Top 10 Salpicao in Manila
This Spanish-rooted beef tapas dish has become a Filipino favorite. Who has the best in the city?
(SPOT.ph) It is the quintessential Pinoy bar chow, so embedded in our culinary DNA that we have almost forgotten its Spanish roots. At the same time, it has become so integrated in Filipino food culture that some Spanish restaurants refuse to offer it on their menus. Regardless of its lineage, the salpicao is definitely one of the most well-loved beef dishes in the country.
How could you not? It has all the components that make it the perfect pulutan or a most decadent ulam—juicy meat; pungent, flavorful garlic; salty, robust drippings. Purists insist on just good-quality olive oil, while some believe it needs sauce. Everyone has their idea of what the perfect salpicao should be, and just like religion, there really are no right and wrong answers.
In compiling this top 10, SPOT.ph focused on beef (mostly tenderloin; rib-eye, if we're lucky) and three important components: the quality of the meat; the balance of flavors; and value for money. It was difficult running through Metro Manila's large supply of salpicao, but we could never get enough of this beefy classic!
All SPOT.ph Top 10 lists are researched, paid for, tested, and selected by the writers and editors. They are discreetly conducted without any notice made to the restaurants or their owners.
10. The Perfect Pint’s Insanely Garlic Salpicao (P320)
The name is quite misleading—the buttery garlic sauce is actually pleasantly mellow and not the assault on the senses that it implies. We would recommend this to those who like garlic but don't want to finish the meal smelling like it. The sauce calls for some crusty bread.
The Perfect Pint is at 2/F Crossroads Building, 32nd Street, Bonifacio Global City (246-9072). Read more about The Perfect Pint.
9. Conti’s USDA Beef Salpicao (P415/garlic rice, P420/paella rice)
What they might be lacking in meat quality (you have to get through some tough-to-chew pieces), they make up for in flavor. Each piece is well-seasoned and garlicky, which means you do not have to reach for the liquid seasoning on the table. This version has a homey appeal, which will hit the spot for those longing for mom’s cooking.
Click here for a list of Conti's branches.
8. Cirkulo’s Salpicao (P395)
We suspect that the soft tenderloin cubes were marinated, making the meat flavorful on its own. The sauce, though, is more red wine than garlic, which we feel would appeal to a more genteel crowd who prefers to regulate their consumption of the pungent stuff.
Cirkulo is at G/F Milkyway Building, Arnaiz Avenue corner Paseo de Roxas, Barangay San Lorenzo, Makati City (810-8735).
7. Alba’s Salpicado de Solomillo (P480)
Here's a tip to get the best version of Alba's Salpicado de Solomillo: ask them to cook your order medium-rare to get this very tender lean meat. The dish has a garlicky, brown sauce which is so intensely good, you'd want to ask for more—just so you could mix it with the side of mashed potato.
Alba has branches at Bel-Air, Makati City; Filinvest City, Alabang, Muntinlupa City; Tomas Morato, Quezon City; Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City.
6. Tapella’s Beef Salpicado, Chef’s Way (P375)
This is how a Spaniard would prepare salpicao—slowly-cooked in an earthen pan in just olive oil and garlic. No soy sauce, promises the chef. What you get is the flavors of properly seasoned, high-quality meat shining through the heady aromatic. It's even better with bread.
Tapella is at G/F Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati City (757-2711). Read more about Tapella.
5. Terry’s Black Angus Salpicao (P980)
Don't balk at the price tag because this plate is big enough to feed two people. Chef JC de Terry believes in using only the best ingredients. For his salpicao, that means USDA Prime Black Angus rib-eye and Arte Oliva olive oil (believe us, it’s the good stuff). The tender, fatty meat soaks in the bubbling signature sauce and is topped with crispy slivers of garlic—heavenly with a cup of white rice.
Terry's has branches at Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City; McKinley Hill, Taguig City; Salcedo Village, Makati City; and The Podium, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City.
4. Mario’s Salpicon de Mar y Tierra (P460)
This surf 'n' turf twist on the classic gets points not just for the extra-garlicky flavor, but also for amazing value for money. The tender beef cubes and gambas (which we consider a bonus) are served over a mountain of garlic rice, making this a sure hit with the hearty eater in the family.
Mario's is at 191 Tomas Morato Avenue corner Scout Gandia Street, Quezon City (372-0360).
3. Lorenzo’s Way’s Beef Salpicao (P370)
There is something pristine and brilliantly deliberate in the way the Larry Cruz establishment prepares this dish. Just tender beef cooked to medium doneness, olive oil, some roasted garlic, perhaps a touch of soy sauce. Just a touch, and we found beauty in that.
Lorenzo's Way has branches at G/F Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati City (729-0047); and Bonifacio High Street Central, 7th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City (621-3163).
2. Whistlestop’s Beef Salpicao (P320, P280/garlic rice or pasta)
This is our diamond in the rough, and we're only happy that Whistlestop has kept up through the years. The sauce is a tad sweet, which some might view as a travesty. It is, however, sheer brilliance—that mild sweetness goes so well with the soft roasted garlic and paprika. Not a surprise that it pretty much goes with any starch. We are hooked.
Whistlestop has branches at Bel-Air, Makati City; The Fort Strip, Bonifacio Global City; Filinvest City, Alabang, Muntinlupa City; Tomas Morato Avenue, Quezon City.
1. Tequila Joe’s Organic Beef Sloppy Cow at Green Pastures (P550)
We didn’t think it was possible, but this dish makes it possible to eat salpicao without the guilt. The flavors and seasoning are spot-on, from the oyster jus to the soft roasted garlic. The beef is tender and cooked a perfect medium-rare. However, what sealed the deal for us was the garlic bulgur. Seriously, we thought we were eating fluffy short-grain rice! This dish cannot lose.
Green Pastures has branches at 3/F Eastwood Mall, Libis, Quezon City (661-3612); and 4/F Shangri-La Plaza East Wing, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City (654-3219). Read more about Green Pastures.
Photos by Chinkee Clemente-Koppe and Jericho San Miguel