Local food tour guide Daria Gushchenkova shares the best tapas dishes to eat in Valencia, as well as her top tips on where to eat them with the locals.
About the author: Driven by her passion for authentic Valencian food, Daria launched her off-the-beaten-track tapas tour in Valencia, taking foodie travellers to best local tapas bars for the most authentic tapas feasts in Valencia.
Tasting the world-famous paella and quenching your thirst with the unique local drink horchata is normally high on the priority list when visiting Valencia. I don’t blame you, this stuff is delicious! But you should also take the time to explore the unique Spanish tapas and sweet snacks that the beautiful city of Valencia offers in abundance.
From the freshest seafood and salty cured meats to the best local wines, there’s no better way to explore Valencia than with a traditional tapas crawl – here’s how to do like the locals!
Brandada de Bacalao (Salted Cod) at Casa Montaña
Great Spanish bread with a creamy concoction of tastes from the sea and land – salt cod, potato and garlic brandada. Nobody makes it better than they do at Casa Montaña.
Established in 1836, this traditional Valencian tapas bar is always crowded, so make sure to either book a table or arrive early to secure a spot at the bar!
Casa Montana has an impressive wine cellar as well – one of the biggest in the city. Pair brandada with a glass of white, for example, Verdejo!
Iberian Jamón (Acorn-fed Ham) at Bodegas Gargallo
The most famous food in Spain, jamón is not always created equal. There are only a handful places in Valencia where they serve 100% Iberian acorn fed ham, and Bodegas Gargallo is one of them.
Watch the professional carver behind the counter slice you a plate of this fatty delicacy.
Look out for the little plastic black label on the leg of jamón – the sign of the best available quality in Spain: jamón ibérico 100% de bellota.
NOTE: This cute little deli shop is run by respected jamón producers and is part of Daria’s Tapas, Wine & History Tour.
Address: Multiple locations around Valencia
Clòtxinas (Mussells) at La Pilareta
“Clóchinas” in Spanish, these mussels are a little smaller than their cousins from Cataluña and the Spanish Atlantic. They are somewhat sweeter than the standard mussel and are only available from May through August and only in the Valencian Community.
This is a truly local product – the water in the bay of Valencia is slightly saltier, which provides more nutrition to these delicious creatures grown here in the port. There are many places in Valencia which serve great clòtxinas, but at La Pilareta it’s the specialty of the house!
Patatas Bravas (Spicy Spanish Potatoes) at Rausell
Patatas bravas is a simple and essential Spanish tapas dish that consists of roasted potatoes with garlic (aioli) sauce and a slightly spicy salsa made with Spanish smoked paprika.
Cheap and heart-warmingly delicious, this seemingly uncomplicated tapa can be pretty mediocre at some places, so be sure to get some proper bravas at Rausell, one of the most emblematic tapas bars in Valencia (where they also make amazing Valencian rice dishes!).
Buñuelos (Doughy Pumpkin Delights) at Horchatería Fabian
Pumpkin and fresh dough fried in piping hot oil, buñuelos are Valencia’s devilishly delicious answer to Madrid’s famous churros con chocolate (Buñuelos are also eaten with hot chocolate in Valencia).
During the Valencia’s world-famous Fallas Festival in March, the air becomes scented with a sweet, fried dough aroma as dozens of stands pop-up throughout the centre of the city. The best buñuelos are freshly fried in front of you and sprinkled with sugar before serving.
There is no need to wait until March however, as you can eat the best buñuelos at Fabian, a charming old café in the Cánovas district that specialises in this locally cherished sweet snack, as well as sweet horchata and hot chocolate.
Address: Carrer de Ciscar, 5, 46005, Valencia
Esgarraet (Roasted Peppers and Salt Cod) at Central Bar in Central Market
If there’s one tapa that you really must eat in Valencia, go for esgarraet! Made with roasted bell peppers with strips of salt cod, garlic and olive oil.
“Esgarrar” means “to pull apart by hands” in Valencian. Not many places serve this sweet and salty tapa, but eat it at Ricard Camarena’s Central Bar (inside Valencia’s Central Market) and you’re guaranteed a fresh and memorable meal. Enjoy with some bread and a glass of wine!
Here you can also try top notch ensaladilla rusa (Russian salad) as well as gourmet stuffed bread rolls. There are never empty seats at the bar, so you’ll need to either wait behind the seated people at the longer side of the bar or go around and line up on the other (shorter) side.
Cecina de León (Cured and Smoked Meats) at Patapuerca Taberna
If you’ve had enough of jamón (if that’s even possible) and are looking for the next Spanish meat delicacy, try cecina de León (dry cured and smoked beef, thinly sliced) at Patapuerca Taberna Ibérica.
Lisa and Oscar, the owners, opened this place recently and it has already become the neighbourhood’s best loved gem. They serve all sorts of cold cuts, cheeses and delicatessen and they also know their wines, so be sure to ask for their vino advice.
Local Valencian Wines
The great thing about Spain is that you don’t need to spend a lot to drink great wine.
If you’re into red wine then try local Valencian wines made from the “Bobal”red grape variety, which is unique to the Valencian wine region (because it’s resistant to dry weather).
If you’re white wine drinker then try the organic Chardonnay Sauvignon by the Valencian producer Rebel·lia, or Chardonnay by Nodus.
If you prefer sweeter wines go for the local Muscat wine, Son Dos Días.