A guide to the Spanish city on the 100th anniversary of Valencia FC
March 18, 2019 will mark the 100th anniversary of Valencia FC, one of the most decorated Spanish teams in history. With six La Liga titles and seven Copa Del Rey trophies to their name, Valencia remains one of the most popular football clubs in Spain. Located a little over 200 miles south of Barcelona, Valencia remains a must-visit destination for the most passionate soccer fan to experience the Spanish football scene. We recently paid a visit to Valencia to see what the locals like to do during the season.
Valencia has played its home games in the 49,500-seat Nou Mestalla since 1923. The field, severely damaged during the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s, was restored in 1941. That season, the club went on to win their first league title. Thousands of additional seats were added to Mestalla in the 1950s, only to be damaged again by flooding when the Turia River overflowed. Valenica FC offers one of the best stadium tours in La Liga. You can visit the field and locker rooms, as well as an internal museum that hosts some of the club’s most coveted trophies. Tickets to games at Mestalla can be purchased online. Though the club had been planning to move to a new stadium since 2010, the new stadium is on pace to be completed by the Spring of 2021. If you want to see Valencia play in the hallowed Mestalla, time is beginning to run out.
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What’s Up with the Bat?
There are a lot of theories on why the bat is part of the club’s logo. The most common theory, (and the one offered by the club on tours of the stadium) is that when James I, the King of Aragon, was encamped outside of Valencia in 1238, a noise was heard near the king’s tent that alerted a guard. The guard awoke the king, who then told his army to be vigilant. They soon discovered that the Moorish army was attempting to make a surprise attack on King James’ army. Having been alerted, the army was ready and battled back the Moors, forcing them to retreat. After the battle, it is said that the soldiers discovered a bat caught in a drum net as the original source of the noise that alerted the guard. Taking this as a sign of good fortune, James I was believed to have put the bat on top of the shield as a symbol for the city of Valencia.
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WHERE TO EAT
Calle Joaquin Costa 27
+34 963 74 85 58
Chef Quique Dacosta’s first restaurant in Valencia may still be his finest. Dacosta only uses locally sourced ingredients in all of his dishes. The less adventurous may settle for the pork and beef burger with sautéed onions. Regulars know to start with the Patatas Bravas, a staple of Spain’s tapas experience. Don’t miss the Langostinos Crujientes (Crispy prawns), one of the locals’ favorite dishes.
Calle Burriana 38
+34 963 94 49 09
Meat market may be pricey, but for meat-lovers, it’s well worth the time and money. Start off with the Escilabada (Grilled vegetable salad with salted fish). Then choose from a variety of dry-aged cuts of meat. (The prices are market value each day.) Trust the waiter to recommend a wine pairing, and you’ll get a fine vintage that won’t empty your wallet.
Al Tun Tún
Plaza America 4 | Chaflan C/ Sorni
+34 963 74 93 40
It may take a few trips to Al Tun Tún to appreciate the variety of the menu. Start off with the Korean roll stuffed with pork ribs. You can find traditional Iberian ham throughout Valencia, but here it is sliced to order, and the quality is extraordinary. You also may want to sample the eggs with potatoes and chorizo cooked in the Josper oven (the equivalent of an indoor barbecue.) The cuts of hake fried in batter with confit red peppers also remain a highlight.
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¿Conoces nuestro horno Josper? Aporta a los platos el sabor único de las brasas, así como una jugosidad y texturas muy especiales. Prueba nuestra tortilla de patata al Josper, el burger de chuletón de vaca madurada, nuestras cocas, el jarrete de cerdo glaseado, la merluza a la brasa… El #Josper les da un punto muy auténtico. ¿Te vienes?
Racó del Turia
Calle Ciscar 10
+34 963 95 15 25
In 1991, Vincente Romero Tadeo opened this haven of traditional Valencia cuisine. His son, Vincente Romero Sanchis now runs the show. If paella is Valencia’s signature dish, Racó del Turia’s versions are among the finest in the center of the city. The Paella Valencia comes with chicken, rabbit and snails, while the Paella del Senyoret contains prawns, monkfish and cuttlefish. If you’re not fond of paella, try the “all I pebre” or traditional eel stew. It’s worth the transatlantic trip.
Alquería El Brosquil
Lugar Entrada Casa El Llarc 1, Castellar,
+34 963 75 79 70
Located in the village of Castellar, this restored farmhouse turned restaurant may be a little tougher to get to than the others, but it’s well worth the adventure. Situated on an estate of orange trees, the picturesque patio provides one of the finer dining experiences in all of Spain. Be sure to make a reservation at least three weeks in advance to enjoy the Paella de Llobregant (lobster), and Paella de Marisc (seafood).
WHERE TO DRINK:
Bar Cervecería La Deportiva
Plaça del València Club de Fútbol, 4
If you want to drink with the diehard fans of the club, La Deportiva is your place. The place will be packed at least 2-3 hours before the game. Don’t be shy at the bar, or you won’t see a drink. And make sure to grab a few bocadilos—Spanish sandwiches that you can bring inside the stadium for a snack.
Bar Manolo del Bombo
Placa de Valencia Club de Futbol 5
+34 963 93 04 60
Manolo may be one of the biggest soccer fans alive. He’s been to 10 World Cups. You’ll enjoy looking at all the stickers, scarves and memorabilia of teams around the world adorning the bar. But you may want to get there soon. The owners of the building are selling it, and it is unclear if they will keep the bar on the premises. You will regret not having the coldest Cruzcampo you can in one of the greatest soccer bars in the world before it’s gone.