Vegan Survival Tips for Maó (Mahon), Menorca: Restaurante Varadero

Please note: This article was first published on The Vegan Tourist and last updated May 13, 2013.

You won’t find a single vegetarian restaurant anywhere on the island of Menorca. Many restaurants don’t even offer a single vegan dish, and tuna is often listed as an ingredient in “vegetarian” dishes. (I recommend that you also read Vegan Survival Tips for Menorca, Spain.)

© Ingrid Haunold

At Restaurante Varadero, there are only three vegan items on the menu: bread (1.75 Euros plus 10% tax), green salad (7.50 Euros plus 10% tax), and vegetable paella (14.50 Euros per person plus 10% tax, at least two people must order this dish). So you don’t really have a lot of choices. I recommend this restaurant anyway, at least if you’re travelling with someone else. If you travel by yourself, you’re stuck with bread and salad (or have to eat paella for two).

So why do I recommend it, even though there are so few vegan choices? How many restaurants do you know (anywhere), which serve vegan paella?

Paella is a national dish in Spain, and consider yourself warned: the Spanish don’t like it at all, if you try to compare it to Italian Risotto.

I never had paella before, as I’ve been a vegetarian for 31 years, and this dish is usually prepared with fish. So this was a great opportunity.

I asked the waitress many questions about the preparation of this dish, but she assured me that the restaurant didn’t use any animal ingredients to prepare it. They do use food colouring to achieve the typical yellow colouring of the paella – which I only found out after I’d eaten it – but I did some research on the Internet afterwards, and neither E102 nor E110, which are both yellow food colourings, seem to be deprived from animal ingredients. (If you know different, please let me know!  –  Traditionally, paella is made with saffron, but it’s very expensive and these days many restaurants use food colouring instead.).

I quite liked the paella, and am glad I got to try a vegan version of this national dish during my vacation in Spain, but it didn’t come cheap. Restaurante Varadero is situated right on the water in the port of Maó, and you pay for the view. A bread basket for two, one salad to share, vegetable paella for two and a bottle of water came to 45.65 Euros (plus tip). We did get free appetizers (not vegan), and a small plate with olives for free, but I don’t usually spend that much for lunch.

Still, I enjoyed the vegan paella, it does taste quite different than risotto, and I plan to try and cook it myself now that I’m back in Vienna (with saffron instead of food colouring).

Address: Moll de Llevante 4, Port de Maó, Menorca

Opening hours: daily 10:00 AM t0 11:00 PM.

Phone: +34 – 971 – 352074

Website: they don’t have website, but they’re on Facebook.

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