7 restaurants to have a good paella in Valencia
It is well known that the typical Valencian dish is paella. But what is paella, what does it contain, how is it made? I will confess something: not even we agree 100%. There is always some small difference between the paella of my town and the paella of my cousin’s town. But we do agree on some points, the fundamental ones. And on our maxim:
What rice is not paella?
First commandment: not everything is fair. And chorizo is not our friend.
Open the fridge, take the vegetables you have in the middle and make a rice with them is not cooking a paella. It will be a wonderful vegetable rice. But it is not a paella. Zucchini, eggplant, potatoes, peas… if you want to take advantage of them, I recommend you try making a cottage pie. But please don’t throw them in the «paella». Not all vegetables are welcome.
Also, if you go near a paella and you see a reddish element on its surface and it’s chorizo, that’s not a paella my friend hehe.
Second commandment: paella is cooked in a paella pan and with Valencian rice.
Yes, we have a specific pan called a ‘paella’. It is basically a very big pan with two small handles. This is so not only because we usually cook paella for a large group (the paella is the gathering center for Valencians) but also because we must make sure that the rice is well spread, without making a thick layer.
In addition, we must use Valencian rice, the Valencian round rice, which has been cultivated in our land since the 10th century. Our Arab ancestors introduced it in the Albufera area, a marshy area that was perfect for this purpose.
Third commandment: mixed paella does not exist.
Chicken and shrimp? No. Duck and clams? No. The traditional Valencian paella is a meat paella, with chicken, rabbit, flat beans (bajoqueta in Valencian), garrofón (garrofó in Valencian), sweet paprika, olive oil and salt. In some areas red bell pepper is accepted for decoration, which is placed once the paella is ready. From then on, this recipe has been modified and adapted to the different territories and their local products.
Is seafood paella, paella?
It depends on who you ask, some will tell you that if it has fish it is not paella, it is «arròs del senyoret» (it owes its name to the fact that the seafood comes all peeled and cut). As I was saying, we do not clarify between us. But in any case, we will never put meat and fish together. Never. And again, never ever chorizo. For some reason, it is the ingredient that most abhors us.
Why? Because paella is a ritual.
It’s not about eating a plate of rice. Paella is the center of our Sundays, the gathering with friends or family. Paella means spending the day in the sun, with a soft drink in your hand and some olives while we wait for the food to be ready.
Paella is your mother, or your grandfather, or my friend Jordi, being appointed official Chef and everyone else swarming around, smelling the paella and giving their opinion without having much idea. And of course, once the paella arrives at the table, there are a series of unwritten rules that we must respect. Indeed, we have a manual on how to eat a good paella in Valencia, so be sure to read it!
I know. We are very picky about paella. But as we said, it’s a ritual. It’s not just typical Valencian food, it’s one of our most cherished traditions. That’s why we can’t trust just anyone to serve us a good paella. Here we bring you a tour of our most renowned paella masters:
Recommended restaurants to eat paella in Valencia
🥘Casa Navarro Restaurant
If you are a beach lover, Casa Navarro is for you. Its front line terrace, overlooking the Patacona beach, will allow you to savor delicious rice while enjoying the sea breeze and the smell of salt. A real feast for your senses. But it is not just a nice place. The Casa Navarro team cooks from the heart. Just listen to Enrique talking about his favorite rice dish. Have you ever seen someone so in love with his job?
🥘 Bon Aire Restaurant in Valencia
Bon Aire Restaurant is a family business that after four decades continues to offer a quality product and an unbeatable service. Located in El Palmar, they comply one hundred percent with the Valencian saying «del camp a la taula» (from the field to the table).
You can enjoy a fantastic paella with a Valencian wine and views of the orchard of Valencia.
🥘 La Pepica Restaurant in Valencia
A paella sanctuary, with more than 120 years of experience behind it, a legacy that passes from father to son and is cared for with care and attention to detail.
Do you want to take a closer look at the ingredients and preparation of paella? José Francisco, third generation manager of La Pepica, shows you:
🥘 Casa Clemencia Restaurant in Valencia
Wood-fired paellas and a restaurant with space for more than two hundred diners. Undoubtedly the ideal place to celebrate an event or a big celebration. Are you one of those who prefer to celebrate at home and order food? Don’t worry: Casa Clemencia offers take-away service, what more could you ask for?
🥘 Goya Gallery Restaurant in Valencia
The Goya Restaurant is characterized by its avant-garde cuisine. Without forgetting the Valencian tradition and its ingredients, its chefs opt for innovative and impeccable dishes, with an elegant and modern presentation. Who said that paella could not be chic?
🥘 Marenostrum Restaurant in Valencia
Located on the banks of the Gola del Perellonet, Marenostrum not only offers a delicious paella, but the possibility of enjoying it overlooking the sea. Is there a better view?
Also, if you visit them, be sure to try their tomato salad, the Perelló tomato is famous and rightly so!
So much for our selection of restaurants for today, we won’t bring you more, because it’s hard enough to choose between these seven! Have you tried any of them? Which one would you choose? We’ll read you in the comments!
And above all, now that we know a little about paella… There is a traditional Spanish saying that practice makes perfect. So why not take the plunge and cook one? Yes, you! At the HandySpanish immersion event we will teach you all our tricks to prepare a paella, the real thing, the traditional Valencian paella. Just remember to leave the peas and chorizo at home, if you don’t want to unleash the fury of the master rice cooker!
How to cook a Valencian paella step by step for Spanish learners
And if we have a studious person in the room who wants to prepare for the big day, here is a complete step-by-step video on how to make paella: