Ibiza has become a haven for foodies, the number of top notch restaurants with established and up and coming chefs that have appeared in the last few years means that the number of tourists coming to the island on gastronomical retreats is increasing every year. They might even start to give the clubs a run for their money! There are so many places on the island where you can sample outstanding cooking, the competition is fierce, what does set these eateries apart, however, is the dining experience and while there are a few amazing experiences to be had, nothing prepared us for what was in store at Es Raco. Two minutes drive from the airport roundabout is Es Raco, not so much hidden away as just quietly minding its own business, this is a restaurant that doesn’t shout from the rooftops, instead it prefers to let people find it, confident in its ability to both impress them once they’ve done so and tempt them back once they leave.
We turn into a small car park and are met with an old ranch type entrance hosting the Es Raco sign above it; right away I think I’m back in an old western movie. Walking into the restaurant, the first thing you pass is the BBQ shack, this is where all the meat is cooked and the smell is amazing! The restaurant seating is mainly in the garden, with enough tables and chair set out to meet demand but not too much to make you feel crowded once at your seat. It’s a simple idea but a genius one. As we make our way to our table everyone greets us as if we are part of the family. It’s a great start to the night, we feel instantly at home and co-owner Stephen joins us at our table to talk us through the menu. First port of call is a bottle of Chianti while we discuss food options, it’s like going for dinner at your favourite aunties house, the one that knows how to make all your favourite dishes!
After some discussion, another plus point about this restaurant is that you feel you have all the time in the world – to make you choice, to enjoy your dinner and to soak up the atmosphere. By now every table in the garden is occupied and there is a very cool vibe. Dining under the stars is the best option every time, but add the simple but comfortable surroundings and this is a meal you want to stretch out for as long as possible. We opt for sharing four different starters – Ensalada Queso de Cabra (goats cheese salad), Bresaola y Rucula (platter of cold ham, cheese and rocket), Pinziinio (roasted vegetables) and Tagliatella with Bolognese sauce.
The food arrives and, in a way that only ever happens when the food is of a certain quality, the conversation immediately stops! Delicious doesn’t begin to do it justice. The homemade Tagliatella and bolognese sauce is perfect, if that had been the only thing I had eaten all night, I would have been more than happy. The goat’s cheese is lightly roasted and melts in the mouth and the salad and dressing compliments it with a sweet flavour. All four starters are destroyed and once the plates are empty conversation returns, but not frivolous chitchat, we are all desperate to discuss how amazing our food was.
After a break, during which Stephen brought a bottle of wine from his home in Sardinia to compliment our main course, for which we opt to order from A La Parrila (the grill). The barbeque smell had been drifting over the table from the minute we arrived and we could resist no longer. Paradilla Mixta is the centre point of our mains, which is a small grill that is placed into the middle of the table and slowly continues to cook a range of meats, chicken and sausages. Apart from looking and smelling fantastic, everything tastes amazing! And our new bottle of Sardinian wine compliments everything perfectly. The amount of meat on our personal grill is more than enough for us all but we had to sample some of the other standouts on the extensive menu. Chuletas de Cordero (Lamb Chops) and Entrana are the last things to arrive and are promptly destroyed by all and sundry, rounding off an amazing dining experience.
Es Raco is much more than a night out for a meal, it’s a dining experience that will spoil you for going out for a meal because you will be looking for the same level of service and enjoyment and that will prove hard to live up to. From the moment we stepped through the old ranch entrance we felt like part of the family, the surroundings were simple but comfortable and the few hours that we spent in the company if the Es Raco staff flew by. The restaurant is packed, this is clearly a concept that people can’t get enough of, we certainly can’t wait until our next visit!