Ibiza - Hit the NORTH

Ibiza is known as an island of beauty, extremes and hedonistic tendencies. Yet, there is a tale to be told, specifically in the north of the island, of well-being, farm- to-table produce, quiet hidden beaches, charming villages and a growing artisanal culinary experience, as well as a magnetic energy that you could only find on this enchanted island.

Ibiza has long been one of my favourite destinations. Over the years I have certainly frequented the many clubs and bars of Ibiza town and beyond. My better half often refers to me as ‘Dora’ and I have always found myself living up to this expectation, especially when in Ibiza, often taking time to explore and get lost in the culturally diverse climate that the island has to offer. It’s only over the past few years that I have found myself even more drawn to the north, away ‘from the madness in the south’ as it is often referred to by locals.

There is something about the north with its secret coves, pine forests, hippy and local feel that has a really positive energy. This is now being matched by numerous independent culinary options.

Firstly, make sure you are mobile for this trip. All corners of the island are accessible in one day but make sure you have transport either by car or even better by bike if you are a keen cyclist.

The island’s main gateway to the north is known as the restaurant road. Island favourites Bamdbuddha and the adjacent Nagai (Carrer de Sant Joan) start the journey and with a variety of turn-offs along the way, an afternoon can bespent acquainting yourself with the growing new independent offerings.

With an antipodean origin and born from a desire to improve the coffee offering in the Balearics, Meke Coffee Roasters (Lugar Venda de Safragell, 154) is located just off the highway. As well as a strong ethos of sustainability they are now pioneering their coffee across the Balearics. Here you can sample the best cortado (espresso with milk) on the island and take a look around the roastery, where they also sell a variety of organic wines and mezcals. Santa Gertrudis is my favourite town on the island, although not strictly north, deserves it deserves some acknowledgement. A charming rural village, nestled in the centre of the island, it is a perfect escape to take an early evening stroll and partake in its independent boutiques and restaurants. Wild Beets (Carrer Venda de Llatzer, 9) is the place to dine if you’re looking for a vegan or plant- based diet and draws locals in from all over. La Paloma (Calle Can Pou, 4) located in the small town of San Llorenc five minutes off the restaurant road, is often on the lips of any local you speak to as the best restaurant in Ibiza. Be sure to book in advance and ask to sit on the terrace.

Personally, I prefer the café offering in the daytime, spending the afternoon in one of the most relaxed al fresco environments, offering organic produce, fresh hummus, home-made pizza and aromatic sea salt and rosemary focaccia. Another five minutes’ drive down the road sits Can Guimo (Carrer de San Joan) created by an alumni of La Paloma. This charming roadside café is the essence of the Ibizan way of life and again champions an interesting menu targeted at well-being. It’s a welcome pitstop on the way to one of the many beaches.

Chiringuito Can Xuclar (Carretera San Joan– Portinatx) is well-hidden off the north coast road. Frequented by locals and the clued-up northern ex-pat community, this charming peaceful cove with its charismatic restaurant is also home to some of the best grilled seafood and homemade desserts on the island. Be sure to book in advance.

Sa Palmera (Plaça Corona, 3) has been home to thebest paella on the island since 1979 and is located in abeautiful secluded part of the village of San Agnés. Sit inits walled flower garden and enjoy some fried squid and rice with some friend before a well-needed siesta.

Los Enamodores (Carretera de Portinatx, 103) is owned by a French former basketball player and his partner, a Dutch journalist, and is located on the northerntip of the island in the old fishing village of Portinatx. The restaurant and nine-room hotel is known for its hip boho design. The menu is an eclectic fusion sharing offering,using fresh seasonal produce and taking inspiration from Asia and Europe. Ultimately its positioning for sunset
is the biggest draw for the restaurant terrace (be sure
to book in advance for a good spot); the tuna tacos and chicken wings come a close second.

For a truly rural experience stay at Finca Can Marti (Venda de Ca’s Ripolls, 29) which is an example of agri-tourism of the highest quality. It’s located just before thevillage of San Joan, where on a Sunday you can find oneof the best markets of the island and take solace in theThe Giri Café (Plaza España, 5), with its fine secludedoutdoor courtyard.

The Finca is family-run with a wonderful ethos of health, tranquillity and home-grown produce. There iseven an honesty shop where you can gather your own organic ingredients from their farm and nearby local suppliers to cook your own meal in one of their Casitas.

Alternatively they have just launched their Moroccantagine room service menu cooked in-house by one of thefarmer’s spouses, who can also be found selling cuisine at San Joan market. It is some of the best north African food I ever have tasted.

Every place I have mentioned in the article is of independent origin. They are run by people who know the land and what it requires, and keep the island’s soul beating strong and peacefully away from the noise of Ibiza’s summer mass tourism ‘madness’.

Forget the misconception that you may have about Ibiza – the truth is in the north.

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Matthew Farrell