The fearless founder of Ibiza’s iconic Passion Café empire is accustomed to busy summers after two decades spent serving up the island’s best breakfasts and brunches in multiple locations. Rather than rest on her laurels however, Lana upped the ante in summer 2023, adding two new strings to her already bursting bow: Máona, the specialty coffee house and brand, and Yalla Ibiza, her dream Middle Eastern fusion restaurant in the heart of Santa Gertrudis. So, as the island switches into off-season mode this weekend, some people might think she’d be ready to kick back and enjoy a well-earned break. Those people would be mistaken!
You see, while she was busy creating the concept for Yalla Ibiza earlier this year, Lana always had a second phase to the brand’s launch in mind. First, she’d build a core community of local clientele – completely via word of mouth – who’d spend hot summer nights dining on the stylish terrace, socialising and sipping bespoke cocktails beneath the light of the moon and the stars. And then, when the weather began to cool down, she’d get to work on indulging her passion for breakfasts and brunches – diving deeper into the flavours of the Middle East and creating new menus that married her love of fresh, wholesome, plant-based and vegetarian cuisine with exotic flavours and organic ingredients.
“Breakfast and brunch have always been my thing,” Lana says. “As much as I wanted to open an evening restaurant like this, I’ve also always really wanted to experiment more with the flavours from this vast area, in ways I couldn’t do at Passion.” Autumn days on the Yalla Ibiza terrace are drenched in soft, golden sunlight – perfect for alfresco dining – and there’s also the option of the intimate, interior dining space and the stylish all-weather (shaded and heated) side terrace. Now open daily (excluding Wednesdays) from 9.30am until 4.30pm, the restaurant is set to become a daytime village hub thanks to Lana’s tantalising new brunch and lunch menus, brimming with goodness, tempting with flavour and made with flair. As the brand’s tagline proudly states: ‘Different place, same Passion.’
The most important meal of the day is served at Yalla Ibiza until 1pm and it’s been love at first bite for Lana’s devoted clients since day one, with a plethora of options for those who follow plant-based or vegetarian lifestyles. Choose from light bites like the pistachio or zaatar croissants fresh from the Yalla ovens; choose a Passion-inspired brunch toast, made with locally made artisanal sourdough and topped with combos like avocado, roasted tomatoes, tahini and preserved lemon or the hard-to-resist sweet tahini, banana, granola dust and date molasses. Dedicated foodies will find it impossible to resist the stars of the show however – the hearty and wholesome brunch dishes, made with Lana’s own tried, tested and tasted recipes.
There’s the classic Fattet breakfast hummus – creamy yoghurt tahini served on a crunchy pita with chickpeas, pine nuts, parsley and boiled eggs – and brioche French toast with sumac apple berry compote, whipped ricotta and labneh with lemon zest. Baklava porridge boasts hints of rosewater, pistachio and lemon zest, while the crispy potato and parsnip latkes with herb and rose labneh leave hash browns in the past. Other Yalla Ibiza standouts include Harissa tofu scrambles (another Passion classic, reinvented); the classic Shakshuka; and Turkish eggs made with creamy, salty feta, spiced ‘burnt’ ghee, dill, perfectly poached eggs and sourdough to scoop it all out with. The Yalla Breakfast is the house special and teams crispy spuds with tomato and aubergine sauce with poached eggs, tahini, zaatar, coriander and more chunky bread. And for those who want to dress up their veggie brekkies, sides of smoked salmon and turkey bacon do the trick perfectly.
Good coffee has always been another of Lana’s true passions, and although Máona is closed for the season, you can still enjoy its specialty coffee blends at Yalla Ibiza. There’s also Turkish coffee, done the traditional way (if you know, you know), fresh Moroccan mint tea, light rosewater lattes, cardamom tea and more. Juices run the gamut from pure OJ to pomegranate, rosewater, melon, green and Lebanese mint lemonade, and there are smoothies on the menu too. “A few are stolen from Passion, naturally,” laughs Lana. Be sure to try the Majoon smoothie, made with banana, walnuts, dates, pistachio, vanilla, cinnamon and tahini. With weekend brunches being celebratory events, expect to see some new Yalla twists on classic cocktails soon, and in the meantime, there’s traditional Arak to sip slowly as you wrap up your meal.
When the clock strikes lunchtime at 1pm, the Yalla Ibiza menu makes the switch to cosmopolitan café-style wraps, salads, stews and sides – an easy, fast way to grab a bite in the middle of a busy day, whether you eat in or takeaway. The lentil soup or tofu stew are classic winter warmers, while Fattoush and falafel salads are nice for sunny alfresco lunches. Grab a lush shredded lamb wrap with caramelised onion and mint; try the marainated chicken wrap with alioli – all made with authentic Lebanese wraps and served with garlic sauce, pickled cucumber and tomato, plus delicious zaatar fries. There’s a hearty kofta burger, a light pan-seared tahini salmon and lots of delectable sides, all inspired by Middle Eastern fusion flavours. Don’t leave without trying a slice of pistachio, rose and semolina cake with fresh orange yoghurt on top, or Lana’s now-famous homemade baklava.
The new brunch and lunch offering at Yalla Ibiza is just the first taste of things to come in the off-season. Keep your eyes peeled for Yalla Yoga on the new custom-built alfresco deck, plus ultra-chill live music, meditation circles and special events with henna painting and fortune telling. Lana plans to implement laptop-free zones in parts of Yalla (don’t worry, digital nomads, there’s also a special area for you!) to encourage more community socialising, and you’ll soon be able to pick up express takeaways from the Yalla Deli or have them home delivered through Ibiza Runners.
The launch of the daytime menus at Yalla Ibiza doesn’t mean its existing devotees will miss out on their beloved dinnertime service – the impressive kitchen grill stays flaming from Thursday to Sunday for sharing-style dinners, group gatherings, birthday celebrations, after-work drinks or pre-party cocktails and more. Decadent dinners will continue to be served sharing-style, with dishes being delivered to your table as they’re ready, keeping conversation flowing long into the night.
For Lana, this next phase of her entrepreneurial career is igniting a flame within her that’s reminiscent of her early days at Passion. “I just love being here in Yalla Ibiza,” she says. “Even when I’m not here physically, I’m here mentally! It’s my love right now – and the energy there is just so good. It feels like the right place to be.”