Cartel may just be the best deli in town
It’s not the Cartel you think it is. “Everyone’s thinking of, you know, drugs…especially after Narcos, right?” co-owner David Collado recalls with a smile. But in Spanish, David’s mother tongue, a cartel commonly refers to the lineup of bullfighters. If you look closely at Cartel Coffee and Deli’s logo, you’ll notice bull horns sitting atop the name, a subtle callback to the concept.
Cartel can also refer to a lineup in general. “You can use ‘cartel’ for any of the lineups you have, even for artists, or if you have an expo, or an art show,” David explains.
David and his fellow owners Marivic Diaz-Lim (of Apartment 1B fame) and Cecilia Mañosa, thought the name reflects Cartel’s purpose of showcasing its six business partners. The trio behind Pablo collaborated with Yardstick coffee, Bon Ton bakery, Belge & Co. chocolates, Holy Carabao holistic farms and the Txanton jamoneria to create a one-of-a-kind space for the Salcedo neighborhood.
The trio knows Salcedo best, having lived and worked near the area for quite some time. “What was missing was a more hipster, dynamic, informal, yet very quality-oriented [concept] that could supply the needs of many different target markets and many different F&B needs,” David says. The original plan was to build Pablo as a restaurant with a deli, but there wasn’t much space available. Around a year ago, the location beside Pablo opened up, and the deli concept finally came to life.
The result was a one stop shop that offers deli goods, pastries, coffee, salads, sandwiches and wine. Located at the ground floor of Picasso Boutique Residences, Cartel is slowly becoming a hangout for nearby office-dwellers and a grab-and-go stop for residents at the same time, depending on what the customer needs.
Warm wooden interiors draw you in, inviting you to sit down and help yourself to a cup of coffee and a sandwich, two of the early top sellers in Cartel. The sandwiches, crafted by Pablo’s chef Amado Garcia Fernandez, vary in filling and flavor, each one bringing its own personality to the table.
Native Mesclun Salad with Calamansi Honey Vinaigrette
The Grilled Three Cheese sandwich is a twist on the childhood classic. The different textures of gouda, cheddar and mozzarella melt together as one, their combined cheesiness tempered by the sweet surprise of crunchy caramelized onions.
The Italiano sandwich overwhelms with the freshness of arugula, a welcome crisp taste that balances out the salty salami and rich cheese.
Coffee addicts can seek their caffeine fix in the familiarity of fan favorite Yardstick, whose brews are used to create the coffee served at Cartel. The Iced White is one such drink, a straightforward, smooth blend that jolts the senses.
For healthy eaters, Holy Carabao developed a salad line for Cartel, such as the Native Mesclun Salad. A mix of assorted organic leaves, the fresh plate comes with the brand’s own calamansi honey dressing.
Grilled Three Cheese
Semi Curado Cheese
Txanton supplies imported cold cuts that are sold at both the counter and the retail area of Cartel. The Jamon jabugo has a deliciously salty flavor in each thin slice, making one reach out and grab some more. Jamon lomo is a milder flavor, but still with the juiciness necessary in a good cold cut.
These partners are just the beginning for Cartel. While the owners are sticking to their core brands, they’re also open to smaller partnerships with other up and coming suppliers. “It’s like an art gallery,” David says. “Let’s just curate some brands.”
At one month old, Cartel is still taking it a day at a time, conducting fine tuning to see what works and what doesn’t. “We like to try and succeed, or to try and fail,” David says. “You have to take those chances, right?”
Cartel Deli is at 119 L.P. Leviste Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City; tel. no. (02) 772-8270.