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Oct 31, 2010 12:34 PM

Best Knock your pants off Paella?

Maybe this has been asked before, but I haven't had any luck finding the posts. Besides it's always good to have new and updated information, right?

My boyfriend's birthday is coming up and he loves paella, unfortunately he has a sensitive palate and is picky as hell. His complaint is there aren't many places that serve good paella. They're usually "didn't use real saffron, just powdered" "rice isn't cooked right" etc etc.

So what has been the best paella you've had so far anywhere in the LA area (or OC)?

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    1. Many, MANY threads already asking this exact question (in one form or another), but aside from anoyone's home kitchen, the answer is:

      La Espanola's takeout paella, made only on Saturdays. They are located in Harbor City.

      1. norajeans,

        If you and/or your boyfriend will settle for a Peruvian paella, I highly recommend Mo-Chica.

        3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

        19 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit

          First of all - there's nothing wrong with good powdered paella - your BF's being a bit of a snob. But don't tell him that (it's easier to use, and gives up it's taste much quicker than the threads which ideally should soak for a few hours - some say even more).

          Anyway - I haven't tried it and but it looked good - at Bar PintXO in Santa Monica. They have a big paella pan and they make it on a burner outside, on the street. It looked good. Call them and find out what night they do it. If anyone has tried - let us know what you think. I'm going to try to tap that this week.

          1. re: foodiemahoodie

            Been there, done that. Bar Pintxo's paella isn't great, but it's an edible facsimile. Nowhere near as good a La Espanola's.

            Bar Pintxo
            109 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

            1. re: J.L.

              Thanks for the heads up. What would you say is the difference?

              1. re: foodiemahoodie

                Haste makes waste. They served the paella prematurely, before most of the water has burned off the pan... AKA soggy (a paella mortal sin). No socorrat either (again, because there was still too much water in the pan). It's safe to eat, but not as good to eat.

                1. re: J.L.

                  Whatta shame. You'd think they'd know better.

                  1. re: J.L.

                    I've been to La Espanola and had their Paella a couple of years back with a Spanish group from Long Beach, granted it may have changed since then. Ok, it isn't homemade (the oooooonly way to have good paella) but it definitely did not have any socorrat (the coveted char).

                    If you absolutely need to have traditional paella as if it was recently transported from Valencia, Spain, there must be soccorat, it must have been prepared using a huge brick oven, it needs to be smoked with a certain type of wood from the region and you never, ever mix seafood with land animals. The paella I had at La Espanola violated all of those conditions ... and more.

                    But, it was still good!

                    To be honest with you ... who cares if it isn't traditional? If it tastes good, it tastes good, right?

                    La Espanola Meats
                    25020 Doble Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90710

                    1. re: food_yum

                      Paella is as varied across Spain as BBQ is varied across the U.S. I had a wonderful paella prepared over a giant outdoor fire in Toledo, in a family home (stovetop preparation) in Barcelona, and I've had the Valencian brick-oven version (which you've alluded to) as well. Rabbit, chicken, cigalas, langostinos, squid, all sorts of toppings - I've tried so many (but we paella aficionados all know that the rice is the true thing to judge a paella by, isn't it?)...

                      I never said the La Espanola's paella had socorrat (that'd be nice, though), just that it's the best version of paella currently commercially available in Southern California.

                      1. re: J.L.

                        I never said the La Espanola's paella had socorrat (that'd be nice, though)...

                        Actually, you did. I asked what the difference was and you pointed out two things - soggy and that it didn't have soccorat.

                        1. re: foodiemahoodie

                          Two things I look for in good paella in general: Socorrat and non-sogginess. So when I try a new paella contender in SoCal (e.g. Bar Pintxo), that's what I like to see. Those were my thoughts from the Bar Pintxo visit. But...

                          I NEVER said La Espanola's paella specifically had socorrat (I think I found a trace of it just once in all my years of ordering from them). But, the taste is still the best to be found in SoCal (AND the La Espanola paella is never soggy). With the exception of the late, great Montefrio de Madrid in Burbank, no restaurant paella has had the proper socorrat in my search in SoCal so far.

                          Bar Pintxo
                          109 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                          1. re: J.L.

                            OMG... if anyone here finds a restaurant that serves paella with a good socorrat ... please don't hold back! Share the love!

                            I don't think anyone serves it that way and I'm not sure why. Is it cost/time prohibitive? Does it freak out the customers? Is there some kind of health code violation going on? I'm not sure, I just wish at least one eatery would serve it that way.

                            At this point, I'm willing to eat an old sock paella if they served it with the proper char!

                            1. re: food_yum

                              I believe that eateries in L.A. don't make paella with socorrat for 2 main reasons:

                              (1) Table turnover: Paella with socorrat takes time. If a customer orders paella with socorrat, and the order goes to the chef, it'll take quite a bit longer to prepare (the water has to burn off). If a customer isn't willing to wait, then you have an unhappy customer. Also, that table can't "turn" as quickly for the next seating of the evening (which translates to less $ for the eatery.)

                              (2) Instead of lauding the eatery on its authenticity for producing socorrat (char), Restaurant owners are afraid that some customers will simply consider the paella as "burnt".

                              And believe me, if I do find proper char on a restaurant paella in SoCal, this ChowBoard will be the first to know!

                              1. re: J.L.

                                Aahhh.... totally makes sense ... Damn you SoCal for your lack of patience and intolerance for "burned" rice!! ;)

                              2. re: food_yum

                                Dona Juana caters her paella from La Espanola. If you want a paella without mixing seafood and land beasts, and you want socorrat - you can call la espanola, talk to juana or her daughters, tell them what you want and order it. it will be made for you with socorrat - and enjoy.
                                In general, if you like socorrat, dcheck out the persian restaurants in westwood and ask for the tah-digh. the charred rice from the bottom of the pan. the koreans also have something similar.

                                  1. re: Jerome

                                    In Farsi it's called tah dig.

                                    Jerome, is Juana around on Fridays & Saturdays? The only contact person I've known at La Espanola is the ever-affable Alex.

                                    1. re: J.L.

                                      don't know. but a quick call...
                                      good luck. tahdig is tasty.
                                      i've had the nurungi, but once it was mixed with hot water, and had unpleasant connotations.

                    2. re: foodiemahoodie

                      I wrote paella - I meant saffron. Powdered saffron.

                      1. re: foodiemahoodie

                        No worries.

                        Saffron is the white truffles of the mid-east.

                  2. Never having been to Spain I can't speak to authenticity, but I suspect the paella at Jonathan's at Peirano's, on Main St. across from the Mission in downtown Ventura, is probably not authentic. But it certainly is good.

                    I don't care what others say, imho saffron definitely has a flavor, and you can certainly taste the saffron here. And there's a definite soccorat going on, as food_yum defined upthread.

                    Jonathan's serves a chicken and andouille paella and one with clams, shrimp, mussels and white fish.

                    Jonathans At Peiranos
                    204-208 E Main Street, Ventura, CA 93001


                      El Colmal while a Cuban Restaurant has a very solid rendition of Paella. I thinks it may be a tie with La Espanola in my opinion..

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Foodandwine

                        Drove 40 miles two ways on this recommendation. Pella costs $32 first surprise. Ready for the second surprise? It tastes like a pile of salt that smells like fish.

                          1. re: tven1

                            wear did you go? still like the Fiduea at LA PAELLA on San Vicente in Los Angeles (near the beverly center).

                            They have a few different paellas you can try.

                            The thing is, i like their tapas so much, i rarely get so far as to order the paellas.