Looking for a place to have the best paella in Valencia? In this article, we’ll help you discover some of the best restaurants as well as offer some information to help you better understand what to order when you sit down at these spots.
Paella in Valencia is like having risotto in Milan, espetos in Malaga, or eating at a bouchon in Lyon.
This is Spain’s most famous dish and it comes not from Madrid or Barcelona, but from the country’s third-largest city, Valencia.
Trying to find the best paella in a city full of arrocerías, or rice restaurants can be hard. It’s unlikely you will find a very bad meal, but with a little bit of help and guidance, you can have an extraordinary meal.
Whether you are in the city for an extended stay or you’re only here for a quick weekend in Valencia, you have to have at least one paella in Valencia while you’re here. It just might convince you to stay a little longer.
The Home of Paella
Valencia has long been a wonderful place to farm rice.
Many of the farmers used to use this rice to make cheap meals that would keep them full for a long day of working outside in the Spanish sun.
They used what they had around them; chicken, local vegetables, rabbit, and sometimes snails, too.
It was made in a flat pan which meant that it would cook quickly and a crust would form on the bottom. Called the socarrat, families fight over who gets to enjoy the best of this crispy rice.
Over the years, thanks to access to seafood from the Mediterranean Sea, paella was combined with all manner of crustaceans that we see around Spain today.
What is Paella Valenciana
While you will find slightly varying recipes around Valencia, it is mostly agreed that traditional paella Valenciana is made with rabbit, chicken, green beans, garrofón beans (butter beans grown locally), and usually snails.
The rice is combined with a sofrito which is a sauce base made from garlic, onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes which are cooked down until sweet and caramelized.
The paella Valenciana is also made with saffron to give it that beautiful golden color.
Other Types of Paella in Valencia
Most arrocería around Valencia will have a least three or four different types of paella on the menu. The most common paellas that you will see include:
- Paella Valenciana – mentioned in detail above.
- Seafood Paella – usually a mixture of things like squid, mussels, prawns, and langostines and made with fish stock.
- Mixed Paella – A combination of meat and seafood.
- Paella Negra – black paella is made with cuttlefish or squid ink and is also made with peppers, paprika, and seafood broth. Sometimes you will find other types of seafood added to the rice, other times it will not have any additional protein on top.
- Paella Bogavante – Lobster paella is one of the more expensive, but seriously delicious options. If you have already tried some of the more traditional ones or you are with a larger group, add a tray of this to your order.
- Fideuà – This isn’t a type of paella, but most paella restaurants will also serve it. It is made in the same way that paella is with the same ingredients, however, instead of being made with rice, it’s made with noodles.
Things to Know About Ordering Paella
As someone who spends a lot of time solo traveling, I was disappointed to discover that most traditional places to eat paella in Valencia (and indeed this whole region) do not make paella for one.
If you are traveling solo, your best option is to find a great local tapas bar that makes a big tray of paella and then serves small individual portions of it like this great tapas bar in Alicante.
You always order and pay for paella based on the number of people. Of course, you can order a tray for three people even if there are only two of you. But you will pay the price for three people (it’s usually €15-25 per person for a tray of paella).
Paella, if made properly from scratch, should take about 20-30 minutes to make.
It is also usually something that you eat at lunchtime. You will notice that many of the paella restaurants in Valencia on this are only open in the middle of the day.
Take a Food Tour in Valencia
I always recommend people to take a food tour when they visit a city that is steeped in food history and culture like Valencia.
There are some really fantastic food tour options around Valencia to check out depending on what activities you want to enjoy.
If you want to sample local wine alongside tapas-sized plates of local Valencian dishes, this is a fantastic tour option.
The tour will explain the history of wine in the Valencia region with a sommelier. You’ll taste 4 different wines and 5 different tapas. This tour mostly takes place at night. Book that tour here.
If you want a daytime tour that takes you through the amazing Valencia Market, then this is the best tour for you.
The tour stops at five different locations where you’ll sample different tapas as well as local drinks as well. You will eat 10-12 different dishes during this tour, so come hungry. Book that tour here.
