When I first decided to spend the summer in Valencia, I’d planned to use it mostly as a place to work. I purposely rented a nice apartment in order to force myself to spend most of my time working rather than playing. While that ideology didn’t work out exactly as planned, it did mean that I was able to do almost everything in Valencia I wanted to do. This included dining at a fairly hefty list of restaurants.
Although I enjoy cooking, my roommate Tiffany and I were constantly tempted by the multitude of amazing restaurants that we just HAD to try. While this wasn’t necessarily great for my bank account or my waistline, it certainly allows me to say, with confidence, that this post is the ultimate guide to the best restaurants in Valencia, Spain. Pack your eating pants, everyone. (*) indicates a must-visit restaurant.
Tiffany and I came here only by pure coincidence. We’d missed our original reservation and Café Infanta happened to have an open table. Best accidental discovery ever. This place is decisively Spanish fusion and probably a tad touristy, but everything we ate here was amazing: chicken croquettes, duck samosas, goat cheese samosas, patatas bravas, moussaka, and spinach salad. None of the dishes disappointed, so I have a feeling that you can’t go wrong with menu choices here.
The saddest part of my trip was not eating at La Pilareta enough, because the tapas here are to die for. They serve both traditional Valencian dishes as well as typical Spanish fare, and everything is incredibly fresh. They charge slightly more for sitting at a table rather than at a bar, but the difference is pretty insignificant. What to order: esgarraet (pepper and cured cod salad), sepia (cuttlefish), clochinas (Valencian mussels) and patatas bravas (spiced potatoes). This was one of my favorite classic Spanish meals in Valencia.
Bar El Kiosko
I’m going to be honest. I didn’t love the tapas at Bar El Kiosko BUT there are two things about it worth noting. 1) It’s cheap and 2) it’s located near a ton of the touristy attractions in Ciutat Vella (the old town). This makes it a convenient stop for the basic Spanish tapas: patatas bravas, pimientos de pardon (padron peppers), and manchego cheese.
La Freiduría Puesto No5
La Freiduría is quite the unassuming shop, located on the corner of one of the main shopping streets in Colón. It prides itself on fresh fried seafood and totally delivers. We ordered gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp), patatas bravas (#PotatoLovers) and a cazón de tiburón. I later realized that we accidentally ordered fried shark (the cazón), although we didn’t know it at the time. It tasted good, too *guilty face.*
Aquarium was my last meal in Valencia, and there’s a bit of a story behind it. In early July, it was always teeming with old people every time we passed it. We figured that older people have good taste and we’d try it at some point when it was less busy. Then, it pulled a Spanish Summer and closed for six weeks because people and businesses in Spain all take summer vacation. It opened the last couple of days we were there, which is how I wound up trying it. Anyway, the menu was a bit confusing, but the waiter created a meal mix just for us. All the customers were older and seemed to know each other, and we definitely got our fair share of strange looks when we walked in. However, ambiance aside, the food is delicious.
For “Trendy” Food:
So….Copenhagen is a vegetarian restaurant. GASP. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t voluntarily eat at vegetarian places. However, Tiffany and I had a friend in town who prefers vegetarian options, so we graciously took her here. The food was admittedly tasty, albeit distinctly not Spanish. We shared hummus (eh) and two types of croquettes and I had the Indian curry. Pretty impressive considering there was no meat to be found!
I believe we ended up at Imperdible one evening because our original resturant choice was overbooked or something. It’s located right next to Mercado Colón, which makes it a good spot for people watching. While the food here was exquisite, it was on the pricier side for Spain. I had the rabo de toro (oxtail) with potatoes, which is one of my favorite Andalusian dishes. It was tasty, although the portion was on the on the smaller side. Overall, it’s an excellent option for a nice night out.
Canalla Bistro by Ricardo Camarena*
Another regret I have about my time in Valencia is not eating at enough of Ricardo Camarena’s restaurants. He’s one of the most famous chefs in Valencia and even has a Michelin starred restaurant in the city! Luckily, we were able to squeeze in at the bar at Canalla one evening since all the tables were taken (make reservations, guys!). They serve a mixture of small shared plates and individual portions. What to order: the tuna tartar bowl, prawn empanadillas, and the Mexican taco with tuna belly.
Coffee Time @ Russafa Market*
Hi, my name is Sally and I’m a coffee addict. Although Spain is a coffee-loving country, sometimes you just want to snob it up and drink the gourmet stuff. Enter Coffee Time. It’s hands down my favorite cup of java in Valencia – plus, the owner actually put an ice cube made of coffee in my iced coffee. If that doesn’t scream customer service, I don’t know what does.
Retrogusto @ Mercado Central
Just like Coffee Time, Retrogusto at the Central Market serves some delicious coffee. They use the locally sourced Nomad Coffee, which is both strong and aromatic. It’s an excellent choice if you want a flat white, iced coffee or affogato.
For the best Spanish Tortilla:
I would have never discovered La Peseta if it weren’t for my local Valencian friend. It’s about a 15-20 minute walk from Malvarrosa Beach, but the neighborhood it’s in (El Porto) is slightly questionable. The place itself is more of a bar that happens to serve various types of tortilla than a proper restaurant. Anyway, we drove here one Sunday morning and opted for two kinds of tortilla: one with onions and potatoes and the other with cod. Surprisingly, both were spectacular, especially with the generous serving of alli-oli (garlic aioli) on the side. This truly is a spot for locals, but definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.
