This blog post was originally posted on June 26, 2017 and was updated on April 16, 2019.
Paella might just be one of the best-known Spanish foods among visitors.
However, most people might not know that the classic rice dish hails from right here in Valencia! The region’s climate is perfect for growing rice, and Valencians have enjoyed paella in one form or another for centuries. Today, some of the best places to eat paella in Valencia are the same centuries-old, family-run establishments locals have favored for ages, while others are more contemporary hotspots. Take a look at our top five recommendations for enjoying this Valencian classic!
1. Restaurante Levante
Located well off the tourist-beaten path, Restaurante Levante is hailed by locals as the home of the best paella in Valencia. Their star dish is traditional Valencian-style paella, prepared with chicken, rabbit and local beans. Guests can choose from among 10,000 bottles of Spanish wines kept in the restaurant’s cellar to accompany their meal.
Insider’s Tip: Pre-order your paella by calling in advance; otherwise you may have to wait up to an hour for it to be made.
2. La Pepica
La Pepica might just be the best paella experience in Valencia. Located a stone’s throw from Playa la Malvarrosa, this iconic establishment is perfect for sharing paella with friends and family on a terrace overlooking the Mediterranean. They specialize in seafood paella, a favorite despite not being the traditional Valencian style of the dish.
La Pepica has seen many famous guests since first opening its doors in 1898. It was one of Ernest Hemingway’s regular haunts during his time in Spain and got a shout-out in his memoir The Dangerous Summer (“Dinner at Pepica’s was wonderful.”) Additionally, the restaurant’s vegetable paella was originally prepared for another honored guest—former Queen Sofía of Spain, who is a vegetarian.
Address: Paseo Neptuno, 6
3. La Riuà
Located in Valencia’s picturesque historic center, La Riuà is a family-run restaurant that has won quite a few awards—and once you taste the paella, you’ll understand why. It’s home to more than a dozen different varieties of the famous rice and is at the top of many locals’ lists for eating paella in Valencia.
4. Casa Roberto
Casa Roberto was founded more than 30 years ago by a chef with more than four decades of experience preparing the best Spanish food. Its location in a lively and vibrant part of the city center make it easily accessible, but the white noise of diners’ chitchat in Spanish and Valencian will leave you assured that this is no tourist trap. Its elegance and slightly steeper prices make it especially popular for special occasions among locals.
Address: Maestro Gozalbo, 19
5. Casa Carmela
A family-run restaurant that has been delighting customers for nearly 100 years, Casa Carmela has humble roots. In fact, it originally started as a small shack near the beach where swimmers could change their clothes and rest! Before long, the family began serving paella to hungry swimmers, and a Valencian icon was born.
The dining experience at Casa Carmela is unique in that everyone in one party eats the paella directly out of the pan it was cooked in. Like the other high-quality establishments on this list, paella is made to order, so it may take some time to arrive at your table after ordering.
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Life is too short to speak one language and stay in one place. In 2015, this philosophy took her from familiar Ohio to sunny southern Spain. Usually drinking tinto de verano, reading Lorca, or attempting to dance flamenco (not all at once). Follow her blog, Viatic Couture, for more.