When I discovered this restaurant, it changed my life. It is that simple, that straightforward, and so true.
The restaurant is located in a shady alley outside of the central square of Salamanca, Spain. This tiny spot serves up some of the most amazing food you will find in all of Spain. Even better, they have a menu written in English!
I found this place on accident while staying with a girl I had met in Barcelona. When she suggested we go to her favorite restaurant (which was one of two restaurants that existed), I agreed without much thought or preparation. Two days later, when we walked up to Le Sablon together, it felt like an old friend welcoming us home again after years away; it fit me perfectly and was simply everything I had been looking for.
The restaurant itself is a small, rustic, and romantic affair, with a long bar taking up the majority of space in the front window. The tables are few, and as soon as there is a free seat, you will find yourself pushed to it by those waiting in line out front. There aren’t many busboys or waitresses buzzing about, but the place has its own vibe that makes everyone feel at home pretty quickly. They do not need to serve fancy food because they have earned their clientele and keep them coming back by serving simple and tasty dishes that remind you of Sunday dinners at your grandmother’s house.
Every time we went, we shared an appetizer called ‘pimentos de padran’ which were stuffed peppers filled with minced meat and cheese. They were delicious, but they weren’t my favorite thing on the menu. I know what you are thinking…a stuffed pepper isn’t a meal? That is true, but when you add in a side of rice or fries, it becomes one for between two people.
In all my travels around Europe and Asia, this was the only dish that took me back to my childhood and made me feel like sharing moments that truly meant something with someone I cared about was still possible. Life was good again. No matter how crazy things got, just after we ordered this appetizer, we would watch out waitress bring out three different plates of ‘pimentos de padran’ and get lost in our own little world while waiting for the main course.
The final dish that we ordered was a pork steak with a side of fries, roasted potatoes, and green beans. The steak came with a brown sauce poured on top, but I thought it tasted better without it. Even though I am not the biggest fan of sauce or gravy or whatever you want to call it, my mother is also not a big fan, so this plate brought us together again through our love for food. We didn’t care what anyone thought about us dipping our dinner in its own juices because we were comfortable and happy just spending time together again over a fantastic meal that reminded us why we had chosen to travel around Europe in the first place.