1. How clean the streets were. We saw street sweepers out at all hours of the day and it showed. No trash in sight.
2. How seriously they take interior design. I’ve never seen so many stores and restaurants that, if plucked up and placed into any other moderately sized city, would instantly be that city’s most beautiful store / restaurant. Even if you aren’t looking to shop, going into the stores is worth it just to see how creative the shop owners get with layout & presentation. How often can you say that?
3. The ethical fashion scene. If we were at the start of our journey into the world of ethical fashion and in some kind of perfect alternate universe, I would want to begin it with a coffee in hand from Cafe Verd en route to all kinds of stores in Palma. Usually Porter and I struggle to find even one store that carries one reliably ethical brand we already know & love. Palma has well-over a dozen stores (for a pretty small city this is incredibly impressive) that carry lots of our very favorite ethical lines and introduced us to even more. I was taking notes on my phone all week of every new brand we were learning about and even though we generally avoid shopping completely, I really needed a sweatshirt (currently didn’t own one) and was so pumped about this one from Thinking Mu. It’s so comfortable, it’s dyed with pigment from flowers, and it feels so good to genuinely appreciate a sweatshirt to a degree I never would have two years ago.
4. The food. Just like the ethically-focused scene, the food scene here has tons of locally-sourced, vegan, gluten free options, and if you don’t prescribe to any of those dietary lifestyles, Porter claims it’s also home to some of the most unreal pulled pork tacos he’s ever had in his life. We got Mexican every single night just because we haven’t had access to unreal Mexican food for a couple of months and everything we read said Palma’s was tough to beat. From the made-for-guac chips they cook right in front of you to the plating on charcoal slabs, they get it right every time.
5. The vibe. This city is chic. I mean, if I didn’t know any better I would’ve said we were probably on a side street in the South of France. I’m not sure why but I just wasn’t expecting the level of sophistication on Palma that there so obviously is. I knew it was a very popular high-end vacation destination, but I realized that even more so it’s become this kind of hub of expats and semi-expats (from Spain & Catalonia) who are creatively driven and aesthetically obsessive. It felt like every city block was a stream on rotation of art galleries, picture perfect coffee shops, niche restaurants (Asian and Spanish fusion, anyone?) Gatsby-worthy cocktail clubs and artisan-made stores. I was also surprised by the heavy Scandinavian presence and influence, but definitely not mad about it. If you’ve been following along on here for awhile, now, you know Porter and I really, really respect and love Scandinavian style & design (if we’re picking favorites, it’s our favorite).
So now for the guide part of this post. Palma is the kind of place where we just had to kind of bite the bullet and realize we’d be spending more money than in other locations. There are cities where wandering the streets and finding a gorgeous little dinner spot feels like an authentic, inclusive experience of the place (I felt like this was the case in Vienna, plus some coffee spot stops) and then there are places where you feel like you really have to go to that cocktail club and that coffee shop and that famous local acai bowl place and that biker-friendly juice pressery, to really be swept up into the current of the city. This is for sure the case in Palma. So much of the awe-factor of this city is in its details, and if you’re at the beach every day or choose to just go and hold onto your wallet a little too tightly you’ll definitely miss out. It’s worth saving for because it’s worth splurging on those sorts of little luxuries as soon as you get there. We promise, you won’t miss what you spent. (Unless you go for like a month, then you’re on your own).
Consciously Curated Shops to Visit
1. La Principal – They carry their own in house menswear label, Mews, which is ethically manufactured and has that kind of urban minimalist vibe that I think is a great gateway for college guys becoming working guys who are starting to care more about how they dress and suddenly find themselves living in a city. Porter agrees, and just in general, we were really impressed and in love with this brand. They also carried brands we were more familiar with like Suit & Veja.
2. Maos – this is where we were introduced to Thinking Mu, but they also carried lines like Samsoe & Samsoe that we already know and love. You can kind of see the Scandinavian influence in this store & La Principal actually and even in the brands they carry, even though Thinking Mu is Barcelona based it definitely has that Nordic vibe to its design.