For Good Café Vibes:
Federal is one of those ultra-modern and incredibly designed cafes that makes you want to spend the entire day there. Which Tiffany and I did. The food is great if you’re looking for a really good sandwich or salad, if not a tad overpriced. Whatever. I had a really good burger with fries here, and they even serve mosto, one of my favorite Spanish drinks! Side note: mosto is grape juice made from unfermented grapes. Come here for a leisurely lunch or coffee – you won’t regret it.
In Valencia, there are several shops and cafes that have been deemed “special places.” These special places have historical and/or cultural significance to the city. Ubik is one such place, a combination second hand bookshop meets café. It hold events for the local community, does a paella lunch on Sundays, and is a generally cool spot to hang out. I personally didn’t enjoy the food here, but it’s a cozy option to grab coffee or relax with a good book.
Dulce de Leche
I’m a tad obsessed with cafes and bakeries and had been itching to go to Dulce de Leche since the beginning of summer. Unfortunately, it was on “summer break” for a good portion of the time, but I finally made it here during my last week in Valencia. It did not disappoint. It’s an excellent café to go for brunch, where you can get a fresh juice, quiche, croissant, yogurt and coffee all for a set price. They have a mouthwatering bakeshop and tons of tempting savory items as well. The inside looks incredibly relaxing, although we chose to sit outside and people-watch. I highly recommend it for both food and ambiance.
I only went to Tanto Monta once in Valencia and am SO disappointed I didn’t get a chance to return! It’s located slightly outside the center (15 minutes in a cab) and is incredibly popular. Even though we arrived “early” (by Spanish time) at 8pm, there was only one empty table left. Quick lesson: pintxos are essentially little snacks served buffet-style at specialty bars. They’re popular in the Basque region of Spain and often consist of bread with toppings. At Tanto Monta, you pick out your preferred pintxos and servers heat them up and bring them to your table. The fun part is that nothing is labeled, so it’s a bit of a Russian Roulette as to what you’ll get. The food was heavenly and incredibly cheap (around 10 euro per person) which meant a happy wallet and stomach. Win, win! Get here early to snag a table and all the good pintxos; they don’t take reservations.
Taberna La Reina
Located in Plaza de la Reina, Taberna La Reina is also a decent option for pintxos. It’s nowhere near as rave worthy as Tanto Monta, but its location is incredibly convenient, since it’s in the heart of the city. We came here one day for a snack after an early morning tour, and were pleased to find a huge variety of good quality pintxos. Not a must visit, but it’s an excellent choice in this part of town!
For Fancy(ish) Fare:
Although I only visited El Huerto for lunch as part of a food tour, it deserves a special shout out. Located in Russafa, El Huerto is definitely a restaurant worth adding trying. It provides an excellent mix of old-school Valencian cuisine (like meloso) and fusion food (like beetroot gazpacho). The food is as delightful as the ambiance– especially if you get a seat at the beautiful outdoor patio. You won’t leave disappointed!
Being Angelenos, there was no way Tiffany and I were going to survive an entire summer without eating sushi at least once. Luckily there was an excellent sushi restaurant located right in our neighborhood, at Mercado Colón. It’s best to make reservations for Momiji and even better to ask for seats at the bar. Sitting at the bar here is like watching a live show: you see every step of the sushi-making process right in front of you, and boy is it impressive. The food is melt-in-your-mouth good and as an added bonus, the chefs are cute #win. The cost is slightly more than I would pay at home, but the freshness makes it totally worth it.
It was nearly the end of summer by the time we sampled Crudo Bar and in our excitement we went slightly overboard and ordered a lot of food. Somehow, every dish we ordered was better than the last. We had the curry patatas bravas, tuna tataki AND tuna carpaccio because there’s no such thing as too much tuna, fresh shrimp, and octopus. Just looking at the photos again is making me drool. If you like seafood, Crudo Bar is the place to be.
Casa de L’Orxata*
Oh, orxata (OR-CHA-TAH), how I love thee. Valencians are obsessed with this refreshing drink made from tiger nuts, and I can guarantee it will be your new addiction. The New York Times says Casa de L’Orxata is the best orxata in Valencia, and I can vouch wholeheartedly for that statement. Their version is organic and just the right amount of sweet. Plus, its conveniently located at Mercado Colón. Just don’t ask how many times Tiffany and I went there. We’re looking at double digits, easily.
Horchatería Santa Catalina
Although Casa de L’Orxata has the best orxata, the most famous one can be found at Horchatería Santa Catalina. Conveniently located in the center of town, Santa Catalina is also the oldest horchatería around. It’s a close second to Casa de L’Orxata and is worth visiting at least once, if not for its historical significance and colorful décor. Plus, their orxata is a tad sweeter, for you sugar lovers out there.
We clearly left no stone unturned when it came to restaurants in Valencia, and the final one for this list is not Spanish, but Italian. At first glance, Lambrusqueria looks like a fancy Italian restaurant that’s suited for a night out on the town. In reality, it offers generous plates of handmade pasta dishes for less than 15 euros. I’m a self-proclaimed Italian food hater (maybe hate is a strong word, but I do find it underwhelming). However, I ate here twice in the span of weeks. It’s that good.
Phew. I know, this list is extensive. But hey, I wasn’t kidding when I called this the ultimate guide to the best restaurants in Valencia. Happy eating!
Tell me: have you ever been to Valencia? Which restaurants did I miss on this list?
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