One of Spain’s most iconic dishes, paella is said to have originated on the lake shores of Valencia sometime in the late Middle Ages. These days, it’s a favourite weekend treat for most Spaniards, and here in Barcelona there are a number of outstanding restaurants claiming to offer the best rice dishes in town. However, having a paella doesn’t necessarily mean you have to break the bank. Here are some of the best places for an affordable but authentic paella in the Catalan capital.
Restaurant, Spanish, Mediterranean, Seafood, $$$
Given its location just off Las Ramblas and Plaça Reial, La Fonda is remarkably well priced and offers straightforward Spanish food in a spacious, modern setting. There are six different kinds of paella to choose from, including mixed paella (meat and fish), seafood paella and a creamy black rice made with squid ink. Prices start from just €11.45 per person for paella – that’s what some tourist traps charge for frozen paella.
The Arosseria Xàtiva appears in many guides to the best places for paella in Barcelona, and while the paella dishes are not the cheapest you can find (the cheapest are usually frozen or reheated) they are very good value for money. What’s more, the Arosseria Xativa offers a weekly lunchtime menu from which you can order a serving of the chef’s daily rice dish as a main course and at €14.95 per person is a real bargain.
Another restaurant located just off Las Ramblas, Los Toreros – ‘the Bullfighters’ – is a traditional Spanish tavern that wouldn’t entirely be out of place in Andalusia with its brightly patterned tiles and bullfighting memorabilia. The food is straightforward, classic Spanish cuisine with a wide choice of tapas and paellas, with the later averaging around €15.90 per person. They also have a number of set group menus available that include starters, mains, desserts and drinks.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d be putting a serious dent in your bank account by dining at Les Quinze Nits, overlooking Barcelona’s iconic Plaça Reial, but not so. The restaurant is owned by a local group whose portfolio also includes the aforementioned La Fonda, which was the first restaurant they opened. The food here is not gourmet, but you can get a meal with paella for two, a few tapas and some drinks for €40, which isn’t bad considering the location.
The head chef at La Mar Salada worked at world-famous Spanish restaurant elBulli, voted best restaurant in the world a record-breaking five times. It’s therefore no surprise that the standards are high at this waterfront restaurant located in the Barceloneta neighbourhood. At €19.50 per person, the paella here is not particularly cheap, but it is excellent value for money and what’s more, at midweek lunchtimes you can get a three-course menu for €19.
Located at the very end of the Barceloneta pier, Kaiku is a small Catalan restaurant that does a good trade with local workers during the week. The food here is straightforward home cooking, served without any pretence, and this is what accounts for much of its charm. The paella comes highly recommended, but so too does the fideuà, a local variation of the dish that is made with noodles instead of rice. This also happens to be the cheapest, at €14.10 per person.
This rustic Gracià eatery has been on the go since the late 1970s and has since opened a couple of sister restaurants of the same name across the city. The red-chequered tablecloths and brick walls are slightly reminiscent of an Italian trattoria, but the food here at Taverna El Glop is 100% local. The restaurant has a reputation for the quality of its paellas, of which it offers several different kinds, including a rabbit and snail paella that is a close cousin of the original paella made on the shores of Valencia, which featured water vole and snails.