How to Get Spectacularly Stuffed in Valencia
If this guide to our favorite Valencia restaurants, bars, and cafés whets your appetite, check out our first-time visitor's city guide, honest answer to, "Is Valencia worth visiting?", and our ranking of day trips from Valencia. And stretch your horizons to see where (and how) else to get off-the-beaten-path in Spain.
We hope you're hungry. (And thirsty.)
Because while Valencia may not be as spectacular a tourist destination as other Spanish cities (see: Is Valencia Worth Visiting?), it has a spectacular number of restaurants, bars, and cafés.
Almost too spectacular.
There are so many options for where to eat in Valencia that you could spend months here and barely take a bite out of the whole dining scene's pie (…or paella). Believe us. We tried.
To whet your appetite for your own spectacularly stomach-stuffing Valencia visit, here are the 19 best restaurants, 9 best cafés, and 7 best bars we experienced.
Pasqualet is located beside Albufera rice fields south of Valencia in a town called El Palmar.
El Palmar is paella-ville. Just about every building there is a restaurant serving Valencia's most famous dish. We didn't try them all, but of all the paella we ate in Spain, Pasqualet's was the best.
Kim's Favorite Lunch in Valencia
"Forastera" means outsider or stranger in Spanish, but this El Carmen restaurant is a place you should make yourself familiar with.
The €15 set menu lunch (starter, rice dish, main, and dessert) changes daily based on what market-fresh produce and locally-sourced ingredients the creative and dedicated husband and wife team find that morning.
Tip: Forastera offers a €23 full menu option. This gives you all seven dishes on the daily menu. But if you go with someone else, each order different items from the €15 menu, and share them you'll get the same dishes and the same amount of food for a lower price.
Valencia's Fabulous Lunch Special Franchise
Saona's menu del dia lunch menus are so great, they made eight (…eight locations in Valencia, that is).
We recommend the calle Císcar location because it's in a cool part of town and the €10 three-course menu comes with a drink, which is not the case at many others.
For a chain restaurant and for the price, the food is surprisingly high quality. That explains why it gets so busy that you should make an online reservation in advance.
Valencia Food & Drink Tip:
How to Fill Your Stomach Without Emptying Your Wallet
To stuff your stomach in Valencia without emptying your wallet, make your main daily meal a menu del dia.
Menu del dias are three (or more) course lunch menus served between 1:30 and 4:00 p.m. Normally, they include a starter (salad, rice, pasta), a main course, bread, a drink (alcoholic drinks included), and dessert.
Bar Restaurante Les Tendes
Old-Fashioned Food in a Traditional Setting
Amidst the chufa fields north of the city, Les Tendes often has lines outside the door of Valencianos who come for an informal, affordable, and fun taste of tradition.
We recommend stopping here on the easy bike loop we outline in our Valencia Off-the-Beaten-Path City Guide.
The People's Lunch Spot
El Trobador's daily lunch menu is mega-popular among construction workers and businessmen working downtown because it's hearty, reliable, fast, cheap (€10), and tasty enough.
The servers have to hustle hard to serve the hungry clientele, so don't be put off by their curtness. And don't be surprised when, if you order wine with your lunch (included), they put a bottle on the table and let you go to town.
Valencia Food & Drink Tip:
Don't Wait for Your Bill
When you're finished your meal, walk up to the register to pay.
As I learned the hard way at El Trobador on one of my first days in Valencia, if you wait for someone to bring you the bill, you'll wait forever.
The Best Menu del Dia Deal in Valencia
64 Restaurant has got to be the only restaurant in the world that's located inside a hostel but serves sophisticated 4-5-course lunch menus in a modern, high-ceilinged setting to a clientele of mostly older local women (…and us).
It's the only Valencia restaurant we ate at so frequently that the waiters knew us. For €10.90, it was the best menu del dia deal we found in the city.
Bodega La Pascuala
Cabanyal's Favorite Sandwiches
The residents of the seaside El Cabanyal neighborhood hold tight to their roots and traditions. And Bodega La Pascuala serves them sandwiches, which are famous for their size, their variety, and their humorous names.
There aren't many Japanese people in Valencia—when Kim, who's half Japanese, left the population dropped by a notable percentage—so the authenticity and quality of most of the Japanese food in town aren't amazing.
But there's a reason Aoyama has two identical restaurants within a few blocks of each other. For €11.90 plus the cost of a mandatory drink, you can order as many Japanese-ish dishes from their menu as you can. Don't expect anything amazing, but it's a great deal for those of you who, like me, sometimes have the appetite of a sumo wrestler.
Restaurante Di Fredo
Valencia's Most Filling Lunch Restaurant
You won't get more for €10 in Valencia than at Di Fredo.
