A simple rice dish said to have been made by servants with the leftovers from royal banquets in Moorish Spain, paella is easily Spain’s most famous culinary export and tourists devour it by the pan.
But don’t pick up the fork just yet!
There’s a lot of pricey pre-made paella fleecing tourists daily.
Allow me to point you in the right direction – here are some tips for the best paella in Barcelona.
7 Tangy Tips for Eating Paella in Barcelona
- Spaniards eat dinner at around 10 so you probably won’t need a reservation around 8/830.
- Prices on menus are usually per person (minimum two people).
- Paella is traditionally eaten on Thursday so restaurants may be more crowded then.
- The soccarat (‘singed stuff’) or toasted rice at the bottom of the pan contains the most flavour.
- Avoid picture menus! Many Barcelona paella restaurants like this serve it previously frozen.
- Bomba rice can be swapped for fideua noodle, one of Catalonia’s classic dishes.
- Learn how to cook it yourself at a unique culinary workshop with bottomless wine!
The Best Paella Restaurants in Barcelona
This affordable paella restaurant covers all the bases. Take one bite of their made to order mixed paella (a type of ‘surf and turf’) and you’ll know it’s their specialty dish.
There’s also meat, seafood, and vegetarian options.
It’s got the friendliest waiters in the city and is ideal for a bustling local atmosphere. If you want to eat, drink, and be merry as they do in Spain this is my suggestion.
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UPDATE: I’ve worked out a deal with Bodega Joan to offer readers an exclusive 25% discount on a paella tasting menu including three classic Spanish tapas plus wine and coffee.
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The Paella Club
Why not eat top quality paella in Barcelona that you made yourself under the guidance of a top chef?
The slick decor, fancy aprons, and Masterchef-like work stations may make this look a TV competition but I assure you this experience is all about learning how to cook a gourmet version of Spain’s iconic dish – without pretense.
Did I mention it’s 5 courses and bottomless wine with one of the desserts being a frozen gin and tonic?
For more info on the workshop that’s got a 5 star rating on Tripadvisor check out my Paella Club page.
Some of the best paella in Barcelona with a sea view to match.
It’s right on the beach so you won’t have to walk far after a day in the sun. Seafood lovers will marvel in its famous paella negra (paella with squid ink) but careful! Be careful with the generous portions to make sure you have room for dessert.
Reservations are a must or you’ll be waiting at least 30 minutes.
Ideal for a post beach meal or romantic night out.
Here it’s all about old world charm.
Picasso was a regular at this classic Barcelona paella restaurant opened in 1836. Named after the spacious restaurant’s seven entrance doors, it’s not only home to some of the best paella in Barcelona but the piano players create a Casablanca-like vibe to add an impeccable touch of class to the meal.
Ideal for a couple’s night out or business trips on the company card, it’s a tad pricey.
HOTEL RESTAURANT LA CIUDADELA
This new entry on the list made it not just for the quality of the paella, but for the different rice specialties available for people who don’t like fish (wait, who doesn’t?).
The duck paella really hits it out of the park here. You’ll also love the appetizers like their melt in your mouth bellota ham. There’s also some amazing shrimp carpaccio if you just have to have seafood.
The two medium-sized dining rooms have a family atmosphere ideal for groups.
The Catalan wine list is also one of the best in the city if you want to sample local vineyards.
Finally, a Barcelona paella restaurant outside the tourist nonsense.
This family-run gem is something to behold – they recommend the house special paella de mar y montaña (surf and turf paella). It’s a menu apt for celiacs – all the fried food is battered in gluten-free chickpea flour.
The entire menu is allergen sensitive so whether you’re celiac, lactose intolerant, or vegetarian you know you’re playing it safe.
Ideal for a night out in the picturesque Gracia district or a low-key family dinner.
Their slogan is ‘Rice and Sea’ – enough said.
This so-called urban beach restaurant in tourist central at Barceloneta beach is overseen by double Michelin starred chef Xavier Pellicer. It naturally serves some of the best paella in Barcelona – just make sure you get a seat in the upstairs dining room because the view from there is incredible.
Expect to pay 30-35 euros, which is a great price-quality ratio for the neighbourhood. The organic vegetable paella is a great vegetarian option.
Ideal for beach lovers and people watching.
With great prices usually reserved for previously frozen paella, this Barcelona paella restaurant offers ridiculous lunch menu specials that’ll have you full for about a tenner a head. They’re also one of the few places with a full kids menu.
It’s a stone’s throw from the famous Rambla but don’t let the touristy appearance fool you – locals chow down here daily. The traditional paella valenciana (paella with rabbit and chicken) is a favourite.
Ideal for bargain hunters and those ready for a night out in the Gotico.
This place has been recommended to me by more than one local – if you don’t trust them then I can only say that a hundred years of history doesn’t lie! It’s a bit pricey because of the location but the big portions and Master-chef-like presentation are second to none.
A little place occupying a two story house that’s a real throw-back to a time when Barcelona was more than tourism. The owner came by for a chat which was a personal touch not seen in more touristy options.
Ideal for a bit of real Barcelona with a modern touch.
I said at the top that most places serve paella for a minimum of two people: so I’m putting Arume because it’s the best place to eat paella for one in Barcelona.
If you’re dining alone or simply with somebody who doesn’t want rice this is a great shout. You’ll have a choice between Galician seafood paella or duck paella with padron peppers.
It’s also a fantastic tapas restaurant in its own right. Here you’ll find a modern execution of classic Galician dishes with eye-catching presentation.
Do yourself a favour and grab the crunchy octopus and a blackberry mojito.
Please Bother Me in the Comments
You now know where to get the best paella in Barcelona but maybe something isn’t quite clear? If you need help on paella or any of the best things to do in Barcelona then get at me in the comments below with any questions.
And don’t be afraid to join the paella discussion by first giving me a like on Facebook and then joining my group I’m Off to Barcelona – here you can ask any questions, air out grievances, and chat with thousands of Barcelona travelers.
And don’t forget to let me know… how was your Barcelona paella experience?