Paella and Fideua - similar yet different
Fideuà has many things in common with Paella. It is also cooked in a frying pan, but true to Catalonian tradition Fideua has many ingredients from the sea going into the dish.
While traditional Paella is not supposed to have seafood, the best Fideuà has rockfish, monkfish, cuttlefish, squid and shellfish.
In Barcelona, try Fideuà over traditional Paella
The best seafood paella and fideuà are served at restaurants in the Barceloneta area. Barceloneta, which literally means “little Barcelona”, was a small fishing village between the city, the harbour and the sea.
Today, at Barceloneta, you will find many “merenderos” or open air sea facing restaurants - many of them being tourist restaurants - overpriced and underwhelming.
Barcelona Restaurants serving excellent Paella
For a taste of authentic paella, you can visit following restaurants by the Barcelona beach.
Restaurant Can MajóRestaurant Can Majó by the Barcelona beach with its ocean décor and presence of many tourists does give a touristy feel. However, the authentic taste of their fideuà with squid ink makes up for the touristy feel.
Carrer l'Almirall Aixada, 23, 08003, Barcelona, Spain
+34 932 21 54 55 Website
Merendero de la MariMerendero de la Mari has an impressive location right on the marina with a grand view of the sea and anchored yachts. Both, their paellas and fideuàs, are excellent. While the size of their serving might be small, you cannot complain about the taste or authenticity.
Plaça de Pau Vila, 1, 08039, Barcelona,Spain
+34 932 21 31 41 Website
Suquet De L'AlmirallA local hot spot of Barceloneta beach, Suquet De L'Almirall is known for their black rice paella and fresh seafood platter. Their set-menu lunch is excellent value.
Passeig de Joan de Borbó, 65, 08003, Barcelona,Spain
+34 932 21 62 33 Website
Xiringuito EscribàXiringuito Escribà boasts of an excellent location with a nice view of the beach and sea. You can watch the chef prepare paella in the open kitchen on a big frying pan. Order their house speciality - “sea and mountain paella”
Av. del Litoral, 62, 08005, Barcelona,Spain
+34 932 21 07 29
Can SoleA landmark in the Barceloneta neighbourhood, Can Sole does not boast of spectacular sea views as it is housed on a side street. The unique sailor-style decor makes up for the lack of open sea views. Can Sole is known for its classic paella, a dish that this restaurant has been serving since 1903.
Carrer de Sant Carles, 4, 08003, Barcelona,Spain
+34 932 21 50 12
Paella originated in Valencia
Paella is a traditional cuisine associated with Valencia rather than Catalonia. Paella was originally farmers’ food of rice growing farmers ofin Valencia.
Catalonia has its own adaptation of Paella called Fideuà in which rice is replaced by fideuà (a generic word for noodles).
Origin of Fideua - Barcelona’s Paella!
Fideuà also has its origin in Valencia but it was Catalonians who took Fideuà to their hearts. Legend has it fishermen in Gandia, a small village in Valencia, substituted short noodles for rice in paella as the captain used to eat all the rice paella leaving rest of the crew hungry. By replacing rice with noodles, they had hoped that they would get to eat their paella as their captain hated noodles!
Be careful while eating Paella in Barcelona
You must remember that Paella is a very popular item on the menu in Barcelona restaurants even if the origin of Paella is in Valencia.
Because there are so many tourists here eager to try Paella, it is difficult for restaurants to serve Paella the original way it is meant to be served.
Paella is ONLY for lunch
Did you know that Paella started as farmers' food in Valencia? This is what they had for lunch using the produce of the land. So even if you decide to have Paella in Barcelona, have it at lunch. This is when it is fresh.
Always share a Paella
The right way to eat a Paella is as a communal dish in a large group. Of course as a tourist that will hardly be possible. Still, you should be aware that a Paella is always shared between at least 2 people.
The original Paella has no seafood
It is a fact of life that nowadays a Paella has many versions. But the way it was originally made, the Paella has only land produce. The meat is chicken or rabbit, occasionally snails are added. It has beans, artichokes, and saffron too.
Look for the burnt crust
If the rice crust below is slightly burnt, then it is the sign of a good paella. The broad pans are so that most the cooking happens in a thin layer and there is more delicious crust to be shared.
Paella at La Boqueria is a good bet
Take my practical advice; go to La Boqueria Paella Bar and reduce your risk of having bad Paella in Barcelona. I have been here a few times and while I will always prefer the backwaters of rural Valencia for Paella in its place of origin, this one in Barcelona does come close.
But I will also agree that there are some excellent restaurants listed here for Paella. Be sure to scroll down this page.
Don't trade Catalan cuisine for Paella
While in Barcelona, be sure to try the local traditional Catalan cuisine too. And also keep an evening aside for Vermut!
Though, tourists flock to 7 Portes as it finds a mention in all guide books, it is still the place where locals eat paella in Barcelona.
It is a huge restaurant exuding old world charm. The restaurant has an interesting history which the manager will be more than happy to share. All you need to get him going is ask " Why is it called 7 Portes?"
Try their signature Paella Parellada (Rich man's Paella). The paella is made of classic rice mixed with rabbit, monkfish, squid, lobster, minced pork, mussels, and ‘botifarra’ sausage. Unusually, the seafood is already peeled so that you can dive in straight away.
Address: Passeig d'Isabel II, 14, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
Tel:+34 933 19 30 33
Paella in Barcelona
It is located in Plaza del Sol, Gràcia. The restaurant is very famous in the neighbourhood since their paellas are extremely delicious. I recommend their "milanese rice", very famous throughout Barcelona.
This restaurant I recommend in summer, as it is located at the foot of the spectacular beach. Mexican fusion cuisine with a very youthful and fresh atmosphere. Their paella is very rich.
Located on the Maremagnum. There are many types of rice as they are specialized in that department! I recommend rice with prawns, or rice with saffron. Unique and delicious flavors in a very elegant place.
Located in the Hotel Ciudadela Parc, just in front of the Parc de la Ciutadella. Here you can try the best arroz negro black rice! They also have a very inexpensive lunch menu, and delicious tapas.
La Mar Salada
From this famous restaurant comes the “arroz con caracoles y bogavantes” rice with snails and lobsters Unforgettable! Its cook, Marc Singla, is well known throughout the country. It has a beautiful marine decoration. Passeig Joan Borbó, in Barceloneta.
If you fancy a more traditional Catalan atmosphere, you should definitely visit this rice factory. It has two restaurants (one in Gràcia and another in Les Corts) and have been in business for over 10 years. The paellas are large and have an excellent "take away" service if you have paella.