5 reasons to check out Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

In the mood for a gastronomic adventure? Look no further than Vatos Urban Tacos for good food, cool vibes and a great time. Here are five reasons why you should check this place out:

One: It’s a cool place to hang out in

Located at the ground floor of Net Park Building in BGC, Vatos’ store is characterized, not by the traditionally colorful Mexican decor, but by an industrial, almost steampunk aesthetic. Bare concrete walls tastefully adorned with black and white photos and exposed pipes, lamps hanging from the ceiling giving muted light, dark wood tables and an accent wall of broken bricks on top of the bar were elements inspired by the very first Vatos outlet in Korea. These give the place a cool urban vibe that make it a great stopover after work to eat, have a few drinks and relax.

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

And ladies, those inverted faucets under the tabletops serve as bag hooks!

Two: It’s your intro to #KorMex

Vatos (from the Mexican slang for “men” or “dudes”) was actually born out of the desire of three Korean-American friends – Sid Kim, Kenny Park and Juweon Jonatham Kim – to offer a new type of dining experience in the Asian market. Having grown up in areas of the US where they have access to authentic Mexican dishes, while being fed a steady diet of homemade Korean food by their moms, they came to mix and match the cuisines. These experimentations resulted to exciting new dishes, especially for adventurous seekers of spicy food. These include:

Kimchi Carnitas Fries (Php350). A hearty serving of seasoned French fries, braised pork carnitas, melted cheese and sauteed kimchi topped with chopped cilantro and onions, sour cream and Vatos signature hot sauce.

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Honey Tequila Chicken Wings (Php490). Can something so good be hot and sweet at the same time? Apparently yes, with these meaty chicken wings coated with a sweet and spicy honey tequila sauce and served with deep-fried battered jalapenos and bleu cheese dipping sauce.

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Vatos Cowboy Queso (Php390). For a rich savory taste of the Wild West, dip a crunchy had-cut corn tortilla into this molten dip of cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, black beans, pico de gallo and cilantro lime crema. You’ll surely be coming back for more.

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

The Fat Bastard Burrito Bowl (Php560). A filling bowl of Mexican rice and black beans combined with tender bits of carne asada steak, pork barbacoa and grilled fajita vegetables, with fresh Mexican flavors from cilantro onion, cilantro lime crema, fresh guacamole, chipotle salsa and Vatos hot sauce.

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Grilled Chicken Fajita Platter (Php850). Grilled chicken thigh and fajita veggies served on a sizzling hot plate along with Mexican rice, pico de gallo, chimichurri, cilantro lime crema, Vatos hot sauce and warm flour tortillas.

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Korean Pork Belly Taco (Php290 for 2 pieces | Php430 for 3 pieces | Php600 for platter). One of the resto’s much-vaunted urban taco options, this platter, this features pork belly marinated in Korean soy paste, ssamjang aioli, sliced fresh and pickled onions.

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Chimichurri Chicken Taco (Php259 for 2 pieces | Php370 for 3 pieces | Php600 for platter). Spicy chicken flakes topped with a sweet and tangy chimichurri salsa, lettuce, sour cream and Mexican cheese.

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Baja Fish Taco (Php280 for 2 pieces | Php410 for 3 pieces | Php600 for platter). White fish coated with tempura beer batter served with spicy chipotle mayo, pico de gallo and apple coleslaw.

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Three: Why would you go through life without taking a sip of Vatos’ crazy margaritas?

Margeritas are tequila and citrus-based cocktails which serves as refreshing drinks and worthy foils to spicy Mexican dishes. Vatos’ ‘ritas have a nice variety that you can choose one that suits your craving or mood.

The sweetest among Vatos’ margarita offerings is the Sexy Sanchez (Php480), a fruity strawberry margarita served with an upended bottle of Magners Berry Cider.

Grow-a-Pear (Php480), on the other hand, is less sweet though no less fruity being made of passion fruit margarita accompanied by an upended bottle of Magners Pear Cider.

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

If the ‘ritas are not your cup of tea (more like alcohol of choice!), how about another shot of #KorMex fusion with the Makgeolitas (Php320)? Tequila meets Korean rice-based alcohol resulting to a sweet and tangy concoction that packs a wallop.

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Four: There’s something for your sweet tooth too!

With all the fresh citrusy and rich earthy flavors, generously infused with a spicy kick stemming from Vatos’ Korean and Mexican roots, capping your meal with a decadent dessert can be quite an indulgence.

Take the Nutella Nachos (Php225), for example. Cinnamon powder and sugar dust crispy tortilla triangles drizzled with hazelnut Nutella sauce. Topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream, each mouthful is an explosion of sweetness.

