If you're looking to escape the touristy centre of Valencia (and the prices that come with it) or want to experience the 'pueblo' feel without having to leave the city, a day trip to Benimaclet would be worth your time. Benimaclet was originally its own village, separated by the river, but became merged into Valencia with the city's expansion. Despite this it has managed to maintain much of the original 'pueblo' feel, something you'd normally have to get out of the city for. The Plaza de Benimaclet is a five minute walk from the tram stop and on the way you'll probably notice many bars displaying 'tercio y tapas 1.50', prices that aren't found in the centre. Many of these bars have live music at night. Once you enter the pueblo part of Benimaclet, it's easy to forget you're in a city owing to many car-less streets lined by idyllic little houses, especially if you stumble across the Plaza de Benimaclet complete with its own church. Once you've worked up an appetite by meandering around the streets, why not pick up a paella or other traditional Valencian cuisine from an asador - the cheapest way (around three euros for a portion big enough for two) to enjoy a home cooked paella. You could enjoy your paella sitting in the Jardines del Real, the main park in Valencia only a couple of hundred metres away.
From here there are three options (not including returning to the city centre). Firstly you could follow the Turia (the old river now converted into a park) down to the City of Arts and Sciences, one of Valencia's landmark features. On the way you'll pass the Palau de la Música and walk under many bridges each with its own feature.
Secondly you could carry on out of the city to Alboraya - the Spanish hometown of horachata, a sweet, milkly, nutty drink. I'd recommend the Horchateria Toni for the best tasting and value horchata in Alboraya.
My final option is take the tram down to the Malvarrosa beach (10 minutes away) and walk along the sea front or relax on the sand in the sun.
After doing all this you'll probably be ready to return to your hostel late in the evening, although Benimaclet is worth the visit, I'd recommend staying in a hostel in the centre for travel convenience.
A tip when travelling around Valencia - beware the road sign names. In the city the road sign names are in Valencian but on many maps they are written in Castillan, they are pretty similar but don't go looking for an exact name if you have the Castillan version.
To reach Benimaclet - from the centre of Valencia take the metro (line 3, 9 minutes) or about 30 minutes on foot from Plaza del Ayuntamiento, crossing the river at Puente del Real and following Carrer de Cavanilles.
The Pueblo part is off to the right of Calle Emilio Baro (facing the direction of Alboraya)
To reach Alboraya - take the metro (Line 3, Rafelbunyol - Aeroport) to Alboraya or walk from Benimaclet (about 1km from the metro stop vía 'Calle Emilio Baro' which becomes 'Avenida de la Horchata')
This website has details of events in Benimaclet:
Google map: bit.ly/1145Enn
This is a very good chocolate shop and cafe. With a couple of famous names behind it - the brothers Albert and Ferran Adrià. I had a late lunch there - glass of wine, starter, sandwich and two tasting shots of chocolate, all for about £10. Then I went and bought a box of truffles to take home. The chocolate flavours are far from the ordinary as you might imagine! The place is great and somewhere very relaxing to spend an hour over lunch or coffee. It's near the Mercado de Colon which has lots of cafes - but save yourself for this place just round the corner instead. A nice surprise!
This is a fantastic tapas bar in the historic centre of Valencia - great tapas including loads of veggie options (rare in Valencia!), wines by the glass and probably the best mojitos in all of Valencia (and the barman speaks perfect English).
It's a very modern, light, well-priced bar with great food and friendly staff.
Calle Cavallers 19
(next to plaza de la virgin)
Tapa2 is a new and funky tapas restaurant just north of the Central Market, in the old town of Valencia. It's not on a major thoroughfare, so there's less fear of it being mobbed by tourists, which adds to the charm.
On the basis of a tip left on this very website earlier this year, 11 of us descended on Tapa2 (a quick phone call secured a table which - given the size of the place - was a feat in itself) and the owner Eddie and his staff looked after us. On my table of seven we ordered food and wine with guidance from the staff. The recommended white wine we had was divine, as of course were the tapas. There were five different tapas to share (two servings of each), and we couldn't have had a bite more.
The kitchen is on display for all to see, and Eddie as head chef for the night demonstrated a true passion for his food. The tapas were absolutely delightful.
The whole meal came to just over €30 a head (+tip) which for us folk who currently live in Dublin was amazing value. The staff were even able to recommend night club spots (Radio City is around the corner) to continue our Saturday night in style.
A thoroughly enjoyable evening.
Carda6, Barrio del Carmen, Valencia
+34 663 875 903
This restaurant was recommended by a Valencian friend and it is a great place to go for traditional Spanish home cooking and great value.
Inside it's decorated with painted Spanish tiles and you can see the food being prepared in the open kitchen. There's a range of typical tapas, seafood and meat dishes - it was good for children as they had some plain dishes like steak, grilled chicken or fish and also some more adventurous things including Paella.
It's tucked down a small street behind the ceramics museum in the Palacio Marques de Dos Aguas but is worth hunting out.
You can see my review and photos on my blog; heatheronhertravels.blogspot.com/2008/04/evening-out-with-angel-in-valencia.html
Restaurante La Utielana, Plaza Picadero de Dos Aguas, San Andres 4, Valencia, Tel 963529414 (The road is just behind Palacio Marques de Dos Aguas)
La Beneficencia is a free museum, and if you walk through the shady inner courtyard, you'll find the restaurant for a great value set lunch at €9.
Service starts at 2pm although I'd arrive a little earlier and have a drink as it is very popular with the locals.
