Each time someone wants to visit Valencia and asks us where to eat a good paella, we’re at a loss, because obviously there’s no place like home to eat paella!
But we’re determined to give people the answer to their question, and we’ve decided we’ll try out restaurants to establish where to eat the best paella in Valencia.
Restaurante Navarro is one of the first ones that popped up in our research. It’s very central, very close to the town hall square, so it’s an obvious choice if you’re doing touristy things.
We started with the quite generous, house salad. It was fresh and crunchy, and had a lot of nice ingredients which tasted of what they should taste, not just indistinct vegetable matter 😋
Not pictured, we also ordered a bottle of “Las Ocho de Chozas Carrascal” wine, from Requena. This is a blend of eight varieties: Bobal, Monastrell, Garnacha Tinta, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and Merlot—specific amounts depending on the year, and it was really well balanced. Not too strong, not too fruity, not too tannic; it paired great with both the salad and the paella. I bet the almost 3 years of aging and maturing help the wine get its act together 😏
Our mains was the Valencian paella, which you have to pre-order (I just e-mailed a day or two before to confirm both the booking and what we wanted to eat).
This paella has chicken, and what shocks most people: rabbit; and what shocks even more people: snails!!
It also had a decent amount of vegetables and legumes (some restaurants are so miser in this department). The meat was nicely browned and easy to pull from the bone, and the vegetables were also flavourful. Seasoning and oiliness were both correct.
Overall, it was pleasant to eat, and I initially thought we wouldn’t, but we did finish it all 😂
But there were two details that felt unusual:
1) it had onion. Finely thinly diced onion, but we could feel it was there.
2) it was a touch too moist, like the rice was cooked, but it hadn’t finished evaporating. I suspect it was because the pan itself was not flat, and thus the water wasn’t evenly distributed. It was a pity because the flavour was really good in the driest parts, which had started to caramelise and develop the socarrat.
Then we had a pair of very old-fashioned looking desserts:
Devvers had the chocolate and pear tart, which came with vanilla ice cream, and a very decadent drip of chocolate and rococó crispy thing which reminded me to a peineta:
My decision was quick: I opted for the natillas con canela, or “custard with cinnamon” (cinnamon custard?), which is a classic Spanish old fashioned dessert.
Although I don’t agree with the choice of vessel (they’re traditionally served in shallower plates or ramekins, with a biscuit or something floating on top, soaking up the yumminess), it tasted exactly as it should taste and it made me very happy, as if I was just finishing off lunch at grandma’s…
… speaking of which, the grandma vibe was quite strong from our table, as we were next to the balcony, which was open for ventilation and also let us see a glimpse of the beautiful plants they grow. I really loved it!
The great advantage they have is that the street they’re in was pedestrianised some years ago, so you don’t get the constant noise of traffic, and thus you can keep the balcony open and get actual fresh air in, not a cocktail of fumes and pollution! They also have a terrace outside on the street, but we preferred to eat inside as it was “winter”.
Fun anecdote: when I was studying at uni, my bus used to very slowly work its way through this street on its way to the town hall square—it always felt like such a crawl! I’m not surprised they decided to pedestrianise it
The decor is quite neutral. I like that they didn’t go for the full “traditional Valencian” look of tiles with countryside motifs, as it can feel a touch fake after a while:
And interestingly, despite being pretty much full and the pared down decor devoid of heavy curtains and what have you, the restaurant felt so pleasantly quiet.
There was no loud music and the clatter of plates and crockery was nicely attenuated so it never felt like we were in a busy room. It genuinely made for a very enjoyable lunch, despite the fact that the paella wasn’t “perfect”.
Finally, the service was phenomenal: attentive, responsive, helpful, from the minute I sent the email to book to the moment we paid for the bill. They also wore their masks correctly, and without fussing with them every 2 seconds. Very professional.
Would I recommend it to people visiting? Yes!
If you want no stress, this is the place. We heard the waiters talk to guests in various languages —at least English and Italian— so they are well prepared. They also take bookings by email so you can communicate even if you’re not well prepared in conversational Spanish.
It also had a healthy amount of locals, which is a good sign (as in, people keep coming back, it’s not just catering for tourists). I could imagine my [older] relatives being very comfortable here, as it’s all “as it should be”, and the waiters are so attentive and respectful. Plus, they would be able to hear each other, which is always a plus for me!
The waiters also seemed to either like or not mind children too, if you travel with them. Overall, a welcoming place.
🥘 Paellometer: 7/10 — pleasant, but not perfect! (read above for: onion, uneven socarrat).
C/ Arquebisbe Mayoral, 5 (Arzobispo Mayoral, 5)