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

A new addition to Vatos’ menu, the Bacon Jalapeno Brownie (Php180) is an interesting study of contrasts. Sweetness from the chocolate and candied walnuts, savory from the crispy bacon bits, and spiciness from the jalapeno that was included in the mix for some reason. One bite and I just want to delve into its mysteries, unravel its complexities and discover what makes it tick. Long story short, yeah, I liked it. (Thank you, Captain Obvious!)

Vatos Urban Tacos, BGC

Five: It has special treats in store for you as it turns a year old this February.

When you visit Vatos as it celebrates its first anniversary, you’re definitely in for a treat!

Feel like crooning out your signature song while accompanied by an acoustic guitar? Make sure you’re at Vatos on February 1 (Fri), 7pm for its Open Mic Acoustic Night with Dindo and Ryan.

And for all you 80s and 90s kids out there who can’t get enough of the past decades’ great tunes, DJ Erwin Paz will be there on February 2 (Sat), 8pm to play the sounds you’ve been missing.

And, on those days, you will discover that your Php100 bill can get you very far: you can either get a huge glass of margarita, or a pair of scrumptious tacos.

Vatos is a welcome new foodie discovery in itself but with its imaginative fusion menu and anniversary activities, it can become a new favorite.

Vatos Urban Tacos is located at Net Park Building, 5th AvenuelBonifacio Global City, Taguig. For inquiries, call +63 2 4597009 or +63 967 2464781. More information on its dishes and drinks are available at www.vatosph.com.

Vatos Urban Tacos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclosure: Together with other food bloggers, I was invited to attend a foodie meetup held in this restaurant. Food items mentioned here were served to allow us to sample the fare and were not paid for by the attendees, including myself.

Hidden gem of Italian Cuisine: Cucina di Francesco, Libis

When you think about food places in the Libis area, chances are this Italian restaurant hidden away from the busier sections of the metro has escaped your notice.

Cucina di Francesco got its name from the name Francesco Forgione, the name that Saint Pio of Petrelcina, more affectionately known to devotees as Padre Pio, was born with.

Incidentally, the restaurant is located in the same compound as St. Pio Chapel, so I would imagine families fresh from Sunday mass coming in for lunch.

In this instance, however, I took my fam here on the way to our weekend staycation.

From outside, the restaurant presents a comfortable, homey and welcoming facade.

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

Inside, the place is bright and cheery, with large windows letting in lots of natural light and large hand-painted murals giving the premises an eclectic vibe. There are more seats to dine in on the second floor, while the third floor is mainly used for events.

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

I booked our table the night before via Zomato. We were a few minutes late but I called the resto to apprise them of our arrival time so our table was waiting for us when we arrived.

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

My daughter #ExhibitA, who’s trying to eat healthy, requested for a salad so we ordered a Ceasar Salad (Php180). The focaccia croutons, fresh microgreens and rough-chopped walnuts delectably add to the taste and texture of this classic dish.

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

Our little boy #ExhibitB, on the other hand, is a well-known pizza monster. We got him a Tre Formaggi (Php350) whose lethal combination of bleu cheese, emmenthal and mozzarella on top of creamy bechamel got my baby reaching for slice after slice.

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

Hubby got himself a Pasta Puttanesca (Php195). The sauce made from olives, anchovids and capers in fresh tomato sauce makes this a tasty pasta dish. (Hubby liked it well enough but insists that his mom’s version tastes better.)

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

We split orders of Lasagna al Forno (Php260), a meaty baked lasagna with bechamel cheese sauce (which I found a bit dry) and Italian Beef Stew (Php485), a dish made of beef chunks, Italian sausage and vegetables braised in tomato wine sauce and served with parsley rice.

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

All in all, I wouldn’t mind another visit to Cucina di Francisco and checking out more of its Italian viands. The place certainly is charming and even has free WiFi! Plus, the wait staff are also friendly and accommodating.

It’s quite near my home and is easily accessible. Since it is a free-standing resto that shares a sizeable multi-level parking lot with the church, I wouldn’t have to stress myself in looking for a parking space as opposed to the likely scenario if I were to visit a mall-based eatery during mealtimes.

Cucina di Francisco, Libis

It also employs persons with disability, such as those in the autism spectrum. This is an advocacy near and dear to my heart, being a parent to a child with special needs myself.

For those who are artistically inclined, Cucina di Francesco also serves as a venue for art and crafts workshops on weekends in partnership with Maartsy such as Plush Keychain Making and Acrylic Flower Jewelry Making in January 26 and Mandala Coffee Painting and Doodle Art with Lettering on January 27. For inquiries, call +63 2 9175861785.

