Couple of weeks ago I was putting together a list of my favourite restaurants in various categories for the Bulletin’s special edition that was distributed at World Travel Market in London. One of many places that did not make that list, but is definitely amongst my most loved spots on the island is El Bungalow. It was recommended to me by my former editor at The Islander Magazine, Simon Relph, and it quickly became my “go to” place for a leisurely Sunday lunch with friends or any kind of celebration.

El Bungalow, gracefully perched on the rocks of the tranquil neighbourhood of Ciudad Jardín is one of those places you find out about through a friend and then keep returning to and telling others about. The restaurant in its current form has been around for forty years, welcoming generations of locals and visitors alike, while the business itself is over 100 years old. “Powers that be” from Madrid tried to shut it down over the last few years. This resulted in a huge protest from clients, neighbours and anyone who is everyone in the cultural life of Palma. As a result, last November “Palma City Council begun the procedures, technical reports and heritage studies to include El Bungalow restaurant in the catalogue of emblematic buildings and asked the Demarcación de Costas to suspend all its actions relating to the building until the municipal procedures for its protection are concluded”.

Meanwhile, back to the food… Last week I had a childhood friend visiting me and one of her wishes was to try some really good paella. So, on Sunday morning we called and booked the last table for two available for that afternoon. We started our meal with some good cold verdejo and a serving of warm bread rolls, olives and aioli. Big connoisseur of olives, Nataly was happy with the offering at El Bungalow. The aioli was also nice, tasted home-made and went really well with the warm bread. In fact, we scoffed two rolls each while waiting – a little too long for our liking – for the main dish.

Nataly studied the menu in detail and after quite a bit of deliberation went for the “blind” seafood paella, meaning that all the shells have been removed before cooking. It came in a typical paellera and we both thought that there was more than enough for two people. This perfectly cooked paella was slightly crispy at the edges (I love that!) while still juicy enough in the centre. It was generously sprinkled with seafood including: prawns, squid, mussels and more and served with lemon quarters to add juice and tanginess to it. We both loved it! We scoffed down a couple of servings each almost in in silence, enjoying the flavours and the views of the open sea, which was still quite choppy that day.

Around us there was a mix of couples, groups of friends and even a few extended families, all enjoying the food and the views of the sea and the cathedral in the distance. The service here is polite an efficient, but too busy to be overly friendly. However, I have been served by the same waitress during several of my last visits, so that we kind of know each other and she always cracks at least one joke.

Having previously filled our stomachs with quite a bit of bread, we could not finish out paella, so we took about a third of it for home. I usually leave space for desert, but I knew I would have a cake elsewhere later that evening (it is my birthday week!) so we skipped it here. However, I have tried their homemade cheesecake in the past and I absolutely recommend it. Something else you have to try while at El Bungalow is their sea bass baked in salt. It requires a minimum of two people ordering it and it is both a visual spectacle and a fiesta for the taste buds.

If by some miracle you have not yet heard of El Bunglaow, I urge you to venture out to Ciudad Jardín and give it a go. The more people support this local institution - the more likely it is to win its battle against authorities to remain open.

The place

  • El Bungalow
  • Carrer dels Esculls, 2, 07007 Palma
  • 971 26 27 38

The bill

  • Blind seafood paella - 21.50 euros pp

Opening hours

  • Tuesday to Sunday from 1pm to 4pm