What is Paella?
To be honest, we mainly came to Valencia as it is the place where the traditional Spanish rice dish, paella, first scorched the bottom of its trademark round, flat-bottom pan. Paella comes in multiple varieties including seafood (mariscos), meat paella (carne or pollo if it’s chicken), or mixed (seafood and meat combination). This is to just name a few of the common ones I’ve encountered while in Spain. No matter which variety you choose, your taste buds will rejoice with delight. Read on to find some of the cheap paella in Valencia that didn’t sacrifice their flavour.
Pan seared from Mercaders, a sign of freshly prepared paella
Although waiting can be a challenge, especially when you’re starving from waiting for Spanish dinnertime, when it comes to paella waiting is a good sign. Some places will pre-cook their paella and re-heat it upon ordering. You don’t want that. True paella is made on the spot and can take upwards of a half an hour. Be patient, the time difference is worth it.
Some of the top-notch, expensive places require you to order 24 hours in advance because the process behind fresh paella can take so long. Freshly cooked paella will cling to the bottom of the pan, scraping these bits should give a burst of burnt taste.
Ready made paella in the windows.
If you’re okay with not having freshly made paella, you can find a variety of cheap places such as TAPAS PAELLAS Y MENUS located just behind the Mercado Central. As you can see, they have massive pans of palatable paella in their windows. To be fair, they still looked tasty and were prices at 10 euros or less making it excellent for the less picky budget traveller or for those daunted by the long waits.
A must do in Valencia, Mercado Central
Another Must Do In Valencia
As an aside, you simply must check out Mercado Central, the building was constructed in 1928 and not only is the building surprisingly stunning, the inside is alive with energy and sights to see. Definitely give it a walk through even if you don’t buy anything. Not that we avoided buying anything. The market has a smorgasbord of everything from pastries and candy to fish and ham. We had a divine market breakfast. It was so good, that we returned to the market to purchase snacks for our train to Barcelona. The empanadas were too enticing to resist.
No one will blame you for getting one of everything. So tempting.
Cheap Paella In Valencia Without Sacrificing Authenticity
For dinner, we stopped by La Roche, which was a very cute restaurant nearby the market. We had Valenciana paella, which contained rabbit, chicken and veggies. Coming at 12 euro each this place was both savory and affordable. The massive pan of paella took about 45 minutes to freshly cook. We were a little wary of eating rabbit and ultimately our forks dodged passed what we suspected were rabbit bits. Either way, we found La Roche to be scrumptious and eyed down every dish that passed our table. It all looked delish.
Valenciana paella at La Roche
Lastly, we stopped by Mercaders located just off the market, where we had seafood paella (mariscos). It took about 30 minutes and the bottom of the pan was seared, leading us to believe the paella was made fresh. At 13.50 euro each, this was our most expensive paella experience. However, the sight of that large pan was mouthwatering and we happily devoured it anyway.
They also offer a menu del dia, which includes seafood paella as an appetizer plus the standard main course and dessert for ten euros. We skipped this, as we wanted to maximize our paella experience. For those who just want to maximize their lunch experience, this is another viable option. I drank their agua de Valencia that contains vodka, gin and orange juice while managing to taste just like orange juice. They claim to have the best cuban mojito in the city; Jess even goes as far to say the best mojito of her life.
Appetizing paella mariscos.
Overall, there were plenty of places with delectable paella for less than 15 euro a person. I wish I could have sampled them all but alas there is never enough time. Valencia is home to paella making it hard to go wrong. Even if you don’t make it to Valencia, do not leave Spain without having paella somewhere.
What is your favourite kind of paella and where do you get it?