Cucina di Francisco is located at RER Compound (St. Pio Chapel), 188 E. Rodriguez Jr. Avenue, Bagumbayan, Libis, Quezon City, open daily Tuesdays to Thursdays from 8am to 8pm and Fridays to Sundays from 8am to 9pm. For reservations, call +63 2 5349935 or book your table via Zomato like I did. 🙂

Cucina di Francesco Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Here’s some trivia for you: Did you know that puttanesca translates to “in the style of a whore” in Italian? While some food pundits would attribute the name to seedier origins, some food historians date the sauce back to the 1950s when Sandro Penti of Rancio Fellona were requested by hungry late-night patrons to “Facci una puttanata qualisiasi” or “Throw together whatever.” Which was what the good Penti did with what he had at the time: tomatoes, olives and capers. The rest is history. More on that here.

Check out my reviews of other Italian restaurants:

Barkada Bundle of Filipino Food at Joliant, Tomas Morato

It’s the last work day of the week. By midday, my office friends and I are already looking for some respite… and maybe a little bit of comfort.

Thus, by lunchtime, we disappeared to one of the Filipino eateries along Tomas Morato; Joliant Restaurant.

I was initially attracted to the store’s very affordable pricing. (Imagine rice toppings served with iced tea for as low as Php69!)

However, by the time our group of five hungry coworkers entered the restaurant’s spacious and well-appointed premises, we found ourselves going for one of its Barkada Bundles. These are combinations of several classic Filipino dishes served with rice and iced tea enough for a group of five to eight people, packaged into affordable deals.

Joliant, Tomas Morato

Joliant, Tomas Morato

Joliant, Tomas Morato

Joliant, Tomas Morato

Joliant, Tomas Morato

Also, since the dishes included in the bundle are already curated, we didn’t need to expend effort trying to figure out the combinations of tastes when we give our order.

Our group ordered the Barkada Bundle Meal D (Php1,299) which includes:

Kare Kare. A rich stew of tender oxtripe, green beans and eggplant in a peanut-thickened sauce and best enjoyed with white rice and bagoong (sauteed shrimp paste). While this version is pretty good, it does not compare to my mom’s kare kare. But then again, no other kare kare does either.

Joliant, Tomas Morato

Lechon Kawali. Another favorite dish which consist of pre-seasoned and pre-boiled pork belly deep-dried to attain a golden brown color and crispy, crunchy skin. Together with the lechon sauce and a bit of white rice, it’s an explosion of flavor with every bite.

Joliant, Tomas Morato

Buttered Chicken. Our group eschewed Joliant’s specialty Spicy Garlic Chicken in favor of this dish. Lightly battered and served with its own gravy, the chicken is tender, juicy and complemented the other inclusions of our meal bundle.

Joliant, Tomas Morato

Sinigang na Salmon Belly. When we smelled the aroma of this down-home dish wafting towards us as it was being served, it was truly mouth-watering. I loved its steaming-hot, sour broth.

https://flic.kr/p/2ehvAgz

Buko Pandan. A dessert made of pandan-flavored gelatin tossed with grated coconut in a sweet cream. A fitting end to our group’s Filipino meal.

Joliant, Tomas Morato

Joliant does live up to its promise of serving delicious Filipino comfort food in big portions at affordable prices.

Joliant, Tomas Morato

The service crew was also prompt to serve our orders and facilitate our requests.

Check it out if you’re in the area.

Joliant Restaurant is located af 227 Tomas Morato Avenue Corner Scout Limbaga Street, Laging Handa, Quezon City, open daily from 10am to 1pm. For inquiries, call +63 2 8809812.

Other branches are located at:

  • 155 Doña Soledad Avenue, Don Bosco, Parañaque City (Tel No: +63 2 8014427)
  • 131-C Armstrong Avenue, Moonwalk, Parañaque City (Tel No: +63 2 8229443)
  • 602 Boni Avenue, Plainview, Mandaluyong City (Tel No: +63 2 6370125)
  • 39 Presidents Avenue, Corner Virginia Street, BF Homes, Parañaque City

No time to visit the resto or want to enjoy Joliant’s Filipino dishes at home? If you live in the vicinity of a Joliant branch, you’ll be happy to know that it delivers via Honestbee.

Joliant Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my reviews of other Filipino restaurants:

Family Korean Food Feast at Soban K-Town Grill, Eastwood Mall

Whenever the fam is in Eastwood Mall and is in the mood for Korean BBQ (which is quite often), Soban K-Town Grill is our go-to place.

