Paella, Por Favor!

I have seen paella mentioned in a few threads around these parts, but I do not believe the glorious dish has a thread of its own. I have yet to find an outstanding paella in Los Angeles, and am hopeful you all can recommend some favorites.

I’ll start things off with a place I just discovered online called The Social Paella. It looks to be a Spanish takeout & catering company. The pictures look promising and the place has stellar reviews on Yelp. Has anyone had their paella?

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Someone from this company recently reached out to me on IG and I thought it looked promising as well. Waiting to see if they get back into the farmer’s market game… no events on my horizon that require gigantic paellas to be made but I’ll certainly accept an invitation if someone comes up with one! :slight_smile:

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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?!

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Is the Espanola market still around? I know the OC counterpart folded. Wouldn’t call it outstanding (I am sure I’ve never had a truly outstanding paella in my life, regrettably) but it was very enjoyable.

I’d be interested to know which one people think is the best in town right now. Haven’t been to Espanola in several years

I consider myself a paella aficionado and I’ve accepted the reality that there’s no good authentic paella in LA. Are there tasty versions of “paella” around? Sure. But most seem to be too wet to be considered good paella anywhere in Valencia.

Whenever I need a paella fix, I cook it up at home.

La Española is still open and offering their Saturday paella. Should be back to their patio by now but that I cannot confirm. From late December:

"So about those paellas. Some people might say that a mixed paella (seafood and meat) is an abomination, but the house paella ($9.99 per portion, two portions mixed below) of Doña Juana does just that. Luckily there were no purists consuming this meal, as it was enjoyed immensely without shame. The important thing about it is that it still lets the rice do the work.

As any Spanish person will be happy to tell you, the paella rice and how it is prepared is just as important as the rice a sushi chef will prepare for his creations. It must be cooked to just the right consistency and never be wet and sticky, or dense and clumpy like some tourist atrocities served to monied idiots abroad. The paella here, even from a styrofoam container, has perfect rice that has been yellowed by the use of saffron.

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Damn that looks way better than my black paella I received from la espanola

Replating my styrofoam raciones of La Espanola paella…

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The only report of soccarat in LA I find on Yelp was for the arroz negro at AOC.

The word shows up for a few other places in complaints that there was none or that it was burnt.

Gasolina Cafe used to have regular paella nights which were very pleasant, and which may resume once the pandemic is behind us. As an alternative, La Espanola is a good choice.

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Their IG page has a post from 3 days ago w/ paella and a mention of dinner service, and the menu does have 2 paellas listed. Never been, so perhaps I will give this a whirl…

I ordered from “paella night” at Gasolina Cafe (Woodland Hills) back in October last year. This was during the take-out only phase, of course.

Looking through the window, I spied two large paellas. Paella pans looked legit. Proper heat sources. So far, so good…

Once home, I eagerly tried the seafood paella: A bit disappointing - many of the rice grains were broken and soggy. Toppings were good to very good, but couldn’t make up for the rice. Uneven socarrat, interspersed with wet rice at times. I felt there was just not enough “life” in this racion of paella. The croquetas were quite decent, though…

Flan was ok for dessert.

I hope the food of the dine-in experience at Gasolina Cafe is better than my carryout items…

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Thanks for the inspiration. Buy it now .

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Bomba rice is interesting stuff. For a party I used it in a huge batch of something like jambalaya / arroz con pollo Turned out all soupy so I brought paper bowls and a ladle. By the time I got to the party and set it up, the rice had absorbed all the remaining liquid and had the expected texture.

A bit off topic, but did the recipe include directions to let it sit out for full absorption? I wouldn’t have known to do that, had there not been an explicitly instruction about that.

I wasn’t following a recipe beyond the basic ratio of 3:1 liquid to rice (with other types of rice I’d use 2:1).

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I’m going to throw some more wood on the fire to raise the temp near the end of cooking. Developing a nice socarrant .

If you don’t mind schlepping to Santa Barbara Loquita’s paellas are pretty good and all have a reasonable soccarat.

For L.A. hounds’ reference the paella is not as good as Perfecto’s was at Smoke/Oil/Salt.

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Chef Perfecto’s paellas were fantastic.

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Perfecto has a high-end tasting menu re$taurant in Seattle now. Seems roughly comparable to a modern San Sebastián 2-star.

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