Paella is one of the most representative dishes of Spanish gastronomy and in recent decades it has spread all over the world, becoming one of the most important dishes on the planet. Where to eat authentic paella?


Where is paella from? Paella is a dish originating from Valencia (Spain). Its main ingredient is round rice, bomba rice is particularly recommendedand. It is usually accompanied by different products such as chicken, seafood, pulses and other foods.

Paella is made in a container known as a “paella”, as the term “paellero” is not liked by Valencians. For the Valencians, the term “paellero” refers to a traditional mixture of spices with saffron to give flavour and colour to the recipe.


Paella is undoubtedly one of the most representative dishes of Spanish gastronomy, especially Valencian. In fact, on 9 November 2021 it was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest, and is on its way to becoming Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

 The origin of its name is said to come from Latin, specifically from the word “patella” which means frying pan.

According to experts, this dish emerged in the rural areas of Valencia between the 15th and 16th centuries and arose due to the need of peasants and shepherds for a meal that was easy to prepare and with the ingredients they could gather from the field. The peasants used to eat it in the afternoon.

How is paella made? Originally, the ingredients were poultry, rabbit or hare, fresh seasonal vegetables, rice, saffron and olive oil. All these ingredients were mixed in the “paella” with water and orange branches, and cooked over a slow, wood fire.

Throughout the 20th century, the popularity of this traditional Spanish dish grew so much that today it is known all over the world and we can be found in restaurants in eastern and western restaurants. This popularity has led to transformations in the original Valencian paella recipe, for example, in coastal areas seafood and fish began to be added. This led to the creation of different paella recipes such as “paella del senyoret” or “paella mixta”.

This humble Valencian dish has crossed all borders and is in the top 5 most important dishes on the planet with 8 million annual searches on the internet.


  • International Valencian paella competition in Sueca:

The beginnings of this competition date back to 1961 and it’s recognised as the “rice festival”. This festival began to gain importance and in only 5 years it was classified as a festival of tourist interest.

In 1990 the competition opened its doors to international contestants and was extended to the international level.

Today it is a prestigious international Valencian paella competition in Sueca, which is held in the Spanish town of Sueca (a rice-growing town in Spain), whose municipal district is largely dedicated to rice cultivation. It consists of a culinary competition in which a Valencian paella is made using certain parameters and ingredients.

Latest winners:

– Rogelio Castañón and Alfonso Ovalle , 2022.

– Óscar de las Fuentes and Javier Hernández , 2021.

– David Domingo , 2019.


  • World Paella Day Cup:

This competition is held year after year in Valencia, during the month of September, coinciding with the rice harvest. The International Paella Day is a recognition of the most universal dish of Valencian gastronomy. It is a day on which Valencians share their great dish with the rest of the world in order to celebrate the international nature of paella.

Before the competition, a pre-selection takes place, where last year 50 aspirants from 20 different countries took part.

The competition takes place in the Marina de Valencia, where ten chefs from around the world compete for the World Paella Day Cup: the prize for the best paella in the world prepared by an international chef.

Latest winners:

– Eric Gil, 2022.

– Noelia Pascual, 2021.

– Chabe Soler, 2020.


RESTAURANTS renowned for their paellas in Spain.

Where to eat the best paella? In Spain we can find the best paellas in the world as it is one of the most representative dishes of our gastronomy, but there is a great debate about which is the fundamental recipe. Debating about paella is a very difficult subject, and it can generate even more clashes than that of the omelette with or without onion.

According to public opinion and the opinions of Michelin chefs, we are going to break down the Top 5 best paellas in Spain, where you can live the paella experience:


  1. Casa Elías (Chinorlet, Alicante).

For many it has been the best paella year after year. Casa Elías is considered, along with Paco Gandía, the best place in Spain for paella.

It is a house with a long family history located in a municipality in Alicante and which has been able to adapt to the present day without losing its roots. Its speciality is rice dishes, although it also offers typical dishes. Its star dish is rice with rabbit and wood-fired snails.


  1. Paco Gandía (Pinoso, Alicante).

This is a traditional village tavern where Paco Gandía and his wife Josefa have been preparing perfect rice dishes for more than 30 years, of which the rice with rabbit and snails cooked over firewood is worth mentioning, as in the previous case.


  1. Berlanga Restaurant (Madrid).

José Luís García Berlanga opened his restaurant in the Retiro area (Madrid) a couple of years ago and today it is already consecrated as the capital’s rice temple. In this restaurant you can find the best paella in Madrid.

From the well-known Berlanga’s restaurant it is worth mentioning the arroz abanda and above all the arroz al senyoret, a favourite of many diners.


  1. Quique Dacosta (Denia, Valencia).

Quique Dacosta with 3 Michelin stars has a well-known restaurant in Denia, where his dry rice dishes stand out (arroz abanda socarrat, rice with peas and cuttlefish eggs…), unconventional dishes that maintain their essence and the roots of the paella culture. Here you can enjoy the best paella in Valencia.


  1. Casa Carmina (El Saler, Valencia).

This restaurant is located in the Albufera Natural Park , and to talk about the Albufera is to talk about rice.

Here we can find different types of rice, both seafood and garden rice. From lobster or cuttlefish and artichoke paella to monkfish and mushroom rice dishes.


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