This shop serves the best sepia sandwiches in Valencia

March 19, 2018
Lenny Chen

Hungry for one of the best fried sepia sandwiches in Valencia? Our local Valencia tour guides recommend Bar El Tostadero, for their bocadillo de sepia a la Romana.

Open for 58 years and considered a local institution in the area, Bar El Tostadero offers great food and honest prices, serving traditional Spanish fare of breakfast, bocadillos and tapas. It is manned by four friendly faces behind the counters: Ismael, with the glasses and moustache is the longest serving, having worked here for 44 years, and their ‘youngest’ being Tony, who’s four years in and counting.

Around Spain, a bocadillo with calamares (squid) is more commonly served, so like many others around town, Bar El Tostadero used to call theirs by the same name, but #localsknow it’s always the more tender sepia (cuttlefish) that is used at this spot. That’s also what makes this particular sandwich unique, and one of the best!

Once the sepia are freshly sliced up in-house, they are battered, deep-fried and put straight from the fryer into a long baguette. We recommend asking for a side of garlic mayonnaise (alioli) or garlic oil (ajo aceite) to kick it up a notch.

When I ask Tony for their secret to such a delicious sepia bocadillo, he causally smiles and says there are none. He did reveal that it’s important to buy whole cuttlefish, and that they only prepare the quantity they will use for the day — no leftovers are pre-prepared and left aside. Getting the quantity needed takes a lot of work, as this place has a high turnover of customers, serving some 60 kilograms of sepia daily (or one tonne daily during festive periods), and can sell upwards of 1,400 bocadillos on each festive day!

two male shop workers in Valencia

Tony and Ismael, the youngest and longest-serving at El Tostadero | Photo by Valencia Urban Adventures

Bar El Tostadero is open 7am until 8pm most nights, except Sundays, when they are closed all day (check their Facebook page for updates on their festive hours). Their busiest times are usually 11am to 3pm, and it’s not uncommon to see a metre-long queue out the door during busy festive periods such as Valencia’s Las Fallas.

When you come in, eat like a local and lean against the bar counter to enjoy your food if you can’t find a bar stool. If it’s too busy, takeaway is always a great option. Simply say, “Un bocadillo de sepia a la Romana para llevar por favor”. This is a cash-only bar, no credit cards accepted.

How to find it: Avinguda de l’Oest, 31, 46001 Valencia (a two-minute walk from the famous Central Market of Valencia).

What to order: bocadillo de sepia a la Romana (‘-a la Romana’ if you want the sepia fried; if you prefer them grilled, you can order it ‘-a la Plancha’)