La Pepica Restaurant: more than 125 years of cooking paellas in Valencia
La Pepica Restaurant has a long history of serving paella on Valencia’s seafront promenade. Want to know more? Find out everything you need to know about one of the oldest restaurants in Valencia!
Valencia is famous for being the cradle of paella. This exquisite recipe, which has its roots deeply entrenched in the culture and history of the city, has conquered palates worldwide. Although the dish has been evolving, it is still possible to find its most traditional versions nowadays. Luckily, there are many places where you can find them. However, only a few can rival La Pepica Restaurant in terms of history.
In this article, we will venture into one of the most emblematic corners of the Turia capital: join us on this gastronomic journey to one of the oldest restaurants in Valencia!
About the Restaurant La Pepica, one of the oldest in Valencia
La Pepica Restaurant is one of the most emblematic restaurants in Valencia. Its history dates back to the 18th century when the couple Francisco Balaguer Aranda and Josefa Marqués Sanchís decided to open a restaurant inside the port until they had to leave the enclosure. This setback did not prevent them from offering meals in a cart until they obtained a license to set up in wooden huts on the beach to supply the bathers. From that moment on, the name “La Pepica” was engraved on the restaurant in honor of Josefa’s nickname. More than 125 years later, the founders’ grandchildren continue preparing one of the most popular Valencian paellas in the city.
Over the years, the restaurant has attracted a colorful clientele: actors, singers, writers, artists, politicians, etc. Even the King of Spain has sat at one of its tables! All these visits have contributed to its international prestige. What’s more, an infinite number of photographs that bear witness to these visits decor the walls of the restaurant.
Today, La Pepica restaurant is located on Valencia’s seafront promenade, directly in front of the beach. Its décor is a tribute to its rich history and the essence of Mediterranean culture. Although it has undergone some renovations, they have managed to maintain a warm and welcoming atmosphere that evokes its culinary tradition. It has a terrace with views of the Mediterranean Sea, a dining room with space for more than 450 diners, and a private lounge for holding events such as weddings, communions, or business meals.
On the map below, you can see exactly where it is placed.
Iberian ham homemade croquettes
Croquettes are one of the most famous starters in Spanish cuisine and one of the most appreciated by the hundreds of diners who visit the restaurant every day. For this reason, we couldn’t resist the temptation to try them when we saw them on the menu. Unlike Casa Carmela, La Pepica Restaurant offers an extensive selection of croquettes: Iberian ham, mushrooms, lobster, or chicken. In this case, we decided to try the most traditional ones, the Iberian ham croquettes.
Honestly, considering their price-size ratio, our first impression was slightly disappointing due to their small size. But after tasting them, that disappointment changed to a sense of immense delight. Although the crust was not too crispy, the inside was so creamy and tasty that eating just one became a difficult chore. To describe them in one word, we would say exquisite.
If you’re a croquette lover like us, don’t hesitate. We’re sure you’ll love them!
Valencian-based bravas from La Pepica Restaurant
If we talk about tapas, it is impossible not to think of patatas bravas. Although sometimes they are served as those small dishes so popular among locals and tourists, other times, restaurants offer them as a starter. The point is that it is hard to find a place where you can’t eat them. And La Pepica restaurant is no exception to this rule.
Sincerely, we were struck by the fact that they offer them as “Valencian-based bravas.” That little phrase made us intuit that we were looking at a variation of the traditional dish, and it made us feel excited because we had never heard of it before. But what was the surprise: there was no trace of the legendary salsa brava! The dressing consisted of aioli sauce, paprika oil, and hazelnuts.
Similar to what happened with the ham croquette, our first impression was that the price-quantity ratio was somewhat unbalanced. Except for this detail, we can assure you that the “Valencian-based bravas” of Restaurante La Pepica are a great option to start the meal. On the one hand, the combination of paprika oil and aioli sauce creates an exquisite contrast of sweet and salty flavors. On the other hand, the hazelnuts provide a crunchy texture that makes every bite fun.
In short, we loved them!
Valencian Paella at La Pepica Restaurant, one of the most popular ones in the city
Now it’s time to talk about La Pepica Restaurant’s signature dish, Valencian paella. Contrary to what most people believe, it is a centuries-old recipe made with rice, green beans, garrofón, beans, tomato, olive oil, saffron, rosemary, chicken, and rabbit. Like other establishments, like La Alquería del Pou, La Pepica Restaurant follows tradition when preparing all its paellas.
Unlike the starters, our first impressions were quite positive. Although more ingredients such as green beans or garrofón would have been more than welcome, we found its value for money unbeatable.
Beyond that first impression, and to be honest, it left us full of good memories. To begin with, the rice, cooked to perfection, gave the whole dish a mellow texture that worked perfectly as a link between all the flavors. Then, the taste of the broth, although slightly overpowering, was delicious. Last but not least, the chicken and rabbit were very juicy.
If we had to cite negative aspects of this paella, there would only be two: the lack of socarrat due to the intensity of the cuisine and, for our taste, the excessive rosemary flavor. Even so, apart from these two aspects, we found it delicious.
Personal opinion of La Pepica Restaurant
We believe visiting a century-old restaurant is usually synonymous with excellent service and good quality food. Fortunately, La Pepica Restaurant is no exception since we were impressed by their customer service. Making a reservation is easy because you can do it through the website. But, in our opinion, asking for a credit card to charge you in case of a no-show is insulting because it shows a total lack of trust in customers. In any case, our recommendation is to book a table.
Apart from that, our overall experience at La Pepica Restaurant was positive. Although all tables were taken, the staff’s treatment was correct, fast, and efficient. But what struck us most was the impossibility of reserving the paella for a specific time. Not doing that meant waiting about 50 minutes from the moment we placed our order. Sadly, when the star dish arrived at the table, we were not hungry anymore.
Finally, we would like to point out that, although the food’s quality is good, in our opinion, this Valencian paella is not the best we have tasted in Valencia. That, added to the fact that the value for money of some simple dishes such as the croquettes or the Valencian-based bravas seemed unbalanced, left us with a bittersweet taste.
Our personal opinion is that the restaurant is worth a visit. And not only for the food but also because doing so is like discovering a small part of the city’s history. But in all honesty, one visit is more than enough.
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