Food and Drink
Everything the Holiday visitors needs to know about Menorca's cuisine and food culture. Menorca's island specialities, produce and where to buy them. What will it cost to eat out and how to eat well for less money plus restaurant recommendations.
Good to know
Our little introduction to good eating and drinking while on Holiday
Menorcan Food and Cuisine - what to expect?
Authentic Menorcan recipes and dishes are traditional and simple, influenced by the seasonal ingredients available. A good climate, outdoor planting in the ground means vegetables are very good - where you can still taste the good background flavours of the earth in which they grew. Local fresh fruits grow in pollution free lush green valleys ( apricots, oranges,yellow peaches and lemons ) and ripened where it should be under the sun on the tree before it goes the small distance to market.
If you or your children have forgotten or never seen that vegetables are not always the same shape, same colour, often quite tasteless wrapped in plastic so you cannot smell it then Menorca is for you . Sometimes the benefits of being a small island is buying imported and processed food is often much more expensive with somewhat unreliable deliveries so that more of what is on offer in the restaurants, bars and shops will be homemade and grown on the island at least.
There are a few specialist beer bars selling craft ales eg Birra 'O Clock ( Plaça de la Conquesta, 2, 07701 Mahon ) / Sa Bonna Birra ( Plaça de la Llibertat, 24, 07760 Ciutadella )
Local spanish brands are Estrella, Mahou ,Cruz Campo,San Miguel and Voll-Damm. There is even the emergance Micro Breweries see below. Imported UK Beer always costs a lot more. When ordering in Menorca choose between:
- Pinta or Jara - 0.5 Litres approximately 1 Pint
- Mediana - 33 cl a bottle/glass
- Cana - 25 cl small glass - typically with a Tapa
No chains on Menorca just great Coffee ( and atmosphere ) Always made from an expresso base, menorcan coffee is 'punchy' but smooth and has a different taste to Italian/french coffee. If you don't want any caffeine blast then ask for
- descafeinado de maquina - made with decaffinated ground coffee ( often not great as has been standing around too long and is often oxidised,so bitter tasting)
- descafeinado de sobre - Packet ( usually a brand manufacturer) served with hot water or milk on request ( con Leche )
Local Coffee Types
- Cafe Solo
- Espresso ,
- Cafe Cortado
- Espresso with a shot of milk - typically served in small glasses
- Cafe Americano
- Expresso diluted with hot water ask for
- Cafe con leche
- Milky Coffee-not Cappucinno if you want that ask for Cappucinno made with frothed milk
- Cafe Bombon
- (Espresso with a shot of condensed milk )
- Cafe Carajillo
- Espresso with a shot of brandy - favoured by male senior citizens for breakfast!
Menorca Holiday Tips
Enjoy a relaxed breakfast in one of the locals towns where the bakery and pastry shop often double up as shop and cafe. There you can pick out your breakfast pastries or order toasted sandwiches if you want something freshly made and hot. Be warned! Menorcans have a very sweet tooth.
Food and Drink Prices
Menorca is one of the more expensive places in Spain as much needs to be imported on just a few regular ships. Prices in Beach Resorts will always tend to be higher due to their shorter selling season. Non Spanish branded foods and drink are significantly higher, but those coming via continent eg German are not marked up so heavily. Average cost of eating out
Eating out in Restaurants
In Restaurants you can eat both expensively and poorly, cheaply and well.
- Eat where the locals eat. Be brave, you will be rewarded.
- Fixed price menus offer excellent value menu del Dia during the day or menu del Noche at night
Restaurants in towns will generally be much better and cheaper than beachside resorts. Lunch is usually from 13:00 to 15-16:00 , evenings from 19:00-midnight. A 5-10% tip may be left if you are happy with the service. Children are very welcome.
Menorca Holiday Tips
For an island surrounded by water fish dishes on the island are expensive. If you love fish then enjoy it as part of a menu del Dia. You will often get near enough the same fish, in portions size too, that you would in an a la carte choice.
Islanders will tend to eat sweet pastries for breakfast, a favourite being Churros con chocolate - a finger like doughnut style pastry to dip in hot (often thick) chocolate. The other favourite being the Balearics speciality Ensaimada ( light pastry spiral ) in it's variations. If you want something hot and savoury then hot baguettes will be freshly made with local pork, chicken or tortilla fillings.
If you need your cholesterol fix there English Breakfast offers can be found in a few places at larger beach resorts.
Lunch is usually from 13:00 to 15-16:00 . Consider a menu del Dia (fixed price).
