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Food review: Ca Na Ribes, Santa Eulalia, Ibiza

Hearty and traditional, local fare.

Vital statistics

Why go? To eat like a local

What kind of food is it? Hearty and traditional

What diets does it cater for? Those that include a big appetite, mainly meat and fish, though vegetarians are catered for especially if you love vegetables

Ibiza Spotlight tip. Go for one of the set menus, offering great value


The venue

Amongst Santa Eulalia's many restaurants is a jewel of a place. Ca Na Ribes is one of the island's oldest eateries having first opened in 1926. There's even a picture on the wall of the founders, the great great grandparents of the very lovely and hospitable Eva who runs things today.

Years of tradition have been passed down: hearty portions, high quality local market and Ibizan and Spanish dishes are the mainstays of Ca Na Ribes. Its cuisine offers pleasing and creative modern touches too, to keep the rib-tickling food up to date.

There's an outside terrace, an inside terrace filled with pot plants and creeping vines and a long section in between, all of it decorated in a charming rustic style. Here, you can eat as the locals do and experience a world you won't get anywhere else on your travels.

The ambience

Ca na Ribes is a great place to avoid tourists en masse with a welcoming family feel. With the staff more mature than in most places, you'll get people with real knowledge of what they are doing. For them, serving clients, from the cooking to the waiting on tables, is a profession and it's done well.

This restaurant is a well-oiled machine, all intent on making your experience one of feeling at home, even when you are out. Here it's about authenticity without pretension. If that's you, this is your restaurant.

The food

Chicken croquettes with tomato jam

As well as an a-la-carte menu, there is also a separate tapas menu and three different well-priced set menus that allow you to have a bit of everything. These include a tapas menu, making choosing easy, a paella menu with traditional starters and a chef's menu that takes you on a journey of the main menu.

So, what did we have? For me, it had to be croquettes to start. Only the Spanish know how to do them. These were very tasty chicken ones with tomato jam that's sweet and retains the actual taste of tomatoes, unlike say ketchup.

Thin slices of toast with aubergine, goat's cheese and caramelised onion

Of my two other dining partners, Pete had the gratin of fresh scallops with prawns, a yummy and very cheesy dish, which is a bit like a seafood fondue. María opted for an item from the tapas menu: toasted bread topped with thinly sliced aubergine, goat's cheese and caramelised onion.

Whole salt-baked sea bream that's dressed to impress

Our mains were a good mix of meat, fish and salad. Mine was the very meaty roast shoulder of lamb with rosemary. If you like slow cooked dishes with deep flavour, this is one for you.

The show-stopper in terms of presentation was the salt-baked whole sea bream served with roasted Mediterranean vegetables. It's an entire fish on a large serving platter and. Pete, whose dish this was, looked awestruck. We didn't hear from him for some time; he thought it was amazing, by the way.

A meaty, tasty shoulder of lamb with rosemary

Salads here are huge, in fact all the portions are very generous, so be careful in your choosing. A salad to start and then a full main will have you hauled out of Ca Na Ribes on a small crane. María chose an anchovy salad that comes on a bed of lettuce, watercress and rocket with Manchego cheese, olives topped with a caper sauce. If you want to eat healthily and be filled, this type of dish is perfect. There's nothing worse than walking away from a restaurant still hungry. No fear of that here.

A huge portion of cheescake

We did manage to slip in some desserts. These come from some of the best cake and dessert makers on Ibiza, so you really do have to indulge. Pete had a very tasty, raspberry-topped baked cheesecake with vanilla ice-cream, the best variety of this kind of dessert in my opinion. Maria had a “Crema Catalana”, an unctuous baked custard that's to die for. I had a very traditional local greixonera flan, enlivened with cinnamon and orange. It's a dessert highlight and I have it often. Just see my growing belly.

Ca Na Ribes is a delight of restaurant. If you're greedy, wear loose fitting trousers. Either way take along an appetite and expect to emerge afterwards with a happy glow.

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