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3 Spanish Restaurants That Are All The Rage

 

 

Tomatito Manila

The newest restaurant concept from the same group who’s given us Rambla, Las Flores and La Lola Churreria, Tomatito Manila is yet another take on Spanish cuisine. This time it’s fun, modern and quite flamboyant. It’s also a little bit tongue-in-cheek: its name, tomatito, means “little tomato” in Spanish, and is also a reference to colorful Flamenco guitarist José Fernandez Torres.

The menu was created by Chef Willy Trullas Moreno who is famous for his restaurants El Willy, Elefante, Fofo, La Paloma and Ocho, which are all based in Shanghai and Hong Kong. The Asian influence can occasionally be felt, and since the executive chef is Mexican, the influences make it to the menu, too. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, says co-owner Sergi Rostoll.

Dishes are served tapas style, for sharing, with each dish bursting with surprising flavor. The Salmon TNT, a signature standout dish from the El Willy menu in Shanghai, is balik-smoked salmon with honey and truffle plus an explosive dash of heat! Tiraditos de Pescado Blanco is tanguigue in a citrusy Peruvian marinade; spoon this from the bottom up, advises the chef, to get the full juicy flavor. It’s wonderful. There is, of course, Paella Valenciana, this time a more rustic, dry version with chicken, rosemary and snow beans. While the popular gazpacho is modernized in Atún con Gazpacho y Olivas, topped with strips of semi-cooked tuna loin. It’s so much fun dining and drinking at Tomatito Manila that one visit will turn you into a regular.

- Troy Barrios

G/F BGC Corporate Center, 11th Avenue corner 30th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig

 

 

Café Madrid

This more modern version of Juan Carlos de Terry’s flagship Terry’s Bistro offers a more affordable taste of gastronomic specialities from all over the 17 regions of Spain, from Galicia to Madrid to Cataluna. The warm interiors of this restaurant beckon, featuring a selection of the finest Spanish wines and cheeses like manchego, tetilla and cabrales. With its cold appetizers, warm tapas and pinchos, the menu instantly reminds of Las Rambla in Barcelona and its salty sea breeze. Suspiros De Atún from Cantabria is tuna belly escabeche on roasted piquillo peppers, topped with savory anchovy mayonnaise. Another unique dish is Colgados de Toledo or hanging tapas. A fun way to share, Spanish cheese, pork and beef tapas and other meats are threaded through a metal skewer, which is then hung from a metal rod, so that it swings from side to side like a pendulum. A trademark Terry’s dish, Piggy High (housemade chorizo flambéed in sherry brandy in a cute pig-shaped vessel) is done Colgados de Toledo style, hanging over a shallow bowl of Rioja lentil stew. We also loved the Chistorritos de Pamplona from Navarra, grilled chistorra and cherry tomatoes served with Huevos Rotos, and thinly sliced potatoes soaked in the lovely fattiness of jamon iberico, inspired by Casa Lucio restaurant in Madrid. There’s also the utterly decadent Choci-Frito, small chunks of conchinillo confit marinated in garlic, sherry vinegar and fresh herbs. And whatever the Paella of the Week is, it’s guaranteed to be delicious, with fluffy Valencian rice cooked in flavorful housemade stock, with mushrooms, shrimps, chicken and chorizo. Whenever we feel nostalgic about Spain, we’ll come back to this clean, well-lighted place, and partake of tapas and wine with our friends.

- Ginny Mata

Unit B1-028 Estancia at Capitol Commons, Meralco Avenue corner Shaw Boulevard, Barangay Oranbo, Pasig City, (0915) 932-5302, (02) 470-1675

 

 

Bar Pintxos

Spanish tapas aficionados have long been making the trek to this not-so-secret neighborhood joint in Alabang for out-of-this-world tapas and pintxos (the Basque version of tapas, usually served on toast) expertly prepared by Miguel Vecin. Thankfully, he and his partners recently opened a more accessible branch in BGC, with a small plates menu that’s just as enticing. Start with nibbles of marinated olives, pan con tomate, chorizo frito, jamon serrano or iberico, manchego before you decide on the bigger bites. Then proceed to the classics—crispy chopito frito or baby squid, gambas al ajillo, perhaps a paella, croquetas, and any number of traditional pintxos like escalivada or gildas. But make sure to leave room for a selection of Vecin’s more elaborate pintxos creations where he experiments with all sorts of flavor combos on top of toast: Queso de Cabra with goat cheese, beans, chorizo, bacon; Foie with seared foie gras, apple compote, PX reduction; Mar Y Montanya with uni, lardo, lomo iberico; Salmon with goat cheese, honey and a dollop of caviar; and the list goes on. Don’t forget to pair these small bites with a glass of Spanish wine, a bottle of craft beer, or a gin cocktail or two from the bar. One thing’s for sure, there’s nothing small about the small bites and beverages at Bar Pintxos.

- Anne Marie Ozaeta

G/F Fairways Tower, 5th Avenue corner McKinley Road, Bonifacio Global City, (02) 810-1307