Menorca Holiday Tips
If in Towns, the simple no nonsense Bar Cafeteria's offer excellent menus from as little as 7 Euro.
For a snack or cheaper meal why not try Bocadillos or Boci to the youngsters, fresh filled hot or cold crusty baguettes. Available in most Bars, Cafeterias and bakers' shops. Often you will be asked if you want your Bocadillos 'con tomate' - this is a healthy alternative to butter where a half a tomato or fresh juice is spread thinly on the baguette before filling. Very refereshing change to spreads - try it a home in summer.
Fillings- traditional ham (Jamon / Jamon Serrano), tuna (atun) or cheese (queso). Also fresh hot or cold omelette (Tortilla), or with the salami like Salchicon, or the island speciality Sobrasada.
Menorca Holiday Tips
The credit crunch lunch - on offer in many places a take away 'Bocci' ( Bocadillo = small baguette ) and canned drink 2.50 €. Filling and very tasty.
Can be found in most bars and needs no introduction . There are a selection of typical dishes usually displayed under glass along the top of the bar itself which makes picking with the eyes easy! There are served in smaller portions as 'Tapa' or large portions 'Racion' with bread included. Choose a selection to make up an inexpensive meal. Some of the most popular are: albondigas (meatballs), higado (liver and garlic), riñones al jerez (kidneys in sherry), calamares a la romana (fried squid rings in batter), carne con salsa (meat in a rich sauce), and of course Tortilla. A Racion of Jamon Serano ( freshly cut from a serano ham leg) and a cold cana of beer is heavenly.
Menorca Tip: The younger generation of menorcans have encouraged fusion and gourmet Tapas - modern twists . Try in Mahon @ Food Plaza ( Fish market ) , Mestre D'Aixa , La Mojigata and others. Ciutadella ( ...to come )
Menorca Holiday Tips
Tapas should look homemade and will taste all the better for it. La Rueda in Sant Lluis has a long bar full of excellent Tapas. Bar Vimpy in Ferreies ( next to bus stop) also has a good Tapas reputation. Bar Camacho in Es Castell is also recommended.
For picknickers and self caterers try 'Plat Preparat' and fresh bread ( bara = large baguette ) . Hot and cold dishes on offer.
Pre-prepared meals 'Plats Preparat'. These can be great value to take back to your holiday home to enjoy there and for picnics These meals will be home made ( you'll probbaly see the kitchen from the counter ). With some places offering 2 or 3 courses as a "until we run out" (hasta la fin) special . The portion sizes means with bread you'll have enough for two and a meal for less than 10€. The dishes will be on show so you can choose with your eyes too!
Supermarkets sell readmade local dishes in chill cabinets. They won't be as good as the specialist shops,but still tasty and good value base.
Local Food Specialities
Ses Tanques - is a local brand of excellent meat products ( from animals reared on the island ) and most definitely have a superior taste and quality. Look for the distinctive brand in shops. Also the Ses Fruites for Menorcan grown fruit.
Mahon Cheese ( Queso de Mahon )
'Menorcan cheese' or Queso de Mahon is highly prized in Spain. Best bought at a market, direct from the farm shop or a specialist shop where you can try the various maturity ages to find the one you like. Despite the name, the cheese is made all over Menorca but under strict quality controls for ingredients and flavour. It is matured and sold at diffrent ages which have suprisingly different flavours.
Curing pork sausages has a long tradition with secret recipes passed down the maternal generations. Some more familiar like cuixot ( a bloody, black pudding type with fennel ) to one that is very popular locally and more unusual the Sobrassada ( minced pork made with lots of red paprika that also gives it it's deep colours ) which is spread hot or cold as well as sliced. Huevos Revuelto – Scrambled eggs with Sobrassada is delicious.
Very common to see alongside the sweet offerings are homemade savoury pastries ( shortcrust ) . Fillings tend to be simple and homemade con Verdura ( vegetables ) , con Carne (meat with paprika ) or con Atun (tuna). The shapes and sizes all have individuals names but you'll never remember them, just point and ask con Vedura?, con Carne?, con Atun? etc
A throwback to past British influences is the islands own style of Gin ( made from grape based spirit and juniper berries) . Created at the Xoriguer Gin Distillery its self built in the 18th century on the dockside at Mahon harbour. Try before you buy. The distillery is open to the public for sampling from Monday to Friday 8:00AM to 7:00PM and Saturdays 9:00AM to 1:00PM. The favourite drink at fiesta time Pomada - Gin mixed with crushed ice , bitter lemon or just lemon juice. Lemonade mix versions also might be called Pomada.
