Spanish Paella in Barcelona

Updated Aug 31 2023

Paella is one of the gastronomic treasures of Spain and, as a result, one of the must-try dishes as the thousands of tourists that visit Barcelona, the other cities of Catalonia and the rest of Spain do each year.

Information about Paella, the best-known typical Spanish dish

Its great reputation is no accident, with a base of rice, each variety of paella made today includes some of the most delicious, authentic, and signature products that form part of the gastronomic culture of our country.

Valencian Paella: Origins of the traditional Spanish Paella

The Paella, whose name refers to a type of pan and comes from the enormous pan that is used to make it which is called a “paellera”, has its origins in the region of Valencia in the 18th Century, specifically in the area of Albufera.

This is why the traditional paella, also called the original or classic paella, is also called Paella Valenciana (in english Valencian Paella).

The ingredients used to make it are based on the typical food of the Valencia region that were and still are, farmyard animals and vegetables from the Valencian garden.

As the years have gone on, bit by bit the paella has changed from a Valencian dish to a traditional Spanish dish. Each region in Spain has taken the original recipe and adapted it to the particular gastronomic characteristics of their region. That is why it is currently possible to find various types of paella, with each one being made with different ingredients.

Seafood paella

The different types of authentic Spanish Paella

So that a paella can be called as such, it doesn’t necessarily have to include the original ingredients but it does have to have the right type of rice (medium-sized grain and the most common are from Valencia, Senia, Bomba, Bahía and Albufera) and it should be made as tradition dictates.

However, when we refer to Paella Valenciana, or the original paella, the use of certain basic ingredients have to be included as well as adding in some others ingredients too.

Valencian Paella (“Paella Valenciana”)

The original recipe is based on the use of different food from the area of Albufera. This includes rice, undoubtedly one of the most important foods in the region of Valencia thanks to the large amount of crops, which is cooked and fried with meat from the farm and vegetables from the Valencian garden.

Ingredients: rice, tomato, olive oil, water, saffron, salt, butter beans, chicken, rabbit and green beans. You can also add other ingredients without losing the title of “Paella Valenciana”: garlic, paprika, rosemary, duck, artichoke and snails.

Seafood Paella (“Paella Marinera”)

Seafood Paella is the most popular version of the original Valencian paella and the most typical of coastal towns in Spain, including the city of Barcelona. To make it, use different types of seafood and fish as well as fish stock, whilst taking out the vegetables and meat from the original recipe.

Ingredients: rice, tomato, olive oil, onion, pepper, fish stock, saffron, salt and different types of seafood and fish, usually prawns, lobster, mussels, clams, cuttlefish or calamari.

Mountain Paella (“Paella de Montaña”)

Paella de Montaña, or Mountain Paella, also simply called mountain rice or chicken paella, includes different types of meat which can vary depending on the most typical products of the region where the paella is being made.

Ingredients: rice, tomato, olive oil, water, salt and different types of meat (chicken, rabbit, duck, ribs, sausage / butifarra), also used to give flavour to the stock when cooking the rice. You also need to add vegetables and mushrooms to this paella.

Mixed Paella (“Paella Mixta”)

Paella Mixta, or Mixed Paella, as the name indicates, comes from mixing the recipe of two paellas which in this case is the seafood paella with the mountain paella. It is another common variant and can be found across Spain except for the region of Valencia. To make it, add meat (chicken and rabbit) and different types of seafood.

Ingredients: rice, fish stock, tomato, onion, pepper, olive oil, saffron, salt, chicken and rabbit or duck and different types of seafood and fish, usually prawns, lobster, mussels, clams, cuttlefish or calamari.

Vegetable Paella (“Paella de Verduras”)

Vegetable Paella is the ideal option for vegetarians and vegans, as it contains no meat, fish or any animal product.

Ingredients: rice, onion, pepper, tomato, olive oil, vegetable stock, and different vegetables (green beans, aubergine, asparagus, beans, cauliflower, artichokes, etc.).

To conclude this “quick course” on paella, note that the fact that a paella is not the original Valencian Paella is not to say in any way that it is any less tasty. And as we say in Spain “para gustos los colores” (everyone has their own different tastes!) Moreover, in Barcelona, as we mentioned before, it is more common to eat Seafood Paella (my personal favourite :P) or even the Mixed Paella.

Having said that, not all cooked rice with different ingredients is a paella. Which is why you should go to a bar, restaurant or a restaurant specialising in seafood that works with the best quality ingredients and that makes proper paellas.

