Philippine cuisine has numerous indigenous and foreign influences, but after a 400-year rule, one of the strongest legacies has been left by Spain. Filipinos still indulge in lengua, caldo and tamales today – so no prizes for guessing that some of the best Spanish food (outside of Spain) can be found in the Metro. Here are our top picks…
What: Gallery Vask
Best For: Molecular Spanish
Cooking is an art at this intimate hybrid gallery and innovative restaurant, celebrating local talent, produce, people, nature, textures and travel. An exclusive 20-seat aerie, Gallery Vask comes complete with vibrant yellow walls, glossy floors, starry artworks and a stellar city skyline view, but the focus is firmly on the plate. And with a resume spanning gourmet hotspots Arzak, El Bulli, El Celler de Can Roca and Mugaritz, it’s no wonder that chef José Luis González’ knockout Spanish-Filipino fare has made San Pelle’s prestigious Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
What: El Cirkulo
Best For: Pan-Iberian classics
After 20 years of service, award-winning chef J Gamboa still has the local foodie crowd entranced with his legendary cabeza de cerdo (suckling pig). True to Iberian style, sharing is a vital part of enjoyment at Cirkulo, starting with tapas (gambas al ajillo is a favourite among regulars) and moving on to heartier mains such as paella perfect for 3 or 4 people – the Paella Montaña with portobello mushrooms, whole roasted garlic, asparagus, and truffle oil is gloriously indulgent. Larger groups should order the Cordero Lechal Al Horno (a whole rosemary-roasted suckling lamb), a dish so monumental you need to order it 48 hours in advance.
Best For: Elevated Catalan
A molecular-tinged dining experience as visually impressive as it is tasty from restaurateurs Dani Aliaga and Sergi Rostoll (of Las Flores fame). Warm up with preprandials at not-so-secret speakeasy, La Coctelera, tucked away on the second floor, before settling into the bar-diner or patio out front for share-plate standouts like paprika-sprinkled octopus carpaccio, creamy ricotta gnudis (pouches), and sculpted Wagyu beef inside-out cannelloni. Pair with pours from the Spain-centric wine list or the excellent Albert Singla-designed cocktail program and you’ll swear you’ve died and gone to Catalonia.
What: Donosti Pintxos Y Tapas
Best For: Basque pintxos
Taking inspiration from the region so famed for its cuisine that Ferran Adrià considers it to be the best in the world, Donosti showcases the ‘pintxo’ (local lingo for ‘bar finger food’), which are small mouthfuls intended to be served with or on garlicky toast. Cold cuts, garlic shrimp, pickled anchovies, and Madrileño ox tripe stew round out the finger lickin’ delicacies, while main courses feature sinful roasted Spanish baby lamb and Bilbao-style Chilean seabass. Add a pitcher of the restaurant’s signature sangria to pair. All that’s missing now is that Biscay breeze…
What: The Black Pig
Best For: Jamón ibérico
With a name like Black Pig, there’s little mystery as to what guests are likely to sample in this hip, industrial-tinged Alabang hotspot. Following on from the default starter of choice – the signature charcuterie board – Mediterranean-inflected dishes include slow-cooked mackerel with spicy avocado, squid-ink risotto, quail-egg ravioli, and oven-baked pork belly with bone marrow. A decent selection of affordable wines and craft brews, available individually or in a ‘Beer Flight’ tasting series, will ensure your thirst is quenched nicely too. ¡Salud!
/ 5/F / Clipp Center / 11th Ave / Corner 39th St / BGC / +63 91 7806 5292 / lunch & dinner daily / vaskmanila.com
/ G/F / Milkyway Bldg / 900 Arnaiz Ave / Makati / +63 2 810 8735 / elcirkulo.com
/ G/F / Joya Bldg / Joya Dr / Makati / +63 2 823 6468 / lunch & dinner / facebook.com
DONOSTI Pintxos y Tapas
/ G/F / NAC Bldg / 32nd St / Bonifacio Global City / +63 917 849 2205 / lunch & dinner Mon-Sat / donosti.com
The Black Pig
/ 2/F / Commercentre Alabang / Commerce Ave / Mutinlupa / +63 2 808 1406 / dinner Mon, lunch & dinner Tue-Sun / theblackpigbar.com