During a trip to Valencia you are likely to want to indulge in some tapas. Traditionally tapas are not as much a part of Valencia culture as they are in places like Madrid or Seville. However, this does not mean that there are not a wide selection of little tapas bars in Valencia city centre. Locals here explain that in Valencia you are more likely to go to a tapas bar with friends where you can order a whole batch of tapas to share over a long period. This is in contrast to the cities where you would get one tapa with each drink as you work your way around the city. That being said, I have certainly managed to squeeze a good few tapas bars into one night out in Valencia.
This page will give you some background to some traditional tapas dishes. It will also give advice on what part of town to head to for a good selection of tapas bars. There is listings for some of the best tapas bars in town with a location map to help you to find them.
Where should I go to find tapas in Valencia
Of course, you will find good tapas bars all over Valencia. However, if you are only in Valencia for a short period, it is best to head to the old town to find a large concentration of tapas bars in a small area. If you take a wander down the back streets behind the cathedral (in Plaza de la Reina) you will find that the area comes alive at night with bars and restaurants serving all manner of tapas. You don't need to have a particular place in mind - simply take a stroll and head into anywhere that takes your fancy. See below for some specific tapas bars in that area.
Some of Valencia's best tapas bars
As explained above, the art of enjoying tapas is exploring and discovering new places all by yourself. However, here we have listed some of the tapas bars in the old town of Valencia that are of particular interest.
This is the most famous place in town to find fried sardines. They are made in this tiny local restaurant with the bones removed, butterflied and fried on the grill. The bar is plain, with strip lighting and a few bar stools - people come here for the atmosphere and the delicious sardines, not the scenery. In the evening you will struggle to find a seat, but you can perch at the bar and try a fresh local speciality.
Carrer de la Purissima, 1
46001 Valencia, España.
Pepita Pulgarcita is one of Valencia's more modern tapas bars. Seating is at high white tables with chic chandeliers hanging from above. The service is slick and the wine glasses are large. House specialties include fried camembert with tomato marmalade, tempura calamari and fried morcilla. The bar also makes cocktails.
If you head to Pepita Pulgarcitas you will find yourself on Calle de Caballeros. This is a street to do some tapas sampling. The street is one of the liveliest in the old town - simply take a stroll, look at the options on the chalk board menus that hang outside the bars and dip in to any that you like the sound of.
Carrer de Caballeros, 19
46003 Valencia, España.
Sagardi Pincho Bar
You should head to Sagardi if you would like to experience a Basque style way of enjoying tapas - a craze that has now swept through the whole of Spain. Here you will find tapas called pinchos - these are bite sized tapas served on small slices of bread. You can simply take a plate and make your way along the bar where a whole plethora of varieties of pinchos are on offer - like a buffet. Simply choose what you like and keep hold of the little cocktail sticks in each pincho - this is how staff will know what you have eaten so that you can pay the bill.
Carrer San Vicente Martir, 6
46002 Valencia, España.
Las Cuevas is an authentic tapas bar - it sits in one of the old town's most emblematic squares. Las Cuevas translates as 'The Caves' and sitting in this bar gives exactly the feeling of being in caves - there are different rooms that you can walk between with low ceilings. If you want to try a selection of traditional tapas, this is a good place to head - they offer a range of some of the best Spanish tapas.
Plaza Cisneros, 2
46003 Valencia, España.
As its name suggests, Cava Siglos is the place to head if you want to sip on a glass of fine cava as you enjoy your tapas. The atmosphere in here is young and trendy. It is busy and seating is at high tables that are shared with other groups. The tapas here are described as 'de mercado' meaning that they are thought-up and prepared using ingredients that are seasonal and fresh from the market. They offer delicious steaks, foie gras and salads.
Carrer de Caballeros, 12
46003 Valencia, España.
If you are slightly daunted by the prospect of ordering, choosing and paying for tapas, have a look at our Guide to Tapas Etiquette in Barcelona. This may be about Barcelona, but, in general the same rules and customs will apply in Valencia. Have a read and you should be more confident before hitting the streets of Valencia.
Some classic Spanish tapas
Whilst wandering between tapas bars, there are a few dishes that you are bound to see appear again and again. There is, of course, an endless list of things that you could do with tapas - the concept of a tapa is simply a small portion of food served on a plate that is meant for sharing. However, here are some of the most common tapas to be found in and around Valencia:
Patatas Bravas: These are small fried potatoes that are served with two sauces: a spicy red sauce and an alioli (like a garlic mayonnaise).
Croquettas: These are breaded quenelles filled with béchamel sauce and a variety of ingredients - normally either ham, chicken or salt cod.
Calamares a la romana: This is the name for the classic rings of calamari (squid) that are battered.
Sardinas a la plancha: This is the name for whole sardines that are cooked on the grill (they are normally served with bones, but in some cases the bones are removed).
Boquerones: these are anchovies, normally served in vinegar, garlic and parsley. They are preserved in the vinegar and are cold.
For a more general guide to some of the most typical dishes to be found in Valencia, see our Guide to Food in Valencia.
Tapas culture is integral to the spirit of Spain. Enjoy an evening in Valencia strolling with your family or friends and trying out some of what the city's tapas bars have to offer.