Tag Archives: Quesadilla

Chido, Gringo!

sm the block restaurant

As criminal as it may sound, I craved for and gave in to Gringo 3 times in a span of a couple of months.

It was that Chido (“cool”), not to mention situated in SM North The Block, which is just way too cool for the QC denizens.

The menu of Gringo isn’t that lengthy, and one look at the place, you know you’ve got to have chicken. And Gringo Original Chicken I had on all visits: quarter, half and whole!

gringo sm north

As much as possible, I wanted the sidings to vary but it would seem that the Roasted Eggplant (left) is the crowd favorite. I had it 3x as well! I just love the way the eggplant makes the healthier replacement to the usual mashed potato.

half chicken with roasted eggplant

I also had the mashed camote (hmmkay), garlic mushrooms, roasted squash and french fries, but it was the eggplant that stunned me on the first bite.

sm north restaurants

The Original Chicken was the way to go because it was already ultra flavorful and succulent, made even more delectable with the in-house sauces. I just poured the sauces on my sidings, and everything became a house party on my plate.

where to eat QC

The Gringo Baby Back Ribs was soft till the last bite, and still goes well with the roasted eggplant.

where to eat sm north

I kid you not when I say the Nacho Grande was a feast of a tray, because the tray occupied the length of the table! Asked to place the meat on the side, it was still generously covered with cheese and what-not.

The nachos are pretty much the same as the chicken siding, but with this gigantic volume, you know you’ll have to walk home.

gringo sm north

The Spicy Tuna Street Taco and Truffle Queso Quesadilla completed the Mexican fiesta. Both rich, indulgent and just zesty, finally we have a second Mexican haven in the northern malls, next to Mexicali!

latin american restaurant manila

Never got the chance to try their desserts, but next time, we certainly will.

Having to go on a walk though, dessert was still pursued, so we ended up in the quaint Casa Italia, still at the GF of SM the Block. It was dark and only the gelato lights radiated and beckoned the dessert cravers.

I had the matcha green tea. One scoop was all I needed to call it a day.

sm the block gelato




Leave a comment

Filed under Dessert Storm, Home, Smorgasbord

Mexican Mayhem: Orale Taqueria Mexicana

fort strip mexican

The only thing I hate about Orale Taqueria Mexicana (Fort Strip) is that it is so freakishly far from where I live, that I cannot eat there whenever I want to. Which is like everyday.

orale mexican taqueria fort strip

Logistics aside, Orale is like a modified Ristra’s where chili and salsa are abound and the place looks more like Mexico than a Philippines-trying-to-be-Mexico. It smells like a Nacho Libre setting too.

manila fort strip mexican restaurant

The Nachos are home (or is it store?) made and are crispy grande. By that I literally mean BIG crisp, one where your teeth totter on the brink of falling, but the freshness and queso mucho make up for this headbang. In the end you stuff yourself silly and find the crunch so memorable and yes, earth shaking.

j.anne gonzales mexican food orale

The Pollo Asado Quesadilla and Pollo Asado Enchiladas denote how much we love chicken, yes I know. What a poultry killer. Back to the comida, the chicken is so flavorful and piquant, we don’t regret ordering 2 chicken dishes. Mixed with the vegetables and cheese and loads of carbs, this is one Mexican meal that is far from Third World.

fort strip food mexican manila

They give you all sorts of salsa, it becomes a sauce fest. Even for a minute or two, poverty is eradicated from the world and everything is just grande. Grand, huh.

food fort strip philippines orale

The Burrito seemed just as filling. Ah yes, the diner was at loss of words which should be translated as… zzzzz. Death from beef.

In Mexican food-deprived Manila, Orale is the only haven for authentic Mejicano meals. This makes Mexicali, Agave and Baja Mexican Cantina seem like half breeds. After a visit to this place, Orale has become the new benchmark for Mexican mayhem.

Unless Chipotle comes over to the Philippines. Then that would be just sweet. Grand. Susmaryosep.

j.anne gonzales blog


Filed under Home, Smorgasbord

War Hero: Army Navy Burger + Burrito

Army Navy sounds more like that burger place where greasy meats make up most of the menu, if not all of it. I’d imagined a mess hall, tin plates and an abundance of grit—all of which do not make it to my dining requirements.

Good thing the word “burrito” bungeed out of nowhere and finally, finally, Army Navy began to sound like victory, or booty, since we’re getting thematic. Soldier or not, it doesn’t matter whether you can recite Alpha to Zulu in one breath, the “barracks” welcomes anyone who pleasures to dine at the premises, from MacArthur to Captain Hook.

With interestingly named food items like Freedom Fries and Querida Mia, don’t feel idiotic if you find yourself gawking at the menu for the first time. No one will penalize you with push-ups for taking the time, but if you do, don’t expect the person next in line to be a Jolly Jack. And do make sure he isn’t armed with anything that starts with a capital M.

