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Ibiza winter days out: Pintxa competition, San Antonio

Without a doubt, one of the best nights out on the island for family and friends, the Pintxa competition in San Antonio is a 'must do'!

Super cool and sophisticated at Villa Mercedes

The sixth Pintxa competition is currently underway in San Antonio, and always up for eating and drinking Ibiza style, your Spotlight reviewers set out last Thursday evening to join in the fun.

Pintxa Competition – how it works

I'll be the first to admit that I had no idea what this Pintxa was all about, so if you are also wondering, here's how it works. The Pintxa is a competition between the local bars who offer a "pintxo" (a mini appetiser pierced with a cocktail stick and often served on a piece of bread) plus a soft drink, beer or wine for just €2. A tapa plus drink costs €4. Of course, this is a great way to sample a wide variety of bars and food without making a huge dint in the bank balance, and customers then vote for their favourite bar.

53 Participating Bars & Restaurants!

This year, a total of fifty-three bars are participating, and with three new routes (vegetarian, fish and dessert), all tastes are well and truly catered for. It was clear we were not going to get through all the bars in one night, so armed with our map (available in all the participating bars), my friends and I worked out a route which would give us a good cross-section and variety of venues and pintxos.

We started off in the ever-popular Rita's Cantina, with its fabulous artwork and buzzing atmosphere. Even though the place was packed, we were served quickly and with a big smile. Rita's offered a choice of two pintxos...chicken satay, or goats cheese with honey on bread, served with or without bacon. With excellent food and a cheerful, homely ambience, we left Rita's well and truly in the Pintxa vibe.

Rita's Cantina

Pintxa Competition – Our Top Recommendation

Our next stop was five-star restaurant, Villa Mercedes, who were participating in the Pintxa for the first time. As always, the service here was spectacular and our waiters, Josh and Philip along with manager, Javier, were faultlessly attentive, friendly and hospitable. There were five choices of savoury pintxos, including a vegetarian and a fish option, and also dessert. In contrast to Rita's fantastically down-to-earth, no-fuss kind of food, everything in Villa Mercedes from the food to the service to the venue itself oozed flair and sophistication...whilst being warm and welcoming at the same time. Exquisite food with imaginative themes, gracefully served and the one and only Paco Fernandez playing live Flamenco. We were all in agreement; Villa Mercedes had got it right!

Pintxos at Villa Mercedes

It would have been easy to miss our third chosen venue of Es Nautic. It was on our list of participants, but when we arrived, there was no sign of the Pintxa poster and we almost walked on by. With hindsight, that would have been a wise decision! If you are a regular reader of our reviews, you will know that, even though we have high standards, we are a pretty easy-going bunch who always look for the positive. However, I'm sorry to say that we found this almost impossible at Es Nautic. The place was cold, in both atmosphere and temperature and as one of my friends pointed out, it seemed that they were only taking part in the Pintxa because they felt obliged. There was no thought put into it at all; for instance, no serviettes on the table and the food itself was un-decorative and mediocre. Glancing around the restaurant, other customers looked equally as unimpressed. In an attempt to find some redeeming feature, we would point out that there was only one waiter on duty, and we commend him for his hard work. Still, time to move on quick!!

Es Nautic - don't worry if you miss it...

Bar Leopard Ibiza soon raised our spirits with its party, almost club-like atmosphere. Again, a good selection of Pintxos, quick, friendly service and lots of happy faces.

For our final venue, we decided on the typically Ibicenco Restaurante S'Avaradero. There were two pintxos of chicken and pork on offer here, but as the non-meat eater amongst us, I was not concerned as, by this time of the night, I had eaten plenty. It turned, however, that the restaurant was concerned and I was thoughtfully presented with a cheese and vegetable wrap. True Ibiza hospitality at its best!

The Pintxa will be taking place for the next three Thursdays, and if you can make it to San Antonio, we strongly recommend that you do. Beforehand, you might want to check out the website from where you can download a free app to your phone, showing all the routes and participating establishments. You can also cast your on-line vote from here.

We hope you have as much fun as we did!

Buzzing fun vibe at Restaurante Leopard

Quick Facts

What Pintxa.

Where San Antonio.

- Thursday 13th March,
- Thursday 20th March,
- Thursday 27th March.

Why A fun Ibiza night out with the opportunity to sample a wide variety of pintxos very cheaply.

Veggie Options In specified restaurants (see map or check the website)

Average Spend Per Head €2 for a pintxo and drink; €4 for a tapa and drink.

Top Tip From 20.00 to 23.00 hrs, hop on "Thomas" Train for a free ride along the Pintxa route!

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