Have a starter with your Spanish paella

If the paella is made with fresh ingredients and is homemade and not with pre-prepared ingredients, then it is a dish that will take a while to cook. Which is why it is always recommended to order a starter to share whilst you wait for the paella to arrive.

It is most common to order a tapa or seafood starter, such as shellfish (clams, mussels, calamari, prawns, etc.). They are not usually large dishes, so you can stall your hunger without filling up too much whilst waiting for that long anticipated paella.

Seafood Paella in Barcelona

Where to eat the best paella in Barcelona?

There are many restaurants that specialise in making paella in Barcelona. Many of them can be found close to the beach, such as La Barceloneta along the waterfront and the rest of the coast in Barcelona. And if the restaurant has a terrace and the weather to go with it, we suggest you go for the terrace.

As Barcelona is a seaside city with a long fishing tradition, the most popular paella is definitely the Seafood Paella although it is, of course, also possible to find other types of paellas. Personally, I love to eat paella in La Barceloneta, as some of the authentic and historical restaurants located in the narrow and historic streets or even some in a more open space, have a terrace which sometimes offer a great view of the beach and waterfront.

But you can’t only find a great paella next to the sea, so if you find yourself in another part of Barcelona, don’t worry! As you’ll also get the chance to try a delicious paella.

Paella Experiences in Barcelona

To delve even further into the world of the paella, whether you live in Barcelona or are staying for a few days in the city, it’s a great idea to go to one of the paella experiences which allows you to watch and you can even make your own paella.

You can attend a cooking class at one of the many cooking spaces, where you can make a delicious paella under the supervision of a professional chef.

Fishermen of La Barceloneta

Visit Fishermen of La Barceloneta and taste the Seafood Menu


English language Guided tour and tasting

Barcelona Turisme

Boqueria Paella Cookery Workshop

Visit La Boqueria Market and Cook a Spanish Paella


English language Cooking class and La Boqueria Market guided visit

Barcelona Turisme

All these suggestions offer a unique way to have fun with friends, your partner or family (although you can also go by yourself, as I did a while ago) whilst you learn to cook one of the most famous and delicious dishes of our national cuisine. And, naturally after some time cooking and seeing the chef at work you finally get to taste the paella or rice dish. In my view, they are one of the most interesting gastronomic experiences and I highly recommend you to try it.

Best restaurants and “Marisquerías” in Barcelona for eating paella

It is impossible to name the bar, restaurant or “marisquería” (a restaurant specialising in seafood) where you can eat the best paella in Barcelona. This is because, fortunately, there are a lot of bars, restaurants and marisquerías in the city that offer an excellent paella, as well as other types of rice (personally I recommend you to try the delicious “arroz caldoso con bogavante” creamy rice with lobster).

When choosing what paella to try, you should also bear in mind the individual taste of each person in the group. So here you will find an extensive list and a map of the best places to eat a great paella. And if you are lucky enough to go to more than one of these restaurants, you can then decide which paella is the best ;).

pg. Joan de Borbó, 58-59
La Barceloneta
Terraza exterior
+ info
c/ de Sant Carles, 4
La Barceloneta
Histórico (desde 1903)
+ info
av. del Litoral, 62
Playa del Bogatell
Terraza con vistas a la playa
+ info
pl. del Sol, 13
Platos tradicionales cocina catalana
+ info
pg. Mare Nostrum, 19-21
Terraza con vistas al mar
Playa de San Sebastián
+ info
pg. Marítim
Terraza junto a la playa
La Barceloneta (Playa del Somorrostro)
+ info
pg. d’Isabel II, 14
Desde 1836. Terraza bajo los pórticos
La Ribera – Born (frontera La Barceloneta)
+ info
c/ de Capità Arenas, 27
+ info

