I recently returned to the good ol' US of A after studying abroad in Valencia, Spain for the spring semester. Although my main focus was learning the beautiful Castilian language (also known as Spanish, but did you know that numerous languages are spoken in Spain?), food was a close second priority. 

Valencia is the birthplace of paella and is a must-visit if you are searching for life-changing paella. But, in addition to having a plethora of restaurants for Spanish classics like paella, tapas, tortilla, and seafood, a diverse food scene has developed in this ever-growing, extremely livable urban center.  

With that, after a semester full of delicious eats and great drinks, I've put together the ultimate food guide to Valencia to guide you through your visit to this amazing city. ¡Buen provecho!

Cafes and Brunch

Valencia has no shortage of trendy brunch places to complement its numerous traditional Spanish cafés, so you'll always have a place to study or to brunch any day of the week. Here are some must-tries next time you are in Valencia:

1. Dulce de Leche

Cailin Diberto

Located in the up and coming neighborhood of RussafaDulce de Leche is one of the most popular cafés in Valencia, with a consistent line out the door at peak hours. But, the buzz is for good reason, and the wait is definitely worth it.

This café has a brunch deal where you can get a coffee, orange juice, breakfast sandwich, croissants, and yogurt for 7 euros. You can't beat that deal. Make sure to safe room for one of Dulce de Leche's mouth-watering slices of cake after brunch, and start your day off right.

2. Federal Café

toast, egg, avocado
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Nestled close to La Plaza de la Reina in Old Town, Federal Café was one of my most frequent brunch stops. Federal has a variety of familiar brunch classics like avocado toast, eggs benny, shakshuka, and banana Nutella French toast that are full of fresh ingredients and come in large portions.

The restaurant is open and has a modern feel, with plenty of space and high ceilings. At Federal, you'll leave feeling full and well-taken care of by the friendly staff and without a big hole in your wallet. 

#SpoonTip: Try the golden milk latte, made from almond milk, espresso, turmeric, and vanilla to venture away from your typical latte. 

3. La Ola Fresca

La Ola Fresca is my absolute favorite study spot and cafe in Valencia. Located in Benimaclet, a part of the city with small-town, local vibes 3 metro stops away from the city center, this cafe is run by a friendly English woman, Helen, who makes you feel like you're sitting in her kitchen.

In addition to cheap, quality coffee and juices, Helen offers breakfast treats and homemade lunches and dinners that change daily depending on what she's cooking that day. La Ola Fresca has mismatched furniture and decorations and shelves of books for reading, making it the perfect place to relax or to study in a friendly environment.

4. Bluebell Coffee

If you want a coffee spot that feels like you're sitting in someone's garden, then Bluebell Coffee is the place for you. This small cafe in Russafa serves up fantastic coffees and teas in an atmosphere that is hard to beat. Come here to study, to relax, or to chat with friends.

Bluebell offers a selection of homemade desserts like chocolate chip banana bread, vegan chocolate cake, and carrot cake that make the perfect match to their coffee. Don't forget to come for brunch and order their loaded avocado toast for only 5 euros. 

5. Almalibre Acaí Bar

Oh, how I miss Almalibre Acaí Bar. This trendy spot located in the haphazard, old streets of El Carmen serves up the best quality acaí bowls for the cheapest price that I've ever encountered. Their smallest size starts at 3.50 euros, the regular is only 5.50, and, even better, they even have a shareable bowl for just 11 euros. 

Almalibre is ideal for an energizing snack. Their acaí bowls are their signature items, but they also serve up homemade hummus, sandwiches, vegan burgers, cakes, and cocktails. You'll be back more than once, trust me.

6. La Tenda 1950

Drinking a café con leche while doing my translation homework at La Tenda 1950 really made me feel like a local. Their menu consists of the classic Spanish pastries, tostadas, coffees, and desserts, and the clientele consists mainly of locals from the neighborhoods surrounding their two locations. 

With their large space and abundance of natural light, La Tenda 1950 is an ideal place to quietly study in a comfortable space, translation homework not included.

7. El Mercado Central

Okay, I know that the Mercado Central isn't technically a café, but it is a necessity for this list. It is only open until 3 pm daily, so it fits best under this category.

