People love to call Spain the land of jamón. Or something strongly implying that it’s not vegan-friendly – just visit any forum, especially Facebook groups. Valencia, Spain’s third largest city, begs to differ. There are over a dozen vegan restaurants in Valencia and lots of places with vegan options. Of course, you can’t try them all in a weekend, but you can narrow down the most unique, or most exemplative of local cuisine for a fantastic vegan Valencia experience. And that’s exactly what we did to put together this guide to some of the best vegan food in Valencia!
Vegan Food in Valencia: Traditional Valencian Food, Veganized!
Valencia is known for two main foods: paella and horchata. The region is the birthplace of both paella and the drink orxata (that’s Valencian spelling – horchata is the Spanish word). Make sure you don’t leave Valencia without trying both of these – as often possible!
A sweet milky drink served cold. It’s made from xufa tubers (known as tiger nuts in the USA), not rice and cinnamon like horchata in Mexico. Orxata should not traditionally contain milk but you should probably always ask if it contains milk (lleva leche?) just to be safe. You’ll find it being sold everywhere – we ended up trying it on the beach from an organic stand.
We happened upon on this corner spot on the way to our house sit. This takeaway deli offered up three paellas each day and one is always vegan! Valencia is the origin of paella and while places frequently offer vegetable ones, there’s no guarantee they are vegan – always check what bouillon broth they use. This spot had a proud vegan-friendly stamp on its window and signs.
Paella is actually the name of the pan, and traditionally it’s cooked over a wood fire. For practical reasons, you can’t always expect that, but paella is prepared a particular way with key ingredients, so just any rice mixed with vegetables isn’t necessarily paella, like the tourist traps sprinkled throughout Spain would have you believe.
Veren actually spent a couple of New York City summers apprenticing under a paella master from Valencia. Each time, Ricardo would make two massive pans and one was always vegan. So Veren’s officially a paella snob.
Case in point: if proprietors rely on posters to show off their paella – skip it. If you can see a big paella pan proudly displaying its goodies – order on up.
With a ración at three euros, it’d be hard to beat this spot (intersection of Carrer Pere III el Gran and Carrer Dr. Sumsi – there’s no website) for vegan paella in Valencia.
They seal it in a to-go container, and we ended up bringing four portions back to Madrid. Two of those went to our local Madrileño food critic Juan, and he much approved.
UPDATE: We’re not sure whether the vegan paella place is still in existence. Google Street View still shows that it is there but others have had difficulty finding it (see comments at the bottom of this post). This map shows where it was when we visited! Please comment if you are to find it or if it has since closed!
Los Manchegos – Traditional Spanish Pastry Shop
A little off the beaten path, in the opposite direction of the tourist attractions, lays a little Valencian gem. You might be surprised to learn that pastries in Spain tend to contain pig lard. So they’re not vegetarian even if there’s no meat, and we’ve accepted long ago that we won’t be eating most Spanish pastries. Needless to say, we were very excited to find Los Manchegos and its wealth of vegan traditional Spanish pastries in Valencia.
The employee at Los Manchegos was wearing a tee proudly proclaiming her veganism and she was happy to point out that there was a whole vegan section of a deli counter with several stuffed and unstuffed pastries. And yes, they taste as good as they look.
100% Vegan Restaurants in Valencia
There are 14 completely vegan restaurants in Valencia, which is quite impressive. Vegan Spain isn’t all about Madrid or Barcelona! (Though we can enthusiastically say that the vegan scene in Madrid is amazing – we’ve just written a vegan guidebook all about it! Likewise, our friend Caitlin has written the vegan guidebook to Barcelona).
This was our first meal in Valencia (besides our paella snack). After arriving at our house sit, we were hungry yet Spanish lunch hour was quickly drawing to a close. Nomït was close-by so we ducked in for a menú del día (lunch special – learn more about this custom in our vegan guide to these lunch specials in Madrid).
The first course was a delicious and refreshing cherry tomato gazpacho, followed by herbed risotto. We were quite pleased.
The biggest treat though, was the postre, or dessert, which was quite grandiose for a menú. Usually, there’s a smaller or simpler dessert offered, but this seemed straight from la carta (the main menu). House-made cookie dough ice cream, with mango whipped cream, all drizzled with chocolate syrup. We’d definitely recommend coming just for this, but all was delicious.
We never really had a chance to try more, as our time in Valencia was short, but if the lunch menú is anything to go by, we’re sure it’s great. Report back in the comments if you’ve eaten here!
La Mandragora – Pay what you want vegan social solidarity
At La Mandragora, expect anything but convention. It’s technically a vegan gastronomy association and the first time you eat there you’ll need to register with your name and email at a computer on the counter.
Then you can order at the counter and help yourself to silverware. Two staff members handle all the service as the space quickly fills up with pierced and tattooed patrons. All are welcome though. We saw parents with children, groups of friends, and some solitary diners.
The food is delicious, presented in a restaurant fashion, and could rival any such establishment, despite the iconoclastic interior. Stickers in the bathroom explicitly state that Valencia is not Spain. (To learn more about the history of Spain, check out our 25 Books About Spain to Read Before Your Trip).
When you go to leave, drop whatever you think the meal was worth in the donation can at the counter. Keep in mind that the normal menú del día price is around 8-10 euros, 11-13 if you’re at a nicer place.
Last but especially not least, The Vurger may have been our favorite spot for vegan food in Valencia. It’s Americana fast food meets Valencian hospitality, and it’s so good we came twice, despite only a weekend in town. They offer burgers, hot dogs, all the usual sides, and fantastic homemade desserts. They even have soft-serve ice cream – whaa! The Vurger opened in the spring of 2017 after a year as a food truck down by a drive-in at the beach. They now have two locations!
