Gastro Guide to Valencian Food & Best Restaurants in Valencia, Spain
The food in Valencia, Spain is nothing short of amazing. As Spain's third largest city, Valencia is a popular tourist destination with people coming from all around the world to soak in the stunning city and indulge in the incredible food. The local gastronomy in Valencia is unique and different from other cities in Spain. You will find everything from fresh, local meals to mouthwatering desserts to unique drinks and more.
Like Barcelona, Valencia is located on Spain's Eastern Coast and the city has a beachy, Mediterranean climate. The most popular Valencia dishes include seafood, but there is more than just this to discover. Moreover, chefs in Valencia value high quality ingredients and opt for shopping at local markets to get the best locally produced options available! These markets in Valencia are also open to the public and are a joy to join in on.
Prepare to fall in love with the Valencian food culture and the city’s unmistakable charm. Don’t forget to look around and enjoy the views as Valencia is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Europe.
Valencian Food Specialties
When eating in Valencia restaurants, there are a few dishes that everyone must try. If you are spending only a few days in Valencia it is best to try a new dish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on each day so you can enjoy and try as many new Valencia dishes as possible! After all, this city is the birthplace of some very famous, renowned dishes of Spanish cuisine. Below are some of the most delicious Valencian dishes and the most famous foods in Valencia cuisine that you have to try.
Paella—The Most Famous Valencian Food
Paella is by far the most famous Spanish dish and its birthplace is Valencia! This makes Valencia the best place in the world to eat paella - and some even say it should ONLY be eaten here. Authentic Valencian Paella traditionally includes chicken, white beans, and rabbit. But it is more often served today as a meat version, a seafood version, or a vegetarian version.
A traditional paella from Valencia is served with a layer of crispy rice along the bottom and presented sharing style. The entire cast iron pan is placed on the table which makes paella the ideal dish for sharing with others. Be sure to plan your Valencian paella meal for lunch instead of dinner. Eating your heaviest meal for lunch is the way to do it in Spain, and since paella is a big, heavy dish it is most often served during lunch.
Fideua—Popular Valencia Seafood Dish
Fideua is much like paella but served with noodles and made with seafood. It originated as a fisherman's dish due to the emphasis on seafood. The small, hallow, thin noodles pair perfectly with the seafood tastes like shrimp, squid, monkfish, cuttlefish, and more. If you are looking for a famous Valencian dish that isn’t paella, this is your best option!
Arròs a banda—Flavorful Valencian Rice
Another famous Valencian rice and seafood dish that is full of flavor! Arros a Banda comes from the fisherman of Alicante who would sell their catch of the day and keep any leftovers to make fish stock for the rice. They then cooked the rice in the fish stock to create the perfect seafood infused dish. It is often served with a strong garlic mayonnaise called aioli.
Sangria—Famous Spanish Wine Drink
Tasty drinks to consume alongside meals are also a big part of Valencian cuisine and food culture! A pitcher of sangria is a very popular Spanish drink to order with lunch and dinner. Sangria traditionally consists of red wine and chopped fruit and oftentimes other ingredients like spirits and spices.
Sangria is one of Spain’s most famous drinks and has gained notoriety all around the world. You will find this Spanish wine drink on almost every menu in Valencia. There is nothing better than sitting on an outdoor patio enjoying the Valencia sun with a big glass of traditional Spanish sangria!
Horchata Valenciana—Traditional Valencian Drink
Horchata is a famous drink from Valencia that dates back as far as the 13th century. It is one of the most popular drinks in Valencia that is 100% vegan. It is made to look like milk but is made from tiger nuts. These nuts originate from Egypt but are now grown in Alboraya in the province of Valencia. Horchata is served warm and is best enjoyed with futons, a sweet bread with a sugar glaze.
Valencia Oranges—Famous Spanish Produce
Due to Spain’s location, it is very common to find fresh fruit as a dessert option on menus. You will quickly notice in Valencia that orange trees are all around, and that Valencia grows the best oranges in Spain! You can enjoy some fresh oranges for a dessert, or indulge in orange-flavored sweets like ice cream and more.