Not only is the Mercado Central quintessentially Spanish, but it became one of my favorite places to go for breakfast. There are fresh fruit stands, cheese stands, and bakeries in every corner that allow you to fill up without spending too much. Don't forget a bottle of Valencian orange juice freshly squeezed right in front of you. 

8. Rawffee

Rawffee, a cafe focused on serving up organic and healthy foods, juices, and coffees, is located a street away from the busy shopping district of Calle Colón, making it the ideal spot to stop mid-shop and re-energize.

The vibes in Rawffee are a cool mix of industrial and earthy and make you forget about the bustling city blocks surrounding you. Everything is organic and affordable, and their juices are hard to beat anywhere else in Valencia. 

9. La Roda Espai

La Roda Espai is another place to go if you want to relax and study like a local Valencian. This quirky spot has a friendly staff and outdoor seating to complement it's phenomenal array of cakes and sandwiches. 

Bring some reading or a friend to chat with and settle in at La Roda Espai with some coffee and cake. Take my word and try the chocolate banana fudge pie. 

10. Bastard Coffee & Kitchen

Stepping into Bastard Coffee & Kitchen feels like stepping into a hipster restaurant in New York City. This place was a fan favorite among the other American students in my program due it's cool, industrial atmosphere, but mostly because of their menu full of familiar American classics.

Bastard serves up some of the best mac and cheese I've ever had, to complement an American brunch spread of Nutella pancakes, waffles, French toast, fried eggs, and more. This is definitely the place to brunch if you're hungover or missing the USA. 

Lunch & Dinner

Here's where we get serious. Valencia is brimming with restaurants that serve up quality classic Spanish dishes like paella and tapas, but also restaurants with excellent international cuisine. 

1. Tinto Fino Ultramarino

Tinto Fino Ultramarino has it all: spectacular food and wine, great prices, a fun atmosphere, live music, a friendly multilingual staff, and a convenient location in the heart of the city center. 

This tapas restaurant is exactly what you are looking for in a Spanish tapas dining experience. They offer an excellent array of meat and cheese boards, tapas, salads, desserts, and wines to pair. Come to Tinto Fino Ultramarino if you are new to Spanish cuisine and want an A+ first experience.

2. La Pappardella

sauce, tomato
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Even though this is Spain, La Pappardella knows how to create an authentic Italian meal. At this hotspot, you will mostly likely need a reservation. Their pasta is almost entirely made in house, and the dishes make you feel like you're sitting in Italy.

I recommend that each person you're dining with orders a different dish to allow you to try as much as possible. Don't forget to pair your pasta with a bottle of vino tinto (red wine) and one of their giant salads for one of the best meals you'll have in Valencia. 

3. La Riua

Looking for a paella dinner? Come to La Riua. This Valencian restaurant is about as Spanish as it can get, and they have the best paella I've tried throughout all of Valencia. The staff is very welcoming, and the restaurant is decorated with decorative plates all over the walls, really giving it a Spanish touch.

You have to order paella valenciana, the classic paella with rabbit, chicken, snails (sometimes), white beans and vegetables. Paella is usually charged per person, and paella valenciana is only 11.95 euros per person here, the cheapest I've found. Come to La Riua for a seriously authentic experience. 

4. La Finestra

La Finestra is the restaurant I visited most frequently during my stay in Valencia. Why, you ask? Because I never spent more than 5 euros, and the pizza is amazing.

The best thing about La Finestra, besides each pie being 1.20 euros and each beer being 1.60, is that you can't pick what kind of pizza you get. The chef makes whatever they feel like making, and it's served to you, so you get some really creative combinations. Grab some friends and go to La Finestra for beers and pizza at the best price. 

5. Saona

Saona's philosphy is "friendly coffee and food," and this is obvious. If you walk by any of their locations at any time of day, Saona is full of hungry diners. They offer a fresh mix of both Mediterranean cuisine and Spanish tapas.

Saona's menus are set prices, and include 3 courses with a drink, with the lunch and dinner menus set at 9.90 and 12.90 respectively. To add to their appeal, they even have a celiac menu, so Saona is sure to deliver a positive experience.   

6. Taberna Jamón Jamón

When you're in the mood for some meats, cheeses, and red wine, I will always recommend Taberna Jamón Jamón. This place is a meat-lovers dream. 