3. Masscob – I deemed this the most beautiful store I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Full stop. Ever. If I ever were to open a coffee shop or restaurant or spa or hotel my first step would be to put all the photos I have of this one Masscob store in front of the designer and my second step would be to say “make me this.” It’s organic, it has gold minimalist geometric light fixtures, it has cream and rose colored marble stairs and upstairs flooring that wrap into the walls like they were carved out of a stone block that just happened to be fused into the corner of the store when they got there. It’s quite literally my dream store, cafe, office space, etc. Literally have spent a solid hour researching who the designer of the store was out of pure obsession (and we don’t have abundant free time these days).
4. Closed – The store behind the brand. Lots of ethical options here as well!
5. Arisan-driven boutiques and jewelry stores. There are tons of these, most with a shop-owner in store who is also the designer and also making by hand what he/she sells in the back of the shop. So fun to pop in and out of these throughout the day.
Places for a Quick Bite & Coffee:
Majorca has a very biker-focused scene once you get out of the city and into the island’s countryside, but even in the city there are all of these really cool cycling concept cafes. They have one room with gear and another room that’s a coffee house and usually juice bar. They even have lists on the wall to sign up for group rides and riders go there to meet other cyclists and just get to know people with a passion for the same hobby. More sports need this, I feel like. Or just hobbies in general. If there was a coffee shop for people who loved to run then I would definitely go and sign up for something like that. If there was a coffee shop for people who do crossfit they’d probably just put sleeping bags on the floor and never leave (kidding*).
Here were our two favorite cycling cafes:
& here’s a few more:
1. Simple Smart Food Bar – so many vegan options, so many in house crafted juice flavors
2. Rosevelvet Bakery – couldn’t manage to find their website, so I linked their insta.
3.. La Molienda – locally sourced bakery specializing in all things breakfast.
Clandestino Cocktail Club – it’s painful to think about this place for me because I so badly wish there was an equivalent in Boston for the day when we stop traveling and have a real need to hang out with our friends in a small, dimly lit, 1920s era cocktail club where the waiter knows our drinks and they almost always come served with some sort of magical, extraneous twist. Porters was placed down on the table then infused with a diffuser with tobacco smoke smell. Mine came with one of those vintage style perfume bottles on the side infused with citrus and rose water. The drinks were honestly reasonable for how much effort clearly went into them (around twelve euro) I’ve definitely paid more for less-than.
Okay, so it’s time for dinner and you can decide to stay in the hub of the city centre and all of its side street appendages or you can head down to Santa Catalina, where there’s a whole stream of more amazing and surprising restaurants. It’s a win-win worth the beautiful uplit (is this not a word?) palm-lined walk to Santa Catalina and worth just hunting around closer to the centre of the city, too. Here’s some places not to be missed in both sections:
1. El Aquanauta – The aforementioned Mexican place. It has kind of a dive bar vibe and definitely make reservations for the weekend, but it is so so so good and the perfect spot to stop before a night out with friends. Get the enchiladas. Get the guac. Get everything.
2. Koa – Amazing tapas and cocktails and a big hit with the locals.
3. Chi Lounge – Mexican food on the beach. Need I say more.
4. Tast – Swanky in all the best ways and delicious.
5. Bon Lloc – All vegetarian. Very reliable. Very yummy.
6. Bi-bap – Asian-infused cuisines, relatively new and another spot that’s a hit with locals.
8. Duke – a surfer’s style restaurant with incredible rice bowls and chilled-out end-of-a-long-beach-day-and-I’m-starving-for-good-clean-food vibe.
We hope this is as helpful as we wanted it to be & also hope you get a real sense of the city’s shops & eats from the photos we took. It was honestly kind of refreshing to be photographing for a city-concentrated blog post and we’re probably going to start doing more of it.
Anna Lisa & Porter