Traveling can be a fantastic adventure since it gives you the opportunity to get to know other cultures, but even most cold-hearted traveler can get a bit homesick from time to time. Located in the heart of Valencia, María Mandiles is a unique restaurant with a design that captures the essence and warmth of a grandmother’s home, along with exquisite dishes that have that “made with love” ingredient that I bet you miss. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a dessert, cup of hot cocoa, or an actual lunch; I guarantee you’ll feel right at home here.
An enchanting facade
Those who come to María Mandiles are first struck by its unique design. The Valencian center is filled with buildings with predominantly baroque architecture, but this restaurant simply breaks the rules. The pink, striped sunshades, the comfortable-looking benches, the welcoming rug, a hand-written daily menu outside the restaurant… These are all details that will surely catch your attention and make you want to come inside.
The story behind the design and the name
In María Mandiles, everything is there for a reason and there’s a story behind every detail, starting by the name. The restaurant’s manager (who, as you can probably guess, is also a designer) was born in Salamanca. He has fond memories of his birthplace, and the tradition of calling old ladies “María Mandiles”, since they could often be seen wearing aprons while doing their daily chores. The soft, pink colors on the walls, the decoration of the walls and curtains, the real roses on every table, and the apron-like details, will all give you a warm welcome and are sure to remind you of your grandma.
It’s also worth noting that the restaurant is inspired by the French comedy film “The Triplets of Belleville”. You’ll be excited to know that you can take a part of María Mandiles with you: all of the decoration is for sale, so you can have more than just a fond memory to take home!
A varied menu
Just like at your grandma’s, you’ll have a huge variety of dishes to choose from. I personally recommend the “plato del día” (dish of the day) and let it surprise you: I enjoyed a delicious Valencian paella that way. The “plato del día” is served much more quickly than the others on the menu, and is a lot cheaper as well (7 EUR, or about 8 USD).
If you’re feeling adventurous, be sure to try the typical Spanish “tapas”, which are traditional spanish snacks like olives, meatballs with sauce, sliced cod with bread and tomatoes, fried potato served with “salsa brava” or the most typical: cheese, bread and their distinctive “jamón serrano”, a Spanish ham similar to prosciutto; as well as “montaditos”. But know that you can also have a delicious salad if you are on a diet! For dessert, their specialties are chocolate brownies, cheesecake, and tiramisu. However, keep in mind that everything on the menu will be more expensive than the “plato del día”, so a whole meal can cost around 15 EUR (approximately 16.5 USD) per person.
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An unmatched customer service and social commitment
One of the things I like the most about María Mandiles is that everything you see on the counter is bought at local markets to promote the growth of small businesses in the area, so it’s guaranteed that all everything you eat will be made with fresh ingredients. The waiters are very kind and are genuinely interested in you and what brings you to Valencia. This is a kind of familiar environment that you won’t find in other restaurants.
At María Mandiles they also believe in continuous improvement in order to keep the customers happy. Their menu is available online, and an Android app for the restaurant will be launched soon. If you want to go with a group they’re open to making a special menu for you, and will surely have some discounts available for you and you friends.
María Mandiles is a restaurant where you’ll receive great care, a lovely meal, and all without compromising their social commitment. It will surely feel like a warm, homely hug for travelers.
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