Lonely Planet Writer

The simple paella that's being heralded as the best in the world by Michelin-starred chefs

In the town of Alicante in Southern Spain one can get a paella that has been hailed as the best in the world by some of the top Michelin-starred chefs.

The classic mixed paella from Valencia, Spain
The classic mixed paella from Valencia, Spain Image by Jonathan Pincas / CC BY 2.0

Ferran Adria, of El Bulli fame, and Joel Robuchon, the most Michelin-starred chef in the world, have both declared Josefa Navarro’s paella in the little Paco Gandia restaurant, the best paella they’ve ever had. Paella is Spain’s famous and most symbolic dish, which has come back in vogue and into the spotlight with Spain even petitioning the emoji-makers to create a paella emoji earlier this year!

Alicante city.
Alicante city. Image by Tatsuhiko Miyagawa / CC BY-SA 2.0

Valencia is the region famous for the rice dish that is traditionally cooked over an open fire outdoors, that involves meat, beans, and often snails and prawns. But Navarro’s output drew attention when the Michelin-starred chefs repeatedly claimed hers was the best. Opening her restaurant in 1985, with a menu that reflects the austerity of the land of Alicante, as well as the traditional ways of preparing the classical dish, Navarro has become famed far and wide for her famous offering. In spite of her fame, Navarro has kept up the same busy work schedule, making the paella herself 15 times a day starting from five in the morning, and never increasing her prices.

Paella to get its own emoji!
Paella to get its own emoji! Image by Emojipedia

Since Spain experienced a record-breaking number of visitors in 2015, with over 65 million visiting, it’s possible that Navarro’s famed paella is to be much in demand after its Michelin-starred recommendation and its reasonable price!