Ibiza boats: Fish – If you can’t catch them… eat them!
Many of the island’s famous seafood-based dishes were originally the simple cuisine of the fishermen who worked at sea all day, every day. They’d mix rice and seafood – those pieces from the day’s catch that hadn’t been sold at market – with secret flavour-filled recipes that had been passed down through generations, to feed their families, friends and whoever else was fortunate enough to be around their seaside shacks (called chiringuitos) at dinnertime.
The humble chiringuito has come a long way since then. While most visitors to the island can’t pronounce the word, everyone knows they need to visit more than one and the very best ones are those you need to make an effort to access. Rather than trekking across the island in the blistering summer heat, relying on inaccurate Google maps and getting lost along bumpy back roads, why not charter a boat and let your skipper take you directly to the ‘front door’ of the island’s best traditional chiringuitos for a lunch you’ll never forget?
You know what they say about fish… if you can’t catch ‘em, eat ‘em anyway!
Tucked between two striking red cliffs is the iconic Ibiza chiringuito Sa Caleta, and your skipper will arrange a tender to pick you up at sea and take you ashore. You really can imagine fishermen stumbling into this place after a day at sea, pouring a glass of wine and cooking up delicious fish stews and rice dishes. The food here is some of the best traditional seafood on the island: mixed seafood grills, bullit de peix, lobster stew and the must-try ‘Cafe Caleta’ brewed at the table.
Further around the coast, on the buzzing shores of Cala Jondal is Yemanja – a chiringuito that has been in business for over 25 years. And while the founding family may have moved on, the mouth-watering Mediterranean recipes remain the same, with hearty rice dishes, the freshest daily catches, lobster pots, fish stews and more on offer all year round. And the most appropriate way to arrive at Ibiza’s most glamorous beach is by boat, of course!
A family affair, Es Xarcu (on the beach of the same name) is a charming and stylish restaurant serving passing yachts and an eclectic local clientele. The seafood is superb of course, however it’s the jamón that is often considered the star of the show. Owner Mariano Torres Tur travels to Granada every year to personally select each ham.
Around the coast, Es Torrent is one of the most iconic seafood restaurants in Ibiza. Quite possibly also one of the most pricy, and difficult to get a reservation, but it doesn’t stop scores of yachts pulling into the elegant bay each day. Owner Xicu Sala has been serving up seafood since 1984 when it was just a little wooden shack. Food is taken very seriously here with an emphasis on locally sourced, high quality seafood – touted as the island’s best.
Created by Joan and his wife Lourdes, Ses Boques is the perfect antidote to the high-end beach clubs, and hugely popular with Ibiza locals looking to escape the hustle of summer life. Set right on the sand under the Sabina trees near Es Cubells, the freshest locally caught seafood is cooked with love and Lourdes’ superb homemade desserts also come highly recommended.
When you’ve got Es Vedra in your sights, a triumvirate of seafood specialists await. On the left hand side, presiding over it all from its hilltop advantage is Es Boldado. Having been in business since the mid 80s, they certainly know a thing or two about fresh seafood. Lobster stew is the house specialty – pick your own from the tank and then pop on a bib in anticipation – along with rice dishes and oven-baked John Dory. Remember to bring cash – it’s one of those old school Ibiza restaurants without a credit card machine.
Down on the beach, Restaurant Cala D’hort is the place to be for a classic, feet in the sand experience. Opened in the 1960s by a local fisherman and his wife the duo prepared daily seafood specials as sustenance for other sailors in the area plus travellers who were lucky enough to stumble across it. Today, all seven of their children work together to keep the restaurant’s traditions and recipes, including the legendary rice ‘a la marinera’, alive.
Elevated above the beach, Restaurante El Carmen offers truly incredible views across to Es Vedra and is especially magic around sunset. Another family-run establishment, there are no frills and no fuss, just exceptional service, traditional recipes, fresh flavours and a laidback holiday atmosphere. Local families sing the praises of the bullit de peix, paella and sautéed calamari – fuel up before signalling for the boat tender to whizz you across to your vessel so you can cruise back to the Marina and call it a day.