Check out our profile on the place for more.
Vegan Valencia Nightlife: Vegan-Friendly Bars in Ruzafa
Ruzafa is one of the hip neighborhoods to go out for tapas and drinking in Valencia. We were lucky to be house sitting right in the area, so we headed out for a night of exploring the offerings for vegan tapas in Valencia.
La Tavernaire – All Vegan
As we walked up to the all-vegan La Tavernaire, the place was surrounded by a crowd happily drinking and smoking on the characteristic high tables stationed outside Spanish bars. There were no available spots, so we slipped inside and after chatting with the friendly bartender, ordered a couple of baby beers along with papas en mojo (a potato dish from the Canary Islands) and veggie moussaka, and sat down at one of the dark wooden tables by the bar. Unfortunately, we were a bit disappointed by the food, but the atmosphere was just as we like it – divey and punky. We recommend it for a drink and a hang but maybe not the food. We have heard they do a good vegan paella occasionally, so if you’re there when that happens, be sure to snatch it up and report back! Note: cash only.
This place was our third and unexpected stop. We had passed by earlier and saw the sign out front declaring vegan and gluten-free options. We went in to ask but the bartender said they were out of vegan montaditos (little sandwiches) since they’re in such high demand, but that she could make us more. She whipped up two fresh open-faced sandwiches complete with shredded zucchini, cherry tomatoes, a mustardy sauce, and crunchy fried onions to top it off. They also had vegan samosas and a cool atmosphere.
Self Catering Vegan and Vegetarian Valencia
If you’re in Valencia for a longer period of time or want to sample some Spanish and European products, the best way to do that is by checking out a vegan grocery store. And Valencia has two! Take your pick based on what area of town you’re in – keep in mind that both are closed on Sundays.
Gaia Vegana: You’ll know Gaia Vegana by the 24 hour vegan vending machine out front! They’ve been around since 2010 and the owners are super friendly. They have a large range of vegan products, including vegan lifestyle products like cosmetics.
Carnotaz: The newcomer on the vegan Valencia block, these guys just opened in early 2018. They offer a similar range of products.
Herbolarios Navarro: Herbolarios are health food stores across Spain; they stock plant milks and usually a refrigerator of vegan meats and cheeses. This chain has many locations across Spain, with 8 locations in the city of Valencia. If you can’t make it to one of the vegan stors, these are a great option.
We loved Valencia. We felt it had just the right balance between tourism and caring for its own residents. Of course, we couldn’t try every vegan restaurant in Valencia, though we did try in the short amount of time we had! Here are a few vegan restaurants in Valencia that we didn’t get to, but that either came highly recommended or are well-known and worth a mention.
More Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants in Valencia
Aloha Vegan Delights: Several people recommended this vegan fast-casual spot before and after our trip. We passed by once but it was closed, and we didn’t make it a huge priority as they mostly sell burgers, sandwiches, bowls, and smoothies. Since we’d already pigged out on burgers at The Vurger and we eat smoothies and bowls most days at home, we chose to go to some other places. But it’s supposed to be very good! Keep in mind it’s a small spot with only a couple seats, so more for takeaway.
Kimpira: This restaurant is all vegan, organic, and macrobiotic as well! It came recommended by the owners of The Vurger (see above). Each day they have a changing lunch menu that they prepare to be in harmony with the climatic conditions of the day, and on Thursdays that menu is entirely gluten-free. For dinner, you can order off their regular menu, which contains dishes like lasagna, salads, a burger, and more. They also have several desserts, including chocolate mousse cake and carrot cake.
Vegetarian Valencia at restaurants Malmö, Copenhagen, and Oslo: These three vegetarian restaurants in Valencia named after cities in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway (respectively) constitute a local chain. All offer avant-garde, high-end vegetarian food, with vegan options. Think small plates with impeccable presentation, in a modern, Scandinavian (yet slightly sterile) atmosphere. We didn’t try these restaurants as we had been to the Copenhagen restaurant in Madrid and were sorely disappointed (the Madrid location has since closed, so we weren’t the only ones). The focus here is on vegetarian cuisine, with vegan options as an afterthought, and with high prices (for Spain) to boot. If you’re looking for gourmet vegetarian food in Valencia, one of these three might be worth a try. Otherwise, we’d give them a miss.
Loving Hut: You may already be familiar with this international franchise of vegan restaurants, which can be hit or miss. Other vegan travelers have raved about Loving Huts around the world. Unfortunately, our experiences at the Loving Huts in Madrid and Brighton were severely underwhelming, so we didn’t try this one. The Loving Hut in Valencia is buffet-style, so if you wanna pig out for a set price, this might be your spot. Just be forewarned that the food will be greasy!
Any others we missed? Let us know your recommendations for the best vegan food in Valencia in the comments!
Guía Vegana de Valencia – Spanish language website detailing all of the vegan restaurants in Valencia and more.
Unhealthy Vegan Guide to Valencia – For your vegan Valencia junk food fix!
The Vurger: Vegan Fast Food and West Coast Americana in Valencia – our full review of The Vurger!
Things to Do in Valencia: The great thing about Valencia is that it’s small enough to see a lot of it in a long weekend, even going at a slow pace like we do!
Vegan in Spain? Check Out Our Other Vegan Spain Guides!
We even wrote a book about vegan travel in Spain! Learn more about our Madrid Vegan Guidebook.