As one of the most loved cities in Europe, Barcelona has never lost its status as a top holiday destination for travelers looking for the ultimate all-inclusive getaway.
A taste of each destination’s most famous foods is central to any holiday trip. If you had to ask people, “What food is Barcelona famous for?” paella would probably come up. Although Valencia is considered the home of paella, it is also a very popular dish in Barcelona. A staple, if you will.
There is much to see and do, whether planning a short day trip or an extended stay. With that in mind, let’s explore where to find and enjoy the best paella in Barcelona.
La Paella Origin: Its Birth Story
Paella is a saffron-infused rice dish that can be cooked with meat, seafood, and vegetables. Its origins can be traced back to the Mediterranean coast in the 18th century, in Spain’s rice-growing areas. Paella’s origins are closely associated with the city of Valencia, but Spaniards enjoy the dish all over the country.
The dish’s name is derived from the word paellera or the Latin word patella. It describes the name of the flat, round, wide, shallow pan (with handles on either side) in which the meal is prepared.
Its almost flat bottom ensures even cooking. Interestingly, the original paella recipe did not feature any seafood – a favorite choice for many today.
Know Your Paellas: Three Main Types of Paella in Barcelona
Paella is among the foods that Barcelona is famous for. The base of traditional paella is rice, saffron, chicken, and vegetables. The three main types of paella are Paella Valenciana (Valencian Paella), Paella de Marisco (Seafood Paella), and Paella Mixta (Mixed Paella).
These three paella recipes have been adopted worldwide by lovers of Spanish flavors. The following ingredients are typical of each version.
- Valencian Paella: white rice, green and white beans, meat (rabbit and chicken), snails, rosemary, artichokes (seasonal).
- Seafood Paella: white rice, oil, herbs, salt, lobster, shrimp, mussels, cuttlefish, clams.
- Mixed Paella: a surf-and-turf style mix of different meats and seafood.
Other Types of Paella to Enjoy in Barcelona
Here are more types of paella you can enjoy on your trip to Barcelona.
Like seafood paellas, meat paellas are very popular with locals and visitors. Meat paella is known as Paella De Carne. Chicken, rabbit, pork, beef, and chorizo are the best meats to enjoy in a meat paella.
A special kind of paella with a distinctive flavor is Paella Bogavante, made with European lobster as the main ingredient. Many people also like adding mussels and prawns to this paella.
Vegetarian Paella in Barcelona (or Non-Seafood Paella)
Vegetarian paella is known as Paella de Verduras. It can be prepared with your preferred selection of vegetables. Most recipes suggest tomatoes, carrots, frozen peas, and green beans.
Adding onion, garlic, herbs, and parsley is also vital. Artichokes, red or bell peppers, and zucchini round up the top ingredients for a vegetarian paella.
What’s the Difference Between Paella Negro and Seafood Paella?
Paella negro, or black paella, is akin to seafood paella because they are prepared similarly but should not be considered the same dish. Black paella is traditionally prepared with rice, squid, and squid ink (hence its salty taste). It gets its name from its natural dark color, which always makes it look exciting on the plate.
Best Paella Restaurants in Barcelona
Regarding Spanish gastronomy, paella is considered a rich cultural and historical symbol. Eating out is a treat for Barcelona locals and visitors, so they can enjoy a wide range of Barcelona paella recipes at some of the city’s best restaurants.
Here are a few top paella restaurants in Barcelona where you can choose from delectable options and taste some of the best paellas in Spain. The average price of a paella ranges from € 15 – € 25 ($ 15.89 – $ 26.49) for a minimum of two people.
Read Next: Discover some of the best things to do in Barcelona.
Besides picturesque views, Martínez offers quality seafood-based meals that are tasty and affordable. They are located on Montjuïc hill. A popular option for visitors is the € 54 ($ 57.21) set menu for two, offering one of the rice dishes, vermouth with tapas, salad, wines, and dessert.
What You’ll Love: The restaurant’s trendy, laid-back, informal setting makes everyone feel at home.
