When I have visitors coming to spend a few days in the city of Valencia, they always ask me the same question: “Which is the best place to have paella?”. When I first arrived in the city, I used to ask local people from Valencia the same question. The answer was always the same: “you can find the best paellas in the restaurants of El Palmar.” Now, after having lived in Valencia for a year, I can say that I have been in a few places where they make a delicious paella and that I have finally found my favorite place, located in El Palmar indeed.
El Palmar is located in the Albufera Natural Park, which is one of the most valuable parks in the Mediterranean where you can find the biggest lake in Spain. El Palmar is a small fishing village that has grown in the center of La Albufera Natural Park. It is an island surrounded by rice and vegetable gardens and where many fishers live together.
El Palmar is surrounded by canals where fishers circulate with their boats, which they traditionally use for fishing and also for boat trips on the lake. They take you around the lake, showing you the most beautiful places in La Albufera and its flora and fauna. These boat tours only cost 3€, and there are many piers from which you can start your journey. I recommend this 100%. Another interesting and unique feature of this place is the kind of houses you find there. Formerly, the inhabitants lived in the popular type of housing, called Barracas. They are built with materials that are easily found in the area, such as mud and reeds. The walls are built with adobe bricks, and the roof is made with cane and straw. Opposite to my favorite restaurant, which I am about to introduce to you, you find one of the most popular Barracas.
"La Barraca del Tío Aranda" or "Barraca dels Arandes" is the oldest in El Palmar and dates back to the 19th century. It is the only one that is preserved in its original form, since its walls are made of adobe, and its roof is made of wood and reeds. The floor also retains the original pressed mud. This hut has been inhabited until a few years ago by Mr. Aranda, a local of El Palmar, who never gave up on taking care of it. It is worth to check out the place and take a few photos!
After telling you all these interesting features of El Palmar, let me finally tell you about my favorite restaurant there: El Mornell. The name comes from the fishing gadget that is used to catch eels, the mornell. It is easy to find eels in Albufera, and its inhabitants have cooked them for a long time and used them in many of their dishes. El Mornell is a modern restaurant that first opened in 2005. It has an attractive decoration and suggestive lighting and offers traditional Valencian cuisine. Paellas are their best specialty. I also want to highlight the excellent service they provide there!
If you visit Valencia, don’t miss out on exploring this beautiful tiny island called El Palmar. Don't forget, it is popular due to its location (Albufera Natural Park) and its cuisine. It's where you can find the best paella!
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