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Find the best paella in Barcelona (Avoid tourist traps!)

The food in Spain is famous all over the world, delicious traditional tapas,  bravas and paella. Today we'll be focusing on my favorite of the three. If you’ve ever tried paella you’ll have already enjoyed the rice, the oil, and either rabbit or seafood. The ingredients to your paella can vary, usually by the origin of the chef/restaurant who cook it for you! Today we’ll be looking at the different types, and where you can find the best paella in Barcelona. Lookout for where to avoid as well, this is just as important as the recommendations of where to go.

What is paella?

Paella is a rice-based dish that comes from Valencia. Different communities may argue that they are the original home of the dish, but paella comes from Valencia.

Different types of paella

If you’ve found yourself here, it’s likely you know something about paella so I won’t be going in-depth on the origins, and every little nuance of each and every type. Instead, let’s just have a quick look at an overview at the main types so for a little background.

  • Paella Valenciana (Valencian Paella)

The classic paella. Valencia is the home of paella, you will find a ton of options along Barceloneta beach, but we’ll come to that later. Typically Paella Valenciana consists of a few main ingredients:
  • Rabbit or chicken
  • Rice
  • Olive oil
  • Onions
  • Saffron
  • Green Beans
Ingredients for each type of paella can vary according to the creator but these are generally involved in Paella Valenciana.

  • Paella Marisco (Seafood Paella)

I’m not a big fan of seafood, I much prefer the meatiness of a Valenciana. However, having tried paella Marisco, I can see why so many people love it. There are a few similar base ingredients such as the rice and saffron, but there are also a few differences. Instead of a rabbit, you’ll get:
  • Mussels
  • Shrimp
  • Clams
  • Squid

  • Paella Mixta (Mixed Paella)

The Sherlock Holmesesque investigators amongst you will already have this one figured out. Paella Mixta is a mix of different types, often the Valenciana & Marisco.

  • Paella Negra (Black Paella)

This one is another Valencian dish, but more similar to Marisco in that it is often made from:
  • Cuttlefish/ Squid
  • Squid Ink
  • Rice
  • Garlic
  • Peppers
  • Paprika
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Broth
Possible variations & additions include crab and shrimp.

Don’t confuse Paella Negra with black rice, as it’s quite different. The rice in Paella Negra is white rice turned black by squid ink!

  • Paella Vegetariana (Vegetarian Paella)

I think you can guess how Paella Vegetariana varies from traditional paella? Yep, there’s no meat! Instead, throw in:
  • Tomatoes
  • Paprika
  • Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Parsley
Ok so now we’ve covered the main types of paella, let’s move on. Now we’ll take a look at where we can find the best paella in Barcelona.

Restaurants usually offer a variety of paella, so I will be recommending the best paella full stop, not the best Vegetariana here, or best Mixta here etc. Also because if a restaurant makes a good paella Marisco, it stands to reason they will make a good Paella Mixta for example.

So, where is the best paella in Barcelona?

Often when I make lists like this for you, I’ll recommend the best provider in the district, case and point ‘Vermuterias in Barcelona’. However, paella is a difficult one, not every district has amazing paella and I’m not here to recommend you ‘ok’ paella. We’re looking for THE BEST PAELLA IN BARCELONA.

So, where do we kick-off?

6. La Barca del Salamanca

Moll de Gregal 13-17, Port Olimpic, 08005, Barcelona

La Barca del Salamanca is the restaurant of choice for many locals and celebrities. The restaurant is always bustling and being located next to the beach gives it a huge tick from us! It is one of the best-known ones of the more expensive on our list. So, despite the great taste, it’s not the number one!

Being a hotspot for celebrities, couple this with being located close to the beach and what do you get? An indication that you will not find the best cheap paella in Barcelona here! For this, we have to go to the next place on our list.

Which is?

5. Restaurante Arume: Best cheap paella in Barcelona

Calle Botella, 11-13, 08001, Barcelona

Restaurante Arume wins our award for the best cheap paella in Barcelona. At around €14-15 per person you can find cheaper, but as far as value for money? You can’t find better. The smells from the bustling kitchen will have your mouth watering as soon as you walk in the door. Both the dining room and bar have nice, relaxed lighting making for a very cozy place to sit for lunch or dinner.

