There's been a mouthwatering resurgence of Mexican grub in Manila, and we're really all the better for it. When done really well, Mexican food is vibrant: meats succulent, salsas and sauces bright and citrusy for a blend of fresh and tart, accompanying starches and carbs give heft and extra texture. Tacos, nachos, and burritos make excellent hangover food, and actually, when you chose the right stuff from a Tex-Mex spread, you can build yourself a balanced and healthy meal (trust in avocados, ensaladas, beans, and leaner grilled protein).
The latest addition to the Mexican addiction in the metro is Lo de Alberto, an al fresco taco stand that sits right in the middle of the carpark of City Golf Plaza in Pasig. Their spot used to be a carinderia before it transformed into the little taqueria that could. What makes this one different among the lot is that all of the fresh, simple, and homemade dishes are prepared by a Mexican chef, Balam Nazar, who shares that everything he's serving us here in Manila is how he'd cook food back home in Mexico City. Chef Balam's homey, authentic comfort food is cooked using the kitchen's concavo, letting the meats get really flavor-packed while they are being cooked in all the drippings.
The menu at Lo de Alberto is simple and straightforward: you can have quesadillas, tacos, and burritos, with tortillas and aguas frescas (flavored drinks) in supporting roles. If you're heading to this taqueria with friends, get their Chilaquiles (P220) perfect for sharing. Dubbed as the house 'hangover' salad, this stack of fried tortilla's got goodness loaded in every cranny and crevice — pulled pork, salsa, cilantro, garlic sauce, tomatoes, onions. It's a typical breakfast item in Mexico and uses leftovers, with sauce taking over the plate (making the chips a little soggy), but here in the restaurant it's as delicious and crisp as it is colorful.
To relieve your thirst, have their Tamarindo (P110) or the cinnamon-laced Horchata (P80), two traditional Latin American drinks that refresh, especially when you've had the spicier stuff. Their Fresh Frozen Margarita, and off-menu drink, finds a way to make it feel summery even on the rainy afternoon of our visit.
They may be a taqueria first and foremost but don't leave the place without an order of Hongo Quesadilla (P165/Ruglar Plate, P255/+ Frijoles y Arroz), one of the more memorable cheese quesadillas I've ever had. It's a warm and gooey hug of fresh earthy mushrooms (hongos) and cheese, proving that meatless can definitely be luscious. According to Chef Balam, this kind of quesadilla is the most popular one in Mexico. Meals here can be upgraded to include Frijoles y Arroz — that's creamy mashed beans and rice — by adding P90.
Tacos and burritos here have the same three fillings: carnitas de puerco (fried shredded pork), suadero (fried beef), and pollo a la pibil (chicken with a citrus marinade). The burrito gets an additional variant filled with bacon and egg, aptly called Breakfast Burrito. An order of taco gets you two pieces of the crescent-shaped comfort food, served with a side of tortilla chips, fresh salsa roja, and salsa verde. The Carnitas de Puerco Taco (P195/Ruglar Plate, P285/+ Frijoles y Arroz), soft from being slow-cooked, was perfect for my palate with salsa verde and a generous squeeze of lime to cut through the richness. The generous topping of cilantro, a personal favorite green herb (although it's commonly undesired by others), adds to the freshness.
The burrito version of it, Carnitas de Puerco Burrito (P235/Ruglar Plate, P325/+ Frijoles y Arroz), stuffs the pork with frijoles, rice, and more cilantro. While most burritos in the metro are overzealous with their portioning of rice and consist of most of the filling, here at Lo de Alberto, the burrito fillings are balanced out. I was a slightly sad sweet tooth finding out that this new taqueria has yet to roll out a dessert, but I am appeased with drops of salsa and more squeezes of lime on my burrito, the way good comfort food works its way to lighten the mood and fill up the belly.
Lo de Alberto is located at the middle of the parking area of City Golf Plaza, Doña Julia Vargas Avenue, Pasig. The taqueria is open Monday to Saturday, 12pm to 12mn. Like Lo de Alberto on Facebook (/lodealbertoph) and follow on Instagram (@lodealberto).