Valencia, a vibrant city on Spain’s eastern coast, is renowned not only for its stunning architecture and rich history but also for its culinary prowess. The city’s gastronomic scene is a delightful blend of traditional flavors and innovative creations. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the most authentic dishes that Valencia has to offer and suggest places where you can savor these culinary masterpieces.
When one thinks of Valencia, paella inevitably comes to mind. Paella Valenciana is the city’s most iconic dish, and it’s a must-try for any visitor. Unlike the seafood and chorizo versions popularized internationally, authentic Valencian paella is traditionally cooked with snails, rabbit, chicken, and local beans called garrafó. The dish is prepared in a wide, shallow pan called a “paella” and is best enjoyed outdoors, cooked over an open flame using orange tree branches. To savor an authentic Paella Valenciana, head to establishments like Casa Carmela.
Horchata is a unique drink made from tiger nuts, known as “chufas” in Spanish. This nutty, slightly chalky beverage is typically served ice-cold and sweetened. It’s often paired with “fartons,” traditional pastries dusted with powdered sugar. For a genuine horchata experience, visit the historic Horchatería Santa Catalina in the old town.
Valencians have a penchant for pumpkin, and it’s beautifully showcased in the Flan de Calabaza. This velvety pumpkin flan is a delightful dessert that strikes the perfect balance between sweet and savory. You can find this treat at renowned rice restaurants like Casa Carmela.
In Valencia, the concept of a “second breakfast” or “almuerzo” is taken very seriously. Around 10 am, locals flock to breakfast bars for a substantial snack. One such delicacy is the morcilla (blood sausage) and scrambled egg sandwich, often paired with pickled onions. Bar Central in the Valencia Central Market offers a delectable version of this sandwich.
Valencia and its surrounding regions produce some exquisite wines that offer incredible value for money. Look out for local grape varieties like Merseguera (white wines), Bobal (red wines), and Monastrell (red wines). Whether you’re dining in a local eatery or visiting a wine bar, make sure to sample the regional wines.
Valencia’s proximity to the Mediterranean Sea ensures a bounty of fresh seafood. Among the must-tries are the small mussels known as “clochinas” in Valencian. For an authentic experience, head to La Pilareta, a beloved dive bar in the old town, and pair your mussels with a cold beer.
Given Valencia’s reputation for its juicy oranges, it’s no surprise that orange ice cream is a popular treat. Many ice cream parlors offer this refreshing flavor, but one standout is Vénetà, known for its award-winning creations. The combination of Valencian orange with mint is a palate pleaser.
Fideuà is akin to paella but is made with pasta instead of rice. This dish typically features seafood such as hake, shrimp, and squid. It’s a delightful alternative to paella and is equally flavorful.
Arròs A Banda, or “rice served apart,” is a traditional fisherman’s dish. It starts with a fish stew, from which a broth is derived. This broth is then used to prepare the rice separately. The result is a flavorful rice dish that captures the essence of the sea.
Valencia’s culinary landscape is a testament to its rich cultural heritage and abundant natural resources. From iconic dishes like paella to lesser-known delights like Flan de Calabaza, the city offers a gastronomic journey that tantalizes the taste buds and warms the soul. Whether you’re a food enthusiast or a casual traveler, Valencia’s culinary delights promise an unforgettable experience.