The way to judge a great paella is by the quality of its rice, J.L. says on Chowhound. If it’s moist or soggy, it’s a fail. Ideally it needs socarrat, that caramelized, golden-brown layer of crunchy rice that develops on the bottom of the pan in properly cooked paella, something that takes time to form. (“Since many L.A. restaurants want to ‘turn tables’ quickly,” J.L. explains, “they under-cook the paella.”) That kind of thing doesn’t happen at these four spots, places Chowhounds rate as the LA area’s best purveyors of paella:

La Española Meats is a Spanish market, but on Saturdays there’s a limited amount of paella for takeout. Though socarrat isn’t always achieved, this is “a very good paella nonetheless,” J.L. says. Call a day or two ahead to reserve some.25020 Doble Avenue, 
Harbor City; 310-539-0455

• Thursdays on the patio, Bar Pintxo makes a ginormous pan of paella (pictured), $9 per plate. On other nights, you can order a $30 paella for two (garnishes change nightly).109 Santa Monica Boulevard, Santa Monica; 310-458-2012

• At Tar & Roses in Santa Monica, the three-course, $42 paella supper requires a reservation, and you have to have at least four in your party. The actual paella is a seafood extravaganza of baby octopus, clams, prawns, and mussels, with a side of mild padrón peppers. Salad and dessert round out the menu.602 Santa Monica Boulevard, Santa Monica; 310-587-0700

• In Orange County, Olé! Spain Delishop serves a paella of saffron rice, shrimp, mussels, chorizo, pork loin, chicken wings, and sweet peppers, Tuesdays and Fridays only (no need to call ahead).136 W. MacArthur Boulevard, Santa Ana; 714-966-1087

Discuss: Spanish Paella in West LA

Photo from Bar Pintxo / Facebook

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