Ah, food, food, food, food. <3 It was only a matter of time before I wrote a post about Valencian food. I mean, let’s be real – the only thing I love as much as traveling is the local food I discover on the road.
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Although I had never been to Valencia before this year, I did spend a month traveling throughout Spain last year. I ate so many great dishes and wasn’t entirely sure I’d discover more new ones to try. I knew Valencia was famous for paella but was pleasantly surprised to encounter an array of amazing dishes I hadn’t even heard of.
While I can easily provide you with an extensive list of Spanish dishes, I’m first going to start with the ones most commonly found in Valencia.
Warning: don’t read this while you’re hungry!
Paella, my love
Duh! I can’t exactly write a foodie guide to Valencia without including paella. Here in Valencia, they love their different rice dishes and paella is no exception! While the traditional paella Valenciana is made with chicken and rabbit, you can also find a seafood version, vegetarian version, squid ink version…the list goes on.
<class="wp-caption aligncenter" id="attachment_6544" style="width: 582px">Photo source: Sally Elbassir @passportandplates
3 holy rules of eating paella:
1. A fresh paella is made for at least two people.
2. It is only to be consumed during lunch time.
3. It must contain a socarrat, the toasted crispy rice found at the bottom of the pan. If you’re breaking one of these rules, you’re either eating at a touristy place or your paella isn’t fresh.
Where to find the best paella in Valencia?
The best paella can be found at Arrocería La Valenciana, Carrer dels Juristes, 12.
Horchata + fartónes
I’m originally from Los Angeles, where horchata is king – Mexican horchata that is. I had no idea that Valencia had its own version made from chufa, aka tiger nuts. That makes it dairy-free, all-natural, and incredibly tasty. Although I’m sure every Valencian has a different opinion on where to get the best horchata, Casa de l’Orxata is the winner in my book, thanks to its perfect balance of flavor and sweetness.
<class="wp-caption aligncenter" id="attachment_6540" style="width: 570px">Photo source: Sally Elbassir @passportandplates
Local tip: an horchata isn’t complete without an accompanying fartón to dip into your drink. A fartón is basically a fluffy, slightly sweet breadstick. Most Valencians order half a dozen, but I typically stick to one to save room for all the other goodies out there.
Where to find the best horchata in Valencia?
For the best horchata, go to Casa de l’Orxata at Mercado de Colon, Carrer de Jorge Juan.
Funnily enough, I stumbled upon this dish by accident, thinking it was something I’d eaten before. Esgarraet is a red pepper and cured cod salad made with garlic and olive oil. It’s pretty simple but incredibly delicious, especially when eaten with bread.
<class="wp-caption aligncenter" id="attachment_6545" style="width: 619px">Photo source: Sally Elbassir @passportandplates
Where to find the best esgarraet in Valencia?
The best spot to try this (and a bunch of other tapas) is hands-down La Pilareta, Carrer del Moro Zeit 13.
Remember earlier when I mentioned that Valencians loves their rice dishes? Well, meloso is another one of those not-quite-paella rice dishes that I’ve grown to love. Rice dishes in Valencia are either dry like paella, incredibly soupy like a caldoso or a happy medium – a meloso. For those of you who prefer a little broth in your rice dishes, don’t miss out on trying a meloso in Valencia!
<class="wp-caption aligncenter" id="attachment_6546" style="width: 579px">Photo source: Sally Elbassir @passportandplates
I had an amazing duck and mushroom one at El Huerto, Calle de Pedro III el Gran, 11. Bonus: the service was amazing here, which is not as common as one would expect in Spain.
In all honesty, mussels were never really my thing. The ones in Valencia though…they’re a totally different story. Mussels throughout Spain are called mejillones, but the Valencian ones are a special kind – hence the name “clochinas.” Clochinas are seasonal on most menus, so you know they’re super fresh. They’re cooked in a simple and lightly seasoned broth and can be found all over the city during the summers.
<class="wp-caption aligncenter" id="attachment_6537" style="width: 681px">Photo source: Sally Elbassir @passportandplates
Where to find the best colchinas in Valencia?
I hate to repeat restaurant recommendations on this list but the ones at La Pilareta were SO good.
I’m fairly certain I’ve never eaten cuttlefish before this summer, but it’s so similar to squid that I probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two side by side. The point is, if you like squid, you’ll definitely like cuttlefish – specifically, the ones in Valencia. They take it seriously here and many places offer them both grilled and as part of a stew. Cuttlefish for everyone!
<class="wp-caption aligncenter" id="attachment_6547" style="width: 516px">Photo source: Sally Elbassir @passportandplates
Where to find the best sepia in Valencia?
It should come to no surprise that La Pilareta makes good cuttlefish, but Casa Vela (Pl. Canovas del Castillo, 12) makes a mean version as well.
Last but not least, snails get a special mention. I’m not a huge fan of snails and consequently have only eaten them in paella. However, I’ve seen them on enough menus to know they’re a big deal around here and easy to access if you’re feeling adventurous.
<class="wp-caption aligncenter" id="attachment_6536" style="width: 719px">Photo source: Sally Elbassir @passportandplates
I can’t really end this post without giving a shout out to one more Spanish dish. Although it doesn’t necessarily come from Valencia, they can easily be found in the city and are definitely worth trying!
Also known as tortilla española, this fat and fluffy potato (POTATO. not just eggs.!) omelet is a national staple and can be eaten practically anywhere, anytime.
<class="wp-caption aligncenter" id="attachment_6542" style="width: 859px">Photo source: Sally Elbassir @passportandplates
If you weren’t hungry before reading this, then I’m guessing you are now. What are you waiting for? Get your eating pants on and get out and explore Valencia!
What are your favorite Valencian dishes?
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