They have platters of Iberian ham, chorizo, and cheeses that pair perfectly with a glass of red wine. Follow that with their most popular entree, the entrecote, and you've got yourself the carnivore's ideal Spanish meal (sorry, vegetarians). 

7. Mood Food

Mood Food is a small restaurant that takes a lighter, modern twist on tapas. This is the kind of place to dine at if you are looking for creative, fun presentation that matches the quality of flavor.

Because it's small, be sure to make a reservation. Order their whimsically presented patatas bravas, and be sure to try one of their tartars for the full Mood Food experience. 

8. Restaurante Ana Eva

Restaurante Ana Eva is a gourmet vegetarian restaurant that pleases vegetarians, vegans, and omnivores all around. Located in El Carmen, Restaurante Ana Eva serves up croquettes, salads, curries, crepes, tofu dishes and more that are not only high-quality, but nutritious and beautifully presented.

To give your body a break from pastries, churros and meats that are so common in Spain, head to Restaurante Ana Eva for a meal that you, and your body, will appreciate. 

9. Restaurante Navarro

Look no further than Restaurante Navarro for the best seafood paella you'll find in Valencia. This restaurant is constantly full of locals, so you know that it's good.

Not only are their paellas the highest quality, but their seafood dishes, like grilled squid, prawns, and mussels are cooked perfectly. Restaurante Navarro is definitely the kind of place to bring your parents when they are in town visiting. 

10. Kuzina

Spanish people eat Greek food too, and, at Kuzina, they know how it's done. This tiny restaurant has about 6 tables and is the size of the kitchen in my childhood home. 

Everything on Kuzina's menu would be approved by a Greek, and the only thing I can pronounce is "pita." Be sure to order the classics like moussaka, spanakopita, gemista, and the dolmades, or stuffed grape leaves (my favorites), to feel like you're on a trip to Greece. 

Desserts & Treats

It's safe to set your expectations high for these sweet spots in Valencia, from prize winning gelato to gourmet cakes to Valencian classics, here are some sweet treats to make your trip even better than it is already sure to be:

1. Horchatería Santa Catalina

Horchata is a refreshing, healthy Valencian beverage made primarily from tiger nuts, water, cinnamon, and sugar. It is made into a milky consistency and has a very distinct flavor.

Horchatería Santa Catalina is the oldest and most famous horchatería in Valencia. They serve up fresh, homemade horchata with fartons, a sugary, airy Valencian pastry that are meant to be dipped in horchata. Horchatería Santa Catalina provides one of the sweetest Valencian experiences to be found around the city. 

2. Heladería Véneta

You don't have to go to Italy to have life-changing gelato. Heladería Véneta won first prize for best gelato in Spain and was a finalist in the world gelato tour. The flavor that brought Véneta their fame is called "Grandma's Cookies," and I can vouch: it deserves the first place.

This flavor tastes exactly like it's name is called and has pieces of cookie and chocolate cream in the creamy gelato. I went here countless times and was always sure to order it as at least one of my flavors. Véneta, I will be back. 

3. La Más Bonita

Although they serve food, La Más Bonita really takes the cake (literally) with their homemade cakes and cheesecakes. Ranging from "chocorgasm" to pineapple coconut carrot to pumpkin cheesecake, your hardest decision of your day will be picking just one.

Visit their location in Russafa or at the beach, but be sure to bring a crowd so you can try as many (giant) slices as possible at La Más Bonita

4. Chocolatería Valor

This is Spain, and, obviously, you have to eat churros and chocolate. Chocolatería Valor is the ultimate place in Valencia for high quality churros and chocolate.

Located in Plaza de La Reina, Valor has an extensive menu of different types of dipping chocolates, crepes, ice cream, and other treats, but you can never go wrong with churros and chocolate. The churros are huge and doughy, and the chocolate is creamy and flavorful. Valor is a true chocolate lover's heaven.

5. La Petite Brioche

If you are in the mood for something sweet but can't decide quite what it is, head to La Petite Brioche. This cafe serves a variety of cakes and sweet treats, including cronuts, Nutella stuffed croissants, stuffed donuts, and giant brownies.

La Petite Brioche is not afraid of big portions. When I walk into their beautiful building, I get a feeling of contentedness that accompanies my hungry eyes and stomach. 

