Food

Toothpicks Over Knives

The social nature of the pintxo is perfectly captured at the casual and low-key Bar Pintxos
IMAGE Rennell Salumbre
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Miguel Vecin and Martin “Tinchu” Gonazalez just wanted to put up a neighborhood meeting place where people could come in shorts and watch a basketball or futbol game. They took over a floundering coffee shop located at the back of an office building and started off with two or three wooden tables. Just a few meters off the SLEX service road, between Sucat and Alabang, one can’t really say they’re easy to get to. Or find; because there are no signs outside, either. Which wasn’t an anti-establishment stance on dining but, as Tinchu reveals, they simply could not afford it then.

For the food, Miguel and Tinchu chose to highlight the Spanish deli meats they either import or produce and supply to other establishments. So serving pintxos and tapas made sense. And while tapas and pintxos seem to be very trendy and upscale concepts the past several years, Bar Pintxos was created to show how it was really done in the alleys of San Sebastian. You pick a place, stand by the bar, savor one or two pintxos while downing a glass of beer or txakoli, throw your napkins on the floor before paying then head out to the next bar.

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Casual and perfect for conversation


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Some traditional, some with a twist, the tapas and pintxos at Bar Pintxos fuel a night of easy conversation.


The braised veal cheek is packed with beefy flavors.


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Just some boquerones

They started out with the familiar-gambas al ajillo, croquetas, fabadas, callos, and paellas. But they’ve won the hearts of denizens with their more innovative takes on Basque bites as roasted piquillo peppers stuffed with brie and jamon, or a sliver of bread topped with vinegary boquerones, uni, and caviar. A favorite would be the otherworldly combination of lomo iberico, a sheet of lardo and sweet Hokkaido uni. The braised veal cheek topped with jamon serrano, mushrooms, and onions was quite notable; intense beef flavor and gelatinous texture. 

Miguel has had no formal training in the kitchen and shares that they just try to use the best ingredients per dish. Whatever’s in season. “It sounds clichéd, but for us, it works,” he says. But he has lived in Barcelona for 20 years and has an unquestionable benchmark for the flavors of Northern Spain.

They carry a number of craft beers but have also developed a proprietary brew, an amber pale ale with medium bitterness and a long finish. And it stands up perfectly to the bold and robust profile of the food.

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Bar Pintxos is packed almost every night. Martin still can’t seem to wrap his head around how people from as far as Makati or Quezon City would drive up when they had only envisioned their bar to be a local place. These days, it’s not uncommon for people to cross oceans for an exceptional meal.

Bar Pintxos is at Don Gesu Building, Don Jesus Boulevard, Muntinlupa City; tel. no. (02) 831-0065; [email protected]

This article originally appeared on the March 2016 issue of Esquire Philippines. Minor edits have been made by the Esquire.ph editors. 

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