One of the dishes that most people are eager to try when they visit Barcelona is Paella. Paella is often considered Spain’s national dish, but you may be surprised to learn that it is traditionally a regional Valencian dish that has been adopted by restaurants in Barcelona, Catalunya, throughout the rest of Spain and even further afield.
The origins of Paella (as we know it today) started in mid 19th Century Valencia, and “real” Valencian Paella (paella Valenciana) consists of white rice, green vegetables, meat (rabbit, chicken, duck, snails), beans and seasoning. In the more coastal regions of Valencia meat was often replaced with fish and shellfish, and the seafood paella (paella de marisco) also has its origins there. It was traditionally cooked in the open air at family gatherings in huge pans, which are called “paellas” in Valencian (where the word comes from) or “paellera” in the rest of Spain and South America.
The “mixed” version of paella (paella mixta), that contains both meat and fish, was created outside of the paella homeland and is considered something akin to an abomination by Valencians. The paella mixta combines the traditional “valenciana” & “marisco” recipes for the dish.
If you really fancy trying some paella whilst in Barcelona, here are two very important rules:
1) It is absolutely forbidden to eat on Las Ramblas. If you really want to spend some time watching life going by in this street, go with a Sangria and some olives, that’s it! Restaurants there are expensive and tend to serve frozen food only – and when eating paella, you deserve fresh, high quality ingredients!
2) If pictures of the paella are displayed on the outside of the restaurant, run. Same reason: it will probably be frozen too!
There are hundreds of restaurants that will try to sell you “authentic paella” – don’t be taken in, believe me! You will leave without truly having experienced the delicious dish that is paella. After years of experimenting, we came up with a list of the best places to eat paella in Barcelona:
Rias de Galicia
Carrer de Lleida, 7, Poble Sec
Pg. Isabel II, 14, Barceloneta
Carretera de Miramar, 38, Montjuic
Almirall Aixada, 23, Barceloneta
Tried a good paella in Barcelona? Went to a restaurant that is not on the list and liked it? Share your experience below!
If you are interested in trying the other amazing foods on offer here in Barcelona, check out our Tasting Barcelona Food and Wine Tours for an “off the beaten path” experience of personalized food and wines.