Reading the menu can be quite an entertaining pursuit with its ingeniously crafted offerings. Gathering intel on the food was easy, but deciding what to order was difficult, as my shipwrecked alter ego suddenly kicked in and I found myself wanting to have a quesadilla, quesadilla frito and soft taco for dinner. Slow down, soldier, the pocket has limits.

Not that I was headed to a Death March or any march for that matter, but my wallet just waved the white flag, so better sensibility led me to a decently quantified and well budgeted meal. I will reserve the splurge once I’ve found a war greater than Pearl Harbor or the CJ Case, but until then, it’s 1 quesadilla or the mission is aborted.

Dining in the Dark: Chicken Quesadilla

While there’s steak and cheese, of course I ended up with the Chicken Quesadilla paired with Tortilla chips and cheese dip. No combos or meals here, the three items were separately ordered and priced, and there, I have established my kill zone. Maybe it was the Tagaytay* weather, but I found the chips lacking in that crisp factor, which led me to dunk them all in the cheese dip. That dip had the viscosity 10x of the regular cheese dip (or gravy) and with the satisfactory hint of jalapeno, made my little splurge all worth it. The dip seemed to go well with the quesadilla too, seeing that its accompanying salsa and sour cream came in wee amounts that only Oliver Twist would find acceptable.

All I can remember about the Chicken Quesadilla was that it had chicken, cheese and onions, and in the dark, these were all that mattered. The flavor was light yet near Mexican festive, and the chips certainly brought more entertainment in my otherwise texture-free meal. Somewhere towards the mid-section though it got a bit too greasy, like diner-mess hall greasy, which really made quite a mess of my meal. This was one of those instances that I felt glad to be eating in the dark, but still, being the chronic OC, it’s best to ask for utensils the next time around. I suppose boodle fight isn’t really my “thang.”

 The Freedom Fries were crisp and Cajun inspired, and not the chunky wedges that the lazy chef or KFC would serve. Why “freedom”, I have not figured out, but those little strips are certainly not free from oil, fat and flavor—which should bring a smile to a military brat, or any brat for that matter. The onion rings (Sorry no photo) came in a bit of a sad serving; there were perhaps less than 10 rings per order, equivalent to  ¼ of an onion and one heck of a teary-eyed chef.

The Dinner Platoon

The Starving Sailor is sure to end anyone’s path to hunger with its sourdough bread charged with chicken and caramelized onions. Anyone hungry is sure to drop his anchor at the sight of this leviathan serving. The bread was fresh and chewy and was superb with the chicken with caramelized onions.  Again, the grease fest manifested itself at the expense of OC fingers. Still the onions made up for the flavor and thank God what lacked in the onion rings rained all over this magnificent sub.

In terms of flavor and freshness, there’s nothing AWOL in Army Navy. If any, it’s one heck of a booyah place for the hungry, shipwrecked and stranded in traffic. What’s fantastic is that it doesn’t limit its fares to the usual burgers and American cuisine, as it goes all the way and offers Mexican loot for those looking for that spicy punch.

I give 21 Gun Salutes to Army Navy, and remember, this information isn’t classified.

At ease, soldier.

* We dined at the Tagaytay Branch, which is beside Yellow Cab along the highway. This particular branch offers an outdoor experience with benches and trees, the works—which explains the dark, the cold weather and the fresh air. In case you’re wondering, I was not eating in the dark and neither is it my strange habit to eat in the dark. That’s just plain, weird.


1 Comment

Filed under Home, Smorgasbord

The Ristras Rampage

A delusional descendant of Speedy Gonzalez, it has become my lifetime quest to honor my inanimate forefather by finding decent Mexican cuisine in Manila. While there seem to be a handful, they’ve been quite the letdown, serving crusty tortilla wraps, scrimping on salsa and forgetting that pico de gallo and guacamole are actually part of the Spanish vocabulary.

It is no wonder that whenever I suggest Mexican food when dining out, people just stare at me as if I’ve gone loco. But no, it’s just that: Tengo mucho hambre! (I’m very hungry!)

This hunger was ultimately solved by this little joint along J. Abad Santos St., near P. Guevara: Ristras. At first glance, people may find it quite tedious to read the exhausting menu, but once you get the hang of it, the order process can be strangely interesting. I have learned the difference between a fajita and burrito (it’s the beans, hombre) and realized that these two can be ordered naked. If dining with la familia grande, giant nachos and burritos are likewise in the menu listing for all those hungry hermanos y hermanas.

Best of all, each item is wrapped-created on the spot, which gives way to customized creations and less of OMG-what’s-this-in-my-burrito? situations.

Nine Layer Dip and Nachos

Nine Layer Dip and Nachos P255

While I’ve lost count of the nine items that comprise the dip – let’s see, cheese, jalapeno, beans, guacamole, okay I give up – it was Cloud Nine nevertheless. All nine flavors come in harmony and create that Mexican masterpiece to complement the chips. Nothing overwhelmingly stood out to steal the show and it was nacho heaven sitting on this cloud nine dip.