Do you want to know how to make your own paella? Take a cooking class like this one where you’ll make your own paella from scratch.
Learn about the type of rice, the different ingredients, the best pan to use, and of course, enjoy your hard work. Book that cooking class here.
Amazing Places to Eat Paella in Valencia
1. Casa Carmela
The first paella restaurant in Valencia on this list is perhaps the most iconic.
Casa Carmela has humble beginnings, much like the rice dishes that they serve on their menu. It was originally a beach hut where swimmers could come and get changed. After a few years, they decided to start serving food to these hungry swimmers. That was over 100 years ago.
They are still family owned and operated, with the chef keeping up the traditions of his great-grandmother, cooking paella over an open wood fire.
But now they are in a restaurant in the city center where both hungry swimmers and hungry city dwellers can enjoy their pans of piping hot rice.
You’ll find all of the most famous Valencia paella options on this menu alongside arroz meloso (slightly wet) or the even wetter arroz caldoso (almost soup) which are often referred to as wet or brothy rice in English. These dishes are made with the same type of rice as paella, but they have more liquid, usually a thick soup-like broth.
Be sure to order some of the fresh seasonal greens that they source locally from small farmers.
Making a reservation for Casa Carmela is an absolute must no matter what time of year you are visiting. You can do it through their website here.
2. El Trompo
El Trompo is a beachfront arrocería that serves one of the best Valencia-style paellas that I had on my most recent trip to Valencia.
The paella is made with a rich meat broth and is packed with flavor from the sofrito. It comes with chicken and rabbit which have been cooked on the bone and there are perfectly cooked butter beans and green beans still in the tender pods.
Be sure to call ahead to request a seat out on the terrace. On a warm sunny day, with a little breeze off of the Mediterranean Sea, this is the perfect place to have a paella lunch in Valencia.
3. La Pepica
Not quite on the beach like El Trompo is, La Pepica does have a terrace that offers views over the beach.
The specialty of the house is the Paella Pepica which, as the story goes, was originally made for the famous painter Joaquin Sorolla. He didn’t want to peel the prawns or crayfish and asked instead if they could be removed from their shells before serving.
The Paella Pepica is a seafood paella that is served just like that – no shells, no need to get your hands dirty, simply dig your spoon into the tray and enjoy the perfectly cooked seafood and rice combo.
This paella restaurant in Valencia is a great option for vegans and vegetarians because they have a special vegetable paella that doesn’t use any seafood or meat or stock that has been made with animal products.
The reason for this? The former Queen Sofia of Spain is a vegetarian and they wanted to have a dish prepared for her that would allow her to enjoy their wonderful paella in Valencia.
4. Restaurante Flor de Valencia
If you’re staying in the city center, you’ll have to take a walk or hop on the bus or metro to get to this place located just on the other side of Turia Park. You can also take a taxi or Uber there as well, which tend to be incredibly affordable in Valencia.
It’s well worth the small effort to get here.
Flor de Valencia is a casual local restaurant serving up some of the best paellas in Valencia and it’s also one of the few places on this list that you can enjoy for an evening meal. They are open each day from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm and then they re-open again from 8-10 pm.
Not only do they have a full menu of different types of paella, but they also have some fantastic dishes like bacalao (salted cod) meatballs, fried prawns with Iberico ham, and tender veal stew.
The paella Valenciana here is served about as traditional as it comes including rabbit, chicken, and snails. They also have a vegetarian option, a meat option, and a few different seafood options with their paella negra being a particularly popular option here.
5. El Forcat
I particularly love the interior of El Forcat. It feels like you are coming to your grandmother’s house with wooden beams along the ceiling and different paintings and family photos adorning the walls.
It’s centrally located, but the prices are incredibly reasonable. It’s also one of the few places in the entire city where you can come on your own and enjoy a taste of paella in Valencia.
The restaurant offer a menu del día or menu of the day which includes a start, main, and dessert for €17-20 depending on the day and what’s on the menu.
Some of the dishes on the menu of the day include paella Valenciana, arroz meloso, arroz a banda (another typical Valencia dish), and fideuà (a Valencia dish that is similar to paella, except it’s made with noodles).
