15 Dishes of Typical Valencian Food

Last Updated on July 6, 2022 by Helen E. White

As the third-largest city in Spain, Valencia attracts millions of tourists every year. Its sunny Mediterranean climate and its privileged location on the eastern coast of Spain make it an ideal place for holidays.

Typical Valencian Food

Exploring the local gastronomy is a must while you are there. Don’t leave without trying some typical Valencian food! (And yes, there is more to Valencia than its delicious paella!)

1. Paella

Paella, one of the best-known Spanish dishes abroad, originates from Valencia. Some paella purists even argue that it should only be eaten in Valencia, and not in the rest of Spain!

The wetlands near the Albufera lake in the region are ideal for growing rice, which the Arabs brought to Spain in the 8th century. Paella was originally cooked outdoors in giant pans over an open flame in the 18th century, as a simple, uncomplicated meal for laborers toiling in the fields. Its popularity began to grow in the mid-19th century, and the rest is history.

The traditional Valencian paella includes chicken, rabbit and local white beans called garrafó. But nowadays seafood, vegetarian and “mixed” paellas, which contain both meat and fish, are also popular.

Other typical additions are artichokes, lobster and even snails. And of course, the best paella always has a layer of crispy rice on the bottom, known as socarrat.

2. Fideua

The cousin of the seafood and noodle paella has its origins in a humble fisherman’s dish. The tender and perfectly cooked noodles have a spectacular flavor with additions of seafood such as monkfish, squid and shrimp, among others. It is one of the most typical foods in Valencia, and a great option if you don’t want to order paella.

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The Valencian city of Gandía is proud to be the birthplace of this tasty dish. Fideuá fans visiting the region in early summer can attend the annual fideuá cooking competition, a favorite local celebration in Gandia.

3. All I pebre

This delicacy is one of the favorites of the Valencians, and after trying it we are sure that you will see why. All i pebre is a stew containing pieces of eel and potatoes cooked over slow heat in a sauce that includes garlic, paprika and almonds.

It’s not as well known outside the region as other typical Valencian foods, but this hearty meal is one of the locals’ best kept secrets and a true hidden gastronomic gem.

A hot dish of all i pebre is the perfect way to warm up.

4. Arros a banda

Valencians love rice, and arròs a banda is one of their favorites.

But just to be clear: do not confuse this typical Valencian food with paella! In fact, this dish originated in nearby Alicante, where fishermen used the unsold fish to make the broth with which the rice was cooked.

Interestingly, rice and seafood are traditionally served separately in arròs a banda: the fish comes first, then the rice is served as a second course and topped with a portion of alioli.

5. Esgarraet

Although most fans of Spanish food do not usually consider tapas as a typical Valencian food, esgarraet is an exception to the rule. This tasty tapa includes strips of cod (salted cod) and roasted red peppers, both cut into thin strips. It is usually drenched in good quality olive oil, with plenty of bread on the side to soak up the abundant juices.

Tender roasted red peppers join appetizing cod in one of our favorite typical Valencian foods, esgarraet.

6. Bunyol’s

Don’t forget to save room for dessert! Bunyols are delicious fritters with a touch of pumpkin in the dough. Valencians usually snack on them during the famous Fallas festivities, in March, but we recommend that you enjoy them at any time of the year. This delicious appetizer is one of our favorite typical foods from Valencia.

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7. Horchata and Fartons

Many people have enjoyed a nice cool glass of horchata in summer, but many probably don’t know that this delicious vegan milk comes from Valencia.

Here we typically accompany it with fartons, a sweet bread glazed with sugar. It’s the perfect sweet breakfast or afternoon snack after a long day of sightseeing.

Horchata and fartons: a perfect pairing!

8. Nougat

This nougat-based sweet is enjoyed throughout Spain at Christmas, but it has its roots in Valencia. Nougat can be hard or soft, depending on whether the almonds used are kept whole or ground into a paste. With varieties of flavors such as chocolate, coconut, coffee and others, there is sure to be a nougat that satisfies everyone’s taste buds.

9. Pumpkin Custard

Pumpkin is a star ingredient in many typical foods in Valencia, more than anywhere else in Spain. One of its most delicious iterations is the pumpkin flan, which provides the perfect velvety texture that this classic dessert needs. It’s worth saving room for dessert when pumpkin flan is on the menu, regardless of how much paella you’ve had.

Delicious pumpkin flan served in a simple caramel syrup with berries.

10. Clochinas

With over 500 kilometers of sun-kissed coastline bordering the Mediterranean, it’s no wonder the Valencia region is home to so much incredible seafood. An example: clóchinas, or small local mussels that are unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. Try them at La Pilareta, the local favorite, for a truly authentic experience.

Nothing beats the simple pleasure of devouring a plate of clóchinas.

11. Bullit

Despite Valencia’s privileged location by the sea, it is quite cold in winter. And when that happens, there’s nothing like a plate of bullit (also known as boiled) that warms your soul. It is a simple stew of potato, onion, green beans and carrot, which is also a delicious vegetarian option.

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12. Coke

Coques are sweet or savory pastries that are enjoyed in much of the eastern coast of Spain. Being a flatbread with delicious ingredients, it’s easy to think of coca as pizza’s Valencian or Catalan cousin, and if that doesn’t convince you to try it, we don’t know what will.

13. Sobrasada

Listen to us: sobrasada is originally from the Balearic Islands, not from Valencia. But the proximity of the islands to the Valencian coast means that this delicious cold meat spread has become a staple of the local diet in Valencia as well. Similar in flavor to chorizo, sobrassada is an especially popular choice for topping toast at breakfast.

If you like chorizo, you will love sobrasada. Photo: Jonathan Pincas

14. Local Wine

If having wine as one of our favorite typical foods in Valencia is a mistake, we do not want to be right. The Valencian region is home to some of the most fantastic (and underrated) wines in Spain. Its appellations of origin include Valencia, Alicante, Utiel-Requena, and even some cava!

Catalonia is not the only place in Spain that makes amazing cava!

15. Oranges

Here in Spain, it is not uncommon to find fresh seasonal fruit as a dessert option on many restaurant menus. And since Valencia grows some of the best oranges in the country, it’s worth skipping over the more indulgent options to try them. If you can’t bear to go without sweets, don’t worry: Valencia’s famous oranges are also used to flavor everything from ice cream to flan.

And that’s it. We hope you have enjoyed getting to know the typical dishes of Valencia, Spain. It is a beautiful country with delicious food that you should try.

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