The Best Tacos This Side of Metro Manila
When a restaurant claims to be the only authentic taqueria in the Philippines, it’s sure to create a buzz. And buzz people did, so only a year after it opened, Lo de Alberto has now expanded to a bigger and better (read: airconditioned) space—but still in the original compound. In this new space, one can enjoy comfortable indoor seating, a bar, and a cozy al fresco dining area laid out with comfortable love seats and coffee tables. A well thought out feature is a sink for hand washing, which eliminates the need to use City Golf’s pay restroom to get our hands clean before we get down and dirty with the grub.
While the menu seems limited at first glance, Lo de Alberto offers a good array of basic Mexican fare, all of which the staff can describe with much gusto. Two of their servers and the chef, Balam Nazar, hail from Mexico, and they are enthusiastic about educating the diners with ingredients or dishes that may be unfamiliar. Chef Balam takes pride in using fresh, local ingredients, because he says he doesn’t like the idea of opening cans just to be able to say the ingredients are “authentic”.
According to the chef, the foundation of good Mexican food is about quality tortillas and sauces, all of which they make fresh in the kitchen. And you can immediately detect the extra steps they take in the way every tastes. Chef Balam should really consider bottling his Salsa Macha, which is similar to a chili pesto.
The tacos are, to put it simply, tasty, and each one had its unique sapidity, so going through the Taquiza (a sampler of six taco flavors), is hardly a burden. The platter comes with four fresh salsas that tilt the flavors to whatever you prefer. A standout is the Agua Chile, which are fish and shrimp cooked in a sour and chili sauce, similar to a ceviche but wrapped in tortilla. The tartness and bite of the seafood is a refreshing break from the meat and fried fish variants. Another must is the campechano, which is lengua with chorizo and chicharon. It is surprisingly not as heavy or greasy as it sounds, and is appetizing even when it gets cold.
Lo de Alberto also features lunch specials, which include the Flautas de Papa (crispy tortillas filled with mashed potato and chorizo) and Sopa Azteca, a spicy tomato soup topped with tortilla chips. Chef Balam compares the flautas to lumpia, but imagine instead a filling that is much like a chorizo croqueta. The soup is spicy, but with a squeeze of lemon and a dollop of sour cream, it becomes tangy and creamy as well. Together, they make for a most satisfying midday meal. Each order comes with iced tea, with the option to upgrade the drink to one of the Aguas Frescas: Limon, Piña, Sandia, Tamarindo, or their famous Horchata. And as one would expect from a taqueria, the also serve margaritas and tequila.
Flautas de Papa
As if we could ask for anything more, the new and improved Lo de Alberto plans to introduce new dishes over time. So whether you are an old faithful or a virgin, now is the time to be heading out for a Mexican food fix.