The Italian-Valencian restaurant gives you two lunches in one. Their starters—pasta casseroles, salads with meat, or traditional rice—are full-sized plates. But then you get the main course—pizza, or seafood or meat with all the sides—on top of that. And then there's dessert. (Get the crême brûlée).
Que Ganeta Tinc
Until eating Que Ganeta Tinc, I didn't get what the fuss over Spain's cold soups, most notably gazpacho, was about. They seemed like glorified savory smoothies.
But there's no way my Vitamix could make the salmorejo-style cold soup starter I had at Que Ganeta Tinc. It was so good I used a teaspoon rather than a soup spoon to take smaller sips and prolong the enjoyment.
The other two starters and the main (the restaurant is renowned for their rice) included in their €12 lunch menu were high-quality, too, though I was still hungry after, especially since dessert isn't included.
Valencia Food & Drink Tip:
Get Cold Soup To-Go
For a healthy snack on the go or an easy addition to an at-home meal, buy boxed or bottled gazpacho or salmorejo from the supermarket.
Fancy Food on a Blogger's Budget
While The Unconventional Route just passed its millionth visitor, it has a way to go before earning us a million dollars, so I couldn't justify spending hundreds of euros to take Kim on a dinner date at local Valencian chef Ricard Camarena's two-Michelin-starred restaurant.
Instead, I took her to lunch at Habitual, Camarena's more low-key and low-priced restaurant.
She didn't seem to mind. We left full and fulfilled after splitting three exotic appetizers, our own entrees (seafood soggy rice for her, eggplant parmesan ribs for me), a glass of wine each, and a couple of creative desserts, all for a very blogger-budget-friendly €17.50 each.
Menu tip: If the coffee creme brûlée is on the day's menu, get it.
Restaurante Las Torres
For the Spanish Version of Pub Food
Where England has pubs, Spain has restaurants like Las Torres, where professional but friendly old-timers serve traditional dishes that don't try anything fancy but never disappoint to their regulars.
The price, €9.50 for the lunch menu, is right, so it's worth dropping in if you're nearby.
A Hidden Gem Outside the Walls
Camiri is in Extramuros, the area east of Valencia's once walled city center. It's my favorite Valencia neighborhood for finding good-value, high-quality food.
And Camiri has maybe my favorite lunch menu there. Their regularly-rotating €9.90 daily menu offers an exciting combo of Spanish-Argentinan dishes.
A Rewarding Stop
If you take our suggestion from our day trips from Valencia blog post and take the train to Sagunto and cycle back, it's worth stopping by on the way back to reward yourself with a meal at Ca 'Pepico.
The brother-sister team is so passionate about their locally-sourced ingredients that they may take you on a quick farm tour as they did for us.
And though it's a higher-end restaurant, they don't mind if you're a bit sweaty from your bike ride.
La Tasqueta del Mercat
The Best Croquetas in Valencia
La Tasqueta del Mercat is steps away from the Russafa market. Even if you can't make it for their daily menu at €10.90, try to stop by for an order of their croquetas (creamy fried balls). They're amazing… almost as good as the ones our friend Oscar's mom makes.
El Racó de la Paella
The City's Best Paella
Since Kim and my paella palates can't be totally trusted, we counted on true Valencians from our favorite restaurants, like Forastera, for picking the best one in the city proper. Many recommended El Racó de la Paella.
Masusa Paella Bar
Russafa's Most-Recommended Menu Del Dia
I beelined to this Russafa restaurant after a Basque-transplant friend told us it was the menu del dia she took all her Valencia-visiting friends to.
The soup, salad, personal-sized pan of paella, and cheesecake I got (€11) were excellent. Now I too recommend Masusa to any friend (that's you!) who visits Valencia.
I only discovered Pan Comido on our second-to-last day in Valencia. Unfortunately, I'd just eaten a few Spanish omelets from Cerveceria Alhambra, so all I could do was look at people enjoying their meals and wish I had more time and a bigger appetite.
Based on what I saw and smelled and the reviews I subsequently read, this unheralded vegetarian restaurant in an unheralded neighborhood deserves more heralding.
Somebody, please go on our behalf!
Valencia Food & Drink Tip:
Get Extra Value on Your Menu del Dia
When in doubt between which dishes to choose from a menu del dia's set items, check if they're on the regular menu. If so, pick the most expensive dish to get the best value.
Kiosko La Pérgola
Valencia's Most Famous Sandwich
You'll find Kiosko la Pérgola on nearly every guide of where to eat in Valencia…
…as long as you google "Dónde comer en Valencia" instead of "Where to eat in Valencia."
