Category Archives: Bites

LEON Authentic Mexican in Antipolo City | steppanyaki

For someone who spent 13 years of her life studying in Antipolo, I can say that a lot has definitely changed in the city in the last 15 years.

While Marikina has its Lilac Street, Pasig has Kapitolyo, Marikina has Poblacion and Quezon City Maginhawa, Antipolo has similarly started to flaunt its share of culinary talent.

In the past, I’ve written about Chi’s Burgers Company and Monte Café. With their inventive concepts, modern interiors and appeal to East side foodies, Antipolo restaurateurs are truly giving their Manila rivals a run for their money. Watch out, because the city is the next big food haunt locale in the outskirts of Manila.

Last night, my boyfriend and I visited a freshly opened restaurant in Antipolo—LEON Authentic Mexican. From the restaurant’s name itself, you can probably tell that there aren’t a lot of Mexican restaurants in Antipolo—what’s more palpable is the burgeoning coffee shop scene. 

How to get there

It’s easy to find LEON Authentic Mexican. If you’re coming from Ortigas Extension, just go straight and look for the Ynares Sports Center—it’ll be on your left side. If you’re not familiar with the area, just look for the Antipolo Tanay Shopwise jeepneys and follow their route. The Ynares Sports Center is a good five-minute drive from Tikling, that intersection with the rotunda.

Once you see the Ynares Sports Center on your left, slow down a bit and a good two or three blocks after it, you’ll see a brightly lit LEON bulb sign on your right. Easy, right? The restaurant is right across what used to be the Giants Café & Resto Bar—you can also ask tricycle drivers about Giants if you get lost.

Watch my boyfriend’s video below to get a feel of LEON Authentic Mexican:

First impressions

LEON Authentic Mexican is on the second floor of the Okinari Arcade, which also serves as location for other restaurants such as Sulok Café (check out their Facebook page here and Little House of Cheesecakes & More – Baked Cheesecake in Jars.

Upon going up, you’ll be greeted by a gray wall with their key food offerings written on it. There’s a modern, minimalist and industrial vibe about the restaurant, with its metallic hanging lamps and simple decorative items. But this is balanced out and punctuated by the set of wooden tables.

On one wall inside you’ll see the comprehensive menu, which gets rid of the hassle of having to ask for a physical menu. Choose from sizzling fajitas, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, soft tacos, chicken fingers, chicken wings, chili con carne, chimichanga, fries, stuffed bell peppers and sandwiches, and pair these with soda, beer, juice or mojito.

The price ranges from P100 to around P250, which gives you a good affordable variety for your budget. There’s wifi too if you’d like to snap and instantly share your food shots.

A television hangs from one of the restaurant’s corners, showing an NBA game. The feel of the place is relaxed, homey—somewhere you could bring your barkada to, enjoy a couple of drinks and just hang out. 

How it all started

We wanted to sample a good variety of LEON Authentic Mexican’s dishes, so my boyfriend and I ordered cheese quesadillas (also available in cheese & jalapeño, steak, carnitas and chicken), a chicken burrito (also available in steak, carnitas, Mexican Adobar) and sizzling steak fajitas (also available in chicken and carnitas).

Service is speedy at around 10 to 15 minutes waiting time. While waiting, we chatted with the one of the owners, Ann, who is a friend of ours from the motoring industry. She co-owns the restaurant with her boyfriend, Joseph, who takes care of the cooking.

Why Mexican food? Ann admits that the both of them love going out for Mexican food, and realized that there wasn’t much of it available in Antipolo. They wanted to start a food business and it only felt natural that they go for what they both enjoyed. LEON is a combination of their names (they have second names, too).

With the saturation of restaurants in busier cities like Pasig and Makati, Antipolo has much promise with its curious foodie market and accessibility to Metro Manila (for those not in the know, Antipolo is sandwiched by Rizal municipalities such as Taytay, Cainta, as well as Pasig City and Marikina City). Residential areas, schools, offices, hospitals abound in Antipolo—not to mention, LEON Authentic Mexican is also pretty near the famed Pinto Art Museum.

The verdict

Our food starts to arrive, and we are floored with the serving sizes. All of the items we ordered are good for sharing, which makes the restaurant’s offerings extra sulit and perfect for groups.

Presentation is straightforward. We started wolfing down the quesadillas and noted the generous serving of cheese sandwiched in between the tortilla. The salsa at LEON Authentic Mexican is freshly made every day, and the sour cream was delightfully tangy and not overwhelming.

It was our first time to have fajitas and it was an interesting experience cutting up the meat and rolling it in tortilla. The steak fajitas have a slight spicy kick to them, and you’re welcome to add more hot sauce if that’s to your liking.

The chicken burrito was amazing and you could see and taste how they didn’t scrimp on the ingredients—chunky pieces of chicken, bell peppers, corn and cilantro in every bite.

If only I didn’t have acid reflux, I would have wanted to try their mojito, too, or have some beer. Oh well. Something to look forward to when I get better! I’m also curious to try the chimichanga and nachos next time.

During the time that we were there, we mostly saw couples—maybe because we arrived at 10pm already—but we found out that families also enjoy dining at the restaurant, and had also received great reviews from foreigners living in the area.

Overall, LEON Authentic Mexican is exactly that—a slice of fantastic Mexican food in a city that deserves to be discovered for its culinary gems. Portions are generous, service is fast and the food is made with heart and passion. Not to mention that they are open too every single day, from 11 am to 11 pm.