6. Món Orxata

Món Orxata (orxata is the way to spell horchata in the language of valenciano) is another must-try to get the full experience while in Valencia. There are two locations in Valencia, but they have small carts stationed all around the city selling horchata, making it easy to be tempted to buy it every day.

You can get traditional, chocolate, strawberry, sugar free and more to really customize your horchata experience. Be sure to exercise control when you walk by 3 Món Orxata carts in 1 day. 


You will have absolutely no problem finding a place to have a beer in Valencia, with small local bars and cafés on every street corner. However, be sure to hit these places for more unique Valencian experiences. 

1. Café Berlin

Café Berlin was my absolute favorite place to go for drinks. Located in Russafa, a neighborhood pumping with nightlife, this bar has dark lighting and whimsical vibes that really make the experience.

The bartenders are very friendly, and they make the best drinks in Valencia, maybe in Spain. Their mojito is probably the best I've ever had and their margarita deserves a moment of silence. Going to Café Berlin is never a mistake any night of the week. 

2. El Cafetín

If you haven't heard of agua de Valencia, you need to go El Cafetín right now and order one. Agua de Valencia is essentially a deadly good mimosa, made with cava (or champagne), orange juice, a shot of gin, a shot of vodka, and sugar. Let's just say one is enough.

El Cafetín makes the best and strongest agua de Valencia in Valencia. The walls are purple, and their decorations are old-timey, with mannequins with flapper dresses, old lamps and posters. You won't get this drink or experience anywhere else but Valencia. 

3. Espit Chupitos

Espit Chupitos is a shot bar that really takes things seriously, offering more than 600 types of shots and drinks. The shots are 2 euros each, and have names like "The Monica Lewinsky," "What Happened?," "Bob Marley," and "Topless."

If you are looking to start your way off in the most entertaining way possible, make your way to Espit Chupitos. You will certainly not be disappointed. 

4. Ubik Cafe

Ubik Cafe doubles as a bar and a library: all of the walls are covered with books in many different languages. Depending on the day, Ubik hosts live music, poetry readings, and language exchanges.

This cafe is the kind of place that you relax while having a drink, and maybe even read while doing so. Swing by Ubik at any time of day for a unique and refreshing experience. 

5. Tasquita La Estrecha

I first stumbled upon Tasquita La Estrecha when walking through Old Town and realized how skinny the building was. I got a closer look and realized that its the narrowest building in Europe

Tasquita La Estrecha, which essentially translates to the narrow bar, is right next door and serves up great cocktails and tapas at good prices.

This place is usually decently crowded, and the seating is almost entirely outdoors, making it perfect to have drinks and tapas on a nice day. All the while admiring how skinny the building is.  

6. Portland Ale House

Portland Ale House resembles a dingy, cool American bar. That may be because the owner is American and, if you hadn't guessed already, from Portland, Oregon.

This spot is always full of Spaniards and Americans alike, all looking to fill up on good beers and big American dishes like nachos, burgers, and baskets of fries. Portland Ale House should be your go-to to begin the night, watch a sports game or settle into a booth with friends.

7. Red Cup

Speaking of American-themed bars, Red Cup is a must visit. Located in Russafa, Red Cup is always full of locals during happy hour, from 5-9 pm, to enjoy 1 euro beers out of red solo cups and discounted food. Yep, this is for real; the entire bar is based off American culture.

The red cups are the best part, but all of the food is American, like hot dogs, cheese fries, burgers, and Cobb salads. There are American flags everywhere and American music playing. Red Cup not only provided me with cheap beers, but a mix of both laughter at the ridiculousness of the place and nostalgia. 

If you haven't booked your trip to Valencia yet, you better get going. Although this food guide highlights many of the numerous establishments in Valencia, there are hundreds of others with quality food, prices, and atmospheres, so you will never have a dull meal.

Not only is Valencia full of fantastic food and nightlife, but it is full of rich culture. A city of both modernity and antiquity, Valencia is home to The City of Arts of Sciences, which has the biggest aquarium in Europe, ancient ruins, and even has the Holy Grail in its Cathedral.

I could go on forever about this wonderful city, but you will just have to visit yourself, and don't forget to visit these foodie hotspots to experience the true Valencia experience.