Valencia is a great food destination. Here are some great restaurants finds:
Horchateria del Siglo, Plaza Santa Catalina 11: I read in my Wallpaper* Guidebook that I needed to stop in and try horchata in this bar/café that was started in 1836. The atmosphere of mirrors and painted walls was right out of the 1800’s. All of the servers loved seeing their bar/café pictured in the book. I tried the drink and really liked it. It is like drinking a soy chai latte in some respects. It is a drink made from chufas (tiger nuts) that were brought to Spain by the Moors. They let me try the actual chufas and, the best of all, had me sample their ice cream which was really good as well!
Mercado/Mercat Central, Plaza del Mercado: This is a very impressive market in the center of the city with over 1,000 stalls. It is an iron structure with a great dome and stained glass windows.
While exploring Russafa, the historic Moorish Quarter that is now a hub for students and artists, I found the Amadeus Lounge Restaurante across from the colorful Russafa Market. It is at Calle Padre Perera 5. It had a very attractive contemporary design. I was thrilled to see a shrimp salad with mango and avocado on the menu. It was really wonderful, the best salad I have had on the entire trip!!! I would definitely go back for more. They have both indoor and outdoor seating.
Mercado de Colon, Calle Jorge Juan 19: Located in the high-end El Ensanche neighborhood, which has some very upscale stores, this market was built in 1914 by Francisco de Mora a contemporary of Gaudi. It is a short walk from the Colon Metro Station but also a short walk from the downtown area. The Mercado has been transformed into an upscale venue for some sleek restaurants and cafes. You will find cafes, wine bars, Horchata bars and others serving food and tapas on the main level which allows you to appreciate the architecture of the building. Downstairs you will find Bamboo de Colon, a colorful, contemporary Asian restaurant. Upstairs, in an older part of the market, is the upscale el Alto de Colon which is a great space with high ceilings covered in Valencian tiles from the early 1900’s. Both are part of the Grupo el Alto. They both look great depending on your mood!
LaLola Restaurante, Calle Subido del Toledono #8: This restaurant is located in the trendy Carmen district just west of the Cathedral. I was drawn to it for its contemporary décor and the fact that it was Restaurant Week/Cuina Oberta in Valencia where lunches and dinners were being offered for a fixed price. I had the restaurant to myself, but had great service, great conversations with the staff and a good creative dinner primarily of seafood.
Cerveceria Baldo: Just down the street from my hotel, is Baldo which is a tapas bar and restaurant at Calle Ribera 5. It has a great atmosphere and has outside as well as inside seating. I had a light supper and enjoyed my conversation with two American MBA students studying in Paris. It has been in business since 1930.
Cerveceria Acuarium, Gran Via del Marques del Turia 57: I stopped by at the suggestion of my Wallpaper* guide and hit this tapas bar on a busy Sunday afternoon. It is definitely a locals crowd and has somewhat of a nautical theme. My favorite dish was the perfectly cooked grilled squid in olive oil!! I was glad I found a waiter who spoke some English. They have been in business for 50 years.
The Beach: I took the subway connecting to the Tram to go to the beach area of Valencia. Unfortunately it was raining but I was able to still have lunch overlooking the water. There are many restaurants featuring paella and seafood lining Paseo de Neptune. The famous La Pepica at #6, where Hemingway used to frequent, was closed for part of November as was Restaurante L’Estimat at #16 which were both recommended by the NY Times. My hotel recommended Restaurante La Rosa and La Marcelina. I chose Azahar at #10, recommended by the chefs at La Lolla Restaurant. I was somewhat disappointed in the paella as it seemed a little overcooked so would try one of the others next time.
Other restaurants getting good reviews include Carosel, Cerveceria Maipi, Restaurante Balansiya for Moorish cuisine. Restaurante La Sucursal and the traditional Casa Roberto are recommended by Food & Wine and others.