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Can Ros
Photograph: Ivan Moreno

Best paella in Barcelona: 16 must-try restaurants

Looking for the absolute best paella in Barcelona? Eat as the locals do at one of these first-rate restaurants

By Maria Jose Gómez, Ricard Martín, Manuel Pérez and Jan Fleischer
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If you’re on the hunt for the best paella in Barcelona, we’re here to help. While you might know that paella has its origins in Valencia, you don’t have to take a day trip down the coast to enjoy this traditional dish. There’s plenty of it in Barcelona – though Catalans may argue that their own rice dishes, which you’ll find on menus as ‘arròs’ rather than ‘paella’, are even better than their more famous cousins. What’s the difference? Mainly it’s that they’re a bit more brothy, but they’re just as delicious, so be sure you don’t pass them over in your quest for an official paella. You can definitely find both in Barcelona, and we’ve tried more than our share of each in our quest to find the city’s best rice dishes. So, ready to take a well-deserved break from ticking off all those amazing bucket-list things to do? Here’s where to fill up.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Barcelona

Best paella in Barcelona

Can Ros
Photograph: Ivan Moreno

1. Can Ros

Restaurants Mediterranean La Barceloneta

Can Ros is another reason to head to Barceloneta for a meal, with its set lunch menu for around €16 and the à la carte menu boasting a special section for rice dishes, where you'll find an outstanding rice with ‘capipota’ (calf’s head and foot) and prawns, and a melt-in-your-mouth rice with lobster. The black rice with cuttlefish and artichokes – artichokes are a good litmus test – was everything we’d hoped for and more. To whet our appetite we ordered squid croquettes, which arrived fried to perfection, resting on a lovely cushion of alioli (garlic mayonnaise) and tomato sauce. Simplicity, just what we were after.

7 Portes
Photograph: 7 Portes

2. 7 Portes

Restaurants Spanish La Barceloneta

At 7 Portes they do a lot of things, all of them good, but some will be remembered with a special sentiment – try the amazing cod fritters that will still be tingling your taste buds between courses. When you’re ready for your paella, you have plenty of delectable options, but it might help you choose if you know that more than 70 percent of the clientle order their fantastic paella Parellada. The deletctable rice comes with monkfish, mussels, squid, lobster, minced pork, ‘botifarra’ sausage and rabbit. You can also order a seafood-only version, and in both cases, all the seafood is peeled to save you the work and let you get tucked straight into the pleasure.

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La mar salada
Photograph: Irene Fernández

3. La Mar Salada

Restaurants Mediterranean La Barceloneta

If what you’re craving is an authentic paella or rice dish in Barceloneta, this is the spot. Not only do they make some of the best in the city, but La Mar Salada also happens to be one of the top seafood restaurants in Barcelona. And it doesn’t get any fresher, as every morning they head out to reel in fresh fish to serve the same day. Their creative and respectful treatment of the products they use shows in their spectacular stews and paellas. We can especially recommend the ‘de senyoret’ rice with the catch of the day, and the black rice with cuttlefish and artichokes. Leave room for dessert here!

4. Martínez

Restaurants

If you’re visiting Montjuïc when hunger strikes, you will find open-air eateries for all tastes and budgets. But your best choice is Martínez when you want rice dishes done right (plus views!). This might be just the type of spot you’re picturing when you think of dining in Barcelona: a hip and informal restaurant where you can get quality fish and meats cooked over quebracho charcoal, seafood-based cuisine, oysters and fantastic rice dishes. If you go at lunchtime on weekdays, do not miss the €45 set menu (vermouth with tapas, salad, wines, one of the rice dishes on the menu, plus dessert).

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Elche
Photograph: Scott Chasserot

5. Elche

Restaurants Seafood El Poble-sec

Pioneers in Barcelona in the import of Valencian cuisine, Elche's star dish is their black rice with squid and artichokes, bursting with sea delights, vegetables so fresh you can actually distinguish each one, and perfectly cut and cooked squid. The secret behind their very popular rice dishes is a base of Bayo Extra from the Ebro Delta, a hybrid between long-grain and bomba varieties that’s consistently flawless in texture and taste.

CruiX
Photograph: Maria Dias

6. CruiX

Restaurants Mediterranean La Nova Esquerra de l'Eixample

Valencian chef Miguel Pardo is in charge of this high-quality eatery where you can get imaginative tapas as well as rice dishes that are so gorgeous you’ll want to eat them right out of the pan. We can definitely recommend the baby squid black rice with alioli mousse, and there’s even a vegan rice dish for your friends who aren’t up for eating meat or seafood. If it’s a bit of everything you’re after, the tasting menu features five tapas, a rice dish to share and dessert for around €40. Plus there’s a mini version of that at lunchtime for under €20.

 

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7. Barraca

Restaurants Seafood La Barceloneta

Barraca is a restaurant that cooks up classic rice dishes made with a modern and gourmet touch. The menu boasts six rice specialities that won’t steer you wrong, including standouts with artichokes, squid and sausage (dry, light, very tasty) or a more filling paella with perfect rice and fish fillet, or the black rice casserole. Also popular are the rice with octopus, and the vegan one. Quintessential Barceloneta starters include croquettes, cod fritters and great seafood. Views of the sea and of Passeig Marítim are impressive, and most of the products are organic and local.

