Alas, a solid Spanish restaurant (that’s willing to stick around) is a hard thing to find in L.A.
But of course, many other derivations of Spanish paella exist. I’ve seen some Central American, Carribean and South American versions around. (And I don’t consider risotto as paella, though many restaurants undercook their ‘paella’ so badly that I’d categorize them as risotto or porridge LOL.)
To me the best continuously-available paella in SoCal is still the Saturday paella de la casa (to go) at La Espanola Meats in Harbor City. It satisfies most of the factors which I look for in a good paella:
Rice: Like good sushi, the rice is a huge consideration. La Espanola uses Iberian bomba rice.
Consistency: It is a relatively “juicy” paella - the rice is well-cooked, and has absorbed much of the sofrito (base broth), and golden saffron hue, without being soppy or “wet”. Tangent: This is a fatal mistake many restaurants make when offering paella on their menus - Good paella takes time to cook down. Many kitchens, fearing customer complaints when the dish takes too long to materialize, undercook the thing and instead add more luxe toppings (like lobster, shrimp, etc.) in a feeble attempt to compensate for the poor rice.
Socarrat (burnt rice crust): Admittedly, the paellas from La Espanola usually lack socarrat. But I can overlook this omission so long as the rice itself is flavorful.
Toppings: The least important facet, in my book. La Espanola’s version is truckstop paella (the informality is a main part of the paella tradition). There’s chorizo (sausage), lomo, pimiento (red bell pepper), beans, chicken thigh/leg, mejillones (mussels) - Very enjoyable toppings.
Like EattheWorldLA, I too would like to have someone like Savory Roads Catering make a legit gigantic paella for us.
Hey, maybe a FTC (vaccinated, outdoor) get-together / meetup?!