Although we all know the word ‘tapas’ comes from the Spanish tapar, (‘to cover’), there are quite a few theories floating around on what the source of this meaning actually is. The most shared is that a piece of bread was often placed on top of a drink to protect it from fruit flies and at some stage it became custom to top this ‘cover’ with some ‘queso’ or ‘jamón’. We however also quite like the least known possibility where Felipe III passed a law which declared that when buying a drink, the bartender was to put a small snack over the mouth of the goblet. This to try and restrict rowdy drunken behaviour, particularly among soldiers and sailors! The idea being that the food would slow the effects of the alcohol. Ha! I’m not sure about soldiers but I know most sailors would need a lot more than a few ‘croquetas’ to stop them from being three sheets to the wind and having trouble staggering back to their ship..
In any case Palma counts more tapas restaurants than you can shake a shrimp skewer at but just like you we only like to nibble on the best of boquerones and tuck into the tastiest tortillas thank you very much. And although we’ve been going around trying and testing the traditional tapas; so many calamares, patatas bravas and pimientos de padron! We’ve also done some serious snacking on tapas of the more contemporary kind and have thus come up with this list of solid places that serve up the most scrumptious of mini meals and finger foods for you to gorge on.
La Bóveda We’re certain you’ve eaten at this la Lonja classic where you’ll never spot an empty table, noise levels are suitably high, waiters occasionally grumpy but the quality of the Jamón Bellota always so incredibly good you want to slowly slide that plate over to your end of the table, create a barrier with your right arm and refuse to share any of it with your fellow eaters. We’re also quite partial to their pata negra and the house plonk, a crianza, is pretty good too.
Quina Creu This hip hideaway features the cities coolest retro interior made up from weird murals, funky flea market finds and old style island treasure. It has two entrances; one for the restaurant and one for the pintxos bar where if the sweet sounds of bossa nova won’t lure you in, the sight of their selection of pintxos will. Their small skewered snacks are cheap (1,50€ each) and tiny which affords you to totally indulge. Chefs here come up with crazy, creative concoctions like the goats cheese, nuts, sugar and cinnamon one of which we inhaled four even before ordering our first verdejo.
L’Ambigú Bar Hidden in the dark windy streets of the old town you’ll find this cosy terrace lit by fairy lights and kept toasty during those two months Palma pretends to get cold with outdoor heaters and fluffy blankets. Unpretentious and always packed this place boasts an impressive display of imaginative pintxos like the tiny towers of smoked salmon/ grilled aubergine/ avocado or artichoke/ boquerones/ cherry tomatoes/ balsamic glaze which keep getting refreshed and kept us coming back for more.. Don’t forget to order a slice of the tortilla, it has some secret ingredients inside making it exceptionally delish..
L’Antiquari L’Antiquari used to be an antiques shop a few years back which is still evident in the quirky antiques everywhere so don’t be surprised to share your table with a singer sewing machine or to have to rest your drink on a black and white style telly. There are the ‘cafe con leche’ crowds during the day but come early eve it starts to buzz with locals and foreigners filing in to slurp on draft Guiness, friendly-priced cocktails and tuck into their pa amb oli’s, croques and salad’s.
Appetising, affordable, filling and all prepared fresh from their itty bitty open kitchen.
Gaudeix This place is tucked into a tiny square on Carrer de Can Sales and made us feel like we made a local discovery only seconds after we first sat down. There are tables outside on this pretty little plaza and as the street’s pedestrianised the terrace’s got a cosy backyard sort of feel to it. They serve tapas and pintxos but both are cooked to order so you’ll never need to wonder how long these tiny treats have been on display. The broad bean stew and oxtail are absolutely delicious and they serve a black pudding with a hazelnut inside so fantastically flavourful you’ll want to talk about it for the next two days..
Patxi looks very closed for most of the day but after 8pm opens its shutters to attract a lively mix of locals and visitors keen to swill rioja and devour some traditional but very tasty tapas. There’s a restaurant at the back but it’s at the front in the bar where the noise, the action and fantastic platters of pintxo’s are at. When you walk in it looks like any other tapas place in town but don’t let these modest surroundings fool you as at Patxi’s it’s all about the food. Watch Patxi himself cook his socks off in the kitchen or wolf down the melt-in-your-mouth meats to know what we’re on about.