Barcelona: Best Paella at Sta Maria Del Mar Bar – Restaurant

Paella Negra
If you’ve been following my European Vacation posts on this blog you must think we are the most boring diners since almost all of our meals in Spain include paella. That’s because we love paella and we’ve been obsessed looking for the BEST paella. This was our last paella in Spain and thank goodness it was also the best. Read on and find out who the chef was.

From the Sagrada Familia we all took the metro to Place de Sta. Maria where some wanted to go to the Picasso museum while the rest just wanted to eat lunch. Our tour guide Marta suggested the area as a good place to find good eats.
Barcelona's Metrao

Place de Sta Maria

These huge dumpsters were common around the city. Not a pretty sight but obviously an effective solution since the city was quite clean.
garbage bins

Their pedicabs/rickshaws had a nice design unlike the ones we have in Manila.
pedicab rickshaw

Picasso Museum

There was a wedding at the Santa Maria Del Mar church, one of the most beautiful churches in Barcelona with a Gothic style of architecture.

Sta. Maria Del Mar wedding Sta. Maria Del Mar wedding-001

We peeked in this restaurant to see what it offered.
Sta. Maria Del Mar Bar & Restaurant

Outside we saw a Filipino guy and asked where’s a good place to eat and he said at the restaurant where he worked, Sta Maria del Mar restaurant. He told us the chef was Filipino too and we jokingly asked him to tell the chef to make our paella extra good and to give us more.
Sta. Maria Del Mar Bar & Restaurant-002

An order of paella costs €10.80 and was good for 2 people so we ordered two paelleras of black rice with cuttlefish.

Sta. Maria Del Mar Bar & Restaurant-003 Sta. Maria Del Mar Bar & Restaurant-004

menu (click to enlarge)

Sta. Maria Del Mar Bar & Restaurant-005

We sat outside and was literally across the church.
Santa Maria Del Mar

We’ve grown to love marinated anchovies and ordered it every time we can. Such a simple dish but bursting with flavors from the vinegar and olive oil.
marinated anchovies
marinated anchovies

We finally ordered chorizo. It was delicious with bread.

Even their gambas was yummy.
gambas al ajillo
gambas al ajillo

When the paella arrived we were shocked at how plenty it was. How on earth were 4 people supposed to finish an order let alone two. We asked the Spanish waiter if this was really good for two. He said normally an order was only half the depth but the Filipino chef gave us more. Even the cuttlefish was plentiful. We didn’t expect them to take us seriously but we’re glad they did.

Words cannot describe how good the paella was. The rice was soft without being overdone. It wasn’t too wet nor too dry. The cuttlefish was as tender as fish and there was a piece with every spoonful of rice I ate. The flavor of the squid ink and the broth used were intense without being overpowering. In short it was just perfect.
Paella Negra
black rice with cuttlefish (paella negra) €10.80

What made the paella over-the-top freakin’ good was the aioli which was so much lighter than regular mayonnaise. It had the texture of whipped cream and the garlic intensity only a Filipino would understand. No mild garlic flavor here. This was ‘not on a date’ aioli that Ilocanos will be proud of.

Eating the paella negra with the aioli was a gourmand’s wet dream. Imagine finding the best paella and it was cooked by a Pinoy.
Paella Negra-001

This is what we managed to consume and we still had a whole paellera untouched. What did we do with it? My cousin Sha mixed in all the remaining aioli in the paella and we had it wrapped up. We kept it in our hotel room’s refrigerator not knowing how to reheat it.
Paella Negra-002

While eating we were entertained by these two buskers. The lady on the left reminded me of Jennifer Garner.
buskers in Barcelona

After singing and playing around with a ball they came to our table with their hats turned upside down asking for donations.
buskers in Barcelona-001

Finally the bride and groom come out.
Sta. Maria Del Mar wedding-002

After lunch we went to the kitchen at the side to thank the chef. Their entire kitchen staff were Filipinos. The chef used to be a nurse who became a cook. We bowed at his feet for his excellent cooking.

To all the Filipinos in Barcelona please do visit this restaurant and let them know I sent you there. I told them their pictures will be on my blog. You will not regret it. It may just be the best paella of your life too. The Spanish manager of the restaurant was obviously proud of his staff too.
Sta. Maria Del Mar Bar & Restaurant-006

The next day we had the leftover aioli infused paella reheated by our hotel’s restaurant and it was just as good. After lunch we still had a container left so we brought that with us on the plane ride to Florence. Yes, that’s how precious it was to us.
Paella Negra-003

I can’t find any address or telephone number for this restaurant. Just go to the Santa Maria del Mar church and you will see it. Say hi to all the Pinoys there for me!

16 thoughts on “Barcelona: Best Paella at Sta Maria Del Mar Bar – Restaurant

  1. Ifthis restaurant is to the left as you exit the church, then I’m practicallysure that this used to be RestauranteVacelum, in which case the address would be:Plaça de Santa Maria, 408003 BarcelonaBTW, this dish is correctly known asArroz negro (Arròs negre in Catalán).Many people call it Paella negra,which technically is a misnomer as purists will state it is not a paella sinceit contains onions & garlic, which is probably why it appeals to the Filipinopalate.Did you try Fideuà? It’s prepared like paella, but with vermicelli instead ofrice and is usually served with the same alliolisauce. There’s also Fideuànegra, which is similar to your dish above. Perfect if one is trying to cut back on eating rice.


  2. Forgot to mention that allioli is Catalán for aioli (French/Provençal), but differs in that it doesn’t contain any egg like the latter, in case anyone is wondering why it looks so white in your photo above.


  3. I just love weddings, a good band, a great church and a rowdy party makes it all but unforgettable. I love how they all dress so elegantly too. It’s just darling. I saw the works of a great wedding photographer perth and she was spot on and made me feel like proposing to my girlfriend.


  4. I went here last week due to your post. Paella, all other food, service, and value were all superb. Thanks for writing about the place, otherwise I would not have tried it!


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