Casa Carmela, more than 100 years preparing paellas in Valencia
More than 100 years guarantee Casa Carmela is one of the best places to eat paella in Valencia. Do you want to know its secret?
As Don Quixote said: “experience is the mother of all sciences.” Talking about the science of making paellas in Valencia, Casa Carmela is one of the most important references to the city. There are not too many restaurants in the area that can boast such a long history. For this reason, after more than 100 years of cooking traditionally with orange tree wood and using local products, Casa Carmela has become one of the best places to eat paella in Valencia.
Honestly, anytime someone asks me what to do in Valencia, eating at this restaurant is one of the first options I always consider. Not only because of the food’s quality but also because it is an iconic place known by many generations. That’s why, in my opinion, it has earned a paragraph in the city’s history. Still don’t know it? Then keep reading because this will interest you!
History of Casa Carmela, an emblematic restaurant specialized in paellas in Valencia
The history of Casa Carmela restaurant dates back to the early twenties of the last century. The business began as a small hut that served as a changing room for bathers who came to Malvarrosa Beach in 1920. Over time, in addition to providing shelter for tourists, they began to offer food and host guests. As they tell it on the restaurant’s website, they prepared daily stews using only local products exclusively.
For decades, the fame of this restaurant did not stop growing. With the arrival of good weather, customers increased exponentially, and the business was full of life until late at night. Crowds of tourists and locals came to enjoy seafood, seafood rice, caragolà (snail stew), bell pepper salads, and mojama on the terrace facing the sea. Finally, in the ’70s, significant reform was carried out in which they built the firewood grills. Since then, Casa Carmela started to specialize in rice dishes.
Since that moment, its prestige has not stopped growing. Currently, the restaurant has a capacity of more than 150 diners and prepares about 25 paellas per service. Although Casa Carmela is not in the city center, people from all over the world visit it to share one of the best paellas in Valencia. And no wonder! Once you try it, you repeat.
Below you will find a map where you can see its location. May I make you a suggestion? If you want to book a table, you should do it at least one month in advance as it is a crowded restaurant. Otherwise, likely, you will not be able to eat there.
Salt cod doughnuts
The menu of starters at Casa Carmela is quite extensive. You will find salads, sausages, shellfish, crustaceans, fish, etc. For this reason, we were both surprised and disappointed not to see ham croquettes on the menu. In the end, we opted to try the homemade cod fritters.
This dish is composed of 8 doughnuts with an elegant and attractive presentation. They were topped with a sauce and decorated with cod skin that we finally removed because some pieces were firm. Although the doughnuts are not excessively large, they are big enough to be shared between two people without any problem.
In terms of flavor and texture, we found them to be marvelous. The former was not as intense as we first expected, so the doughnuts were not as overwhelming as others we may have tasted. The latter was so soft and creamy that each bite invited the next. Scrumptious!
We strongly recommend them.
VALENCIAN PAELLA OF CASA CARMELA, A RECIPE WITH MORE THAN 100 YEARS OLD.
Once we finished the starters, the waiter quickly cleared the table to make room for the star dish, the Valencian paella. If your eyes are bigger than your stomach, you will probably think it looks small. But to be honest, this is just an illusion because the paella pan was so big that there was practically no space for anything else. In our case, the thing that caught our attention the most from the first moment was its color. Why? Because it was different from the color of the paellas in tourist restaurants. The absence of that intense yellow color so characteristic indicates that they used no colorants in its preparation. And that made us realize that we had in front of us an authentic wonder.
Honestly, this paella impressed us from the first spoonful. Its intense flavor and its satisfying texture made it unique. We had never tasted anything like this before! In addition, the amounts of its ingredients were well balanced. I think it has an unbeatable relation between quality, price, and quantity. Undoubtedly, it is a dish that has changed our perception of how it should taste and what ingredients an authentic Valencian paella should have.
In the end, we only left the snails in the paella pan. Which, by the way, contributed to the whole with a salty touch too high for our taste. Even so, we will never get tired of repeating that Casa Carmela prepares one of the best paellas in Valencia.
Personal opinion of Casa Carmela
The fact that Casa Carmela is a magnificent restaurant is beyond any possible discussion. Just one visit will make you realize that it is one of the best options to try a good paella in Valencia. Not only for the food quality but also the quantity and the price. With this, I am not saying that it is a cheap restaurant, but when you pay for something good, you do it with pleasure.
Keeping this in mind, it is not surprising that you will need to book a table some time in advance. But, if they have such a large clientele, I don’t understand why they need to use old-fashioned tactics to to increase each customer’s spending. In this case, trying to set a minimum price per person or insisting on the need to order a starter. The former is evident when you make a reservation through their website with a textual “Minimum price: 40€ per person”. The latter is clear from the regularity with which the waiters asked us if we wanted to order something else, even though we knew we had already booked a paella.
On the one hand, when confirming the reservation, they told us that those 40 euros are not a mandatory expense but an average cost per diner. On the other hand, we ended up ordering a starter almost against our will as the waiter’s attitude indicated that we were breaking an unwritten rule of the restaurant.
Although these two factors left us with a bittersweet sensation, considering only the gastronomic aspect of the visit… We can say that it was unbeatable! I hope they improve these details to offer a perfect experience. Even so, it is impossible not to affirm that Casa Carmela is one of the best restaurants to eat paella in Valencia.
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