Where to eat: Tomatito, Calderon and Warung

Can you believe it?! It’s December–the last month of the year, and officially the beginning of the holiday season. This is the busiest month for most of us, as we spend most of our free time planning and attending reunions, get-togethers and parties, and of course, spending plenty of time stuck in traffic (how can we forget about this yearly tradition haha). As we start to make plans I’ve realized the most common question asked among family and friends is: “where do we eat”?

Yes, I prefer eating out rather than entertaining at home, because (1) each person can order what he/she likes, (2) no more before and after clean up to think about, (3) there’s no need to worry about not having enough chairs in the house (that actually happened to us one time), and (4) there’s no need to go for an ice or alcohol run, (5) the group can easily move to a different place if they want to “extend” the party late into the night.

So, okay, I recently ate in these three restaurants and absolutely loved their food–so I thought, why not share my recommendations, to make choosing where to eat a whole lot easier (you’re welcome). Here are new restaurants to try when you don’t know where to eat.

1.) TOMATITO Sexy Tapas Bar: G/F BGC Corporate Center, 30th Street corner 11th Avenue, BGC, Taguig City; Tel. No. +632 805 7840

This Spanish tapas and paella restaurant not only lends a cool, vibrant vibe, the food here is so worth the visit. It has your traditional dishes, but done in a playful twist, which is why I highly recommend it for a Christmas get-together. Your family and/or friends will enjoy ordering their tapas and meat plates, while the lot of you can share an order (or two) of paella. What we did was we each ordered our own choice of tapas and ended up sharing! It’s a great way to taste a lot more dishes in the menu. But if you need to feed quite a big group, they have some dishes that are good for sharing (like their Pollo Asado, a Mexican style whole roasted chicken with herbs, which we had; El Jefe Maya, whole Maya Maya fish cooked in Latin-Asian flavors; El Cochinillo, slow confit and crispy half suckling pig; and Viva Rib Eye, 1kg of American prime rib eye.

Must-order: Salmon TNT (P595), explosive smoked salmon with honey and truffle; Foie Caramelizado (P995), caramelized homemade foie gras terrine, Granny Smith and smoked bacon served with walnut bread; Mini hamburguesas (P275), sexy Latin-style mini burgers, Chaperones a la Andaluza (P275), fried baby squid with chipotle cream and aioli; Croquetas de Ibericos (P245), Iberian cured meat croquettes; Solomillitos al ajillo (P395), beef striploin steak with sautéed garlic and potatoes; and Arroz Negro (P695), squid ink dry paella with sautéed baby squid and asparagus.

Oh, one thing about dining here is that it can get a bit warm towards the end of the night. I’m not sure if it was just that evening but I was sweating haha. Good thing the food made up for it! Wear something cool when you’re here (not like the sweater I wore). Note to self: wear a tank top and skirt next time–it is a sexy tapas bar after all!

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2.) CALDERON Cocina Tapas y Bebidas: 12-C East Capitol Drive, Kapitolyo, Pasig City; FB page

Although the restaurant is small compared to your usual establishments, I assure you the food here is quite delicious. Their menu is composed of Spanish home-cooked dishes that wont disappoint. My family lives very near the area, so they always frequent this resto. I, on the other hand, don’t get to visit this area often enough, so it was my first time to try it recently. I suggest this place for a smaller group or gathering (maybe your barkada Christmas dinner), as the restaurant only has a few tables and maybe call for reservation to be sure you can be seated.

As for the food, Calderon serves comfort food at its finest. The Mejillones Con Sofrito (P185), or mussels in sofrito sauce with tomatoes, herbs, garlic and olive oil is fresh and tasty (we had two orders); the Calamares Fritos (P300) was pretty good, Tristan seemed to like it a lot; and the Gambas Al Ajillo (P310) is a favorite with us. For mains, we got their two paellas: Paella Valenciana (P920 for Pequeña, which can feed 4-6 persons) and Paella Negra (P780 for Pequeña). For me the Valenciana was a little bland, but the Negra was phenomenal. I don’t usually eat rice since my family went on Keto, but that night I indulged. We ordered Lengua Con Setas (P580), or tender slices of ox tongue in creamy mushroom butter sauce, which went well with the paella. For dessert, we got churros, but it wasn’t as great as we expected. Still, its churros, so we ate it all. Could be improved on though!

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3.) WARUNG Kapitolyo: 83 East Capitol Drive, Kapitolyo, Pasig City; Tel. No. +632 246 9069, ext. 978

After two Spanish restaurant recommendations (yes, I love Spanish food), the last one on my list is Indonesian. This is actually the favorite restaurant of my dad, which is why we celebrated his birthday here. This restaurant is a great venue for big groups because of all the space they have. It is pretty spacious inside, and they even offer private dining rooms if you wanted to throw a dinner party here. Their menu is a delightful offering of traditional Indonesian cuisine, like the Ayam Goreng (half P250/whole P450), or fried chicken with special flakes; Sate Ayam (P195), tasty chicken skewers cooked over coals and served with peanut sauce; Beef Rendang (P375), or Indonesian beef stew cooked in coconut milk with ground spices; and Nasi Goreng (P185), Indonesian-style fried rice. Personally, I love how these traditional dishes are done just right–you can even request it not to be so spicy as it can be for some dishes. Plus, Indonesian cuisine is so similar to our Filipino dishes, it is hard to make a mistake when ordering. Just ask your server for suggestions and they will be happy to help.

I hope I was able to help you decide where to eat! More of this series to come (hopefully as I continue trying new restaurants). Happy holidays!

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