There are many reasons we have chosen to spend every summer for the past decade in Palma. One is the Old Town, blushing with pink and orange houses, their paint peeling in the evening sunlight. Another is the way the city seems to slide right into the Mediterranean Sea. Another is its surrounding green mountains, endless bicycle paths and hot-blooded locals. But the real reason we disappear into this magical island each year is its food.

We’ve watched Palma’s foodscape turn from barren to vibrant over the last few years. It is now home to some of Spain’s most exciting chefs, and houses the kind of restaurants you’d expect to find in London, Sydney or New York City. Because of this exciting turn of events, we now spend as much time in Palma planning our meals as we do actually eating them. Luckily, the city is home to the glorious culture of pintxos – rustic bar snacks that lie waiting to be gobbled down every evening before dinner.

At around 7:30 every night, the doors of Palma’s bars fling open and guests are invited to pull up a chair, helping themselves to whatever bite-sized delights are on the menu that night. They can range from traditional to unusual, and often come on a slice of bread impaled on a cocktail stick. These sticks are then counted as soon as you ask for ‘la cuenta’ (the most vital phrase to learn in Spanish in our book). Pintxos are best enjoyed with a cold tap beer or a glass of red. The whole experience is inexpensive, indulgent and deeply Mallorcan. Especially in summer, where being tipsy from 5PM onwards is practically the law.

Here are the pintxos spots we discovered this time around, when we fell deeper in love than ever before.

More at thecuriouspear.com

Quina Creu

This tapas restaurant is a perfect example of how Palma’s food scene has changed in the last few years. The décor on its own makes it one of the city’s coolest hangouts – tiled floors, vintage furniture, a wall of books, giant old movie posters and hundreds of flickering candles set the mood. While you should be sure to come here for a proper dinner one night (order the tahini hummus with pulled lamb and pines nuts) you can fill your boots with perfect pintxos any night of the week. Try the battered langoustines with lemon aioli, the classic pan con tomate or the foie gras cone with blackberry coulis. There’s also a gin and tonic menu with a Tanqueray, vanilla pod and orange zest mix that had us swinging from the retro chandeliers.

Bar España

The name couldn’t be less exciting, but a pintxos experience doesn’t get much better than this. Tucked at the end of a line of sand-coloured houses is this old bodega, with all of its original signage intact. This place is famous in equal measure for its bustling atmosphere and fantastic bar food. So if you, like us, can’t imagine anything dreamier than sitting at a dark wooden bar with a glass of rioja in-hand, watching plates of food fill up in front of you, then arrive at Bar España at 7.30PM when the doors open. It fills up fast. Expect smoked mackerel pâté, red wine sausages and salty, piping hot tortillas.

  • +34 971 72 42 34
  • Carrer de Can Escursac
    12
    Palma
    07001

Tast

This pintxos institution is slap bang in the middle of town, which means you can spend the afternoon shopping before stopping in for a plate of Jamón Ibérico and a tonic and gin. Not gin and tonic. (You’ll understand when you see the bar tender free pouring.) It thrums with a pleasant mix of tourists and locals every night, and serves an ever-changing selection of fish, meat and vegetable pintxos. Be sure to order the bruschetta with pulpo (octopus, which you’ll find in abundance all over Mallorca) and the sweet, nutty dates wrapped in bacon.

  • +34 971 10 15 40
  • Go to Website
  • Avinguda del Comte de Sallent
    13
    Palma
    07001

La Pergola

This modest joint is a little walk away from Palma’s centre. But frankly, when you’re walking along the Mediterranean coastline in a pair of Mallorcan sandals, who really cares? The interior is pretty nondescript, so grab a table outside and watch the locals and their tiny dogs gliding by. Their local wines are cheap and delicious, and their pintxos include fresh sardines with green olives and chilli, rare beef with salsa verde and goat’s cheese topped with sundried tomatoes. All served on bread, of course…

  • +34 971 28 52 98
  • Avinguda De Joan Miro
    8
    Palma
    07001

Tirso

Just down the street from Tast is Tirso, a newbie on the restaurant scene. Its patterned floors, reclaimed wood and creamy leather stools have already secured its position as a favourite date spot. The pintxos selection is smaller than others, with delicate toppings at slightly higher prices. But they serve a mean pan con tomate, and have daily specials like fish pâté and foie gras (another local favourite). Their wine list, on the other hand, is bold and extensive. Stop in for a bottle of Mallorcan red or white, or ask the bar tender for your favourite cocktail.

  • +34 971 76 12 84
  • Carrer Unio
    10
    Palma
    07001

Moltabarra

Loud, busy and teeming with delicious bites, this is the place to come with a group of friends before hitting the Santa Catalina bar scene. The walls are packed with chalkboards and suspended bicycles, and there’s usually a queue for the bar. But hey, it’s a balmy evening and you’ve disowned your British tetchiness for the week. The pintxos are traditional and generous; satiating mouthfuls like cod croquetas and giant padron peppers flecked with sea salt. And of course, drinks are dangerously affordable.

  • +34 971 07 67 67
  • Go to Website
  • Calle Pes de la Farina
    12
    Palma
    07001

Quina Creu

Bar España

Tast

La Pergola

Tirso

Moltabarra

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