Lo de Alberto Makati
Tropical Palms Condominium, Gallardo Street corner Dela Rosa Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
(SPOT.ph) Where does one even begin, when one's world has been well and truly rocked? Perhaps you're thinking, “Jeez, guys, it's just Mexican food. Can't be anything new,” and that is where you are so very wrong, save for the last bit—it isn't new if you're a red-blooded Latino, or if you've been to Lo de Alberto in City Golf Plaza before.
But those of you who live and work in Makati can sound the trumpets, for this cool taqueria in Legazpi Village has nestled in your neck of the concrete woods. Well-lit but not migraine-inducing, this branch sports a couple of unobtrusive murals and charming, though limited, seating options. The new Lo de Alberto is much more cramped than their original Pasig outpost, seating only about 10 to 12 people, which is absolutely fine, because most people seem to pop in just to get something to take home. It's that good.
We would love to tell you to just get everything on the menu—and how often do we say that?!—but if you’ve never been here before, we can only make a few recommendations. Wouldn't want to overwhelm you.
A great place to start is the Agua Chile (P80), reminiscent of ceviche; it brings you, as Nigella Lawson herself says, “...blinking out of the darkness of [your office]... into the lightness of [your] Latin evening.” The seafood is tender and the onions are crisp. It’s altogether just so refreshing, and you're going to wish that they opened earlier, if only to give you midday access to this instant pick-me-up.
The Elotes (P90) is the Mexican cob with cheese and secret spices that can soothe pretty much any hurt. While there's really no sexy way to eat this, one bite in and you're not going to care. You will care exactly -500%. That is the exact amount of not-caring you will need to fold up the beauty that is the Chorizo Suadero Quesadilla (P170) and shove the damn thing in your pie-hole. Anyone who has tasted this, filled with delicate bits of chorizo and glorious cheese, and still prefers certain fast-food quesadilla, is a fool and you need to cut them out of your life immediately.
While the Ensenada Taco (P185), with lightly battered deep-fried tilapia, doesn't look like it came straight out of I Love You, Man, we can guarantee it's at the very least as good. Split this with your Theodore Bro-sevelt over a cold beer and declare that friendship sealed. But under no circumstances will you get us to share the Albondigas Burrito (P270). No. Get away, it's ours. We will fight you. According to co-owner Monica Violago, people tend to ignore this mighty meatball monstrosity, and we can only laugh—it's their loss.
We're calling this next dish the Heartbreak Kid, because that's what it's best for; the Enchiladas con Pollo (P295) is three squat cigars made of, ostensibly, chicken and cream cheese—because why the hell not—ready to either shield your parade from the rain or wipe away tears. Whoever it is, they don't deserve you. These enchiladas deserve you. Top it off with a zesty and cool Sangria de Mexico (P160) and consider yourself soothed. Sworn off alcohol? Their best-selling Horchata (P110) does just as good a job.
The Pay de Limón (P160) kind of crosses borders. It's just sour enough to get a dessert-hater to love it, and more than sweet enough to get a sugar fiend to finish what the other guy wouldn't. Either way, it's gorgeous.
The whole Lo de Alberto experience can be summed up in six words: Get your butt over there now.
Photos by Majoy Siason