Chicken Quesadilla

Chicken Quesadilla P320

This grande serving is meant to be shared (by a family even) but this was mine to enjoy and finish to the very last salsa bit. And I did. The chicken looked like tofu cubes in the creation process but once tasted, burst with savory seasoning that my taste buds will forever crave. The chicken, cheese, pico de gallo and onions melted together into this wonderful que-sa-di-ya. The tortilla wrap was chewy and “fresh”, and so were the guacamole and salsa. Eaten together, messed up and splashed all over the paper plate, this was perhaps the closest that I could ever have to a Mexican fiesta. (Unless of course I do get to go to Mexico. Ole!) It was rather on the expensive side, but this trip to Mexican food heaven merited a couple of satisfied burps and for that, I shall return.

Steak Burrito

Steak Burrito P340

Not mine, but it was fun to watch the meat-eater endeavor to finish this carbo frenzy of a wrap. As if the choice between cilantro rice and chorizo rice was difficult enough, but to down this giant creation, it needed more than just a Coke and a Hail Mary. Flavorful as it is colorful, I believe Mr. Burrito will go for the que-sa-di-ya the next time around – but of course sharing is another option.

Ristras served us a rather glorious food fiesta, to make up for the faux Mexican joints that have been flooding Manila and their nasty fares that rely on Quickmelt cheese, butter and canned tomato sauce. At least at Ristras, everything was natural, fresh, authentic and well, mucho gusta! Gracias!

1 Comment

Filed under Home, Smorgasbord

Andale, Baja Mexican Cantina

In preparation for my much awaited escapade at Baja Mexican Cantina (Greenbelt 3), not only did I brush up on my rusty Spanish, I also summoned my faux Latin roots (having once believed we were related to Speedy Gonzalez) and managed to perfect pronouncing quesadilla with the ethnic twang, “It’s que-sa-di-ya, entiendes?

Just this night, I was the Perezosa Negra Gata (Lazy Black Cat in Spanish) who was and still, mucha hambre!

The excitement died down, even before I could bring out my bolero, as the place became a Baja Siesta Fest.

Service was rather slow, as if exemplifying the siesta time. This lazy pace at 7 in the evening though made me consider blaming the time zone difference but then realized that perhaps their “Tia Maria” cook was still tossing the dough for the burritos. If I could only scream, “Andale, andale!” like my ancestor Speedy, then maybe things would’ve gone better. But since this is Manila, I wouldn’t want spit on my salsa.

The food came in long and irregular gaps, which in turn gave my companions their gossip break, and as for me, space out time.

Frozen Iced Tea
Cheese Quesadilla

Cheese Quesadilla

Slap in the right amount of cheese in between flour tortillas, grill and voila! Nothing could go wrong with this Mexican appetizer. Baja’s sauce on the side provided the much-needed flavor and spice. However we found the wrapper a tad too thick, thus engulfing most of the cheese. There’s a reason it’s called Cheese Quesadilla and not Quesadilla con Queso.

Nachos Supremo

Nachos Supremo

With gigantic balls of whipped cream, salsa and cheese, this one’s the appetizer champ. The toppings are finely placed and additional orders of salsa, cheese or guacamole are available at less than P50 per topping. The only fare that has been met with appreciative nods and lip-smacking praise, I believe should I return to Baja, it will be solely for this nacho fiesta.

California Burrito

California Burrito

A beef-filled entree, I watched as slivers of French Fries erupted from the sliced Americanized burrito. The ground beef was everywhere, too tedious for me to pick, and so I left this fare to the meat-eaters. They ate in the Mexican fashion, slow-paced but not engaged in the meal. It seems that the Hamburger-cum-Burrito was not welcomed by their discriminating taste, or perhaps the hybrid attempt simply did not satisfy either genre.

Fish Fillet Vera Cruz

Fish Fillet Vera Cruz

This fish went from “fresh catch” to “gone in 60 seconds”. The fish was fresh and if it helps, so white, I just couldn’t stop shoving pieces in my mouth. The batter was also mildly Mexican, not overwhelming or irritatingly greasy. Whoever  Vera Cruz is, well here’s our message to you: Muchas Gracias, Senora! Unless it’s Tio?

Wet Burrito (with Chicken)

Wet Burrito (with Chicken)

The rice was placed on the side (as requested) and inside, it was 90% beans and 10% chicken (and chicken skin). The chicken was literally bathed in purple, and for a minute I thought I was eating dinuguan and ube (both of which I do NOT eat) in one mighty wrap, devoid of vegetables. If I could rename it, it would be the Fat-Wrap Bean Burrito. In grade school science class, we learned about the 3 Gs of Nutrition: Go (carbs), Grow (protein) and Glow (vegetables). Simply put, this burrito’s so wet, it’s lost all its glow.

With other more enticing and conveniently located Mexican joints in Manila, it’s “Adios!” to Baja Mexican Cantina in the meantime. Should you decide to have a fish taco-nacho buffet in the future though, count me in!

Leave a comment

Filed under Home, Smorgasbord