There’s always something to try in Antipolo, and I’m glad I live pretty nearby! I have a perfect excuse to visit it when I have a hankering for good food that would otherwise be more expensive and in crowded restos in Manila. Two thunbs up for LEON Authentic Mexican! Make sure to check it out and bring your friends.

Ann, myself and my boyfriend Raynand

LEON Authentic Mexican is located at the 2nd floor of Okinari Arcade, along L. Sumulong Circle (Circumferential Road), Barangay San Roque, Antipolo City, and is open from Mondays to Sundays from 11 am to 11 pm. 

To learn more about LEON Authentic Mexican, visit their Facebook page and follow them on Instagram.

Did you like this blog post? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments section below and I’ll get in touch with you.

PastAmore in Kapitolyo, Pasig | steppanyaki

On a regular Tuesday night, my boyfriend and I decided for a change to have dinner in the Kapitolyo area. It had been a while since we had last had dinner out, and it felt like a refreshing change.

We initially decided to eat at Oriental Pearl–formerly known as Jade Palace–but having passed by and seeing that the parking area was fully occupied, we  decided to cruise around the area until we could see a random restaurant we hadn’t tried, and one that had ample parking space.

Just past Juanito’s Bistro, we noticed a new restaurant, PastAmore. I had noticed it before a few months back, when I had a random dinner by myself in the area, at Red Panda.

They were on soft opening and had plenty of parking slots available. A huge green tarpaulin banner outside bearing free wi-fi care of Sky Broadband also caught our eye.

pasta-amore-1

At that time, there were only two other customers. I had no idea what to expect with the food as I entered the restaurant. Ambience-wise, you would put PastAmore into the family-friendly establishment category.  Brightly lit, with hanging orb lights, black leather-upholstered wooden booths, with red brick accents adding a contrast to the stark off-white flooring and ceiling.

I also noticed that the restaurant has a second floor, though I wasn’t able to investigate if you can also dine up there, or if it’s just plainly storage space.

pasta-amore-2

We were immediately greeted by a server and were handed the menu, and we discover that PastAmore’s unique selling point is unlimited pasta and DIY pizza.

While on a different day we would gladly dive into the customizable pasta and pizza option, we weren’t exactly that hungry at that time; we only wanted a place to hang out with and enjoy a light shared dinner.

My boyfriend marveled at PastAmore’s logo–featuring a fork with swirled spaghetti noodles, enveloped in a heart. Pretty clever, huh? Really simple, but it captures the essentials of the brand in a single stroke.

pasta-amore-12

We decided to get some Nachos (P149) and Garlic Shrimp Pesto (P239). While waiting, we looked around and noticed an assembly line counter.

pasta-amore-3

If you make your own pasta (just for P249), you go through a three-step process.

First, select the kind of pasta you’d like for your creation. You can choose from spaghetti, penne, fettuccine, angel hair, macaroni and whole wheat spaghetti (something for the more health-conscious folks out there!).

pasta-amore-8

Next, choose your sauce. You can opt for alfredo, bolognese, sweet spaghetti meat sauce, chunky tomato, pesto cream, tomato cream, hot tex mex, garlic cream, meaty palabok, spicy curry, satay, queso fundido, eggplant pomodoro and wasabi (imagine that!).

pasta-amore-4

Finally, have a go at your toppings. You can choose from ham, grilled chicken, bacon bits, beef mix, pork floss, sliced jalapenos, dried luncheon meat, powdered chicharon (oh yes!!!), sweet corn, roasted mushrooms or roasted vegetables.

The final touch is choosing your cheese–either orange cheddar or parmesan.

pasta-amore-10

If you’re creating your own pizza, it’s essentially the same process without the pasta selection part.

For the less adventurous diners, you can just go for the chef’s specials, where you have fettuccine carbonara, spaghetti puttanesca, squid ink fettuccine, kung pao chicken pasta, aglio oglio, ligurian pesto, OMG! pasta (why didn’t we see this?), somethin’ porky spaghetti, somethin’ fishy fettuccine or classic lasagna.

So our nachos arrives and the portion is pretty glorious for sharing. Okay, I have a thing with chips so I pretty much wolfed this down on my own. Topped with a generous serving of cheese sauce, ground beef and salsa, this one was not difficult at all to consume in a few minutes.

pasta-amore-7

Next, our garlic shrimp pesto! We weren’t able to take a photo, but they also served us complimentary crusty bread. At first, I couldn’t really taste the pesto, but after a few forkfuls, I tasted just how rich the sauces and oils were in my mouth. The pasta was just the right springiness, and the portion, again, is good for sharing (Or maybe we’re just light eaters).

pasta-amore-6

One setback, I would have to say, was that we didn’t know they served dessert, which was what we could have settled for initially. But at least we got to try their specialty–making pasta!

Also, they should do something about the free wi-fi. It involves a really slow loading login process, and I hardly got to check anything online.

pasta-amore-5

For sweet endings, PastAmore has strawberry cheesecake, blueberry cheesecake, avocado cheesecake and oreo cheesecake (all at P120 per slice). Something to try next time, too!

By the time we were done with our dinner, the place was packed–from couples, to friends just chilling. There’s just something comforting about good pasta dishes during this rainy and unpredictable season.

pasta-amore-11

Whatever you’re hankering for, there’s literally something for you in the menu at PastAmore. Now, obviously, we have to go back because the options are endless!

PastAmore is located at 52 East Capitol Drive, Brgy. Kapitolyo, Pasig City, and is open every day from 11 am to 12 midnight–perfect for those late night cravings! For inquiries, visit their Facebook page.