As if being the home of Paella isn’t enough, Valencia has beaches, street art and more. We’ve asked a local expert to share her picks for the best places to eat in Valencia Spain. Read on to find out how to eat like a local in Spain’s third largest city.
Situated on Spain’s Mediterranean coast, Valencia is a popular tourist destination thanks to its fabulous beaches, provocative street art and ultra-modern City of the Arts and Sciences. But as food travelers, we’re especially intrigued by the Valencia food scene.
Famous for being the city where Paella was invented, Valencia has much to offer food travelers beyond the iconic rice dish. The Southeastern Spanish city has a bustling central market and plenty of cute cafes where visitors can try local specialties and wash them down with a glass of Horchata or Agua de Valencia.
A Local’s Picks for the Best Places to Eat in Valencia Spain
Are you wondering where to eat in Valencia? We’ve asked local expert Teresa Gomez of Brogan Abroad to provide her insider tips for the best food in Valencia.
These are her recommendations for some of the best restaurants in Valencia Spain:
Favorite Local Valencia Restaurant
It is tough to pick one favorite restaurant in Valencia, but my favorite is Bar La Pilareta, also known as Casa de las Clóchinas.
Clóchina is a type of mussel that is only found in the seawaters around Valencia. It is also known as a Mediterranean mussel. Slightly smaller than its mussel cousins, the Mediterranean’s saltier water intensifies this bivalve’s flavor.
As you have probably guessed by now, Bar La Pilareta specializes in Clóchinas and is one of the best places to try the local delicacy. Clóchinas are seasonal – you will find the freshest ones from May to the end of August.
Lined up with boxes along the floor for customers to dispose of Clóchinas shells, the bar itself is worth a visit. Bar La Pilareta opened its doors just over a century ago. The Valencian modernist interior is unchanged with tiled walls, hand-carved wooden cabinets behind the bar and period-era lamps.
Bar La Pilareta is located at Carrer del Moro Zeid, 13, 46001 València, Spain.
Iconic Valencia Food
Even though Paella is considered a quintessentially Spanish dish, it actually originated in Valencia. The city is located right next to Spain’s rice-growing region, so it’s no surprise that there is no better place to have this iconic dish. Moreover, the full name of the original dish is Paella Valenciana.
Paella only has a handful of main ingredients – beans (four different types), chicken, rabbit and snails and rice, of course! You can find all sorts of Paella variations in Valencia with the most popular being seafood Paella.
My choice of restaurant for a good Paella Valenciana has to be L’Estimat, a restaurant that serves a range of dishes including rice specialties. Located near the port along the Las Arenas Beach, L’Estimat has a terrace with glorious open sea views.
Paella takes a long time to cook, so Valencians tend to eat it on Sundays. Accordingly, local, multi-generational families crowd L’Estimat during weekends. With these family gatherings slowly disappearing due to a changing modern lifestyle, it’s a joy to eat a meal in the thick of the hubbub. Make sure to book a table well in advance!
While eating in Valencia at L’Estimat, be sure to also try the tellinas, local tiny white mussels.
L’Estimat is located at Passeig de Neptú, 16, 46011 València, Spain.
Favorite Valencia Cafe
My favorite cafe in Valencia is Federal Café which is named after a small town in New South Wales, Australia. Federal serves modern and casual food in a bright and airy space where people can work and socialize.
The cafe offers a wide range of healthy and tasty dishes throughout the day, with classics such as muesli for breakfast, eggs benedict for brunch, elaborate artisanal sandwiches for lunch and indulgent brownies for dessert. My favorite dish at Federal is the halloumi burger topped with arugula salad and tomato chutney plus sides of chunky chips and apple coleslaw.
Serving food served throughout the day is a novel concept in Spain. Valencian locals have received this modern concept well, particularly nearby freelancers who come to eat armed with their laptops.
Coffee is also a specialty here. Federal serves it with fresh milk, a rarity in Spain where ultra-high temperature (UHT) milk is king.
Federal Café is located at Carrer de l’Ambaixador Vich, 15, 46002 València, Spain.
Special Occasion Meal
La Sucursal was born out of love for the local gastronomy by its founder Loles Salvador. With the second generation of the well-known Salvador family now at the helm, La Sucursal is a successful family affair, earning recognition from Michelin for good cooking and excellent wine.
La Sucursal offers traditional Mediterranean food with a creative and contemporary twist. I recommend the restaurant’s Boat Menu which features local delicacies such as razor clams, Iberian pork, sea cucumber and squid ink rice.
As a bonus, La Sucursal’s location couldn’t be more suited to its cuisine. Located on the top floor of the striking Veles e Vents building in the Valencia Marina, the restaurant offers 360-degree views of the city, port and Malvarrosa Beach.
Le Sucursal’s food, the prices and location scream special occasion. Make sure to book a table way in advance due to the restaurant’s popularity.
La Sucursal is located at Marina de Valencia, Muelle de la Aduana, s/n, 46024 Valencia, Spain.
Favorite Valencia Dessert
My favorite dessert place features many people’s weakness… chocolate. But this is not just any chocolate, it’s Valencian chocolate from Trufas Martínez.
Trufas Martínez has been creating artisanal chocolates since 1931 and is a Valencian classic. The chocolatier has changed little since opening its doors to the public three generations ago. They have, however, kept up with the times as people’s tastes have evolved.
Trufas Martínez is known for their truffles and chocography (printed chocolate sheets), but their famous Cubanitos keep me coming back. Cubanitos are little cigar-shaped biscuits covered in chocolate and filled with chocolate mousse. The shape may not necessarily be politically correct, but this is Spain and they are heavenly, so… that’s my excuse!
Trufas Martínez has two shops in Valencia. Teresa frequents the original shop located at Carrer de Russafa, 12, 46004 València, Spain.
Hidden Valencia Gem
My favorite hidden gem is probably the most ‘rough and ready’ place to eat in Valencia. Unless you know it’s there, you’d walk past and not even take notice. However, this spot serves the simplest and most satisfying food on the go – Bocadillo de Calamares (cuttlefish baguette sandwich).
Bar El Tostadero is a spit and sawdust kind of place frequented by local working-class people who pop out of work for something quick to eat for their almuerzo (typically mid-morning) meal. There are no tables. Instead, Bar El Tostadero has a semicircle-shaped bar with a handful of stools and two windows at either end. Diners can have a quick bite either at the bar or while standing just outside at the window.
Bar El Tostadero specializes in one thing – cuttlefish. When you eat here, you can choose between two different styles, either grilled or deep-fried.
The deep-fried version is the most popular. Cooks coat the cuttlefish in an egg and flour batter and then deep-fry the fish for a few minutes before stuffing it into a crusty baguette with a spread of ajo aceite (literally translated as garlic oil, but very similar to alioli).
These cuttlefish are simple, scrumptious and cheap!
Make sure you bring cash. Credit cards are not accepted here.
Bar El Tostadero is located at Avinguda de l’Oest, 31, 46001 València, Spain.
Meet the Valencia Local Expert
Teresa Gomez is a travel blogger who goes back to Valencia several times a year to keep discovering new and old aspects of this exciting city. She’s on a mission to explore the world through deeper travel and more meaningful local experiences and inspire people to do the same. Gomez is a lover of adventure, the great outdoors and everything food-related.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Some businesses may revise their hours and menus due to COVID-19. Others may close, either temporarily or permanently, without notice. Be sure to check websites for updated information and make advance reservations where possible.