Valencia: Barrio del Carmen

Imagining what it would feel like to live somewhere isn’t the same thing as living there. Living there doesn’t necessarily provide a sense of home. For Donna and I home has become an interesting concept. Even on a 14 day French canal trip Donna packed everything she thought we needed to make our utilitarian rental boat feel homey. It wasn’t a sailboat that ‘tilts’. So, there was a vase for flowers. Home isn’t a place or building to us. It’s a feeling, and all the ambiance we can carry or collect.

We’ve been in Valencia’s Barrio del Carmen for a little more than a year. Our first apartment was a bolt hole. Our new rental feels inevitable. In Spain we still have a home in Oliva for relaxing. The apartment in Barrio del Carmen is our home base.

FINDINGS: Barrio del Carmen

Barrio del Carmen is a buzzing area of historic Valencia. It’s one of Europe’s oldest medieval quarters. That means it has narrow alleys, and a maze of streets. Getting lost is easy. There is always a new corner to turn, new shops, shortcuts, and restaurants to discover. Choosing a specific point of orientation is helpful. In the beginning we started in Placa de la Virgen and slowly worked out from there. These days we are doing a deep dive into the area around our apartment.


Mayan Coffees, Murillo 54, Valencia
If you can find Torres de Quart, you can find Mayan Coffees. It has a 4.8 rating, Max makes an excellent cup of Guatemalan coffee. Gladys makes a mean tamale. In season zumo de sandia (watermelon juice) is a must order.

1 Rato Mas, C/ de Dalt 21, Valencia
This used to be El Cafe de l’abad. New owners have added a bigger bar, a bigger menu, and better pastries. The coffee is still good. (I miss the former barista.) There’s morning sun. It’s also a nice place for cocktails in the afternoon. If we were true locals, we’d order beer for breakfast.

Q7th Specialty Coffee, C/ Quart 7, Valencia
This is a grab and go option. The proprietor just wants to make coffee…dammit. Donna gets the coffee. I head to Pasteleria San Nicolas (Placa del Forn de San Nicolas). It has the oldest oven in Valencia. Then we meet in Placa del Tossal and find a sunny bench. A well-made coffee, old school pastries, and people watching can make my day. (There’s a local who looks like 13th Floor Elevators’ Roky Erickson. I keep wondering if he’d sing It’s A Cold Night for Alligators with me.)


Although it’s close Central Market isn’t where we shop everyday, but our favorite vendors are there. That can change from day to day. How today’s products look and smell, and the day’s prices guide our purchases. If a vendor has tiny Alpine strawberries, they are getting fresh produce. The fishmonger who is still cleaning after everyone else has left for the bar usually has the best fish. If the bakery smells like freshly baked bread, the loaves are still warm. The vendor who doesn’t display prices is charging too much for product that’s approaching its pull date.


Bar Richard, Carrer de Pinzon, 9, Valencia Reservations are necessary. It’s a small fish bar. I recommend going for lunch. By dinner popular items might be sold out. If you order oysters on the half shell, you’ll only get two apiece. Go with people who don’t like oysters, and eat theirs.

El Molinon, C/ de la Bosseria 40, Valencia
This is where you go if you want a taste of Northern Spain without leaving Valencia. Cider on tap, and fabada will make you feel like you’re in an Austurian village. (Thanks, Oscar and Susan!)

L’Angolo Der Grillo, C/ Santa Teresa 23
Donna always orders puttanesca con bucatini. Everyone knows it. My son, Aubrey, raved about the carbonara. This is real deal authentic Italian food. Donna made a point of having lunch at the owner’s brother’s restaurant in Rome. How good is l‘Angola Der Grillo’s service? The waitress waved me down in the street to tell me Donna left her sunglasses at the restaurant the night before.


Celler Bouquet, C/ de Baix 29, Valencia

This is one of those places you usually find when you are lost. It’s wall to wall wine. There’s a well-curated hard liquor selection. The proprietor knows every bottle in the place. If we are looking for a limited pressing made with heritage grapes, Celler Bouquet is our first, and usually only stop.

When exploring reveals places that become familiar, home might be right around the corner. The next discovery is waiting for you.

3 thoughts on “Valencia: Barrio del Carmen

  1. What an exciting and epicurean life you two are leading. I live vicariously through your adventures. Thanks for sharing ❤️


  2. So amazing, Mark. And, so jealous. I have been pitching my wife for years to move to Europe. Sadly, not likely to happen. Maybe be able to spend a couple of months at a crack, which would be good too. Have spent a goodly amount of time in Spain although much of it was business and the other times were simply too short. Our daughter, Alexandra studied in Madrid for a semester so we went then and stayed for about 15 days. Travelled all over. I went to Madrid, Malaga and Torremolinos after graduating from college among other stops. My ancestors are originally from Spain so there is a certain magnetic pull to spend time there. Travel safely. Thanks so much for the post.


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