Abbot Kinney in Venice certainly has plenty of restaurants. But nearby residents will tell you that tasty, affordable food is hard to come by. Even if you want to shell out the dough, many places are practically impossible to get into. A casual, last-minute night out is tougher than you might think.
This summer, a pop-up at 3 Square Cafe called Le Sal gives Abbot Kinney diners an option for affordable, casual dining. Run by Cesar Bermudez Cifuentes, Le Sal is an ode to the summer tapas experience in Barcelona, where Cifuentes grew up.
Cifuentes is the pastry chef at the newish Café Röckenwagner in Brentwood, where he's responsible for some seriously stellar desserts. But Le Sal is his first foray into savory food in a restaurant setting, and it's far less ambitious than his carefully constructed pastries. The food is simple and fresh, much like what you'd find at cafés in Spain.
And so, he's serving all the classics of that genre: calçots, or grilled spring onions served with romesco (and here, kale); pa amb tomaquet, grilled bread soaked in fresh tomato; even white and red sangria by the pitcher. A fresh, summery tomato salad is served with preserved Spanish tuna belly. Fried eggplant rounds come "Malaga-style" (Malaga being a city on the southern coast of Spain), served with molasses and yogurt. There are also some nods to the drunk/snack food served on the street in Spain, such as chicken strips rolled in crushed potato chips and served with turmeric aioli.
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The best part is perhaps that everything on the menu is less than $10, with tapas starting at $3.50. It's nothing flashy, just simple tapas made by a chef looking for a taste of home.
Le Sal is open at 3 Square Cafe from 6 to 11 p.m., Wednesday to Saturday, and will run through the summer.