Discovering Valencia's hidden gems – an insider’s guide to the city by local chefs

Laura Price - 13/04/2023

Valencia hidden gems

As The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 heads to the birthplace of paella on 20th June, we take a gastronomic tour of Valencia’s top insider spots with suggestions from the region's most celebrated local cooks including Quique Dacosta, Ricard Camarena and Vicky Sevilla

From all i pebre to horchata, Valencia is a city of gastronomic delights, and who better to offer insider tips than the local chefs? Ahead of the 21st edition of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, to be held in June in Valencia, we asked some of the city’s best-known chefs for their recommendations. Scroll for tips from Begoña Rodrigo of La Salita, Vicky Sevilla of Arrels, Luis Valls of El Poblet, Carito Lourenço and Germán Carrizo from Fierro, as well as Quique Dacosta and Ricard Camarena of their eponymous Denia and Valencia gastronomic institutions.

Recommended for: traditional Valencian cuisine
Tapas are one of Valencia's many foodie attractions (images courtesy of Rausell) 

Led by brothers José and Miguel Rausell, the third generation of their gastronomic family, this eponymous 75-year-old restaurant is a Valencian institution. It is split into three sections – a bar, a restaurant and an area dedicated to takeaway – each serving tapas, sandwiches and main dishes made from the very finest local produce, with a focus on seafood, meat and rice. The long, central bar is a hive of activity for lively conversations over good food and coffee or a glass of wine from one of 150 labels.

What the chef says:

“It’s symbolic of the city.” – Begoña Rodrigo

C/ d'Àngel Guimerà, 61, 46008


Horchatería Vida
Recommended for: horchata
Traditional horchata is made from tiger nuts (image courtesy of Visit Valencia)

A local secret hidden inside a peaceful orchard in the Alboraya neighbourhood, Horchatería Vida serves traditional horchata, a refreshing milk-like drink made from chufa, or tiger nuts, alongside delicious fartons, or sweet pastry fingers. Sit outside amongst the hens and rabbits and enjoy a refreshing drink nestled between the tiger nut fields. Be sure to check the opening hours in advance, and take cash with you, as card payments are not accepted.

What the chefs say:

“Great horchata, cocas de landa [traditional Valencian sponge cake] and artisanal fartons.” – Quique Dacosta

Partida de Saboya, 6, 46120 Alboraya


Horno San Bartolomé
Recommended for: the best bread in Valencia
Horno San Bartolomé has more than 30 kinds of bread (image courtesy of Horno San Bartolomé)

Jesús Machí and his wife Ana Sáez are known across Valencia as the finest bakers in town, both having grown up in baking families. In the bakery founded by their family in 1985, they’ve worked tirelessly to create the perfect sourdough (or masa madre), experimenting with fermentation and flavour to create products that are revered by chefs and customers alike. They now have four bakeries across the city selling their delicious pumpkin breads and pastries.

What the chef says:

“I often go out of my way to buy their bread – it’s the best bakery in Valencia.” – Vicky Sevilla

Duque de Calabria, 14, 46005


Recommended for: tasty pastries
Colourful and creative pastries are part of Sukar's menu (image courtesy of Sukar)

A creative patisserie that specialises in filled croissants, Sukar (a play on the Spanish word for sugar) is a favourite of local chefs. The brainchild of pastry chef Arturo Salvador Crespo, it is located in the Old Town and sells a wide range of products, from tiramisu croissants to pistachio-covered doughnuts and even peanut and salted caramel cruffins. Arrive early to beat the queue.

What the chef says:

“The almond croissant is spectacular!” – Luis Valls 

C/de la Pau, 16, 46002


Mercado Central
Recommended for: the best local produce
The Mercado Central offers some of the best produce in the city (images courtesy of Visit Valencia and Paco Roig Bakery)

The largest fresh produce market in Europe, Valencia’s Mercado Central is a must-visit for everything from fruit and veg to spices and seafood, as well as housing a wide variety of eateries. Within the market, Ricard Camarena recommends a trip to Charcutería Solaz for its impressive selection of cold cuts, while Quique Dacosta loves Paco Roig bakery, which sells ‘stupendous bread, especially the olive oil puff pastry and the artisanal breadsticks’. Located in front of the Gothic-style Lonja de la Seda building, Valencia’s Central Market is a feat of modernist architecture, worth a trip for the building alone.

What the chef says:

“It’s a must-visit while in Valencia for each and every one of its stalls selling local produce, as well as the unique modernist architecture.” – Quique Dacosta

Plaça Ciutat de Bruges, 46001


Casa Carmela
Recommended for: laidback, beachfront paella
Valencian paella is traditionally made with rabbit but the seafood version has gained popularity over the years (image courtesy of Casa Carmela)

In a city where good paella isn’t hard to find, Casa Carmela stands out above the rest. In this 100-year-old restaurant that was once a beach shack, fourth-generation chef Toni Novo honours his great grandmother Carmen’s memory with traditional Valencian paellas cooked in a wood-fired oven for the perfect smoky firewood flavour. Located on the beachfront in the traditional neighbourhood of Malvarrosa, Casa Carmela works only with the best produce from local suppliers – think Denia prawns, Valencian clotxina (mussels) and rabbit from the nearby Huerto de Vera farm. As per tradition, the paella is set in the middle of the table and served with a wooden spoon.

