La Pepica is a Valencian institution, which is why I have decided to dedicate an entire blog post towards it. Nearly everyone we met recommended this place to us, which is the reason we visited twice during our stay in Valencia.
Valencia is the birth place of paella – the famous Spanish rice dish. Ever since setting foot into this city, I have dreamt of nothing else but heaps of hot, tasty, flavoursome rice with chunks of lightly spiced fish or seafood!
Paella is a lunch time speciality. It is recommended that you always go for restaurants that take their time with the paella as it ensures it is being freshly prepared. Paella in La Pepica is also made fresh to order, so expect a 30-40 minute wait. The restaurant is tucked away at one end of the Playa de Malvarossa – a promenade of popular beach front restaurants on the Malvarossa beach.
The first time we visited La Pepica, we tried their signature paella with a tongue twister of a name – the Paella Pepica (try saying that several times in quick succession!).
Not to be confused with Paella Marisco (which is entirely seafood), this one is made with fish and peeled seafood. My mouth still salivates at the thought of this dish. The chunky pieces of deeply, flavoursome fish almost stole the limelight away from their glamorous cousins – the seafood. It is very much a La Pepica speciality.
The second time we visited, we tried Valencia’s signature dish – the Paella Valenciana. This comes cooked with rabbit, chicken and green beans. The chicken was tender and moist, with subtle, slightly sweet, gamey flavours coming through from the rabbit.
The paella portions are fairly substantial at La Pepica (minimum for two to share), so you don’t need much else besides a side salad. In both instances, the rice was delicious, beautifully cooked and mildly spiced with saffron and paprika. The chefs had put their heart and soul into the preparation of the food which was evident in the taste.
The service at La Pepica was prompt, professional and friendly. It was busy but at no point did we feel rushed. It seems they have a lot of staff at hand, which is not surprising considering it has the capacity of almost 500 covers. You can admire the chefs in the open kitchen furiously busy with the piling lunch time orders and juggling various sized paella pans!
This is a popular lunch time restaurant so arrive by 12:30 pm to get a table outside. If you arrive after 2pm, you will only manage to secure a seat indoors. We booked our table in advance just to be on the safe side but there were plenty of walk-ins as well who got a table after a 15-20 minute wait. Both times we were lucky to get a table on the terrace overlooking the sea and beach.
The interiors of La Pepica are a mixture of blue walls, light wood furniture and table covers in pastels of white and soft pink. All around you, the walls are proudly covered with dark wooden framed pictures of famous and important personalities that have dined in La Pepica over the years.
The whole place has a air of nostalgia about it; a celebration of a timeless classic.
If you happen to be in Valencia, I urge you not to leave without dining at least once in the iconic La Pepica which is very much a significant part of the culinary heritage of the city!
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