It's only famous on Spanish blogs and it's on the non-touristy side of the Turia, so few non-Spanish go there for their famous sandwiches. All the more reason for you to go.
Bluebell Coffee Roasters
Russafa's Cosiest Café
Bluebell is small and slightly expensive, but the coffee's decent, there's a nice little patio in the back, and it's WiFi work-friendly so it's Kim's favorite café in Russafa.
Beat Brew Bar
For a Colombian Coffee Experience
The moment I walked into Beat Brew Bar, I felt like I was back in Colombia.
The small space is eclectically decorated with empty coffee bean bags, local art, and posters. Ask the friendly staff and owners to guide you through their selection of locally-roasted beans and they'll make you one of the best coffees you'll have in Valencia.
It's not cheap and there's no wifi but it is definitely worth the stop if you need a break from the bitter Spanish coffee served everywhere else.
Secreter Sala de Estar
Not-So-Secret Hideout in El Carmen
Kim would head to Secreter Sala de Estar's peaceful courtyard in El Carmen to hide away from the noise of Valencia. And from me.
Join the regulars who roll in for "breakfast" around 11 am to sip on strong coffee and munch on light snacks. Try their avocado and chickpea smash for a classic Spanish tapa with a twist.
Central Valencia's Hippest Working Café
Federal's pretty much the only WiFi-work-friendly cafe within a 1-kilometer radius of the Mercado Central. If you want to set up office here, you have to sit at the large communal table inside.
Tip: For a MUCH less stylish but quiet and convenient place with reliable WiFi to get some work done in the center of town, go to Tim Hortons. Don't ask why or how a branch of the Canadian coffee chain got to Valencia. Just go upstairs and get some work done.
Valencia's Best Sugar-Free Horchata
Horchata doesn't have to be an over-sugary dessert drink. Remove the sugar and drink it within two days of production and it's actually healthy. Like extra nutritious almond milk.
And the best sugar-free horchata's at Orxateria Vida, a farm-to-straw spot surrounded by chufa fields that produce the star ingredient in Alboraya.
Cool Café Near Colón
Walk through Poppyns' fashionable shop and you'll get to the equally stylish cafe and courtyard. It's a comfortable spot to do some work or enjoy a coffee, beer, or snack.
It's definitely worth "Poppyn" into.
La Batisfera Librería
Cabanyal's Cultural Hub
This bookstore and cafe combo is a cultural hub for expats in Cabanyal and was our go-to spot for getting some work done before beach volleyball practices.
Tapa Bars and Regular Bars
A Valencia-Style Dive Bar
Bodega Valero has all the hallmarks of an American dive bar: a grungy, quirky decor filled with a mix of old-timers and hip youngsters drinking cheap beer served by a crusty but friendly owner-bartender-manager…
…Except it's Valencian.
That means you also get cheap vermouth and sherry from the barrel and tapas like crunchy chicharron and the owner's special chicken breast.
Stand-Up and Stand-Out Tapas in El Carmen
Unlike most of their countrymen, Valencians typically eat their tapas sitting down. They're relaxed like that.
But not at Tasca Angel. It's a stand-up only tapas bar that serves outstanding sardines, mushrooms, and padron peppers.
Terra à Vins Wine Bar
Terra à Vins' owner takes his wine very seriously, so if you do, or you just want to be sure you sip some of the best stuff, his little wine bar is the place to go in Valencia.
Don't come expecting tons of Spanish wines. He's much more of a fan of French products. He does offer Spanish tapas, though, all carefully-sourced or hand-made.
La Bodega Fila El Labrador
Old-Timey Drinks for Next to Nothing
Bodega Fila El Labrador is a long, narrow, no-frills wine bar. Along one wall are bottles of wine. Along the other, are barrels. Choose which you want to drink from, order some classic tapas to go with it, and enjoy.
Home of the Famous Spanish Omelet
Why this place is called Alhambra is beyond me. It's the opposite of Granada'a mega-tourist attraction palace: a tiny, lovably grubby bar where tourists don't go.
But foodies in Valencia treasure it equally for having what some say is the best Spanish omelet in all of Spain.
Popular Pinxos in Benimaclet
Kim's in the minority for not being a fan of Tanto Monta, a super popular pinxo bar in Benimaclet that serves a creative and colorful array of cold tapas for €1.90 each.
La Fabrica de Hielo
The Chillest Bar in Cabanyal
"The Ice Factory," as La Fabrica de Hielo translates from Spanish, may have shifted its business model, but it's still the coolest spot in Cabanyal. Young Spanish professionals and expats come to this hangar-like space to hang out, cool off with some beers, and, in the evenings, chill to some live music.