This resto boasts of clean and modern interiors, warmly lit and giving that casual yet cozy vibe.

Soban K-Town Grill, Eastwood Mall

Soban K-Town Grill, Eastwood Mall

Soban K-Town Grill, Eastwood Mall

We were ushered to a table that can seat our family of four, but had trouble accommodating all the food brought to our table.

Since we prefer unmarinated meats over flavored ones so we ordered a Classic BBQ Combo Set (Php1,780). Good for our group of four, it is composed of 180g fresh beef belly, 180g pork belly, 180g boneless fried soy garlic chicken chops, one japchae (stir-fried glass noodles and vegetables), one pajeon (savory Korean pancake), half a serving of gimbap (Korean version of sushi rolls) and four refillable cups of either plain or kimchi rice. Adding to our table’s load are the refillable side dishes which include my favorites: egg cakes and sugared peanuts.

Soban K-Town Grill, Eastwood Mall

Soban K-Town Grill, Eastwood Mall

Soban K-Town Grill, Eastwood Mall

Soban K-Town Grill, Eastwood Mall

Soban K-Town Grill, Eastwood Mall

Soban K-Town Grill, Eastwood Mall

Soban K-Town Grill, Eastwood Mall

The meats that we grilled were of good quality, and I loved dipping slices of them in salted sesame oil and ssamjang paste, then wrapping them in crisp lettuce leaves together with some kimchi rice before taking a bite.

The soy garlic chicken, on the other hand, was tender and yummy; it suited the tastes of my little boy just fine!

Plus, since I presented one of their flyers from one of the take-one boxes at the parking area, we were each given a free coffee jelly dessert!

Soban K-Town Grill, Eastwood Mall

Soban K-Town Grill, Eastwood Mall

It was a wondrous feast for our family of four, one dining experience we wouldn’t mind repeating.

This Soban K-Town Grill branch is located at Second Floor, Eastwood Mall, Libis, Quezon City, open Mondays to Thursdays from 11am to 10pm, Fridays to Saturdays from 11am to 11pm and Sundays 10am to 10pm.

Other branches are located at:

  • Ground Floor, Robinsons Place Manila, Ermita, Manila
  • Level 3, Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Greenbelt, Makati City
  • Level 2, One Bonifacio High Street Mall, 28th Street Corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
  • Ground Floor, ATC Corporate Center, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
  • Upper Ground Floor, Main Building, SM City North EDSA, Bago Bantay, Quezon City
  • Third Floor, Bridgeway, SM Megamall, Ortigas, Mandaluyong City

Soban K-Town Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my posts about other Korean restaurants:

Gelato Treat at Morelli’s, Powerplant Mall

We Pinoys love sweets, and with a tropical climate such as ours, we won’t say no to frozen treats even in December.

While ice cream is more prevalent, gelato desserts are also growing in popularity in the country.

Gelato is a frozen dessert which originated in Italy. It has a much creamier and silkier texture than ice cream, given its increased use of milk rather than cream compared to ice cream. Gelato also does not make use of eggs, unlike ice cream, and is usually served using a small spade instead of a scoop.

That’s what I treated my family to over the holidays. After Christmas lunch at nearby Fireside by Kettle in Rockwell, we headed straight to Morelli’s Gelato for dessert. (Thanks to Jen of SandUnderMyFeet.com for sharing her GCs!)

The Morelli’s gelato brand started in Scotland in 1907 when father-and-son Giuseppe and Mario started selling the ice cream prevalent in their native Italy. The brand expanded to UK in 1932, and then went on to establish its presence in other countries, where its gelato offerings are made fresh everyday using natural ingredients.

My kids, mother-in-law and I enjoyed our scoops of truffle, chocolate, pistachio and vanilla gelato which served as a great cap to our Christmas lunch.

Morelli’s Rockwell

Morelli’s Rockwell

Morelli’s Rockwell

This Morelli’s Gelato branch is located at Second Floor, Power Plant Mall, Rockwell, Makati City. Another branch is located at Level 3, East Wing, Shangri-La Plaza, Ortigas, Mandaluyong City.

Morelli's Gelato Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my reviews of other dessert places:

Bro-recommended Sincerity Cafe & Restaurant, Banawe

I belong to a family of foodies, albeit I’m the only one who’s online all the time!

While I have a knack for finding places to get great desserts, my brother, on the hand, has a gift for finding tasty quick and cheap eats.

The restos he usually recommends are no-frills but are known to have paticularly delish specialties.

Take for example Sincerity Cafe & Restaurant in Banawe.

