The shores of the Mediterranean are awash with incredible restaurants that have for so many of us imprinted countless memories of fond meals and balmy evenings that we relive over again in conversation and daydreams alike. Such dining quality is perhaps unsurprising, given the rich and diverse culinary heritage that the region is so well known for.
There are a few restaurants, however, that have risen above the rest along our travels and earned a place on our bucket list of best restaurants in the Med.
For us, these restaurants do more than just produce beautiful food. They are also strongholds of cultural identity, capturing the essence of the surrounding tradition and history. Places you won’t find just anywhere, entirely unique to their corner of the world. Also not the sort of place you would frequent regularly for fear of breaking the bank, but more than worth paying a visit even just once for the experience.
Ristorante La Terrazza
Belmond Splendido – Portofino
If we had to choose just one of the restaurants on this list to revisit, it would be La Terrazza. The afternoon we spent carousing on the restaurant terrace of the finest hotel on the Ligurian coast was our most memorable dining experience to date. Prosecco, pasta, pesto, shellfish; everything we hold dear in its truest and most potent form courtesy of the region’s wealth of produce. Something that the hotel proudly celebrates with its “0km” cocktail menu, boasting lemons from Monterosso, chinotto oranges from Savona and the abundance of basil from the nearby hills. The ‘Oro Della Liguria’ was a particular standout from the list, made with local Portofino gin.
The real show stopper, however, was the irresistible backdrop for the occasion. When it comes to scenery, there is something about the Italian coastline that elevates our soul more so than anywhere else. Sitting high up on the hillside overlooking the dainty bay of Portofino with sweeping views of the Mediterranean, the vista provided by La Terrazza is unequalled along the Ligurian coast. A perfumed breeze carries with it the hum of summer, which from our vantage point we watch unfolding below and daydream of la dolce vita.
In one of the most seductive pockets of Italian coastline, Le Sirenuse asserts itself as a true icon. Exuding elegance and sophistication, the repurposed property that was once a summer villa of the Sersales family still displays the charm and eccentricity of its aristocratic past.
The Michelin starred restaurant is fittingly opulent–vines clamour across the white arched ceilings whilst emerald tiles lay underfoot and the pretty town of Positano glistens out of the window below. Fresh, local produce enters the kitchen and appears on the table in the form of humble, perfectly executed dishes–think pasta al pomodoro and aubergine parmigiana, but better than you’ve ever experienced.
The crown-jewel of the Belmond’s La Residencia hotel in Deià, El Olivo offers a fine-dining experience of Mediterranean cuisine according to the vision of Executive Chef Guillermo Méndez.
Occupying the building that once housed the old olive press (the press itself still remains), the restaurant has given the site a rather more grandiose purpose–entertaining the who’s who of the island and its colourful visitors. In keeping with the hotel’s altruistic spirit, most everything is sourced locally from the seasonal menu to the crockery laid in front of you.
Fewer places in the Mediterranean that offer a more romantic terraced dinner setting than El Olivo. Commanding panoramic views of the valley below, uniform tables are arranged across a secluded courtyard lined with olive trees. As the early evening draws in, the setting Majorcan sun bathes the scene below in a golden glow before retiring for the evening, leaving diners to muster by candlelight.
A myconian utopia of sun, wellness and euphoric beats. Such paradise requires carving a full day into your itinerary–arrive for morning yoga before spending the day flitting between beach beds, shaded hammocks and the restaurant.
The menu is rooted in Greek cuisine, but also embraces wider pan-Mediterranean and Asian influences. The decor is immaculate, earthy and minimal. Wood runs throughout the restaurant, its warmth radiating from nearly every visible surface only contrasted by the cool, concrete floor underneath. Cast iron dishes and wooden trays grace tables, enhancing the rustic sensibility.
A core part of Scorpios’ identity, music is very much at the forefront of the experience. Sunset DJ sets explore the chasm between acoustic and electronic. Pulsing, primitive rhythms descend across the premises gripping guests in a rapturous ritual of dancing and general feel-good.
La Colombe d’Or
–Saint Paul de Vence
Hidden within the walled perimeter of Saint Paul de Vence, a once sleepy medieval village turned artistic haven in the South of France, La Colombe d’Or is an emblematic establishment whose history is closely entwined with the creative soul of the area.
A staggering collection of artwork lines the walls of the historic inn, many of which were acquired by means of exchange for lodgings and supper, including most notably those of Matisse and Picasso. Outside, the garden is a leafy oasis of wall-climbing vines and shaded canopies–ideal if you’re dropping by for lunch.
In the evenings, the tables are intimately lit by candlelight and the delicately designed menus offer typical French fare executed with characteristic precision and flair. The experience is indulgent, sophisticated and nothing short of spectacular.
Perched high upon the Montjuic hillside, Martínez proffers lofty views over Barcelona accompanied by primo seafood. The breezy terrace is an opportune setting to wile away a couple of hours over paella, jamon croquetas and a fresh catch of the day.
Every aspect of the restaurant is tastefully executed and coherent, from the decor to the illustrated sea creature mascot featured on the menu–only available in Catalan, but you need not be intimidated as the staff are accustomed to international clientele and happy to help navigate the list of local dishes.
Carved into the cliffs of a secluded bay overlooking the azure Mediterranean waters below, Amante provides a pristine vision of Ibiza that lives up to the expectation in your mind. By day you can revel amidst the idyllic surroundings, soaking up the sun on loungers and watching yachts drop anchor before ferrying their way to a private jetty. As the sun sets, make your way to the restaurant where the menu takes inspiration from Italian cuisine offering perfectly honed versions of classics such as squid ink risotto, roasted aubergine and burrata salad. The tempo shifts as evening draws on with the music gradually climbing, chances are you will be unwilling to leave and instead prone to stick around for the ensuing party afterwards. We certainly did.
A farmstead nestled deep within the Ibizan hills, La Granja welcomes nomadic creatives into rustic simplicity. The restored Finca, dating back to the 18th century, creates an atmospheric buzz of “untouched Ibiza” celebrating the creative freedom that took place before the party scene blew up. This energy can be felt as soon as you step foot through the un-signposted gate (only if you’ve made the guest list, that is). Enjoy lunch and dinner, made from products grown on the farm itself. There’s no menu for lunch or dinner as it depends on what produce is available, but everything is seriously delicious – so good that many guests staying at La Granja, even over a week.
Ca’s Patro March
Few restaurants offer a more intimate experience with the choppy waters on the north of the Island as Ca’s Patro March. Informal, rustic and remote–the much sought after restaurant terrace is carved into the rocky outcrop of Cala Deià, directly overlooking the popular cove just below. The seafood menu is comprehensive and undoubtedly fresh, however it is the grilled prawns in particular that we notice arriving in their sizzling bowls at nearly every table–and for good reason. Reservations are required and can only be made by phone at certain times.