Being the birthplace of paella, Valencia earns a special place in the hearts of gourmets.

This third largest city in Spain remains the best place on the planet to gain a true understanding of this culinary masterpiece, but paella is not the only draw.

When it comes to gastronomy, Valencia spills a cornucopia of delights.

Location contributes to the magic. Situated in middle of Spain's eastern Mediterranean coast and surrounded by rich agricultural land and fresh-water lakes, Valencia is the locavore's ultimate dream city.

Seafood from the Mediterranean, rice from the surrounding marshlands, freshwater fish from the lake, succulent oranges and a rainbow of vegetables from nearby fertile fields provide Valencia's chefs with glorious ingredients. In turn, chefs create some of the best food in Spain.

Valencia's restaurants produce a full range of dishes, from time-honored traditional foods to the most imaginative contemporary cuisine, and they sell their sparkle at a value price when compared to similar restaurants in other major Spanish cities. Fabulous bargains abound in particular during Restaurant Week, held twice a year.

Part I:" target="_blank">Viva paella! Explore the varieties and making of the staple dish

Part II:" target="_blank">The sources of Valencia's markets


More Feast Magazine | Inspired Midwest food culture covering St. Louis, Kansas City and mid-Missouri articles.