Best Paella in Madrid: 6 Essential Spots

For many people, paella is the quintessential Spanish food, and one they wouldn’t dream of leaving without trying. Make your trip unforgettable by heading to one of these spots for the best paella in Madrid!

A large pan of Paella Valenciana with one portion plated behind it.
Classic Valencian paella. Photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli

You’ve arrived in Madrid and you’re hungry. Surrounded by signs advertising a variety of different paellas, you settle on what you assume is the national dish of Spain.

Bad move! What you’ll likely be served is a precooked, microwaved meal that has nothing to do with the delicious original version from Valencia, or any of the many other fabulous Spanish rice dishes.

So what do you do if you want to try the best paella in Madrid? Trust us to help you find one! Here are our recommendations for paella restaurants in Madrid, as well as a bit of background about the dish itself.

What Is Paella?

It is widely accepted that paella originated in Valencia, a region on Spain’s eastern coast. Bordering Valencia we also find Murcia, another area famous for its rice dishes.

The reason rice dishes evolved in this part of Spain is largely due to the Moors, a Muslim people of north African decent. They controlled various parts of Spain from the years 711 to 1492, and had an enormous influence on Spanish cuisine.

The Moors planted rice in the area that we know today as Valencia and Murcia. The crop flourished in the region, which led to rice dishes becoming an important part of the local cuisine. The types of rice we find in the area (specifically the bomba and calasparra varieties) are very unique because of their ability to absorb a lot of liquid while still holding their shape, which makes them perfect for paella.

The first paellas were not glamorous and quite unlike the seafood-laden versions you may be familiar with. They were more or less a barbecue-type food typical in the countryside.

People used local rice, beans, and snails to make the first paellas. As their paellas evolved, they added in rabbit and chicken hearts and livers. Nowadays you can find just about anything in a paella, but if you want to try the really authentic version, go for the snails!

So, this brief history leaves one thing clear: paella is not a typical dish in Madrid! However, if you’re in the city craving your dose of this symbolic Spanish dish, don’t worry—the following places serve some of the best paella in Madrid!

Overhead shot of a pan of seafood paella with a small amount served out onto a white plate.
Seafood paella: Spain’s most iconic rice dish, but a far cry from the earliest versions! Photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli

Where to Find the Best Paella in Madrid

1. Casa de Valencia

This restaurant, true to its name, serves up an authentic Valencian paella in Madrid. Founded in 1975 and inaugurated by the King and Queen of Spain, Casa de Valencia hasn’t changed much in nearly 50 years. Don’t go expecting a trendy place—you come here for the food!

We recommend the arroz del senyoret, or “gentleman’s rice.” Hailing from Valencia, this is a delicious twist on paella where you don’t have to do any work—all of the seafood comes pre-peeled! Their paella valenciana, perfectly cooked and seasoned, is just as delicious.

2. El Caldero

Sometimes when talking about Spain’s famous rice dishes people forget about Murcia. Bad idea!

Murcia is home to some of Spain’s best rice dishes, such as the famous arroz al caldero. It’s technically not a paella since it’s made in a pot. But it’s just as delicious as its better-known cousin, and Restaurante El Caldero is the best place to try it.

Insider’s Tip: Don’t miss El Caldero’s homemade aliolis, the perfect condiment for any of their rice dishes.

A person stirring a soupy rice dish in a large black pot
Traditional preparation of Murcian arroz al caldero.

3. Restaurante Samm

If you don’t mind going a bit north of Madrid’s center, there’s a treat in store for you at Restaurante Samm, another contender for the best paella in Madrid. Here they make the rice just right, and you get to enjoy it on their lovely interior terrace.

To complete your memorable meal, don’t miss the appetizers at this place, either. The calamari with alioli is to die for!

4. Bar La Gloria

Malasaña is Madrid’s brunch capital, but those looking for something more traditional in this neck of the woods, Bar La Gloria makes a point of not serving it! Forget the eggs Benedict—here you can find an authentic paella valenciana every Sunday.

Given this spot’s popularity, reservations are necessary to make sure you don’t miss out on the Sunday paella! Groups can also inquire about paella on Saturdays.

Paella Valenciana with chicken, ribs, and green beans. A traditional Spanish meat paella with a wooden spoon resting on top.
A perfect paella valenciana is a true work of art. Photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli

5. Casa Benigna

Come to Casa Benigna for the quirky and eclectic decor; stay for the exquisite Mediterranean rice dishes made with the freshest natural ingredients.

Founder Norberto hails from a small town in the province of Alicante and brought the culinary traditions of his homeland to the Spanish capital in 1990. With recipes lovingly passed down from his mother, Carmen, Norberto and his team have created a welcoming haven of great food and great company right here in Madrid.

6. La Barraca

Owned and operated by the Solís family for three generations, La Barraca has been a reference for Valencian cuisine in Madrid since 1935.

The secret to their beautifully presented paellas is as simple as it gets: high quality bomba rice from the fertile paddies of the Valencian region. They also have a respectable wine list, so you’re sure to find the perfect glass to pair with your paella.

Best Paella in Madrid FAQs

Which city in Spain has the best paella?

For consistently great paella, head to its home turf of Valencia. However, migration to Madrid from other parts of Spain, including Valencia, over the centuries has fortunately made it easy to find great paella here in the capital, too.

What is the most popular paella?

