Car Wash Cuisine (food served in car wash stations) is an untapped goldmine in the local food and beverage industry. Save for Charlie’s Grind and Grill in Kapitolyo, Pasig, no other car wash restaurant (at least off the top of my head) offers especially-crafted food for idle and hungry car owners. Sure, some premium car wash stations sell chips and coffee. And the more affordable ones have sari-sari stores, tapsilogans, and gotohans adjacent to them. But how come no one else is feeding these customers, who have to sit and wait at least 30 minutes, with quality food?
Type One Car Spa owners, Melvin Cheng, Joyce Esteban, Reupert Sy, and Lynn Sy, recognized the same untapped potential. So last January, they decided to upgrade the car wash’s cafe to Red Baron Ribs and Steaks. “We are big foodies ourselves. We like to eat out and try new dishes. We thought the market is ready for this concept,” Reupert reported.
And ready, the market is. On a typical weekend lunch, the 20-seater restaurant is filled to the brim with stags as well as families from nearby residential areas. “We’re happy that apart from those who are waiting for their cars to get washed, couples and families who simply enjoy our food patronize us as well,” he beamed.
Because it primarily targets the car wash’s customers, Red Baron’s food is partial to man-food: ribs, wings, burgers, and steaks. “The food here is a collection of what we like to cook and eat. Most of the dishes in the menu are products of our own kitchen experiments. These are all made with love,” Lynn shared.
Lynn's Carbonara– one of the many dishes here that are "made with love"
Case in point is Lynn’s sought-after appetizer, the Nachoriffic (P218; good for 3-4 people), a best-seller in the appetizer category.
The dish is not much to look at. The Nachoriffic’s chips pale in comparison to the usual corn-yellow store-brought counterparts. Atop the chips mountain is a plentiful mix of ground beef and mushrooms. To finish it off, red and white sauces are drizzled liberally all over.
But despite the minimalist look, the Nachoriffic doesn’t lack in taste. Surprisingly, it is able to communicate all the essential flavors required from a nacho: cumin and pepper in the beef, tangy salsa through the red sauce, and sour cream and cheese through the white sauce. It’s merely simpler and neater. And because it doesn’t overload the ingredients, the Nachoriffic stays crunchy to the last piece.
The Nachoriffic is the perfect quick snack if your car’s having an express wash. The regular portion can feed a family so if you’re on your own, order the Nacho Small (P138).
Apart from the nachos, the Ribs Solo (P275) is also a must-try at Red Baron.
Enough for one hungry man, the dish has about half a slab of pork ribs, a cup of rice, one Wild Side (your choice of side dish), plus one small jar of peanuts. The meat, which effortlessly peels away from the bone, tells it’s been slow-cooked. It swims in thick, sweet and tangy barbecue sauce that will make your lips pucker. An order of extra rice is likely, especially for full-grown men with big appetites.
Burger-fans will be delighted with Red Baron’s Volcanic Bacon Mushroom Melt (P255). This certified Angus burger with cheese, bacon strips, and flowing lava of Mozzarella in its core barely fits in a grown man’s hands.
Volcanic Bacon Mushroom Melt
Red Baron is also famous for their affordable ½ inch Rib-eye Steak (P278), served with rice and a side on a stone plate. One can choose from two rub variants: Zesty Mediterranean or Classic Honey-Garlic-style. They serve one of the better steaks in the area.
Wild Sides options: Eggs Benedict, Mashed Potato, Mac and Cheese
But apart from this entry-level steak, Red Baron also specializes in premium Australian meats. If budget permits or if the occasion calls for it, try their Herb Crusted Heavy Porterhouse (P1950) — wet-aged for 22 days, and grilled medium rare. It’s a prime steak at the unlikeliest of places, but one that’s tender and succulent enough to merit the price.
Herb Crusted Heavy Porterhouse
As mentioned before, Red Baron was first a coffee shop before it upgraded to a restaurant. This said, you can expect that dessert here is especially-crafted and not just a mere after-thought. The Crispy Fried Milk (P148), Joyce’ recipe, is a delightful stack of fried flour, milk, and sugar, served lumpia-style, and then drizzled with thin chocolate syrup. It goes perfectly with Red Baron’s Frizzy drinks, especially the Nutella Frizzy (P155). The flavored frappe has the perfect balance of Nutella and coffee: not too sweet, and never cloying.
Crispy Fried Milk
Long term patrons of Red Baron have reprimanded me for prioritizing the Nutella Frizzy over Ice Scramble Frizzy (P138) and Good Shepherd Ube Frizzy (P138), as if it’s a sin to leave Red Baron without tasting those two. You might want to heed their advice and try both on your visit.
A full-service car wash typically takes 30 minutes to finish, not counting the waiting time required if the station is packed. While some are perfectly okay with sitting through those 30 minutes, watching whatever’s in TV, while eating chips with soda, we know a lot of foodies who’d rather spend that time chomping monstrous burgers and licking rib sauce off their fingers if given a chance.
We hope Red Baron’s upgrade of car wash cuisine inspires a trend. That way, waiting for cars to get washed will never again be a bore.
Red Baron Steaks and Ribs and Type One Car Spa are located at 143 D. Tuazon St., Cor. Calamba St. Quezon City. The restaurant is open from Mondays to Sundays, 9:00AM – 9:30PM. There's parking for non-carwash customers in front.