This blog post was originally posted on June 26, 2017 and was updated on February 5, 2021.
Typical foods from Valencia include everything from mouthwatering seafood to delicious desserts.
As the third-largest city in Spain, Valencia attracts millions of tourists every year. Its sunny Mediterranean climate and prime beach location on Spain’s eastern coast make it an ideal vacation hotspot.
However, exploring the local gastronomy is a must while you’re there. Don’t leave without trying some typical foods from Valencia! (And yes, there’s more to Valencia than its delicious paella!)
The best typical foods from Valencia
One of the most well-known Spanish dishes abroad, paella hails from Valencia. Some paella purists even argue it should only be eaten in Valencia, not in the rest of Spain!
The wetlands near the region’s Albufera lake are ideal for growing rice, which the Moors brought to Spain starting in the 8th century. Paella was originally cooked outdoors in giant pans over an open flame in the 18th century, made as a simple no-frills lunch for workers laboring in the fields. It started to grow in popularity around the mid-1800s, and the rest is history.
Traditional Valencian paella includes chicken, rabbit and local white beans called garrafó. But today, seafood, vegetarian and “mixed” paellas, containing both meat and fish, are also popular.
Other typical additions include artichokes, lobster and even snails! And of course, the best paella always has a layer of crispy rice along the bottom, known as socarrat.
Paella’s seafood-and-noodles cousin has its origins as a humble fisherman’s dish. Tender, perfectly cooked noodles taste spectacular with seafood additions like monkfish, squid, shrimp and more. This is one of the most typical foods from Valencia, and a great option if you don’t want to order paella.
The Valencian town of Gandia is proud to be the birthplace of this tasty dish. Fideuà fans who visit the region in early summer can check out the annual fideuà cooking contest, a favorite local celebration in Gandia.
3. All i pebre
This delicacy is a favorite among valencianos, and after trying it we’re sure you’ll see why. All i pebre is a stew containing chunks of eel and potatoes simmered to perfection in a sauce that includes garlic, paprika and almonds.
Not as well known outside the region as other typical food from Valencia, this hearty meal is one of the locals’ best-kept secrets and a true gastronomic hidden gem.
4. Arròs a banda
Valencianos sure love their rice, and arròs a banda is one of their all-time favorites.
But just to be clear: Don’t confuse this typical food from Valencia with paella! In fact, this dish originated in nearby Alicante, where fishermen would use their unsold fish to make the stock used in cooking the rice.
Curiously enough, the rice and seafood are traditionally served separately in arròs a banda: first comes the fish, then the rice is served as a second course and topped with a dollop of alioli (garlic mayonnaise).
Although most Spanish food fans don’t usually consider tapas a typical food from Valencia, esgarraet is an exception to the rule. This tasty tapa includes strips of bacalao (salted codfish) and roasted red peppers, both of which are cut into fine strips. It’s usually swimming in good-quality olive oil with plenty of bread on the side to soak up the hearty juices.
Don’t forget to save room for dessert! Bunyols are yummy fritters containing a touch of pumpkin in the dough. Valencians usually snack on them during the famous Las Fallas festival in March, but we recommend enjoying them any time of year! This delicious snack is one of our favorite typical foods from Valencia.
7. Horchata and fartons
Lots of people have enjoyed a nice cool glass of horchata in the summer, but many probably don’t know that this delicious vegan milk comes from Valencia.
Here, we typically accompany it with fartons, a sweet bread glazed with sugar. This is the perfect sweet breakfast or afternoon pick-me-up after a long day of sightseeing!
People across Spain enjoy this nougat-based treat at Christmas, but it has its roots in Valencia. Turrón can be hard or soft, depending on whether the almonds used are kept whole or pulverized into a paste. With flavor varieties such as chocolate, coconut, coffee and more, there’s sure to be a turrón that pleases everyone’s taste buds.
9. Flan de calabaza
Pumpkin is a starring ingredient in many typical foods from Valencia, more so than any other place in Spain. One of its most delicious iterations is pumpkin-flavored flan, where it provides the perfect velvety texture that this classic dessert needs. It’s well worth saving room for dessert when flan de calabaza is on the menu—no matter how much paella you ate.
With more than 500 sun-kissed kilometers of coastline bordering the Mediterranean, it’s no wonder why the region of Valencia is home to so much incredible seafood. Case in point: clóchinas, or tiny local mussels that are unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. Try them at local favorite La Pilareta for a truly authentic experience.
Despite Valencia’s prime location right on the sea, it actually does get pretty cold in winter! And when that happens, there’s nothing like a soul-warming bowl of bullit (also known as hervido) to warm you up. A simple stew of potato, onion, green beans, and carrot, it’s also a delicious vegetarian option.
Coques are sweet or savory pastries enjoyed along much of Spain’s eastern coast. As a flatbread that comes piled with delicious toppings, it’s easy to think of the coca as pizza’s Valencian or Catalan cousin—and if that doesn’t convince you to try one, we’re not sure what will.
Hear us out: sobrassada is originally from the Balearic Islands—not from Valencia. But the islands’ proximity to the Valencian coastline means that this delicious spreadable sausage has become a staple of the local diet in Valencia, too. Similar in taste to chorizo, sobrassada is a particularly popular choice for a toast topping at breakfast.
14. Local wine
If counting wine as one of our favorite typical foods from Valencia is wrong, we don’t want to be right. The Valencian region is home to some of the most fantastic (and underrated) wines in Spain. Its denominaciones de origen include Valencia, Alicante, Utiel-Requena, and even some cava!
Here in Spain, it’s not uncommon to find fresh seasonal fruit as a dessert option on many restaurant menus. And given that Valencia grows some of the best oranges in the country, passing up the more indulgent options to try them is well worth it. If you can’t bear the thought of going without your sweets, no worries—Valencia’s famous oranges are also used to flavor everything from ice cream to flan.Want our insider’s guide to eating in Madrid? Just add your email address in the form below!
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.