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Dec 18, 2013 12:43 PM

Summer 2014: Valencia & Segovia

We have been to Spain -- all over -- many times. However, next summer we are taking our first visits to Valencia and Segovia. Clearly, we want to try some of the best paella in Valencia, and some of the best cochinillo in Segovia. Just looking for recommendations here as to the best places to try. I'm pretty sure we're going to try Jose Maria in Segovia for the cohinillo, but would like any other recommendations you might have.

In addition, we love Churros con Chocolate and tapas, so anything you can recommend in that vein is welcome. As well as anything else you think we shouldn't miss.

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  1. Wrote this after my visit to Valencia; there are other informative threads here as well:

    I like Jose Maria very much. If there is any way you can make it to Sepulveda for roast lamb, you will be well rewarded.

    8 Replies
    1. re: erica

      Thanks, we'll definitely try Jose Maria, because we like cochinillo. Also, I'm thinking Lloc de Tapes and Casa Roberto in Valencia. Probably Restaurante Levante, as well.

      It looks like they take their churros with horchata in Valencia. I don't like Mexican horchata, but that doesn't mean anything, because Mexican churros are so different from the Spanish kind that I assume Spanish horchata is also very different.

      1. re: Hoc

        The fried dough that goes with horchata is called a "fartón" or "fartó." It's lighter and bigger than a churro. Here in Madrid, in addition to churros, we also have a bigger version called a porra.

        1. re: butterfly

          By the way, in Madrid, have you tried Ribeira do Miño? My wife is a seafood fanatic, and I figure I should take her to a nice seafood restaurant at least one night while we're in Madrid.

          I've taken her to Cervantes in the past, and she was very happy, but you haven't steered me wrong on food in Spain yet, so I figured I'd ask.

          1. re: Hoc

            I'm not a big fan of Ribeira do Miño--I think of it is as a loud big-quantity place you might go if you were with a group of 20 hard-drinking people… (which I have been, don't get me wrong).

            There are several very high-end seafood places like Casa Rafa, O'Pazo, Combarro, Sanxenxo--then a whole bunch of other places a step down service and selection-wise but still have very good quality fish/shellfish. The mini-chain of El Barril has never let me down--most locations have a nice bar where you can tapear. I like the one in the Barrio de las Letras/Huertas neighborhood.

            If you are looking for a no-fuss classic "shellfish" marisquería experience, there's El Cantábrico. But it's a stand-up kind of place with just a handful of formica tables off to the side.

            1. re: butterfly

              Thank you. I suspect that we will pick one of your recommended places instead.

      2. re: erica

        Have you tried California Restaurant? It doesn't seem to get a lot of reviews, but the few I've read seem to be good. In fact, some say that it's better than Jose Maria or Meson Candido.

        1. re: Hoc

          I've been to California. It's a less expensive, homier alternative to José María. It's more of a bar-like atmosphere and spirit and not in the same league in terms of the preparation and "materia prima." Because of the lower prices, it's a very popular spot--you need to reserve ahead unless you go off-season.

          1. re: butterfly

            Well, this trip, we're more into "materia prima" than cheap pricing (you are referring to the food, right, not the decor?) So, we might stick with Jose Maria (already made reservations for our first night) and Meson de Candido for our Cochinillo meals in Segovia. But I think I have a pretty good list of restaurants and tapas bars for lunch and dinner in Valencia and Segovia now.

      3. So, here's what I think I've decided for our places to visit and eat. Let me know if any of you think I have missed something great, or have something on the list that is mediocre at best.

        Jose Maria

        Pasteleria de Limon y Menta
        (Torta de Ponche)

        Meson de Candido

        Restaurante Duque

        Meson Don Jimeno
        (cochinillo and Juderia Granja)

        To Do
        Jardines de la Granja de San Ildefonso
        Calle Real
        Old City

        Lloc de Tapes
        (Mushroom Croquettes, tapas, paella)

        Casa Roberto

        Restaurante Levante

        Horchateria El Siglo
        (churros con chocolate and Horchata with Fartones)

        Las Cuevas

        Huerta Santa Catalina

        Tasca El Botijo

        To Do
        City of Arts & Sciences
        Palacio de Marques de Dos Aguas
        Plaza del Mercado

        6 Replies
        1. re: Hoc

          You are missing lechazo, or roast suckling lamb in the Segovia area.

          And those beans are Judias, or often juderones, but not Juderias. And I think you are looking for Ponche Segoviano instead of Torta de Ponche. You can sample this at many restaurants, too, for dessert.

          If you like sardines, try Tasca Angel in Valencia.

          For tapas, although each place will have its always-available popular dishes, you really ought to seek out any specials as well.

          1. re: erica

            The bean dish to look for in Segovia is judiones de la granja or judiones del Real Sitio.

            José María also has some excellent Castilian-style offal dishes like asadurilla, mollejas, morretes, etc, if you are into that kind of thing.

            1. re: butterfly

              We're not big on offal, snails, rabbit or goat, but are willing to try mostly anything else. With the snails and rabbit aversion, we need to be a bit careful when ordering Paella in Valencia, but I suspect we'll wind up having a seafood version, anyway.

              1. re: Hoc

                Don't stress about the paella. I found that menus are quite specific about what is in the dish. Try to take a food glossary if you do not speak Spanish; there will be items on the menus, and on the blackboards of the tapas bars, that you may not be familiar with.

                1. re: erica

                  I'm not quite fluent, but I speak Spanish well enough. Went to school in Salamanca for a semester in 1981.

            2. re: erica

              Thank you Erica. Neither my wife or I are big lamb fans -- we don't like the gaminess, though I suspect that lechazo would be less gamey. And while I don't like sardines, my wife does. And we had a salted, grilled sardine in Toledo once that was really tasty. I was thinking of trying Ponche Segoviano at Jose Maria and some of the other places, but I heard that the Torta de Ponche was particularly good at the Pasteleria.
              I don't know why they can't get tapas (or paella) right in the USA, but I always appreciate exploring those while in Spain. Usually pretty open to new options. I tried foie for the first time last time we were in San Sebastian, and now I love it.