I love paella! It tops my list of favorite traditional Spanish delicacies. It’s a dish fit for the gods and that I can claim to be as my ultimate comfort food. I swear I could eat this divinely palatable rice concoction all day, every day.
Paella swept me off my feet immediately after I had it as my primera cena de la tarde at Restaurante Museo de Jamon, in Puerta del Sol Madrid almost three years ago. It goes without saying that I savored my first ever paella to the fullest.
I can attribute my great fondness to the dish to the aromatic saffron, the Middle Eastern Mediterranean spice that caused the rice to turn yellow, and the rich mix of a variety of sea foods such as clams, squid, prawns among others, without which paella would not be the delicious food that it is. It is Spain’s version of the Italian risotto, and so, so much more.
I must say, however, that the dish isn’t cheap since restaurants typically require diners to order at least two raciones, the combination of which is equivalent to one filled-up large, wide and shallow pan. A racion ranges from 15 euros to as high as 50 euros. It’s surely quite an amount, and so it is ideal that you come with a friend or two with whom you can split the bill to avoid serious dent on the pocket.
Paella Tapa, anyone?
Spain is the land of tapas, and so I was almost certain that there are also places that serve this dish on a plate. And indeed, there are restaurants that do offer them. It must be that these establishments make paella available to those who are on the go, and needed a quick fix.
So, why go for tapas?
It takes arroceria restaurants some 30 minutes to serve an order. On the other hand, you can have and relish your tapa in no time at all.
Can you imagine dining on a 5-euro plate, and chances are, it’s a heaping one? Never mind if it’s reheated, for especially if you’re a shoestring traveler like me, paella tapas are a great option to keep your hunger satisfied and yet be able to spend within your budget.
While clearly, the paellas from the establishments in this list may not be straight fire like those from genuine paella restaurants, and connoisseurs might frown or even be appalled by the existence of a tapa version of Spain’s beloved classic dish. But in my case, but they do satisfy nonetheless. Whether it is cooked upon order or reheated, I’ll take it gladly anytime.
While there must be quite a number of restaurants and food joints around Madrid that serve these tapas, the following are my most frequented ones:
1. PAELLA Y OLE (Mercado de San Miguel, Plaza de San Miguel, cerca Plaza Mayor)
Make a quick stop at Mercado San Miguel and pass by Paella y Ole, a food kiosk that boasts of the main varieties — mixta (with rabbit and chicken) and sea foods. I always opt for the latter as it tastes great albeit the dish is a bit less in quantity and wanting of ingredients. A small plate can be had for only 4 euros
2. BAR POSTAS CERVECERIA, Calle Postas 13
Bocadillo de callamares is Bar Postas’ main fare, but it also serves arroz tapas, among others. For just 4 euros, you get a plate of heaping rice delight, made more delectable by its generous sea food and vegetable bits ingredients
3. RAYPI, Mercado de Maravillas
Raypi’s paella excites me to no end, extremely amused that it is served on a mini paella pan. The food bar complements it with a small plate of tapa that consists of bits of potato, chorizo, and bread. I ordered media racion, which costs me 4 euros
4. DP TAPAS, Mercado de San Ildefonso
According to DP Tapas, it serves only “100 percent Spanish food;” this is surely why paella tapa is included in its menu. Most food kiosks in Mercado San Ildefonso sell tapas, and DP is one of only two that serve paella. A bit soupy and mushy for others (this is how I like mine), but a plus is that the shrimp is aplenty. An order sells for 7 euros.
5. EL SABROSO, Calle de San Joaquin 16, near Tribunal Metro
6 ABANDA, Plaza Mayor
The restaurant got its name from paella abanda, a seafood variety that originated from Valencia. Here, the tapa is 7 euros
Paella negra’s rice turns black because of the ink of the squid. The waitstaff advised us to visit Abanda during lunch time, when all paellas are freshly cooked
Thursday’s paella day at Cardeno, the only day of the week when the restaurant includes the dish in its menu del dia. Ingredients are various sea food, chicken and rabbit. Lunch can be as early as 1pm, when the piping hot rice dish is ready to be served. Menu del dia costs 13 euros