Pago Pago – St Magarita, Roses, Spain… a review

Well the Summer holidays are now virtually over but I thought I would share with you a place that has now become something of a best kept secret in the “Covert” household.

We have a little holiday pad in the very south of France that we migrate to every summer and we have recently returned from such a sojourn!

Warm sunny days and very hot balmy nights were experienced and once again we managed to make a trip across the border to one of our favourite haunts. For me it illustrates perfectly that in catering terms one does not have to make things complicated but in fact it can be very simple. In fact simple is better. It has always been my pet hate as to why so many operators make things so complex.

Pago Pago a bar in the village of St Magarita on the outskirts of the infamous town of Roses (Famous for “El Bulli” Ferran Adria’s iconic restaurant sadly now closed) in the Costa Brava region of Northern Spain is a perfect example of how when you have a concept stick to it and continue to do it well!

We first went to this place some 10-12 years ago and were well impressed – some local French friends had taken us to it, we then failed to go back for the next 7-8 years until we re-discovered it…

It is now something of an institution in what is a fairly nondescript resort that has many similar establishment but it does have something of a loyal following. Pago Pago has it’s own Facebook Page with nearly 4000 likes!

It is a Polynesian themed bar that is located on a busy road leading to the beach. It does however serve one main dish that from when it opens of an evening at about 6-6:30pm is something that it’s customers clamber for. If you fail to get there early on then you will have to stand around and wait for a table to come free. A queue from 8pm onwards is very evident in high season! All for the terrace tables!

What dish I hear you all say! Well what could be simpler than a spit-roasted Half Chicken & Chips in a basket. The door way to the bar is dominated by a tall oven that is full of spits loaded with chicken that gently turn away. Eight spits with four chickens per spit means at any one time they have sixty four portions cooking… Waiting staff in black t-shirts and trousers come rushing out with wicker baskets loaded up their arms of chicken and chips in a basket. The owner “Marianne” is a Swiss lady (German Speaking) who flits between the tables with her “Porte-monnaie” collecting the cash only takings from her myriad of customers, large family tables with children of all ages, local rowdy Spanish and then a plethora of Germans, Dutch, French and English all expectantly waiting for their baskets.

Guests all seem to know it is the chicken one should order as rarely are tables given a menu – only the “virgin participants”!

We have been many times now and taken many friends there and on this occasion we took our Chinese visitors who had never been… Chef But and his wife along with my wife and daughter so 5 in total ate for just under 50 euros (just under £40) including all our assorted drinks.

Service is slick and professional with no fuss, napkins are plentiful and the toilets have a steady stream of diners rinsing their hands afterwards as you will have eaten with your fingers.

It is however the salty crispy skinned well seasoned and succulent roasted chicken, the shoestring chips and pots of mayonnaise that are the real stars. It is a joy to watch a place do something so well and consistently and well worth the 80 mile round trip we make for it from our French home.

I am drooling here just thinking about the place… I discovered this little You Tube video about them… it illustrates perfectly what this place is about and captures the laid back informal atmosphere.

If you should ever find yourself in the area then do check it out and please let us know your thoughts!!!


Hari C