Another British influence Menorca has a Pale Ale micro brewery ( Graham Pearce in Sant Climent ) producing bottled beers . Sa Foras Tera @ Sa Bona Birra de Menorca ( in Ciutadella ) .
La sauce al la Mayonnaise (Mahon-aise )
Mayonnaise a food legend on Menorca in its own right where no one is really sure of the truth but was it created here on the island? Either way the french army occupied the island at the time of the story based in Sant Lluis close to Mahon and rumour has it that a local made up a little something with eggs and olive oil , the only things he had available, for a French commander's bread and the rest as they say is history.
The islanders have a very sweet tooth and most of the simple or fancier pastry shops ( Pasteleria ) will have a lot of sweet and very sticky pasteries on offer. Other less sticky island specialities include crespells (jam filled biscuits) and pastissets (similar to shortbread) , almond macaroons (carquinyols) or the ever popular ensaimada - a fluffy ( croissant inner like texture but less buttery) spiral pastry sprinkled in what seems like 1/2 Kilo of icing sugar!
Flan, the local version of creme caramel, is served everywhere for dessert, but look out for puddin, a Menorcan version enriched with fruit. Tarta de manzana (a French style apple fan) is also very popular, as is nueces con nata y miel (walnuts with cream and honey). Lastly savoury tarts (coques) similar to pizzas but without the cheese.
For those with deep pockets, perhaps the island's most publicised speciality is Lobster stew ( caldereta de llagosta ) . It was traditionally a meal prepared by fisherman as a simple easy to make a hot meal on their boats out at sea with their catch as the ingredients. See your financial advisor before ordering. To be honest save the money (60 Euros plus pp) and spend the money on an excellent meal at a quality Restaurant.
Where to buy
No secrets here, where it's fresh and the sellers love their produce - at source on the farm, the fresh food markets or specialty shops. Though supermarkets will stock a more limited selection.
Fresh Produce Markets
Mahon ( Old Cloisters ) and Ciutadella markets are set in attractive settings that adds to their atmosphere.
Specialist Food shops
There are little shops, sometimes tucked away in unassuming streets that are catering for special dietary needs and also ranges for food gourmets.
Vegetarian options are in increasing in resort restaurants,but not so wide spread.
There are in supermarkets good ready made vegetable meals based on mediterranean recipes( Aubergines,Sweet Peppers,Beans) , so make a change to home.
Special Diets ( Gluten and Lactose free )
Gluten - free or 'Sin Gluten' in spanish is displayed on menus and products in shops and restaurant menus
Productos Ecológicos is the name to look for/ask about for specialist foods eg Soya Milk, Organic.
Locally produced Wine
For an authentic experience try a local wine which is on the rise in recent years. Look out for following labels Sa Forana, Malvasia, Ferrer de Muntpalau,Binifadet,Hort,Rubi del Mediterraneo and Favaritx.
These wines can be bought locally in supermarkets, specialist wine shops and at Vin De Menorca who also offer a delivery service to house or boat. Located on Mahon poligno Cami de Ses Vinyes, 118, 07703 Mahon
A range of vineyards across the island, some of which offer tours and tastings making an enjoyable morning or afternoon out.
Tastings and Tours
If you enjoy your food and wine pleasures in life there are a few places you might like to visit to learn more about the subject and endulge in a bit of tasting.
Annual food fair held early April with local exhibitors and tasting plus Menorcan cooking shows - www.firaarrels.com/en
Vineyard Binifadet - Sant Lluis
Just outside Sant Lluis, a short walk along past some idylic looking old farmhouses producing red,white and rose wines. Stroll around the vineyards, free guided tour and wine tasting, shop and relaxing. Terrace-Bar with Tapas. Binifadet
Hort Sant Patrici - Ferreries
Set in the grounds of a old country house Hort Sant Patrici, producing wine, hand made cheese and a small output of extra virgin olive oil all available to sample and buy in on the on site shop along with other enjoyable food delights. Enjoy a stroll around the sculpture garden. Open to the public Mon. to Sat. 0900-13:30 hrs. and 16:30-20:00 hrs. For further information tel. 971 373 702. 1.2km from Ferreries www.santpatrici.com
Subaida - Alaior
A dairy farm making authentic Queso Mahon ( menorca's famous cheese) . Open to the public Summer 1.04-30.09 Mon. to Sat. 0900-1400 hrs. and 1600-2000 hrs. Winter 1.10-30.04 Mon. to Sat. 0900-1400 hrs. Closed Sundays. www.subaida.com