My boyfriend and I recently visited Valencia and I thought I’d share some suggestions about where to find some fantastic Spanish food & drink. You can read my sightseeing & exploring recommendations here.
Where to eat
Taberna Jamón Jamón – The restaurant is very modern and stylish, as is the food. We enjoyed Iberian ham, Spanish cheese, braised octopus and black pudding with apples roasted in cider. Overall it was probably my favourite meal during our holiday.
La Pepica – This famous beach restaurant which has been open over 100 years and served Ernest Hemingway and lots of celebrities. We chose paella valenciana – rabbit, chicken and green beans (€14.40 per person). We were looking for soccarat, which is the golden caramelised crust at the bottom of the paella pan. La Pepica didn’t quite deliver this but there was some soccarat around the rim of the bowl. Reservations recommended – especially if you want an outside table.
Liaopastel cafe – We had breakfast here several times as it was near our apartment. They have really nice pastries, nice staff and free wifi! It’s comfortable and family-friendly.
Tasca Angel tapas bar – This tapas bar offers some classic dishes like clams, shrimp, padron peppers, pork skewers, eel, neck of lamb, sardines, anchovies and montaditos (small bread rolls with various fillings). They also have some more adventurous plates like cuttlefish ink, cuttlefish eggs, pig kidney and snails. We tried the eel (served with potato in a stew), snails and anchovies. It is an informal place, small with only a few bar stools. The staff are friendly and the food came out quickly and tasted good!
Sidreria el molinon – We went here twice; once for food and once just for drinks. It’s a really nice restaurant, with delicious tapas, friendly staff and incredibly cheap wine (€2.50-€3 per glass). I recommend the chorizo in cider and the meatballs.
Puerta del Mar – A very friendly, modern restaurant where you can order sandwiches, a coffee and orange juice for only €4.30! The staff were very helpful, explaining what the different fillings were and overloading our sandwiches! My boyfriend and I went for mini squid with broad beans, with two sausages (a weird combination we wouldn’t choose again) and slow cooked beef with a fried egg (really tasty!). The other fillings available included sliced meat, sliced cheese, slow-cooked vegetables, omelette with goat’s cheese, scrambled egg with spinach or smoked salmon, fried salt cold, padron peppers, morcilla sausage, chicken with slow-cooked peppers and anchovies.
Central Bar – A really popular bar in Central Market. No reservations but they’re open six days a week, from 7am (closed Sundays). We saw people enjoying their almuerzo; a traditional Valencian breakfast of a sandwich and a glass of red wine or beer. We weren’t hardcore enough to have alcohol that early but we saw some locals doing so. We had esgarraet (roasted peppers with thin strips of salt cod), a terribly moreish small baguette with black pudding, scrambled eggs and chilli peppers, and a plate of grilled pig ears. I can eat pretty much anything but I couldn’t get on board with the ears. The texture was too fatty and squishy for me, so my boyfriend finished them off. The bar is run by Michelin-star chef Ricard Camarena.
Casa Montaña – Our dinner at Casa Montana was our most expensive meal of the holiday but we ate very well and enjoyed a fantastic bottle of Valencian red wine. Our tapas dishes included cod croquettes, smoked eel fillet, sausages, cured pork loin, padron peppers, smoked beef, patatas bravas, stewed broad beans and anchovies. You can sit at the busy bar, in the spacious back room but the best seat in by the jamón-carving station, where we sat. Reservations recommended.
Sagardi Valencia Centro – A really nice wine bar, with a buffet of ‘finger food’-style sandwiches and nibbles. Each snack costs €2 (make sure you keep the cocktail sticks that come with the food, as staff use them to determine the bill). We had five snacks; trout pate with smoked salmon, hot peppers, anchovies & green olives, cream cheese with blueberry jam, meatloaf and anchovies on toast with spinach and an orange sauce. I was happy with most of our choices but am not sure they were all worth €2. It is a nice winebar, though, and if you can get an outdoor table, like we did, it’s great for people-watching.
Ubik Café Cafetería Librería – A very comfortable space with a built-in library, people working on laptops or passing the time curled up in an armchair. We had to wait a while for our sandwiches (€4 each) but they were tasty. The area has a lot of Italian restaurants and cafes, and we could see the Italian influence in Ubik’s menu.
My boyfriend and I wanted to make sure we sampled some classic Valencian food and drinks. Here is some of what we tried:
Paella: Invented, developed and perfected in Valencia! Traditional paella valenciana includes chicken, rabbit and green beans. Snails are often included. There is a seafood alternative – paella marinera – but avoid paella mista, an inauthentic, tourist-friendly combination of meat and fish. Paella is traditionally served at lunchtime, in portions for a minimal of two people. I’d be cautious of a restaurant offering individual portions at dinnertime! If you’d like to read more about the history of paella and tips for making your own paella, check out this article.
Agua de Valencia: This Valencian beverage consists of orange juice with vodka, gin and champagne (or cava – depending on your budget!).
Horchata (known as orxata in Valencian dialect): A non-alcoholic drink made with ground tigernuts, sugar and water. It is sweet and always served cold.
Fartons: These are sweet, bar-shaped fluffy pastry, glazed with sugar. They are typically served with horchata, but can be dunked in hot chocolate and coffee as well.
We visited three markets in Valencia, which had their own characters and charm. The first was Mercat Central (Central market). An enormous art deco building containing dozens of market stalls selling meat, cheese, fruit, vegetables, cakes, biscuits, fish and lots more. We had breakfast at Central Bar then went for a stroll around the market. There were lots of tourists taking photos but the vendors didn’t seem to mind. We bought some picnic food – strawberries, figs, sliced meat, cheese, olives – and grumbled about how cheap and delicious produce are in Spain (and Italy where we used to live) compared to where we currently live (Germany).
We visited Mercat de Russafa, which was smaller and far less touristy. We bought sliced pork, salami, chorizo, lettuce, tomatoes, herbs and an extremely sweet pumpkin cake for less than €10.
The third market was Mercat de Colón. It was the most luxurious and attractive of the three, containing fancy wine bars, restaurants, coffee bars, craft beer bars, icecream parlours, butchers, fishmongers and a gin bar.
Where to drink
- Birra & Blues (good bar prices, a wide selection and tasty tapas dishes)
- Doce Gin Club – A gin bar with hundreds of varieties. It featured in the 2014 Guiness Book of Records for its 429 different brands of gin. It does serve other drinks, including cocktails and wine.
- Horchatería Santa Catalina (Good for horchata)
- Casa de l’orxata (Good for horchata)
- Cafe de las Horas (Good for agua de valencia)
- Casa Carmela (restaurant) – their paella is very well-known and has duck as an added twist!
- Alqueria del Pou (restaurant)
- Sueños De Merlin (restaurant)
- Azahar (restaurant)
- Casa Carmina (restaurant – in El Saler, near Lake Albufera)
If you have any more restaurant, bar and cafe suggestions, please add them in the comments below.
We used Airbnb to book our Valencia accommodation. You can receive a €29 discount on your first stay with Airbnb by using this referral code
The Curious Sparrow