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The aroma of garlic and onions simmering in flavorful olive oil, the rice caramelizing into socarrat (the crunchy bits on the bottom of the pan), the rich seafood or meat, the saffron -- all the wonderful things that make paella sing in your mouth. Paired with a great Catalonian wine or chilled Cava, it is a dish to please every tasty desire.

Paella was created in Valencia and is now thought of as the national dish of Spain. It is ubiquitous in Barcelona. However, to have great paella, you need to look past the restaurants that post pictures of their dishes out front with a waiter beckoning you to have a seat. Pass on the tourist traps where the paella is most likely authentic, but often frozen and reheated.

To experience the full-flavor, best paella in Barcelona, try one of the establishments below. You may end up having to find room for a paella pan in your suitcase!

Making paella at The Paella Club in Barcelona.
Sandi Barrett

The Paella Club

Here the paella is made to order -- by you! Don an apron, pick a partner, and start cooking. The Paella Club is owned and operated by two chefs who teach guests how to craft a true Spanish paella. This paella-cooking class in Barcelona will not disappoint.

Each couple or pair will make either a mushroom, seafood, or chicken paella. With step-by-step instructions and assistance from the chef, you will learn how to create the classic, mouthwatering dish. When finished, all the guests gather around a large family-style farm table and share their gourmet creations, lots of fun stories, and plenty of laughs. Cava, wine, and additional chef-crafted dishes are included.

The club is situated in a neighborhood off La Rambla amongst hip local bars where Catalonian is the language of choice -- sprinkled with English and Spanish. One of the truest ways to experience a country’s culture is through cooking and enjoying the local cuisine. With flowing Cava and cooking shenanigans, this will be a highlight of your trip to Barcelona.

Lunch and dinner paella cooking classes are offered. Reservations are required!

7 Portes Restaurant

Serving customers since 1836, 7 Portes Restaurant is a Barcelona staple. Because it is so famous, it can be a little touristy -- but in a good way. The menu changes seasonally and always includes paella.

Dining at 7 Portes is a complete sensory experience. You’ll be wrapped in a posh setting with old wood paneling and hand-crafted Spanish tiles while dining on the house specialty, traditional Paella Parellada, loaded with chicken, pork, and seafood.

7 Portes is on the more expensive side. It is perfect for a special occasion, or that one night out when you want to dress up and paint the town. They serve some of the best paella in Barcelona; you will enjoy every forkful.

Kiosk Universal De La Boqueria

The Mercat de Sant Josep de La Boqueria is the market in the Ciudad Vieja district of Barcelona. It is a mecca for foodies looking for a fix without breaking the bank. Kiosk Universal de la Boqueria is located at Stand 691. At the kiosk, you sit at the bar and watch the chef prepare the ingredients you handpick! Their seafood paella, a house specialty, will soothe your soul, fuel your body, and tantalize your taste buds.

Situated between La Rambla and Placa Gardunya, la Boqueria is a collection of food purveyors and unique shopping experiences. Visit for lunch, some shopping, and an immersive Catalonian experience. La Boqueria is a fun place to spend a few hours shopping and sampling wonderful local delicacies.

Xirinquito Escriba

The Barceloneta district is the place to see and be seen on a beautiful sunny day. The long, sandy beach is dotted with surfers, volleyball enthusiasts, and sun-worshipers playing in the soft sand and high surf. The walkway offers private clubs, small necessity shops, and inviting cafes.

When it’s time for a bite, check out Xiringuito Escriba. Located right on the beach, they are known for their paella negra (paella with squid ink). The prices are reasonable considering you are literally sitting steps from the sand. By the way, the view is amazing.

Barraca

Also located right on the beach in Barceloneta is Barraca. Their website is minimalist, but the food is certainly not. The paella is traditional and mouthwatering.

Sip a sangria while seated at a beachside table, or request a seat in the upstairs dining room where the panoramic view is as sumptuous as the meal.

L’Arrosseria Xativa

Proper paella is traditionally served with a wooden spoon. You will find many proper Catalonian dishes at L’Arrosseria Xativa. With three locations in Barcelona, there will be one close to you. Their specialty is paella and other rice-based dishes, so you know it will be done right.

This family-run restaurant is allergy sensitive and dishes can easily be made vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free. It is the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing dinner where you can bring the entire family.

Can Sole

Founded in 1903, Can Sole is the real deal. They have an entire section of their menu dedicated to rice dishes. Frequented by locals and a few in-the-know tourists, this charming restaurant has great food at reasonable prices.

You will feel like you stepped into a classic movie set in turn-of-the-century Spain. White linens, properly set tables, and framed photos covering the walls set the tone for what will be a memorable dining experience.

Bodega Joan

If you find yourself hungry in the Eixample District, visit Bodega Joan. The bodega is a pub-style neighborhood restaurant with excellent food, European football, and pocketbook-friendly prices. You will be surrounded by locals enjoying traditional eats. Don’t let the relaxed atmosphere fool you; the food is perfection.

La Fonda

In El Gotico (the Gothic District), there are many great restaurants. La Fonda is one of them.

Expect fabulous dining. The Paella Senorito is perfect for the diner who doesn’t want to play with their food. In a senorito, all the seafood has been peeled and the bones have been removed from the meat, making it a knife-and-fork-friendly experience.

Tips For Indulging In The Best Paella

Paella is traditionally served family style with an order for a minimum of two people. Prices on the menu may be per person, so be sure to ask if it is unclear. Menus in English may not be on the table, but will usually be produced promptly when requested.

Spaniards tend to dine late; therefore, you will need reservations if you want to dine after 8 p.m. Many restaurants close at 4 p.m. and reopen around 6:30 p.m., so be sure to check the hours of operation.

Barcelona’s rich cuisine should be part of your Spanish journey. Whether you take a paella cooking class, dine at an upscale restaurant, or chow down with locals at a bodega, you don’t need to look far for the best paella in Barcelona.

Eating like a local will offer sustaining memories of the people, history, and food of this proud Catalonian city.

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