Like many establishments in Spain, the restaurant closes from 4 pm until 7.30 pm. This means you will likely have lunch/dinner later than in the U.K. or the U.S. but this small change in dining habits is well worth it to enjoy the experience at Arume!

4. La Gambeta

Fuisina, 3, 08003, Barcelona

Subtle lighting and stone walls make for a truly wonderful atmosphere in La Gambeta. Intimately arranged tables (you get plenty of space though) and the stone archways, in particular, create a fantastically relaxed, even romantic atmosphere. While La Gambeta doesn’t take the spot for the best paella in Barcelona, it certainly puts up a fight to have the best setting! 

La Gambeta offers some of the freshest seafood paella other than if you dived into the water to get it for yourself! The restaurant is on the small side which means you can’t just expect to walk in off the street. The limited capacity also makes the place a bit more special as well, this isn’t just going for a McDonalds!

So, onto number 3 on our list.

3. La Fonda

Carrer dels Escudellers, 10, 08002, Barcelona

La Fonda is in one of my favorite areas, the Gothic Quarter. Although I’m not a fan of the layout of the restaurant. It’s a little too prissy, always makes me think of the people who don’t eat a bite until they’ve Instagrammed the meal. You can’t see me rolling my eyes at that but I am. Anywho, we’re here for the food, not the seating arrangements!

The food is almost second to none. Which is why it makes it onto third place on our list. The shrimp? Perfect. The rice? Perfect. Clams? Perfect. I’ve already eaten but I’m getting hungry again while writing this!

2. Can Bigotis

Carrer de Badajoz, 36, 08005, Barcelona

Can Bigotis is located in a great area of Poblenou, I advise that you visit this place sooner rather than later. Poblenou is far enough outside the city center to not be as rammed with tourists as La Barceloneta.

However, the area is becoming more and more popular, meaning you should get there before the tourists beat you to it! After you’ve enjoyed the delicious paella, it’s a great opportunity to head to the beach to relax after your dinner.

Aside from the great location and all the opportunities this brings, there is the food itself. The paella in Can Bigotis is delicious, plates are on the small side for me but nonetheless delicious. So, Can Bigotis makes it onto our list for taste but losing out on portion size. For the best paella in Barcelona, we’ll head to a place where locals eat paella in Barcelona.

1. L’Arrosseria Xativa: Where locals eat paella in Barcelona

Carrer del Torrent d’En Vidalent, 26, 08012

L’Arrosseria Xativa, number one on our list of the best paella in Barcelona and my favorite paella in the city.

I found this place after a recommendation from my girlfriend who is both Catalan and a tour guide. So there’s no better person to ask about paella in Barcelona, right?

Similar in aesthetic to La Gambeta, with subtle lighting and the delightful stone walls, but with larger portions. Offering a variety of interesting types of paella, L’Arrosseria Xativa serves up the best paella in Barcelona. The best, in this case, is the Paella Valenciana, rivaling the paella on offer even in Valencia.

L’Arosseria also offers paella from closer to home such as paella de cebolla de Figueres. A nearby town (closer to France actually) and is a great choice if you want to change up your dish with some delicious onions.

How to avoid bad paella in Barcelona

Keep away from La Rambla. This is the best tip I can give you for paella in Barcelona. Even if you decide to ignore the places I have recommended. By all means, go and investigate for yourself, just be sure to avoid La Rambla.

Anyone who has been in Barcelona knows to avoid this street like the plague. By day, you will be offered overpriced, awful tasting lunches and by night… Well, that’s a whole other story! Just avoid La Rambla.

A few telltale signs to look out for:
  • Somebody standing outside inviting you in
  • Paella for one
  • Outside a €14-20 price range (less usually isn’t good and more is certainly overpriced).
  • Picture of stock images of paella outside a restaurant
So there you have it, that’s it for how and where to find the best paella in Barcelona. Remember, when on the lookout for this tasty rice dish, keep off La Rambla! Enjoy the paella!

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