This paella spot in Catalonia’s Carrer de la Marina province, located in the La Vila Olímpica del Poblenou neighborhood, is best known for its affordable seafood paella. People taking a quiet stroll or jogging at the nearby Parc de Carles I public park can pop into La Marina for a tasty paella meal and coffee.
Quick Tip: La Marina offers delicious paella take-outs for patrons who can’t dine at the restaurant.
If black rice is the paella you want to try, then the elegant family-owned Elche is your go-to restaurant. They specialize in a black rice dish with perfectly cooked squid and artichokes.
What’s their secret, you wonder? A rice base of Bayo Extra from the Ebro Delta. This is a long-grain and bomba hybrid with a unique taste and texture.
La Mar Salada
For the best paella in La Barceloneta, head on over to La Mar Salada. Spectacular seafood dishes are prepared with fresh fish caught early in the day. Top-selling meals at this authentic restaurant include black rice with artichokes and cuttlefish.
Another patron favorite is the ‘del senyoret’ rice with the catch of the day.
Rivaling La Mar Salada for the title of the best paella in La Barceloneta is Can Ros (owned by the same people as La Mar Salada). Here, visitors with an adventurous palate can try the rice with capipota, otherwise known as a calf’s head and foot. The dish also features prawns.
The rice dish with mouth-watering lobster is another top recommendation for diners wanting to play it a little safer without compromising on exquisite taste.
What You’ll Love: The generous portions. Enough said!
For great sea views and an unforgettable culinary experience, visit La Barraca. Their modern and gourmet twist means that every one of their six rice dish specialties will satisfy you.
We recommend the paella with fish filet, the black rice casserole, or rice with octopus.
La Barraca prides itself on sourcing quality organic local products. Their menu also has a great selection of vegetarian options.
With a history of more than 110 years old, this charming restaurant has been serving up some of the most delicious La Barceloneta paellas for a long time. Try their lobster or clam paella or their stewy rice dish. For something a little different, you won’t regret choosing their sea urchin and scallops dish.
For a dining experience near the beachfront, Maná 75° is a top choice. Take your pick from 12 traditional paellas and creative contemporary combinations. Try black rice, squid, mussels, and Spanish alioli (garlic mayonnaise). Or the ‘Señorito’ seafood rice dish.
We opted for the cod and tender garlic with paprika alioli rice dish; a winning choice. Their non-fish paella with botifarra negra sausage and pork rib confit also won’t disappoint.
What You’ll Love: Their paellas are cooked on an open fire before the guests. What a treat, right?
The Authentic Spanish Paella Experience
Here are a few tips to ensure you enjoy the full paella experience.
How to Eat Paella
Traditionally, paella is eaten straight from the pan – a large flat round utensil perfect for a group of people sharing a meal.
When is Paella Eaten?
Whether you’re eating out with family and friends or trying a paella recipe at home during a night in, paella meals are best enjoyed in a cheery group setting.
A meal this delicious shouldn’t be eaten alone. Gather a few of your favorite people and celebrate quintessential Spanish culture with a memorable paella meal.
What to Eat with Paella
The Paella Club, Barcelona: Best Cooking Classes in the City?
After enjoying the best of Barcelona’s paellas at top restaurants around the city, I’m sure you’ll feel inspired. So why not try your own? Luckily another Barcelona attraction is just the place to learn all you need to know about making authentic Spanish paellas.
The Paella Club offers an immersive experience where foodies learn how to make paella dishes using all the right ingredients. With Chef Alex Villar at the helm, you’ll work through all the steps for making tasty paella at home.
When the class is done, attendees enjoy their meals together at a communal table. You get a personalized cooking experience and the opportunity to meet new people. It’s the perfect activity for locals and Barcelona’s traveling visitors.
Price: € 55 ($ 58.27) for a shorter, introductory ‘Amuse Bouche’ class in the afternoon
€ 85 ($ 90.05) for a more extended, five-course (plus unlimited wine) class in the
Address: Carrer del Dr. Dou 5, Raval area, Barcelona
Your Paella Adventure Awaits
Now that you know where to get the best paella in fascinating Barcelona and where to learn how to make your own, you’re ready for an extraordinary Spanish culinary ride. Ready. Set. Paella!