c/ de l’Escar, 22 (muelle Pescadores)
Terraza con vistas al Port Vell
La Barceloneta
+ info
Pas de Sota Muralla, 7
La Ribera – Born (frontera La Barceloneta)
+ info
crta. de Miramar, 38 (Jardines de Miramar)
Terraza con vistas
Montaña de Montjuïc
+ info
c/ de Vila i Vilà, 71
Especialista en arroces
Poble Sec
+ info
muelle de Gregal, 7-10
Terraza junto al puerto
Puerto Olímpico
+ info
muelle de Gregal, 29-30
Junto al mar y con fantásticas vistas
Puerto Olímpico
+ info
c/ Reina Cristina de Barcelona, 6
Arroces, pescado y marisco
Port Vell
+ info
c/ Almirall Aixada, 23
La Barceloneta
Terraza con vistas a la playa
+ info
Pórticos Mercado Boqueria
El Raval
+ info
c/ de la Reina Cristina, 3
Marisquería desde 1944
La Ribera – Born (frontera La Barceloneta)
+ info
c/ de l’Argenteria, 37
Edificio histórico
La Ribera – Born
+ info
pg. Marítim
Terraza junto a la playa
La Barceloneta (Playa del Somorrostro)
+ info
c/ de l’Almirall Aixada, 5
Excelente comida casera
La Barceloneta
+ info
c/ Almirall Cervera, 34
Terraza con vistas a la playa
La Barceloneta
+ info
c/ de l’Almirall Churruca, 5
La Barceloneta
+ info
c/ de l’Almirall Aixada, 7
Desde 1908
La Barceloneta
+ info
c/ de Bordeus, 35 | c/ Torrent d’en Vidalet 26
Especialistas en arroces
Les Corts | Gràcia
+ info
pg. Joan de Borbó, 101
A los pies del hotel W Barcelona
La Barceloneta
+ info
c/ de Sant Carles, 23
La Barceloneta
Un local auténtico
+ info
c/ de Tamarit, 117
Sant Antoni
Especialistas en arroces
+ info

Map of best restaurants and marisquerías of Barcelona

Where to eat good paella outside of Barcelona?

In Catalonia, the area of las Terres de l’Ebre, touching the region of Valencia, is one of the best places to try an excellent paella, including the original Valencian Paella. Other areas that are essential for trying paella is the Costa Brava, in this case the seafood paella is definitely recommended and the area has some charming seaside towns.

Photo gallery

Paella traditions, recommendations and information

“Paella Parellada” or “Paella del Senyoret”

If you are reading the restaurant menu and you see “Paella Parellada” o “Paella del Senyoret” then don’t panic, it is not a strange paella recipe but refers to a seafood paella where all the seafood (prawns, lobster, mussels, etc.) have been peeled beforehand, making it easier for you to eat it. Because of this, the price is usually more expensive.

The paella for lunch or dinner?

In Spain you usually eat paella for lunch (and although many think that we eat paella every day the truth is we don’t. Paella is a special meal usually eaten at specific times such as meeting up with family, celebrating a special occasion, going to the seaside, etc.).

But don’t worry, there are many tourists that come to visit Barcelona and choose to eat paella for dinner and restaurants, especially those in the more central areas, are used to it and love to serve a paella at any time of the day, even at night ;).

Paella on sunday and thursday

As you have seen, the world of the paella is broad and varied in terms of each region. In Barcelona it is common, especially when the sunny weather begins, to go out and eat a paella with friends on a Sunday in one of the restaurants along the coast, or even at a nearby beach town.

Another tradition, is the so-called “Paella del Jueves” (Thursday Paella), a much cheaper version that is usually included on the “menú del día” (daily set menu) in many bars and restaurants. In these cases, it is quite common to go with work colleagues to eat out.

The lemon

When they serve you the paella, it will come with some lemon wedges. They are not just a mere garnish but are used to season the paella, although it is not compulsory to use them. So you will have to squeeze the lemon onto your dish to give it the final touch.

How much does a (good) Spanish paella cost?

Excellent question! Leaving aside the paellas that are found on the menu from any of the cheapest restaurants, the average price for a good paella at a specialised restaurant can vary between €15 and €22 per person (depending on the type of paella the price can vary slightly, the seafood paella being more expensive).

The paella is not exactly a cheap dish as it is made with high quality ingredients and takes a lot of work to make. This is why the paella is not an everyday dish.

Minimum two people

In restaurants (at least those that make proper paella or not the paella found on the Thursday menu which I mentioned previously) the paella is made for a minimum of two people (although the price shown is always per person).

To avoid

In the entrance of many restaurants you will see a poster with the photo of the paella written as “Paellador”. This is nothing less than a prepared paella and very little or nothing to do with an authentic Spanish paella that is made traditionally with fresh ingredients.

We also recommend you to avoid the typical restaurants, almost always located in very central places on the Rambla de Barcelona, where they have an offer showing: Paella + Sangría + Tapas for a certain price.

Obviously, I realise that you cannot generalise, but in the majority of cases these are places where you don’t get a very good paella. That is why in these restaurants it is (almost) impossible to find a local from Barcelona eating there.

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