For €9 you get three courses of excellent modern cooking and there are three choices per course. To give you an example of what we ate: salad of salt cod, chicken in a curried sauce with wild rice (or Valencian paella), coconut cream with pineapple and lemon sorbet. It was all delicious.
Museo de Prehistoria y de la Culturas de Valencia (La Beneficencia)
Calle Corona 36. You'll find it in all the guidebooks - it's next to the Institito Valenciano de Arte Moderno (IVAM).
We stayed over at La Casa Azul which is right in front of the central market and we found this lovely new Gastronomik tapas bar/restaurant called Tapa2.
We were amazed at what we got - five courses of pure delight, all served with different drinks to wet the palette.
The owner Eduardo Phillips Blanco (you would be surprised to find out he is English, with that name) and head chef Michael Baering not only provided and served some of the best food we have ever eaten but also entertained us.
Our meal cost us 35 euros each and that was with all drink included, they do a deal with three tapas dishes and a bottle of vino for 15 euros most nights though.
Find them off the beaten track, near La Lonja, not the best setting but the restaurant is cool and funky and it hasn't copped on with the Spanish yet.
Carda6, Barrio del Carmen, Valencia
+34 663 875 903
www.tapa2gastronomik.es (not up and running yet)
Close to Plaza de la Virgen down a very quiet alley is this unassuming rather dark restaurant. Excellent food, with a choice of either the €12 lunch of the day or a special Dégustacion menu (which everyone has to choose) for €18. Very good quality modern Valencian cooking.
C / Conquista 3
Tel: 963 910 364
Paella takeaway just off the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. Heretical though it may be to eat paella on the hoof, the above place came in very handy when we were about to leave for the airport and still hadn't sampled Paella Valenciana.
Calle Padilla, 1
Tel 00 34 96 394 44 16
This is Valencia's main food market and it's a fabulous place to spend the morning wandering around.
It's a colourful and vibrant market with all kinds of wonderful fresh foods on display. Like many places, seeing this market in operation gives a special insight into the ordinary lives of the people of Valencia.
It's a fine building too and the ceiling is very ornate.
L’hamadriada is the stand out new restaurant in Valencia for my money. Serving outstanding grilled meats and rice it’s much more upmarket looking than its modest prices might suggest (€9-€17 three-course menu del dia and tasting menus from €22-€35), cool staff and you get your food pronto (not always the case in Valencia). The location is fantastic — very central but down a side street out of earshot from all the mooked up party noise.
Plaza Vicente Iborra 3
Tel: +963 260 891
Everyone raves about Barcelona’s famous La Boqueria market but Valencia’s is both bigger and better. The modernista building of stained glass and wrought iron is stunning, but it’s the array of produce, especially the wealth of fresh glistening seafood, that steals the show. If you’re staying in a hotel you’ll regret it if you visit Central - you'll want to take the lot home for dinner.
Open until 2.30pm, Plaza del Mercado.
The market is fab to wander around anyway, but you can eat a lovely breakfast at one of the stalls at the back of the market and watch the shopping activity from the comfort of your stool.
Plaza del Mercado, 6, Valencia, Spain
A brilliant mussels tapas bar tiled beautifully. Stand at the bar and drop the shells down into the waiting buckets.
Barman tetchy if you just order beer though, he started muttering to us about the stag group that came in just for a drink. The bar is also on the square which joins the main tapas/hanging around strip.
13 Moro Zeit 13
Phone: +34 96 391 0497
Essentially this is a bread stick sandwich with the typical Spanish potato omelette. The aspect that makes it different in Valencia is that the bread is liberally spread/loaded with alioli - a garlic mayonnaise which is just perfect for the aforementioned sandwich.
Anywhere in the city of Valencia. My favourite was a bar down one of the side streets near the train station. It was called Bar Turia. Well worthwhile - a good beer with the sandwich dripping garlic at a decent price.
For traditional Valencian dishes such as paella Valenciana and arroz a banda (a seafood rice dish), head for El Forcat restaurant in El Carmen.
Roteros, 12 - Five minutes from
Torres de los Serranos.
Tel: 34 96 391 1213
Paelltertainment. The twice-weekly paella-cooking presentation on the roof of Home Backpackers is less a gastronomic than a comic experience, as the resident chef regales his audience with a mix of instructions and anecdotes in (deliberately, you suspect) awful Spanglish. And all that while cooking up a giant, delicious version of this quintessential Valenciano dish – served with a cold beer and a joke.
When? Tuesday and Sunday evenings.
Where? Roof terrace of Home Backpackers.
Address: Plaza Vicente Iborra, Barrio del Carmen.
Telephone: (34-96) 3913797.
Small but lively, this teeny-tiny bar feels crowded with just a couple of people in it. But by some kind of loaves-and-fishes, there seems to be room for more and more. Tapas, cold beer, and good company make it worth the squeeze.
Address: Calle Sant Tomeu 21, Barrio del Carme.
Telephone: (34-606) 721842.
The home of tapas, Spain is hardly unaccustomed to the concept of small and fast when it comes to food. But at times the idea of tapas far exceeds the reality of salty fish swimming in brine, or meat that has been sitting out on a counter all day long. But at Sagardi you get the benefit of small portions and loads of variety, but all freshly prepared and full of flavour. It’s a bite-sized treat.
Address: San Vicente Martir 6, Valencia 46002.
Location: Just off Plaza de la Reina.
Telephone: (34-96) 3910668
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