The very crunchy chipirones. | Andrew Valente

When the Bulletin started out in the early 1960s, the staff’s local was the Bar Martí. It was a most convenient drinking (and eating) hole for us because it was only 80 yards from our front door in Calle San Felio. At that time the Bar Martí was already a mythical kind of place that was busy all day long.

When owner was doing his military service, he cooked for General Franco and his officers when Franco was the Military Governor for the Baleares. Like many other neighbourhood bars in those days, Bar Martí opened punctually at 5am and carried on until about 2-3am next day. And it was always busy at that early hour, mainly with men on their way to work and having a kind of pre-breakfast of a black coffee followed by an alcoholic drink — usually single shots of local high octane spirits.

The Russian salad was made chunky style.

From 10pm until about 2am, Bulletin editorial and printing staff had a home delivery service — only we didn’t call it that in those days. Someone phoned Bar Martí with a list of coffees and soft drinks and they were delivered by the sereno, one of several night watchmen who covered areas in the centre of Palma at that time. We tipped him for his trouble of bringing the drinks on a large tray.

Another person who delivered drinks was Paquita, the owner’s young, pretty and most simpática daughter. Pedro Serra, who founded the Bulletin and went on to create the Grup Serra that includes Ultima Hora and other publications as well as TV stations, used to phone Paquita and ask her to bring him a coffee. “I liked that,” said Paquita last week, “because it got me out of the bar for a bit and I always walked back with a tip in my apron pocket.”

Paquita with Luis Montiel and Yasmine Perez.

The Martí family lived above the bar a Paquita was born there, and for her and her husband Tony, it’s still home. They have retired, but the place is now run by a couple from Venezuela, Luis Montiel and Yasmine Perez. They do an €11 menú del día and also have a good selection of tapas and other dishes. The cooking is done by Lupe Reyes, who has been at the Bar Martí for the past 26 years.

Every day from Monday to Saturday, the Bar Martí draws in a a mixed crowd of tourists as well as locals from nearby homes, offices and shops. The tourists find the bar easily enough because that area is in the English and German guidebooks that cover walks round the old part of Palma. The Bar Martí’s Mallorcan and Spanish dishes at reasonable prices are just what the tourists (and foreign residents) want to try. And many of them come back for second and third visits, so the place is always busy from about 1pm. Tourists prefer the half dozen outdoor tables but the savvy Mallorcan and foreign residents always go for the air-conditioned interior.

The meatballs with a scrummy tomato sauce.

In the old days Bar Martí functioned mainly as a bar serving coffees, drinks and pa amb olis for those who wanted something to eat. But eventually tapas were introduced for the weekend trade and then they were served every day. The menú del día eventually became the big thing along with quite a longish list of tapas. That is the current formula and it works nicely because the place fills up soon after 1pm.

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If you arrive at that time you’ll have no difficulty eating indoors, but the exterior tables may be fully occupied.

The rustic homemade canelones.


There are many places like Bar Martí in neighbourhoods all over Palma but not all of them have the same cooking standards nor do any of them have a history that goes back 82 years. There are dozens of shops of all kinds, including bakeries and pastry shops, that get to celebrate their centenary and more, but bars and restaurants seldom reach a ripe old age.

The two oldest Palma restaurants I can think of both opened in the mid- 1950s…when Bar Martí was already a young teenager. Bar Martí was strictly a bar in the beginning but the Martí family started adding pa amb olis and a few tapas at the weekend and they now have a traditional menú del día and a longish list of tapas, which suits their local and tourist customers very nicely. One of the things to bear in mind here is that the tapas and other dishes come in most generous portions. The ensaladilla rusa, albóndigas and chipirones were easily large enough for four to share. That way the bill works out to be most economical.

The Russian salad was chunky and succulent and came with two slices of bread. Most Spaniards I know like to eat potato salad and ensaladilla rusa with bread. Bread was also supplied for the scrummy meatballs in a tomato- based sauce. The Spanish style canelones were tasty but they should have been much hotter — even on a summer’s day. The chipirones come to the table super crunchy but don’t leave them lying around or they’ll become soft.


Bar Martí, Calle Can Sales, Palma (a continuation of Calle San Felio, off Es Born).Tel:971-726070. The outdoor tables fill up very quickly and it’s easy to get a table inside at around 1pm. There is a fast turnover of indoor tables.


Ensaladilla rusa, €7.50
Canelones, €7.50
Albóndigas, €8.50
Chipirones, €16.90
2 cañas, €5.60
Total cost with VAT: €46


It’s mainly well cooked Mallorcan and Spanish dishes and tapas in the homemade style.