It's no secret that remnants of Spanish culture have played a part in ours after their (very, very) long rule over the Philippines. You can still see much of their influence in different aspects of Filipino culture — including in our food! While many Filipino dishes have been inspired by Spanish flavors, authentic Spanish food deserves some love, too, as there are tons of restaurants in the metro that get theirs right! If you need a guide on where to get great Spanish cuisine around Metro Manila, here are some spots worth checking out!
Cirkulo has been around since the 90s, with none other than Chef J Gamboa as the executive chef, and was one of the first places to introduce a fun approach to Spanish dining: tapas, sangrias, signature dishes good for sharing, and warm, welcoming interiors. And when the dishes come from a renowned chef, you know you have to try the specials! The menu is sometimes updated to add dishes inspired by Chef Gamboa's travels, but you can always depend on their best-selling Paella Montana (P1095) with portobella mushrooms, roasted garlic, and truffle oil, plus the Slow Roasted US Beef Belly (P1295). They have a great assortment of tapas, cheese plates, and desserts, too!
Las Flores has quickly become a well-known name when it comes to Spanish restaurants in the metro. They serve authentic modern Spanish fare, making it a great spot for people who want to try something new and expand their Spanish palate from the usual, traditional dishes. The owners are from Cataluña, Spain, so the restaurant is filled with heritage, but with a fun and modern spin. Get your fill of their crowd favorite signature tapas, like the Angus and Foie Minis (P995) topped with caramelized apple, and the Salmon and Salmon (P690) with caviar and truffle cream served on an "air baguette." For paella, the chef recommends the Paella de Setas (P995) made with wild mushrooms.
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This spot has become a go-to for friends celebrating sangria nights and great tapas; just visit any of their TWENTY branches to find out why! You'll fall in love with their paella, tapas, and other traditional Spanish dishes. Have a platter of Paella Mixta (P890) or Paella Negra (P600) to fill you up along with the Lengua Estofada (P650), which is braised in red wine and tomato sauce. For something lighter, pair your a glass of wine or special flavored sangria with yummy homemade Croquetas de Chorizo (P320) and some Queso Manchego (P400). Got a Barcino craving in the morning? They serve great Spanish breakfast, too!
Alba is unmistakably one of the pioneers of Spanish cuisine in the Philippines! The restaurant was founded in 1952, and has been serving their traditional Spanish dishes for decades. Alba's consistent quality has kept families coming back for years, and thanks to their extensive menu, there will always be something for each person to enjoy! Alba offers many kinds of paella— seafood lovers will enjoy the Paella Marinera (P620) with lots of clams, crab, and more, and the Paella de Cordero (P680) with the unique taste of lamb is also a must-try. For a cheesy appetizer, try Berenjenas Al Horno (P250), baked eggplant with anchovies three cheeses . Another favorite is the Pollo al Ajillo (P350), which is boneless chicken in a spicy garlic sauce.
The word 'pintxos' means a small snack, often cuts of meat or other toppings served on bread or on a skewer. This type of bar chow is common around Spain, and it's what you can expect at Bar Pintxos. This spot first opened in Alabang in 2015, and for those closer to the north, they opened a branch in BGC as well. Enjoy a night out with friends, munching on some of their best pintxos! Some bestsellers are the Burrata (P220) with chistorra and caramelized onions, and the Jamon Allioli (120) made with jamón serrano. They also serve great tapas and charcuterie platters to fill you up more. Don't forget to check out their specialty drinks to pair with your pintxos!
What started out as a quaint hole-in-the-wall spot in San Juan has now become a well-known place to get delicious authentic Spanish food. Aside from Calderón's original branch in Little Baguio, they've also opened in Kapitolyo and Salecdo Village. If you want Spanish comfort food with flavors that are more familiar, this is the place to go. People rave about their signature paella, perfect for big groups; it takes about 20-30 minutes preparation time, but it's well worth the wait. You can get the classic Paella Valenciana (P920 – 3,880) and Paella Negra (P780 – 2,680), but it's their special Paella con Setas, Manchego, & Esencia de Trufa (P1,120 – 4,360) that takes the spotlight— that's mushrooms, manchego cheese, and truffle essence.
For a modern take on Spanish staples, a relaxing ambience with great music, and well-made drinks to accompany your meal, Rambla is the place for you. This restaurant was opened by the same Spanish owners of Las Flores, so you can be sure to get that same level of quality and authenticity. Have a seat by the open kitchen to watch the chefs create Rambla's amazing dishes, like the Grilled Spanish Octopus (known as ' pulpo ') with confit potato and paprika sauce (P995) and Tortilla Vaga with chorizo and Manchego cream cheese (P395). Sip on wine or a G&T while you're at it! Interested in learning how to cook Spanish food? Rambla occasionally holds cooking classes, so keep an eye out!
Got the enough appetite for unlimited tapas? Head over to MÁS Tapas and Cocktail Bar! Más is Spanish for 'more,' the perfect word to describe the experience at this restaurant. They offer two kinds of unlimited tapas; Más Classics (P550) which is their unique take on five Spanish staples, and Más Experience (P750) for additional dishes like Chicken Iberico and Paella. If unlimited isn't really your thing, you can help yourself to some great ala carte dishes like Beef Salpicao. And don't forget to cap the night with specialty cocktails that will leave you wanting "más!"
Another Spanish restaurant that's been around for decades is Ilustrado, serving Spanish-Filipino food in Intramuros since 1989. What better way to enjoy a Spanish meal than in one of Manila's most historical sites? Whether it's a weekend breakfast, afternoon tapas, or a night cap , you can depend on Ilustrado for your Spanish cravings. The menu is extensive, from all-day breakfast, to merienda , to house specials, and more. Bestsellers include the Paella Ilustrado (P895) that uses local annato in addition to the classic Valenciana, the rich Adobong Bagnet with Crab Fat (P520), and Callos Madrilena (P475). Top it all off with their uniquely Filipino Sampaguita Ice Cream (P140) that they churn in-house.
Of course, we just have to include a dessert favorite on the list! When it comes to churros, one restaurant instantly comes to mind: Dulcinea. This restaurant has been serving their wide variety of Spanish fare since the 1960s, meaning generations have fallen in love with Dulcinea's best selling Churros con Chocolate (P118). You just can't go wrong with the hot, fluffy, crispy churros paired with the bittersweet and rich hot chocolate! Aside from this crowd fave dessert, you'll also find Spanish staples like paella, chicken dishes, and more on their menu.