By K.P. our resident food critic
Paella is one of Spain’s national joys (as you probably know) and is hands down the one dish you HAVE to wrap your mouth around while you are in Barcelona (note: paella in Spain is a lunchtime deal, so please do not order it for dinner… well you can but we will judge you for it). Be warned, there is nothing worse than a dodgy serving of paella (they’ll probably charge you a lot for it too) when there are so many gems around the city.
HINT: if you are four or more people, why not order a variety of “paellas for two” and then all share. The paella serving size is always beyond generous, so don’t worry – there will be plenty to go around. For a list of some of the different types of paella that you might encounter on a Barcelona menu, see our glossary below.
These are our favourite places in Barcelona for a bangin paella.
Address: Av. del Litoral, 62, 08005 Barcelona
In our opinion, these guys do the tastiest paella in town. With a view that would rival most postcards, located directly on Bogatell beach, this is the perfect location for your “blow out” classic Spanish lunch here in Barcelona. The paella will set you back about €18 per person for their classic seafood option, but trust us it is so worth it. We recommend you call ahead for a reservation (a couple of days minimum). This place is hot with both locals and tourists alike so it fills up quickly.
Address: Carrer de Pujades, 187, 08005 Barcelona
Located in PobleNou, Minyam specialises in “smoked paellas” and believe us they are delicious. They also serve traditional Catalan tapas and sharing is encouraged (fried calamari, mussels in white wine & house made croquettes to name some of our favourites). They have a team of great chefs on hand, a fabulous wine list and great service. Rub shoulders with locals and grab yourself a table here.
La Fonda Del Port Olimpic (€)
Address: Moll de Gregal, 7, 8, 9, 08005 Barcelona
Phone: 932 21 22 10
If you’re looking for a cheaper option for a paella meal, this is your place!! La Fonda is located in Port Olimpic, and they have 2 restaurants, be sure to ask for the restaurant upstairs as the views are amazing. They have a €25 per person menu which will get you a mix of 4 shared entree plates (their calamari, fresh prawns, goat cheese salad and mussels are our top picks) and a main (seafood paella duh). You also get olives, bread, a drink of choice (if you order wine they’ll give you the bottle), coffee, a dessert plate, cake and a little shot at the end of your meal. Bang for your buck or what!
Address: Carrer de Ginebra, 15, 08003 Barcelona
Phone: 933 19 69 84
Now we head down to the old fisherman’s barrio of Barceloneta. El Cheriff might look a bit… tacky, with the fish tanks and all, but the paella is the perfect golden brown, almost always with the socarrat (see glossary below), there are plenty of different options, and while the waiters might ask if you have a reservation, and then act put out when you do not, the place is usually pretty empty. This is a very authentic Spanish-style restaurant, so don’t expect too much English from the staff (not that you’ll need it with your mouth full).
7 Portes (€€€)
Address: Passeig d’Isabel II, 14, 08003 Barcelona
Located on that wonderful little gastronomic island between Barceloneta and the trendy El Born, Sept Portes, or Seven Doors, is an institution in the city and the place where local families gather to celebrate special occasions together, usually over a few different types of paella. Where El Cheriff is authentic in its taverns style, 7 Portes is authentic, old school fancy. Waiters in white who have been working there for 40 years, perfect paellas, and classic decor. Expect this place to be full of locals, especially on Thursdays and Sundays, the unofficial, but kind of official, paella days.
Choosing your own paella restaurant in Barcelona
In addition to our list of the best places to eat paella in Barcelona, there may be places we haven’t found yet. So, if you want to go rogue and find your own spot, here are a couple of tips to help you in your paella search:
- If you are sitting in a restaurant in Las Ramblas, get up, walk away and don’t look back – there’s nowhere along the tourist hotspot that serves anything near a decent paella,
- If you are buying the paella from a generic sign with said paella pictured, leave now. Pictures of food on signs outside the restaurant – especially paella – is a massive no-no. Pictures of food inside the menu, surprisingly, can sometimes mean amazing and authentic (usually if the photo is of a terrible quality),
- If you can buy hamburgers, pasta or Chinese food on the same menu, do the same as instructed above and get out of there,
- If you can opt to buy paella for one person only it’s probably shit (there is a two person minimum order on all good paellas in town),
- The yellower the colour, the grosser it generally is. Real paella is golden brown in colour, the yellow stuff is just soaked in colouring. Don’t judge the dish if you ordered from a crap establishment.
To help you navigate the menu and look like a pro in front of your pals.
The original paella from Valencia, with chicken, rabbit, beans, cooked over a wood fire sometimes, and they say that the very best have to be cooked with Valencia water (or stock, but the water and stock paella fight has been fought for years and we don’t want to get involved).
paella de mariscos
A seafood paella, and what most of us imagine when we talk about Spain’s ubiquitous rice dish. The purists in Valencia will refuse to call this a paella, and will instead call it arroz de mariscos, seafood rice, but we think they’re being a little precious about it all. The seafood in this paella usually includes mussels, clams, prawns and bigger prawns, and calamari rings, or some other squid/cuttlefish portion.
A combination of the two, or made with whatever the restaurant has on hand, so long as there is at least one seafood and one land-food (ha) ingredient in there. It’s the surf and turf of paellas, and is usually spectacular.
For those who choose not to eat anything that casts a shadow, this is the classic paella without anything that’s been alive (except for all the plants).
paella negra/Arroz negro
Rice that’s been blackened by squid ink, with bits of squid through it, and accompanied with a heaped serving of aioli, that pungent garlic mayonnaise that you can never, ever get enough of.
Any of the above, but with short noodles instead of rice. These dishes are usually wonderfully crispy where they need to be, and also served with aioli.
This is like a paella, but prepared in a deeper pan and with more juice, so it’s somewhere between a very thick soup and a paella. You can find caldosos with many different ingredients, but one that pops up often is bogavante, or lobster, and it’s not super expensive, so if you want to get your maximum fancy on, you know what to do.
What we’ve been talking about all along, but also the pan. The paella is the name of the pan, which vary in size from the two-person size, to huge festival paella pans. Want to see a massive paella pan in action? Come to any Stoke Travel festival (but especially La Tomatina in Valencia where we cook up a massive paella for everybody).
The socarrat is the key to any great paella, and refers to the layer of crust between the pan and the rest of the dish. This crispy rice layer is where you find all the flavour, and is greatly sought after by paella aficionados.
How about a paella on a boat? Check out the Barcelona Boat Party, because we have options with food and paella is often on the menu, or join the Barcelona Cooking Class to learn how to do it yourself!
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