Bollit—Staple Food in Valencia Cuisine
The perfect side dish before any meal in Valencia is bollit. This is a simple stew that is made with potato, carrot, green beans, and onion. It is also served with oil and vinegar. This is the perfect dish to prepare you for the meal and give you the lusted after tastes of Valencia.
Gelato—Try Helado de Turron
Gelato is a favorite treat amongst all the southern European countries, and enjoying this cold sweet treat in Valencia is very popular. You can find gelato shops all around the city serving interesting and unique flavors but the best gelato shop to go to is Heladería Llinares. This local gelato shop has been around since 1930 and has a very special flavor called helado de turron. This flavor is made with nougat which is one of Valencia’s region specialties. In addition to this you can find many other unique flavors like olive, mustard, gin & tonic, plus many more.
Bunyols—Must-Try Valencia Dessert
Bunyols are a sweet Spanish treat that make for the perfect dessert while in Valencia. They are super similar to donuts except this fried dough is made with a sweet pumpkin batter, plus the final product is fully coated in a thick layer of sugar. This along with churros are the two must-try Valencia desserts that are special to this region.
Best Restaurants in Valencia
One of the best things about visiting Valencia is that it is a very cheap city. You can enjoy low cost accommodation, attractions, and food. This means you can dine in tasty and beautiful restaurants without breaking the bank. Enjoying Valencia's amazing tastes within budget is a treat in itself. Below are some of the best restaurants in Valencia.
Casa Carmela—Best Paella in Valencia
Casa Carmela is the closest you will get to homemade paella in Valencia making it a top option for a delicious paella meal. This restaurant is located along the sea leading to a wonderful dining experience. Be sure to make a reservation beforehand as this is essential, and prepare your transportation as the restaurant is located outside of the city center.
Casa Roberto—Local Valencia Food
This Valencia restaurant is located right in the city center making it super easy to access. It is not a super touristy restaurant, but it is known for its lively atmosphere and delicious, local Valencia food.
Lola Bar—Traditional Valencia Dishes
Great restaurant with beautifully styled food and a great atmosphere. The perfect place to try classic dishes special to Valencia.
Best Food Market in Valencia
There is one main food market in Valencia that is extremely famous and visited. No visit to Valencia is complete without heading here and experiencing the lively and vibrant atmosphere that makes it up. Below is everything you need to know about Valencia’s most famous food market, Mercado Central.
Mercado Central also known as Mercat Central is a huge public market in the old town of Valencia. It is the best place in the city to get local fish, meat, produce, bread, fruits, vegetables and more. A visit here will show you all the diverse crops and foods that are grown and harvested in Valencia and walking around to see it all is super interesting and exciting.
Mercado Central is a feast for the eyes and nose. You will likely see fruits and vegetables you’ve never seen before, and even some types of meats and seafood that look like something from a movie. The loud Spanish voices and hectic atmosphere only add to the excitement of being at the Valencia central market. It is also the best place to pick up some Valencia street food—local goodies and treats to eat on the go. If you come in the morning you can find fruit bowls, fresh pastries, coffee and more. Or you can get some dried meat, nuts, or anything else to take with you as you explore.
Final Thoughts on Food in Valencia
Valencia is one of the best places in Europe to visit to experience unique and vibrant flavors. The food culture in Valencia is special and with so many famous and renowned dishes coming from this city, it is clear they know what they are doing! If you are a foodie traveler looking to visit one of Europe's best local gastronomies, then you must go to Valencia!
About the Author
Samantha Karen is the founder of the travel bog, Sam Sees World. She is a twenty something traveler on a mission to explore the world to seek the new and unknown so she can document her experiences and inspire others to explore this wondrous world. Her objective is to learn about the world while also searching for her place in it. Check out Sam Sees World for valuable information on the best things to do, see, eat, and experience while traveling and making memories along the way. Find Samantha online on Pinterest and Instagram