In Valencia, the city that gave paella to the world, greedy forks scrape the bottom of the pan for the best bites of crunchy rice, or socarrat. No surprise when the Formula 1 European Grand Prix roared into Valencia last month, the city’s restaurants were buzzing with racing fanatics—all of whom took a break from their fast-paced itineraries for a leisurely lunch of paella at one of these top spots:
La Matandeta—Family-run La Matandeta hosted Mario Batali & Gwyneth Paltrow for Spain, On the Road Again. Perfect-for-paella rice is the foundation of the dish and Valencia’s Albufera region grows bomba, senia and bahia varieties in its legendary fields surrounding the restaurant. While the specialty is Paella Valenciana, with rabbit, chicken, duck and snails, it’s the genuine hospitality of the family that will stick with you. Carretera Alfafar-Saler, Km. 4; 011-34/962-112-184.
La Pepica—The best alfresco dining for seafood paella and a view of the Mediterranean, Ernest Hemingway’s old haunt is lined with Spanish celebrity photos. Paseo Neptuno 6; 011-34/96 371-03-66.
Restaurant Tridente—Young, visionary chef Josemi Bielsa is traditional when it comes to paella in this stylish setting overlooking the water. Hotel Neptuno, Paseo Neptuno 2; 011-34/963-567-777.
Guest blogger Annie Fitzsimmons writes about travel.