It often seems that the best food comes from the smallest, oddest, and most inconspicuous places; little hole in the wall places like my favorite Mexican restaurant which sports folding chairs and decade old piñatas hanging from the ceiling among lanterns made of old license plates. This Mexican restaurant though, is palatial real estate compared to Teresa’s. I call it Teresa’s because as far as I know it doesn’t have a name. It’s the kind of place you have to hear about from somebody, and then be lead there more than once to recall it’s elusive local. Maybe I shouldn’t even be talking about it.
Teresa’s is in Santiago de Compostela, a beautiful stone city in Galicia, Spain. The old town is picturesque with its winding cobblestone streets, ancient edifices, and small windows and doors that lead to cozy dwellings. As you walk from Plaza Cervantes to Porto do Camino you’ll pass many such doors, but Teresa’s is the one you’ll want to remember.
Between the hours of 2 and 6am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights the door will open ever so slightly, revealing a slim beam of light. Push the door open and you’ll walk into an extremely narrow space. The counter is inside the door just enough to allow standing room for about six people (five if they’re all wearing their Santiago winter jackets). On the counter will be a list of bocadillos (sandwiches) for your viewing pleasure as Teresa scuttles around preparing her loyal customers’ orders. Teresa is an older woman, so small herself that the small shop she occupies looms large around her. She is in many ways a kind of late-night fairy godmother to those who come and see her, as some of her libation-loving customers with testify, she seems to possess only patience, and not a trace of bitterness.
The bocadillos Teresa makes are as wonderful as she is. The options are all delicious, made with ingredients fresh from the market (I know because I’ve seen her at the bus stop with her wares). Two of my favorites are the Lomo Ali Oli, a very popular choice slathered with garlic sauce and piled high with thin slices of meat; and the Queso Nuez, a delightful vegetarian option including apple slices, walnuts and cheese. There is also the often over-looked yet enticing Nosferatu for adventurous diners.
In addition to the bocadillos there is homemade garlic soup for sale that promises to cure your winter sniffles, as well as homemade truffles. The only down side to Teresa’s operation is that everything is made with so much TLC that it can sometimes be a painfully slow process to watch as Teresa shuffles from Tupperware to Tupperware while your belly craves some post-bar satisfaction.
Whether Teresa is a fairy godmother to the hungry night owls or simply a business genius, she has worked her way into the hearts of the community members (at least those that know her). When I go back, I’ll definitely be looking for that particular door to be left ajar.