What the chef says:

“In my opinion, the best rice in Valencia.” – Ricard Camarena

C/ d'Isabel de Villena, 155, 46011


Restaurante Rioja
Recommended for: luxurious, off-the-beaten-path paella
Cooking paella in a wood-fired oven is the most artisan way to prepare this iconic Valencian dish (images courtesy of Restaurante Rioja) 

It’s worth venturing outside central Valencia to Benissanó, where top chef Vicente Rioja has earned his reputation as a master of paella. In a smart-looking restaurant within the hotel of the same name, Rioja and his team serve a varied menu that includes fine dining options, but the signature rabbit paella stays true to tradition, cooked in a wood-fired oven and served in a large pan at the table. Rioja is regarded as the best by chef Quique Dacosta, himself a master of paella with Llisa Negra in Valencia and Arros QD in London.

What the chef says:

“Order the Valencian wood-fired paella with a good tomato salad and some prawns.” – Quique Dacosta

Carrer Verge del Fonament, 37, 46181 Benissanó


Kiosko La Pérgola
Recommended for: esmorzaret
Esmorzaret is a classic Valencian street food (image courtesy of Visit Valencia)

An outdoor kiosk nestled in glorious green space, La Pérgola is a must-stop institution for esmorzaret, the traditional bite taken somewhere between breakfast and lunch (just don’t refer to it as ‘brunch’…). Sit in the sun or find a shady spot and order the bocadillo de sepia (cuttlefish baguette) or the signature bombón of pork loin, cheese, mushrooms and special sauce. While Valencians go for esmorzaret, you can also visit for lunch.

What the chef says:

“They serve the best lunch in Valencia.” – Vicky Sevilla

Paseo de la Alameda, 1, 46010


Casino El Romaní
Recommended for: all i pebre
All i pebre is a must-try dish in the city (image courtesy of Visit Valencia)

Another of Valencia’s must-try dishes is all i pebre, a stew of eels, potatoes, garlic and paprika. One of the best places to try it is Casino El Romaní, an understated, hidden gem of a restaurant that’s popular with locals from the Albufera fishing community. As well as the signature all i pebre, El Romaní is also known for its excellent sandwiches and café cremaet, a luxurious Valencian coffee with rum, sugar, cinnamon and citrus peel that is typically taken post-esmorzaret.

What the chef says:

“I love to eat lunch or dinner in this neighbourhood bar, alongside the workers or fishermen of Albufera. Every weekend, it serves the best all i pebre.” – Luis Valls

Avinguda d'Alacant, 14, 46439 Sollana


Café Madrid
Recommended for: agua de Valencia
Agua de Valencia provides an uplifiting hit in cocktail form (images courtesy of Café Madrid)

When in Valencia, it’s obligatory to try an agua de Valencia, the local cocktail, and why not start at the place where it was invented? It was in 1959 at Café Madrid (then Cervecería Madrid) that Gil Constante first put together the cocktail now synonymous with the city – agua de Valencia comprises fresh orange juice, cava and generous splashes of gin and vodka served over ice. Drinking the orange-coloured tipple in the opulent surroundings of Café Madrid brings a sense of returning to the Valencia of the late 20th century.

What the chefs say:

“It’s a cocktail bar at the epicentre of bohemian and literary Valencia.” – Carito Lourenço and Germán Carrizo

Carrer de l'Abadia de Sant Martí, 10, 46002


Recommended for: delicious wines
Valencian wines have been on the rise in recent years (images courtesy of Lebulc)

Part wine shop, part cellar, part private members club, Lebulc is the home of oenophile Luca Bernasconi, who greets his customers at the door after they ring the bell. With an impressive selection from Spanish to international, natural wines to rare labels, Bernasconi’s shop is a true insider spot in Valencia, where wine lovers can while away the time exploring its carefully curated treasures.

What the chef says:

“Choose any bottle you like and enjoy it with tapas and conserves.” – Begoña Rodrigo

Pedro III el Grande, 36, 46005


Bar Ricardo
Recommended for: tapas
Patatas bravas are among the best loved tapas in the region (image courtesy of Visit Valencia)

Popular with locals since 1947, Bar Ricardo is a great value tapas bar where third-generation chef Susana Salvador cooks alongside her husband, restaurant manager Ricardo Mirasol, known affectionately as Richard. With a long counter and wooden tables and chairs in a cosy, no-frills dining room, Bar Ricardo serves all the classics, with its ensaladilla rusa (potato salad) and patatas bravas often tipped as the best in town.

What the chef says:

“One of the best bars in the city, where Susana cooks like few others. Don’t miss the ensaladilla, the bravas and anything from the grill.” – Ricard Camarena

Doctor zamenhof, 16, 46008


Gelática Ice Concept
Recommended for: Instagram-worthy ice cream

With curved walls and pink cut-out leaves on its ceiling, Gelática Ice Concept is a must-visit in Valencia, both for its unique décor and the exquisite creations of Miguel Señoris and Carmen Prado. Gelática specialises in frozen tarts in a variety of flavours, including tiramisu. It’s also a great spot for breakfast, coffee or simply a couple of scoops of the best pistachio ice cream in town.

What the chef says:

“Miguel and Carmen are exceptional pastry chefs, and in my opinion this is the best ice cream shop in Valencia. The frozen tarts are out of this world and the ice cream is stratospheric.” – Ricard Camarena

C/ de la Remunta, 11, 46011


The 21st edition of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, will be announced on 20th June 2023 in Valencia. Tune in to the livestream of the awards ceremony on YouTube or Facebook from 20:40 local time. To stay up to date with the news and announcements ahead of the ceremony, browse the website join the community on Instagram, find us on Facebook, visit us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.