Outside of Spain, the most popular image of paella is the seafood version laden with shrimp, mussels, clams, and more. However, the original version of paella from Valencia is more turf than surf—it uses chicken, rabbit, and (traditionally) snails!

What rice is best for paella?

Short-grain Spanish varieties of rice, like bomba and calasparra, are ideal for paella. This is because they can absorb much more liquid (and therefore, flavor) than other varieties without becoming mushy.

Update Notice: This post was originally published on November 28, 2013 and was updated with new text and photos on September 30, 2021.

0 Comment

  1. RobinJ says
    February 13, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Paella is one of my favorite dishes and I am always looking for the best restaurants to eat it. Thanks for the impressive article!

  2. Michelle says
    August 2, 2018 at 6:45 pm

    I would love to receive your Insider’s Guide to Eating in Madrid.

    1. Katie Stearns says
      August 6, 2018 at 1:29 pm

      Fantastic, we’ve just emailed it to you 🙂

      1. Kenn says
        September 9, 2018 at 9:00 am

        Me to please

        1. Devour Tours says
          September 10, 2018 at 1:05 pm

          Sent!

          1. Steph says
            September 10, 2018 at 4:42 pm

            Would love to get a copy too! 🙂

          2. Belen says
            May 20, 2019 at 1:54 pm

            Me as well, please!

          3. Alessandra says
            June 6, 2019 at 4:32 pm

            me too

  3. Theresa says
    September 10, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    Yes! I’d love to receive it as well.

    1. Devour Tours says
      September 11, 2018 at 4:30 pm

      Sent to both of you! For anyone else reading this, you can get the guide as well by putting your email address into the form embedded in the above blog post. If you can’t see the form, try turning off your adblock and reloading the page!

  4. Julia Murphy says
    September 13, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    Could you email the guide please? We arrived in Madrid today! Thank you!

  5. Deborah Stephens says
    October 25, 2018 at 9:07 pm

    Please send me your insiders guide to eating in Madrid. I’m seriously interested in good paella.. thanks

  6. Suami Campos says
    November 11, 2018 at 12:31 am

    Can I please have the guide also. Going to be in Madrid on Christmas Day and wanting to go out for a nice lunch. Any recommendations would be very appreciated.

    1. Devour Tours says
      December 10, 2018 at 10:45 am

      Here you are Suami! https://madridfoodtour.com/madrid-restaurants-christmas-eve-christmas-day/

  7. G says
    December 17, 2018 at 7:48 am

    Hi, I am allergic to shrimp. Which places are good for paella with meat? I don’t want any seafood. Thank you.

    1. Devour Tours says
      December 18, 2018 at 2:14 pm

      Hi! The typical paella actually has chicken and rabbit, no seafood. You shouldn’t have a problem finding it (or something similar) at any of the above. Enjoy!

  8. Scott says
    January 23, 2019 at 7:54 pm

    Would love the Insider’s Guide to Eating in Madrid. Going on Sunday. Thanks!

  9. Ivy says
    April 23, 2019 at 4:35 pm

    If still possible, would love the Guide to eating in Madrid as well. Gracias!

  10. Davide says
    April 23, 2019 at 4:37 pm

    Great article!
    I’ll be happy to receive your insider’s guide to eating in Madrid

  11. Linda says
    April 28, 2019 at 4:46 pm

    Can i also get the guide pls

  12. Belen says
    May 20, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    Would also love a guid,e please!

  13. Alex says
    June 6, 2019 at 7:40 am

    Can I get a guide as well? I studied in Madrid years ago, and I’m taking my family to see it for the first time and would love the recommendation.

  14. Many says
    June 13, 2019 at 7:02 am

    Would it be possible to get the guide as well? Thank You 🙂

  15. Elise says
    July 21, 2019 at 7:20 pm

    Can u email me the guide??

  16. Tha Win says
    July 22, 2019 at 9:22 am

    I’d like to receive your guide to Madrid. Thank you!

  17. Sahana Sharma says
    August 24, 2019 at 2:08 pm

    Could I please get the guide to eating in Madrid?

  18. Cathy says
    October 2, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    Great post! Can I please get a guide too, with many thanks

  19. W says
    October 18, 2019 at 11:38 am

    What does it mean when there is a line through a restaurant name, for example in the review of Que si quieres arroz Catalina. It would seem you’ve crossed out the name. The fact that the review is still there and the place seems to be still in business has me puzzled!

    1. Devour Tours says
      October 21, 2019 at 8:54 am

      Hi there—it means the link is broken, so they must have changed their website. We’ll look into it—thanks for catching that!

  20. October 21, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    Amazing! exactly what i was loking for. I am in Madrid for a day for some meetings and my colleague wants paella. We will probably go try the Casa de Valencia soon. Great post, by the way. I also hate falling for tourist traps. Barcelona is fiiiiilled with bad paellas (in fact it is more common to find bad paellas than good ones).

    1. Devour Tours says
      October 28, 2019 at 8:37 am

      Thanks so much for reading, Ana—enjoy Madrid and that paella!

  21. July 18, 2020 at 1:18 pm

    Wow, looks absolutely delicious! Would love to try it out.

    1. Devour Tours says
      July 20, 2020 at 10:23 am

      Let us know what you think if you try paella at one of these spots!

  22. andrew winter says
    October 2, 2020 at 1:47 pm

    I’d love a copy of your insider’s guide to eating in Madrid

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