You can’t leave Spanish territory without having tapas. While Valencia is famous for its paella (you can read my blog here), it also has a number of impressive tapas restaurants to offer. Whilst paella is a favourite lunch time option, for evenings and everything in-between, it was tapas all the way.
Our recent trip to Valencia presented the perfect opportunity to go tapas bar crawling! Whilst some places were recommended to us by friends or colleagues, some we discovered on our way or stumbled upon by chance.
Below were some of my memorable eats:
Croquette selection at Taberna Jamon Jamon
Situated in the Old Town area – and a stone’s throw away from La Lonja and Mercado Central – is a little tapas restaurant called Jamon Jamon. It was recommended to us by a friend and it did not disappoint. It is a fairly modern looking establishment set on two floors. One of the tapas we had here was this selection of four different types of croquettes.
The four types included squid and cod with fresh garlic, blood sausage with sweet onion, Idiazabal cheese (a Basque speciality) and Iberian ham. The fish croquette was delicately cooked, balancing well with the dense, meaty black pudding. The salty ham contrasted neatly with the comforting cheese. In one dish, I was introduced to a kaleidoscope of Spanish flavours and ingredients perfectly complementing each other – definitely a scrumptious moment!
More information on Jamon Jamon and its delicious tapas can be found here
Entrana in La Otra Parte
La Otra Parte was another recommendation from the same friend who recommended Jamon Jamon to us. This one is situated near Valencia beach (Playa Malvarossa), in an area called El Cabanyal which is an old sea village. The atmosphere at La Otra Parte was very bohemian, underground and edgy. Of the many dishes we tried here, the one that stood out most for me was the Entrana – Argentinian meat with chimichurri sauce. The steak served on a bed of crispy fries, was cooked perfectly, generously drizzled with the tangy chimichurri sauce. Besides the obvious reason that I am an ardent meat lover, the flavours of this dish gave me a subtle nudge to explore the Basque region of Spain next.
More information on the tasty dishes of La Otra Parte can be found here
Brandada de Bacalao y pimientos Asados in La Vaca Verde
We discovered La Vaca Verde by chance, and it was a match made in heaven. Of my many favourite tapas from this place was this dish which is a preparation of dried salted cod with potatoes, olive oil and roasted peppers. I absolutely loved this dish. The fish was not too strong and the crispy skin gave a crunchy texture and bite.
A quick mention here about La Vaca Verde: It is located next to Mercado de Mosen Sorell, and is a relatively new entrant (two months old) to the Valencian tapas scene. It is run by two brothers who originally hail from the Canary Islands, but have travelled around the world before jointly opening this cute tapas joint in the old part of Valencia. They bring their Canary Island heritage and global influences to their food. Here you will find tapas with a twist, paired alongside beers sourced from international breweries. Highly recommended.
Morcilla de burgos with Cebola Confitada in La Vaca Verde
As a massive black pudding fan, this dish was to die for. Morcilla De burgos is a type of Spanish black pudding with rice and hints of cumin. The rice adds a different texture to the dense meat. It came served on a bed of caramelised onions, which imparted a subtle sweetness in contrast to the savoury meatiness of the black pudding. It could easily be paired with some Huevos Rotos (broken eggs on potatoes) and you have a complete meal!
Papas arrugadas con mojo canario in La Vaca Verde
Those who know me know my passion for potatoes. This astounding dish is made of baked potatoes with a spicy homemade ‘red’ sauce- a Canary Island speciality. The sauce was a perfect accompaniment to the soft baked potatoes. It was simple yet absolutely delicious. Everything about this dish was about big, clean, bold flavours.
Grilled octopus in La Vaca Verde
We loved La Vaca Verde so much that we went back to it on our last day in Valencia to end our foodie trip on a high note. This dish was the daily special on that day – Grilled Octopus. It rested on a bed of cooked potatoes and onions. The octopus was tender and succulent, perfectly cooked with the onions and potatoes giving this dish some body and depth. The flavours were mild but the textured octopus elevated this dish to a whole new level.
More information on this new and exciting tapas bar can be found here
Horchata and Fartons at Horchateria Santa Catalina
We couldn’t leave Valencia without trying their famous Horchata with Fartons on the side. The Horchata (Orxata in Catalan) is a traditional drink originating from Valencia, made from tiger nuts and is consumed ice cold! It is the perfect refresher in the blistering Valencian summers.
Fartons are small, cylindrical shaped pastries that you dip into the Horchata. We expected them to be a quite solid (like eclairs), but they turned out to be soft (almost like a feather light croissant) and melted in your mouth almost instantly. They were sweet but paired well with the nutty horchata. You can easily gobble up couple of these in one sitting without feeling too full.
Horchateria Santa Catalina is a Valencian institution, steeped in the culture and history of the city. We couldn’t think of a better place to try this Valencian drink sitting amongst the locals.
More information on Horchateria Santa Catalina can be found here
Almost all the dishes we tried in Valencia were delicious. The Spanish are big on flavours so every plate was a unique gastronomic adventure in itself. We did not forget to try the classics (patatas bravas, padron peppers) alongside the more innovative ones.
However, at the end, it was the dishes that we took a chance on that truly won our hearts the most.