While we were running errands in the area together with my mom, we realized that we needed to go somewhere we can eat and run. He suggested this resto because of its famous fried chicken.

This resto does have a no-frills look and feel typical of Chinese eateries. Its color scheme is composed of reds, oranges and yellow. The furniture used are a bit aged but still functional.

The wait staff are present on the floor but getting their attention for orders or requests may take some time.

Sincerity Cafe, Banawe

Sincerity Cafe, Banawe

Sincerity Cafe, Banawe

We went with my brother’s recommended dishes as well.

Spinach with Garlic (Php225 for small)

Sincerity Cafe, Banawe

Sincerity Fried Chicken (Php180 for half)

Sincerity Cafe, Banawe

Sincerity Chami (Php120 for small)

Sincerity Cafe, Banawe

Makot Bola Bola Soup (Php140 for small)

Sincerity Cafe, Banawe

The Sincerity Fried Chicken was quite tasty and it went well with the very flavorful Sincerity Chami noodles.

Sincerity Cafe, Banawe

Since I unlocked my Zomato Gold Privilege in this resto, we got the Chami for FREE. (Note: we were informed by the wait staff that Sincerity Fried Chicken is not included among the Zomato Gold perks.)

Want to score a similar discount? Zomato Gold provides members with 1+1 deals on food or 2+2 deals on drinks. All you have to do is sign up for a Zomato Gold membership here. Use my code JELLYB to get 20% off the membership fee.

This Sincerity Cafe & Restaurant branch is located at Second Floor, RBL Building, Banawe Street, Santo Domingo, Quezon City, open daily from 9.30am to 9.30pm.

Other branches are located at:

  • 497 E.T. Yuchengco Street, Binondo, Manila
  • Ground Floor, Lucky Chinatown Mall, Binondo, Manila
  • Food Court, Lower Ground Floor, Robinsons Magnolia, New Manila, Quezon City
  • Food Court, Level 1, Robinsons Galleria, Ortigas, Ortigas, Quezon City

Sincerity Cafe & Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my reviews of other Chinese restaurants:

Want to learn more about Chinese cuisine? Check out these books on Amazon.com!

Nomiya Izakaya, Tomas Morato

An izakaya is the Japanese equivalent to the Western pub or tavern: a place where people can hang out and drink after work.

The origin of these establishments can be traced back to 18th century Japan, at the time when sake – the Japanese rice wine – was also growing popular. In fact, the word izakaya is rooted on i (to stay) and sakaya (sake shop), because, in contrast to the previous practice in sake shops to drink alcohol while standing, patrons of izakayas can sit down, and even eat some finger food, while drinking.

In the foodie-friendly Tomas Morato area is situated Nomiya Izakaya.

It veers slightly away from the traditional izakayas in that it serves full meals, which is quite fortunate as it recently served as the venue of a happy lunch among my officemates and myself.

Walking into the establishment, we were quick to appreciate its minimalist and industrial themed decor.

Nomiya Izakaya, Tomas Morato

Nomiya Izakaya, Tomas Morato

Nomiya Izakaya, Tomas Morato

Nomiya Izakaya, Tomas Morato

For our lunch, we took advantage of its donburi – Japanese rice bowls.

Chirashi Don (Php345). Chirashi means “scattered,” so this dish is basically a rice bowl with fish, vegetables and other ingredients.

Nomiya Izakaya, Tomas Morato

Gyudon (Php320). This Japanese beef bowl boasts of thin and tender beef slices on top of steaming hot rice and doused with mildly sweet sauce.

Nomiya Izakaya, Tomas Morato

Katsudon (Php290). This bowl of rice is topped with a deep-fried pork cutlet, eggs, veggies and doused with sauce.

Nomiya Izakaya, Tomas Morato

Spicy Salmon Maki (Php250). Slivers of spicy salmon rolled in rice with some crunch from the tempura flakes.

Nomiya Izakaya, Tomas Morato

It certainly looks like we have a new go-to place when we crave for Japanese food!

Plus, since two of us unlocked our Zomato Gold privilege in this resto, we got the gyudon and salmon maki for free!

Want to score a similar discount? Zomato Gold provides members with 1+1 deals on food or 2+2 deals on drinks. All you have to do is sign up for a Zomato Gold membership here. Use my code JELLYB to get 20% off the membership fee.

Nomiya Izakaya is located at 36 Scout Tobias Street, Laging Handa, Quezon City, open Tuesdays to Sundays from 11.30am to 2.30pm and 6pm to 11pm. For reservations and inquiries, call +63 2 9547055.

Nomiya Izakaya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my reviews of other Japanese restaurants: