carrer Carnisseria, sits in a small square just beside the rear of Santa Eulalia church and is a lovely bar with excellent taps, the tortilla is yummy, and on the Ruta,
Ca’n Joan de S’aigo is an ice cream and chocolate parlour founded in 1700, it is full of locals drinking hot chocolate or eating ice cream and has fabulous cakes and pastries including the traditional ensaimada pastry, try the apricot ones.
The Mercado Olivar, is about ten minutes walk away in Plaza Olivar and is just the sort of market you want on your doorstep, it has traditional stalls for shopping, a good wine shop, and stalls to eat at but has not become a place that only visitors can afford. There is a great seafood stall where you can sample the various types of oyster with a glass of chilled white and also a more modern bar with prawn and salmon nibbles to accompany a glass of pink cava. What we did not sample but was mentioned by the Guardian is Cervecaria Anfos on the first floor where you can sample various simply grilled fish dishes or buy your own and ask them to grill it for you for a small charge.
There are a couple of other special places to mention that are technically not in Sa Gerraria but are close by and both are on the firm favourites list.
Bar Espana, Calle Can Escursac, is a minute from the Plaza Mayor near the steps that lead up from Carrer Union and is a firm favourite from our first ever visit to Palma. Very popular with locals it does good tapas to order as well as pinchos on the bar and when a hot special such as morcilla with a quail’s egg appears the plate empties in seconds. The guys that run it are great and it is a comfortable place to hang out.
The last but certainly not the least is La Vinya de Santa Clara, this became a nightly stop during our stay, it is a comfortable 10 minute walk from the heart of Sa Gerreria towards the cathedral. This small wine bar is owned by Esteban who although originally from Argentina has been in Palma for a number of years. He has a great selection of wines and will happily assist you with a choice to suit, he also serves meat and cheese platters. He is great company and it is a lovely place for some wine or a beer and chat.
Cannot wait to return again to Palma and in particular Sa Gerreria and check out the Palma page for other recommendations.