Understated and elegant, buzzing with life but somehow preserving a laid-back way of life, Valencia is a city for connoisseurs.
The Valencian Community is surrounded by fertile orchards and is famous for being the birthplace of paella. However, the region´s exciting food scene offers so much more, with an eclectic mix of simple, traditional dishes that celebrate the best of local ingredients thanks to modern twists and turns. Indeed, gastronomy has become a driver for the Valencian Community´s tourism strategy due to initiatives such as L´Exquisit Mediterrani, which represents the excellence of its cuisine and which can be translated as “Exquisite Mediterranean”.
Valencian cuisine is one of the finest examples of the Mediterranean diet and has been declared an Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. The most notable culinary classics of Valencian cuisine include some of the best dishes in Spain:
Paella is one of the best-known dishes in Spain and the Valencian Community. The main ingredient is rice, a crop that was introduced to this region by the Arabs in the 8th century.
Paella was traditionally cooked outdoors for farmworkers in huge pans on an open fire. And, although the extensive debate on its origins continues to this day, the ingredients of the traditional recipe are straightforward: rice, chicken, rabbit, green beans, butter beans and rosemary.
Other rice dishes called paella exist and are made with seafood, fish or other vegetables.
An interesting fact regarding paella is the treasured crispy rice found at the bottom of the pan, known as “socarrat”.
Fideuà is a dish related to paella made with noodles and shellfish or fish, including monkfish, squid and prawns. An authentic Valencian fisherman's dish.
Arros a banda
Or, in other words, rice and seafood. The origin of this dish is simple: It used to be made with the remains of local fish and rice. The difference between arroz a banda and paella is that the two main ingredients of the former are served separately: first the fish and then the rice, together with a generous splash of aioli, a kind of garlic mayonnaise.
Clochinas are small mussels cultivated along the extensive Valencian coastline. They are simply steamed and served with wedges of lemon.
A typical Valencian tapa found in coastal areas: It consists of strips of salted cod and roasted sweet red peppers, bathed in rich olive oil and served with crispy bread. Delicious.
A dish for cool winter afternoons, prepared with potatoes, onions, green beans and carrots in a plentiful soup-stew.
Nougat - Turrón
Local Valencia nougat is extremely popular throughout Spain and not only at Christmas. It can be hard or soft and chewy, and is available in flavours including chocolate, coffee and coconut.
A simple snack made with pumpkin flavoured batter. These sugar-coated fritters are ideal for savouring together with a cup of the hot chocolate traditionally drunk at the Fallas festival and in the winter months.
Pumpkin is a very popular ingredient in Valencian cuisine. This delicious dessert has a smooth and pleasant texture. Without a doubt, a dessert not to be missed.
Fartons & Horchata
A tempting sugar-glazed sweet usually eaten with tigernut milk, a typical Valencian drink known as “horchata” that is drunk very cold.
Three of the best restaurants in Valencia
Feeling peckish? Eateries in Valencia that need to be on your eating out hit list.
Food as art?
Ricard Camarena Restaurant
Avenida de Burjassot, 54, Bombas Gens Centre d’Art, 46009 Valencia
Housed in the Bombas Gens Centre d’Art, this restaurant boasts two Michelin stars and deceptively simple dishes.
Calle de Isabel de Villena, 155, 46011 Valencia
Serving the finest paella since 1922, cooked over an open orangewood fire in great steaming pans.
Eat in or takeaway?
Calle de Àngel Guimerà, 61, 46008 Valencia
A foodie magnet since 1948, this establishment offers traditional classics to take home or enjoy in the nearby park.
There is so much here, and so much that seems to have been overlooked by countless tourists stampeding for the headline costas.
Side step the all-night party zones and discover a vibrant city complete with a prominent castle and attractive waterfront.