The thing to note about the menu del día at this restaurant is that everything is made ahead of time for the lunch service. So your paella or fideuà is not made to order, but rather it is ready to serve.
It’s still all made from scratch, but you will not wait and you will be able to have a sampler of different dishes without having to order a huge tray of things. You are also getting traditional Valencian food at some of the lowest prices in town.
Of course, if you order a tray of paella for multiple people, it will be made to order and will take more time.
Serving paella and other Valencian specialties since 1951, this is one of the more upscale and modern-feeling paella restaurants on this list.
That being said, the prices are still as reasonable as many of the others I’ve mentioned. You can expect to pay between €16-20 per person for paella and most main dishes are under €20.
This is a wonderful place to come with a group of people where you can order several local Valencian dishes and sample and share everything. They have paella, tons of different seafood dishes, and nearly 10 different types of rice dishes on the menu.
You can make a reservation through their website here.
7. La Riuá
If it’s variety you’re after for your paella in Valencia, then La Riuá is where you should head. They have over a dozen different options on the menu and each one is made with care and takes time to prepare.
It’s a family-run restaurant that has won awards from around Spain for its quality, flavor, and creativity.
Thanks to its fame around the country, it is also one of the most popular places to have paella in Valencia, so be sure to book a table at least a day or two in advance, more if you are visiting during Fallas or in the tourist-packed summer months.
Located only steps from the main plaza near the cathedral, Plaça de la Reina, La Riuá is perfectly located for those that are only visiting the city for a few days and want to have the best paella in Valencia while they’re here.
La Riuá has everything from Valencian paella to seafood, meat, and vegetarian paella. They also have seriously excellent fideuà, which is made using the same ingredients as paella, except it’s made with noodles instead of rice.
8. Puerta del Mar
As the name suggests, this is the place to come for things from the mar, or the sea.
For seafood lovers, you won’t want to miss ordering the seafood paella here. The interior feels a little bit more formal and upscale than other restaurants in town, but the service is absolutely top notch and the prices are not any higher than any of the other paella restaurants in Valencia.
Paellas at Puerta del Mar range from €16-25 per person depending on what the ingredients are. Of course, lobster paella costs more than vegetarian paella.
Be sure to save room for dessert at this place. I don’t love many Spanish desserts, but the homemade cakes here are utterly delectable.
9. Restaurante Levante
Another spot on the outskirts of the city center, locals laud Restaurante Levante as the best paella in Valencia. If you want to come here on the weekend, you should consider making a reservation a day or two beforehand, especially if you are in a group of more than two people.
This is the place to come if you want to enjoy the traditional paella Valenciana. The meat is so incredibly tender in this rice dish and they get the crust on the bottom of the rice just right.
Levante is also a great place for wine lovers. You’ll want to have a peek at their cellar which is home to over 10,000 bottles of wine. Be sure to speak to the waiter about what would go best with your meal choice.
10. Casa Roberto
This is one of the best restaurants in Valencia full stop. If you want to enjoy a nice selection of traditional food from the autonomous region of Valencia, this is the restaurant where you should make a reservation.
The paella Valenciana is incredible here as are pretty much all of the rice dishes on the menu. Casa Roberto was founded by a chef who has been cooking Valencian cuisine for all of his 40-year career and it shows in the care and attention that goes into the different dishes that arrive at your table.
11. Goya Gallery
For an upscale and unreal dining experience and some of the best Valencian food in the city, make a reservation at Goya Gallery.
This restaurant has 21 different rice options on the menu and they are all packed with flavor. This is probably the most expensive and upscale restaurant on this list and it makes the Michelin Guide, so you know you’re getting quality.
But that being said, you can still enjoy some fantastic paella for under €20 per person at this upscale spot. Valencia is such an affordable place to dine.
Reservations are an absolute must and you can make them through their website here.
While you can definitely enjoy incredible paella here, it’s the entire dining experience that will be memorable. Try their croquetas, the egg stuffed with truffle, and the paella with shredded duck.