Ibiza, with all its iconic nightclubs and beautiful sandy beaches, is also known for its world class fine dining scene. In the past 10 years, virtually every high end restaurant has opened somewhere on its shores. But tucked away behind the cliffs of Cala Jondal, just 15 minutes from Ibiza town, is an institution in its own right. Yemanja, a family run restaurant for over 30 years, has been a restaurant and party destination loved by locals and loyalists alike for decades. Serving arguably the best Spanish cuisine on the Island and sat next to Blue Marlin Beach Club, a world famous beach club known for its epic DJ nights and parties. Yemanja has only grown in popularity as time has passed. Known for its delicious food and sangria (loyalists say it is the best paella and sangria on the Island), it has recently officially joined the Blue Marlin Group to become a year round restaurant that brings the best of food, drinks, and music, to the Island. With Sundays at Yemanja being a speciality ever since I started coming to Ibiza over 10 years ago, my guest and I lunched there on a warm March Sunday afternoon.
Situated in possibly one of the most gorgeous beaches on the Island, Cala Jondal, Yemanja is one of the very rare places open 365 days a year on the Island. Whether winter or summer, its doors are always open to families and couples, featuring a warm and welcoming atmosphere that is both distinctly traditionally Spanish but also has that deliciously vibrant Ibiza edge. The menu is Mediterranean, featuring everything from Paella to grilled seafood, calamari, rice dishes, and vegetables. There’s steak, of course, and all of the traditional Balearic goodies like croquettes, pimientos padron and others. The wine list is perfectly extensive, with all the classic roses for the summer, champagnes for celebration, refreshing cocktails for hot summer days, and sangria in all its varieties. With beach beds and lounge chairs, an indoor and outdoor seating area for winter and summer, a wide array of music, and lots of creative toys for the kids, it’s a trusty home away from home in Ibiza. What better way to spend the day than at Yemanja with a long lazy lunch before shimmying over to Blue Marlin Beach Club in the summer for the rest of the party?
We arrived at 2pm on a Sunday in March to an already bustling scene and blazing sunshine. Our meal started with us lounging under its warm rays with some cocktails and wine whilst we bantered with the hostess and perused the menu. My guest had a cocktail whilst I had a glass of wine. Against the surprisingly warm sun (for March!) we took our time basking on the beach before meandering over to our table. Sat virtually only a few metres from the waves, our hostess brought over a Yemanja special, their pan con alioli. Served with freshly caught sardines in the traditional Ibicenco style, the bread was crispy and warm, a wholegrain variety seemingly straight from the oven, whilst the alioli was deliciously decadent, garlicky, and very moreish. As recommended by virtually everyone who has been to Yemanja, we started with a litre of Cava Sangria whilst we decided what to have. The Sangria came out in a jug of freshly cut fruit: strawberries, apples, oranges, and bananas, with freshly squeezed orange juice, some other delicious (and seemingly mysterious) ingredients, before our server poured a bottle of Cava into it. Literally revitalising in the warm sunshine, each sip was more delicious than the last – and surprisingly refreshing.
For the food, we started with the croquetas, a staple tapas dish in Ibiza and a personal favourite of mine that I was eager to try here. Biting into these crispy delights is rewarded with a satisfying crunch and a rich, creamy filling inside. Needless to say, they were outstanding. I believe that you can judge how good a restaurant will be by their croquetas and for me, these are the best on the island. We were tempted to go for the calamari as well, but our server strongly recommended we don’t over order as the paella he had recommended was extremely large. We took his word and he was proven correct as the paella was both filling and certainly unconventional, as it was a Yemanja special, wagyu paella. Neither my guest nor I had ever heard of steak paella, but it absolutely left us impressed, as the succulent pieces of wagyu melted in our mouths next to the creamy, decadent short-grain rice. Purists might scoff, but this was a delightful surprise.
Despite being full, leaving the sunshine and Yemanja’s magnetic atmosphere didn’t feel like an option. Dessert seemed a sensible way to prolong our stay, so we ordered the thin-crust apple pie, which was accented by cinnamon ice cream, and the exotic mousse, which came with pieces of coconut, roasted pineapple, mango, and passionfruit. Both were incredible and a deliciously sweet way to end our meal. Afterwards, we strolled along the waterfront, savouring more of that gorgeous sunshine. Crossing Blue Marlin (which was closed for the Winter), we wandered up to the far side of the shore and soaked up more rays. After the sunset, we made our way back home. Deliciously full, happy, and sunkissed, we knew as soon as we left Cala Jondal that it wouldn’t be long before we’re back.