On Ibiza’s west coast, Zoë Perrett discovers a cool beach bar committed to tradition – and looking after customers
Ibiza’s rugged west coast might be eye-poppingly beautiful, but, bar the odd rocky inlet, the stretch from San Antonio to San Miquel is rather bereft of beaches you can access without a car and a scramble.
No wonder, then, that Cala Gracioneta is such a favourite with both Ibicencos and holidaymakers looking to stray from San Antonio Bay. With clear, calm waters, soft, pale sand, and its larger sister Cala Gracia just a stroll around the headland, it’s a gorgeous place to while away the day.
Especially when beach bar and restaurant El Chiringuito Cala Gracioneta can keep you happily fed and watered all day long. Sip cocktails at the bar or on the beach – or, if you’re early enough to bag one, one of the restaurant’s bookable sun loungers. Off the booze? Like at almost every hip venue in Ibiza, it doesn’t matter – vitamin packed juices and smoothies are in abundance.
As you’d expect from a venue under steer of the Mambo Brothers, you’ll dine and drink to a chilled Ibiza soundtrack at El Chiringuito. With a new kitchen, a new chef, and a clientele including F1 drivers and legendary island DJs, it’s a hot venue with a cool reputation.
Shabby chic, rustic luxe, barefoot glamour… whatever you dub it, El Chiringuito’s decor makes it a well-trafficked wedding venue – and makes it a jolly nice place to eat.
We visit for dinner but genial GM Javier tells us we must return for lunch too, when classic Ibicencan rice dishes and Josper-grilled meat cuts are the focus.
El Chiringuito’s MO is to showcase traditional cuisine, with a few of the multi-ingredient salads and healthy seafood dishes you’ll see at most of the Modern Med venues on the island thrown in for good measure.
Our diet starts next week, so we eschew the latter in favour of an almost smoothie-like sangria and lightly-battered squid which, to my delight, delivers a mix of rings and tiny tentacles. A odd number of jamon croquettas renders even division impossible – fastest fingers first.
Earlier in the day it was impossible to park a postage stamp-sized towel on the beach that lies in front of us; now, as dusk falls, it’s sufficiently empty to call to mind a remote desert island inlet. Javier mentions that El Chiringuito offers a boat service and, having seen the cove in this light, arriving here by sea feels an activity we should add to the bucket list.
I dither over octopus with sobrassada sausage or the homemade hamburger, choose the latter, and, when I spot fabulous-looking, besuckered dishes whizzing past to other tables, instantly suffer menu regret. Lamb chop in hand and smile on face, LB has little sympathy.
No matter – I’ll save that cephalopod for another day. The burger patty is flavoursome, and a dish of grilled veggies including deliciously salty charred kale helps assuage the fact I’m mainlining fries when my beach(ed whale) body is crying out for something more slimline.
Definitely not like a ‘homemade Kit Kat’ or an apple pie, but in the interests of research, we put both through their paces. We forgive the former for bearing little to no resemblance to the eponymous bar, because it delivers a delectable bitter chocolate hit. LB tries the pie, but it’s the accompanying violet ice-cream that has him scraping the plate.
It might be trendy, but El Chiringuito’s staff aren’t too hip to give a damn – a fact we discover when we return to the carpark to find our beat-up Ibiza car a non-starter. Javier and co. administer gin and order us a cab, cleverly preventing a dreamy evening turning into a nightmare.
Make it happen
Where: El Chiringuito Cala Gracioneta, Carrer a Grasio, 5, 07820, Sant Antoni de Portmany, Ibiza
Find out more: To visit the website, click here