Spanish cuisine is nothing but familiar to the Filipino palate. From the punchy spices to the inventive mix of proteins, vegetables and rice, we’ve all been accustomed to the taste of Spain. One of the most popular dishes that have garnered popularity among Filipinos are tapas. These are bite-sized versions of typical Spanish dishes, like paellas and croquetas, beautifully presented on a plate. The Basque Country-derived pintxos (or pinchos in Spanish) meanwhile are commonly served in singular pieces on a toothpick with bread. Don’t worry, whichever you order, they’re both equally delicious. When paired with wine or cocktails, tapas and pintxos taste better with every bite. Their flavors and cuts are so distinct that many develop higher expectations when it comes to this dish. To skip out on all the disappointment, we’ve rolled out a list of tapas and pintxos bars in Manila that exceed our—and hopefully your— expectations.
Bar Pinxtos Tapas y Mas
Fairways Tower, 5th Avenue Corner, McKinley Road, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
In 2017, we visited this casual bar, a popular go-to spot for the busy bees of Bonifacio Global City looking for a laid-back dinner with friends and colleagues. Once you taste their salmon pintxos topped with goat cheese and drizzled with truffle honey, you’ll end up scouring their menu for more of their tasty snacks. Serving more than 20 kinds of pintxos and tapas, there’s a chance you’ll be needing more than a glass of their sweet sangria to pair with everything you’ve ordered.
Donosti Pintxos y Tapas
NAC Bldg., 32nd St between 7th & 9th Ave., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Donosti takes its name from Donostia, a city in Basque Country, where pintxos originated. The tapas and pintxos here follow tradition, making it as authentic as possible that any foodie should consider. As for what to order, the Montadito de Chorizo Iberico, which costs only P205, will give you a generous serving of chorizo slices and bread. For tapas, the Calamares Estrellados con Jalapeño (eggs with fried squid and jalapeño) is a crowd favorite.
Barcino Wines and Tapas
Greenbelt 5, Greenbelt Dr, Makati / Power Plant Mall, 143 Rockwell Center, Makati
Barcino has a reputation for serving some of the best Spanish wines in the city. There’s an overwhelming selection of wines to choose from and once you’ve had your pick, the tapas are a surefire hit to pair it with. For a meal that’ll give you the right amount of satisfaction and delicacy, go for the chorizo and cheese platter. Those bite-sized cuts will keep you digging in for more.
BGC Corporate Center, 11th Avenue Corner 30th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Unlike other wine bars that exude sophisticated energy, this bar is all about youth and fun overtly inspired by Spanish culture during the ‘80s and splashed with seductive red on its walls. When it comes to the food, Tomatito follows the same youthful vibrancy of its interiors. There’s a play of flavors taken from experimental combinations of local ingredients like the Chicharron y Salmon, pork chicharon topped with smoked salmon tartar, and the El Nido, quail eggs wrapped in brioche with a chorizo paste. To find out more of what they’ve got, read about our Tomatito experience here.
403 F. Calderon Street, Little Baguio, San Juan City
This simple tapas bar will give you your money’s worth. Its cozy interiors complement that surge of relaxation brought about by a glass of wine or a bottle of craft beer. Calderon serves these drinks chilled to match your choice of tapas and pintxos. For an affordable price of P300 or less, you can wolf down a whole bowl of croquetas (potato balls) and calamares fritos (fried squid rings).
One Mckinley Place, 25th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Despite being located among the many restaurants in Bonifacio Global City, Las Flores still manages to draw large crowds of people. While they do serve full Spanish meals, the tapas are also the star of the show. The Angus and Foie Minis, made with beef tenderloin, foie, caramelized apple and pandesal, is a heady mix of textures and flavors as well as a contemporary touch to classic dishes that Las Flores prides itself on.
Oye Tapas and Grill
Uptown Mall, 36th Avenue corner 9th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City
Back in 2017, we visited Oye Tapa and Grill, a Spanish-Filipino restaurant that accurately captures the marriage between the two cuisines. There’s a stellar selection of tapas and pintxos that follow both traditional and modern recipes. To get the best of both worlds, we recommend their take on the steak tartare, which sounds pretty traditional but at Oye, comes served with Dijon mustard ice cream and parmesan cheese crisp. And for the cherry on top, brace yourself for fruity cocktails that pack a subtly strong alcoholic punch.
Frabelle Corporate Plaza, Tordesillas Corner, Salcedo Village, Makati City
For a more inventive take on tapas, Rambla boasts sophisticated flavors. Its dishes originate from the streets of Catalonia, an autonomous community in Spain known for its Meditteranean-influenced gastronomy. And by that, we mean slices of octopus tentacles seasoned with hummus, gyoza made with beef cheeks and baby squids cooked in wine. Other than these surprisingly delicious dishes, though, are filling kinds of tapas like mini pizzas, chorizo and white wine, and foie-wagyu burgers.
High Street corner 5th Avenue, 2Floor, Exchange Stock Market Mall, BGC, Taguig
True to its name, La Picara, which translates to makulit, is a Spanish restaurant that emphasizes on its multifaceted themes across its interiors and menu. While Spanish cuisine remains at its core, an Asian flair is added into the mix. The tapas, for example, effortlessly embrace Korean and Filipino influences. Croquetas are topped with salmon and kimchi, and their mini tacos are elevated into complex territories with a sisig filling.
Header photo courtesy of Donosti Pintxos y Tapas
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Writer: THEA TORRES