I once asked Tomás Graves where I could find the real Mallorca. He told me ‘At any village bar at seven in the morning.’ In Deià, we’re fortunate to have Sa Font Fresca, which still manages to feel authentically Mallorcan while being a favourite gathering place of the village’s bohemian, multinational community. But where do you go for café society if you’re exploring the island?
Journeys in Mallorca tend to begin with meetings in cafés. Whether for a wake-up coffee before setting out to hike in the mountains or planning a route for a road trip across the island.
Any village of a reasonable size in Mallorca has at least one bar or café at its centre. As Tomás says, if it’s in the green heart of the island it will be open early. One of my favourite cafés on the whole island is in the tiny village of Lloret de Vistalegre not far from Sineu. Like many village cafés and bars, it’s oddly large with high ceilings – perfect to amplify noise levels to the point where you have to shout and raise the volume even higher.
In villages like Lloret that are not remotely fashionable, as far from the ocean as you can get in Mallorca and not on a cycle route, you’ll find very few foreigners. This makes them absolute bastions of authenticity.
Should you be exploring Palma and want to experience real café society, cross over Avinguda d’Alemanya. This is the large road that roughly divides the more international centre of Palma from the Spanish barrios. On the Spanish side of the avenue, you can pretty much wander into any café and find, if not the real Palma, the truly Spanish and Latin American flavour of the city.
The only problem, and this is generalising terribly, is that the coffee in these joints often leaves a lot to be desired. To paraphrase my mother complaining about a bad cup of tea, ‘it’s coffee begrudged and water bewitched’.
If you want to sip on a cup of good, fresh coffee made with plant milk and a vegan croissant – pretentious moi? – you’re going to have to stay inside Avinguda d’Alemanya.
Also, if you’re hoping to meet like-minded souls and you don’t speak Spanish, you’ll need to find a café society with an international clientele.
But schlepping on autopilot to the ghetto of right-on tastefulness that is Santa Catalina, which increasingly feels like it’s no longer part of Palma, gets boring. And neither do you want to pay the eyewatering prices of the cafés that cater for tourists.
So where do you go? Fortunately, there are some wonderful places tucked away in Palma and finding them offers the perfect excuse to explore the backstreets of the city, away from the crowds.
You might like to try La Molienda at Calle Obispo Campins 11.
I first discovered La Molienda when I interviewed the remarkable Guillem Ferrer there. Guillem, who describes himself as a ‘hopist’, is the visionary who helped Camper shoes become a hip international brand in the early days. Guillem is still involved in all kinds of visionary schemes to make the island a better place to live.
La Molienda does a great cup of coffee along with plenty of vegan, vegetarian and gluten free snacks and meals. It’s open, airy and friendly and, because it’s tucked away down a side street, it’s a great place to meet people and have a relaxed conversation.
Another place which I haven’t been to but looks great is Café Restaurante Sibil-La on Calle Blanquerna. Calle Blanquerna is a few streets down Avinguda d’Alemanya from the railway station at Placa Espanya, where the bus from Deià terminates. I only know about Sibil-La because a photo of Deià artist David Templeton taken in the place popped up in my Instagram feed.
Judging by the photos of food on Sibil-La’s Facebook and Instagram feeds, the food is fantastic.
Deià is missing a bar/restaurant/café that stays open all year around and offers an eclectic degustacion of culture.
It’s a large, bustling restaurant that offers Mallorquin tapas with a twist, freshly cooked healthy meals and good wine and beer. So it’s not surprising Dodepit has become a firm favourite with Soller creative types and locals alike.
Apart from Dodepit’s general conviviality, the restaurant also hosts musical performances, theatre and movie showings. Looking at their calendar, the next music night is 29 February when Marion Deprez will be performing. I don’t know what Marion’s music is like but she has a very nice acoustic guitar.