Envalira
Photograph: Irene Fernández

8. Envalira

Restaurants Mediterranean Gràcia

Envalira is in the heart of Gràcia, proving you don’t have to fight the Barceloneta crowds for a great paella or rice dish. Don’t turn your nose up at the lack of decor, because here they’ve got more important things to think about, like their seafood paella, black rice, and Milanesa rice that you’ll be dreaming about for weeks to come. Be sure to find out what’s in season as you won’t want to skip the wild mushrooms (‘rovellons’), and save room for dessert with the likes of tiramisu ice cream or fresh figs served with fresh cream and chocolate sauce.

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Can Ramonet
Photograph: Can Ramonet

9. Can Ramonet

Restaurants Seafood La Barceloneta

This quaint space in Barceloneta with two quiet terraces is mostly overlooked by tourists, and consequently suffers none of the drop in standards of some of the paella joints on the seafront. Spectacular displays of fresh seafood show what’s on offer that day, but it’s also worth sampling the velvety fish soup and the generous paellas. Rice is what you’re after, and sure you can get a standard seafood paella, but if you’re ready to branch out (and your budget allows), try the rice or paella with lobster, or the rice with sea cucumber.

L'Estupendu
Photograph: Ivan Gimenez

10. L’Estupendu

Restaurants Spanish Beyond Barcelona

The old baths at the train station in Badalona were remodelled with exquisite taste to house L’Estupendu, a restaurant with the flavour of Mediterranean that manages to avoid clichés. So the space has reeled us in, but what about the food? Rest assured the rice-based menu can satisfy even the most demanding of palates. In addition to classic seafood rice dishes and traditional options that are more difficult to find these days, such as rice with vegetables and cod, the menu boasts standout items like the creamy rice with mantis shrimp and octopus that will make your day. Take your time and enjoy the experience.

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El Noi d Alcoi
Photograph: Irene Fernandez

11. El Noi d'Alcoi

Restaurants Mediterranean Sarrià

We’re always happy to welcome another rice or paella restaurant to Barcelona, as they can only add to the great culinary panorama here; that is, as long as they’re done right. And El Noi d’Alcoi is just such a place. The name translates to ‘The Boy from Alcoi’, the latter a town in Valencia, which as we all know is the centre of the paella universe. Chef Oscar Juan cooks up bold paellas, brothy rice, and fantastic fideuàs (all are created for a minimum of two diners, so bring a friend). By last count, Juan had a total of seven paella options, seven rice dishes and three fideuàs on the menu, so you’re spoilt for choice. For dessert, try the ‘mel i mató’ (mató cheese with honey) for a classic finish.

Senyor Parellada
Senyor Parellada, Facebook

12. Senyor Parellada

Restaurants Catalan Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i la Ribera

Senyor Parellada is a long-time classic that couldn’t be left off a list dedicated to rice dishes thanks to its contribution to the cuisine in Barcelona. Every day of the week they feature a different rice special for just €10, such as the magnificent Iberian, served in a pan with a multitude of vegetables – cauliflower, artichokes, fava beans – and topped by a fried egg and generous slices of ham. If the rice of the day isn’t doing it for you, you can always turn to the à la carte menu, where you’ll find one of the most Barcelona dishes there is: paella Parellada.

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130 Restaurant, English, creamy rice with prawns from Arenys de Mar
Photograph: 130 Restaurant, Facebook

13. 130 Restaurant

Bars and pubs Barcelona

We’re just about over the trend of naming restaurants and bars with the number on the street address, but once you’re inside number 130 on C/ Laforja, the quality cuisine takes over any silly peeves. We’re talking about dishes created with know-how that can disarm the most cynical or snobbish critic. A good example is in their rice dishes, like the delectable one with ‘espardenyes’. But if you’re not in the mood for dining on the sexual organs of sea cucumbers, you can always opt for a shockingly good creamy rice with carpaccio-cut prawns that spread to perfection over the grains.

14. Arrosseria Xàtiva

Restaurants Mediterranean Les Corts

Located in a former textile factory in the Les Corts district (and two other locations about town), Arrosseria Xàtiva offers no fewer than 28 different rice dishes. And you can eat them straight from the pan with a wooden spoon. They also do take-away dishes. Try the ‘passejat’ (literally, ‘walked’) rice, with a recipe that dates back to the 15th century. It got its name from when women used to carry it to be cooked in the community oven, and it’s out of this world, with chickpeas, chicken, and pig’s ear, presided over by a ‘morcilla’ blood sausage with diced onion.

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15. Can Lluís

Restaurants Catalan El Raval

At the locally historic Can Lluís they prepare one of the best paellas in Barcelona: tasty rice that doesn’t stick together and no trace of broth, well-cooked yet tender meat, and vegetables that keep their character even after cooking – all without going overboard with frills. Surprisingly, you won’t find the dish on the menu; it’s a secret that’s only revealed on request, or it’s among the items in the daily set lunch. If you want to be sure of your chances, go on a Thursday, the traditional day for paella. The owners are Valencian, you’ll be happy to know, so there’s a guarantee of authenticity.

16. Can Solé

Restaurants Mediterranean La Barceloneta

Can Solé, a classic in Barceloneta, has been around for more than 110 years. In 1994 Josep Maria García acquired the restaurant from the Homs family (who had run it as a fishermen’s tavern) because he couldn’t let a restaurant like this be lost. García has kept the restaurant running along the same lines and he's earned a deserved reputation for making the best stewy rice dishes in the city, served up in sizeable portions, like the lobster one or the one with sea urchin and scallops – an extraordinary example of creamy seafood goodness.

 

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