Although it is often called Spain’s national dish, paella is actually a regional speciality from Valencia, on the country’s Mediterranean coast. But if you want to try the tasty recipe in Madrid, it’s worth knowing where to get an authentic Valencian paella, instead of the tourist trap dishes often peddled in the city centre. Follow our guide to find the best – and cheapest – paellas in the city.
Socarratt, in the cool barrio of Chueca, is run by two Valencians, Jordi and Rafa Ventura. They do a great and authentic Valencian paella (for lunch only, as is the tradition in Valencia) but have a menu of other famous Spanish rice dishes, from vegetable paella to black rice. A full paella is €66 for six people, but diners can also order a portion of paella for €7.90. If you fancy a paella at home, it’s €8.90 to take away.
El Caldero, just off the popular Plaza Santa Ana in central Madrid, specialises in the cuisine of Murcia, south of Valencia in southeast Spain. The menu also features some classic paellas, such as Valencian and seafood, as well as another Valencian speciality, fideua, a paella that uses noodles instead of rice.
This favourite has been making the popular dish for over three decades, and in that time, Casa de Valencia has become one of the go-to places in the city for diners who want to try one of the most authentic paellas available in Madrid. The menu features a range of Mediterranean classics and several rice dishes, including the classic Valencian paella, made with chicken, rabbit and vegetables, a mixed paella, with chicken and seafood, and a seafood paella. Valencian paella is €15.50 per portion.
Going strong since 1935, La Barraca was founded by the Solís family, who originally came from Valencia. They use the very finest Valencian ingredients, including special paella rice from the region. Its central location, just off Gran Vía, means it is popular with tourists, but locals come here for its quality paella dishes too. As well as Valencian paella (€15.50 per person), there are vegetable paellas, mixed paella and a variety of other rice dishes.
This restaurant in Malasaña mainly specialises in cuisine from Andalusia in southern Spain, but every Sunday, instead of brunch, it serves a huge paella lunch. It all started when the restaurant opened in 2013. It was surrounded by hip bars and restaurants offering brunch, but Bar La Gloria’s owners didn’t like the concept and wondered what they could do instead. They happened to have a Valencian chef working with them, and the idea of a paella lunch was born. From €11 per portion, this is a great deal for a brilliant – and much more Spanish – alternative to brunch.
To the north of Madrid and the paella tourist traps of the centre is Samm, located in the Chamartín neighbourhood. It specialises in Valencian cuisine, with its pièce de résistance being its paella dishes. The restaurant opened in 1973, and since then, it has built up a solid reputation in the city for its quality Valencian cooking.
Tucked away in Lavapiés is this slightly off-the-beaten-track restaurant that specialises in Murcian and Valencian recipes. It is famous for its rice dishes. A top tip is to reserve a table beforehand so that the chefs can get your paella underway before you arrive, as well as guaranteeing a table in the snug little restaurant.