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Food Review: Spectacular grill specialties and a warm welcome at San Carlos Bar Restaurante

With charming surroundings, fantastic ambience and delicious food, a meal at San Carlos Bar Restaurante feels like you are dining amongst friends.

We love a trip to the picturesque and tranquil village of San Carlos in the rural north of Ibiza. And since our recent visit to the charming San Carlos Bar Restaurante, when we savoured their outstanding cocktails and mouth-watering grill specialities, we have found yet another reason to return – often!

Nestled into the side of the gently curved road that leads out of the village towards Es Figueral and Cala Sant Vicente, behind the eatery’s white-washed walls lies a romantic ivy-covered terrace, with straw lamps and fairy lights emitting a warm glow as you enter through an archway.

With a warm welcome from the team and a relaxed vibe, it’s a place that you can enjoy whether you come with family, friends, or your other half. It’s a beautiful spot to end the day with a hearty meal, or start the night ahead with delicious cocktails and fine food.

I was going to save the overall verdict for the end of our review, but I think this deserves to be said earlier on: San Carlos Bar Restaurante is a great place if you want to enjoy a high quality meal that will impress even discerning gourmets, but in a completely unpretentious, familial setting.  

Onto the drinks! Taking our seats next to an impressively large Monstera plant for added jungle vibes, we started our dinner with a trio of summer cocktails perfect for the sweltering August heat. 

A classic Moscow Mule was delightfully refreshing and hit the balance between sweet and sour aromas perfectly, while the spicy Mango Margarita was so silky it could have passed for a liquid dessert – before the slow burn of the chilli kicked in!  However, hands-down table favourite was the completely addictive, heavenly cooling, frozen Apple and Mint Daiquiri. ‘I could drink 10 of these, easily,’ was the unison agreement!

Specialising in the finest cuts of Uruguayan meats prepared on the wood-fired BBQ, San Carlos Bar and Restaurante takes the concept of the open kitchen to the next level!

At the heart of the terrace, a giant fire-spitting grill takes pride of place on which head chef Martín and his team sizzle away to create perfectly smoked delights. Throughout the evening, we watched him pop out from behind the counter to chat to guests and interact with the rest of the team, which somehow made us feel like we were having dinner at a friend’s house.

Already feeling well and truly at home, we began to devour our breadbasket, which was accompanied by a delightfully smooth homemade chicken pate enhanced with a cheeky dash of brandy.

Martín and his business partner Edu, who runs the restaurant floor, had chosen a selection of starters and mains for us, and we started to salivate as Edu revealed the treats that were to follow to us. As well as grilled meats, the restaurant also offers fresh seafood specialities, homemade pastas and South American family recipes handed down the generations with love - as we would discover later.

We started with a trio of ceviche in a zesty ‘tiger milk’ sauce and topped with crunchy homemade banana chips, grilled chorizo sausage that, accompanied by a fresh tomato salsa, caused a flavour explosion in our mouth, and - something for culinary adventurers – grilled ‘gizzards’.

If you don’t know what gizzards are, maybe save the Google search for after you tried these tender bites with a perfectly crispy crust and sprinkled with sea salt – but trust us when we say they were very tasty indeed!

Next up, a giant sharing plate of steak tartare was another showstopper of the night. Premium, finely chopped meat dressed with a Japanese mayonnaise for an intriguing twist on the classic, this fabulous dish disappeared all too soon as we negotiated for the last mouthfuls!

The soulful soundtrack of ‘70s and ‘80s rock and blues kept our toes tapping while we eagerly awaited our main courses – and made a refreshing difference from the more common electronic music beats that tend to dominate the island.

Our eyes almost popped out of our heads when Edu approached with our next course, an utterly drool-worthy selection of meats and seafood fresh from the sizzling BBQ.

A cooked-to-perfection Flap steak arrived pink in the middle and bronzed on the outside, melting in the mouth like butter. All meats are exclusively imported from Uruguay, where the cows graze freely all their lives, and the flavour and texture of the steak was simply exquisite.

The Picanha – or top sirloin – steak caused the meat experts at the table to swoon in delight, its fatty crust enhancing the smoky aromas to perfection.

Last, but not least, a tender grilled squid dressed in a teriyaki, parsley and garlic sauce, delighted the seafood lovers amongst us.

Our sides – moreish fries and local vegetables from the grill – rounded off our main course, with a special shout-out going to the incredible sweet potato gratin infused with exotic spices, which created a completely unexpected flavour sensation!

By now we already felt engulfed in a big bubble of happiness, sitting back with full bellies at our table and soaking up the atmosphere.

We didn’t think it could get any better, until we were presented with dessert: a heavenly sweet ‘frozen cake’ made from broken biscuits, pieces of meringue and toffee. A creation that Edu’s mother used to make in his childhood, it is touchingly named ‘Reina Lourdes’ (Queen Lourdes) after her.

Our night at San Carlos Bar Restaurante was, from start to finish, a spectacular feast of simple flavours executed to perfection that allows the high quality ingredients to shine.

The following morning, I was reminded of our meal when I walked past the jacket I had worn in the restaurant, and a subtle scent of smoke from the wood BBQ wafted past me, bringing back pleasant memories. The sign of a good night, if you ask me!

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