It was quite the gloomy day in Alabang when I came to visit this newly opened bar and restaurant in Festival Mall. Festival Mall had been going through massive renovations in the past year or so, and the new area, the River Park, is a burgeoning hub for all new food spots and bars perfect for after-work and weekend hang-outs for friends and family alike.
Despite the grey day, though, Pelagio Bar and Restaurant stood out in its little corner at the River Park. Bright yellow and red and looking all lively with its Mexican-themed decor, it was easy to spot amidst the people and the bustle of the area. My friend, Steph, and I met Pelagio right away when we arrived. Pelagio is the head cook and part-owner of Pelagio Bar and Restaurant together with two of his friends, Mico and Jamir. Later, Mico arrived as well, and they told us the story of how their business came to be.
They all used to work together in a big hotel in Makati, but eventually found themselves all settling abroad, in Singapore and Malaysia. But, as destiny would have it, they would be reunited again and be led down the road of food entrepreneurship.
Pelagio was working in a Mexican restaurant in Singapore, where the head chef was Mexican. Working with someone who had a deep understanding and connection to the cuisine he cooked, Pelagio was tremendously inspired and fell in love with the cuisine as well. He told me that he saw a lot of similarities in Mexican and Filipino food, which eventually gave birth to the idea of setting up his own Mexican-Filipino restaurant.
The Mexican-Filipino Fusion
Tacos, quesadillas, nachos, burrito—all our usual favorite Mexican dishes—served with a Filipino twist, that’s how Pelagio does it. The Filipino touch comes in the meat they use. Your choice of meat filling for your Mexican favorites are beef bistek, pork sisig, or bangus. And if you think that sounds good, I can attest that it really does.
First from the dishes we tried was the Alitas (Php 215)—deep-fried chicken wings served with a tasty sauce called the Bang-Bang. It’s Pelagio’s very own creation; a homemade mayo sauce with chili and spices. Perhaps the name “Bang-Bang” comes from the explosion that happens when you take that first bite. Combined with the crunchy fried chicken wings, which is already perfect on its own, the Bang-Bang dip places Alitas on the top of my favorites from Pelagio Bar and Restaurant.
For Php 120, you can have this basket of Chicharrones—mouth-watering deep-fried chicken skin. And who doesn’t like chicken skin? I know I do. The portions of the chicken skin are big; it will fill you up, but also leave you wanting more. Up to you if you want to pair this with Pelagio’s Garlic-Lime rice as an extra order, with beer ala pulutan (which it’s perfect for), or both. The serving of the Chicharrones is also big enough for sharing, but if I were you, I probably wouldn’t. It’s just too good.
Want to try something new? Also available is the deep-fried fish skin Chicharrones, for an additional Php 20.
You cannot call a restaurant Mexican unless they have quesadillas (Php 185). Pelagio Bar and Restaurant’s quesadillas is rich and thick, filled with cheese, meat of your choice (chicken, pork, beef, fish or veggies), cilantro, and pico de gallo. And partnering this awesome dish is Pelagio’s mango and pineapple salsa, which sweetness and sourness further complements the exploding flavors of the quesadilla.
One of the main things Pelagio Bar and Restaurant prides itself in is for its salsa or dips. As Pelagio explains it, all their dips and sauces are done from scratch. None from the bottle, he confirmed.
Pelagio Bar and Restaurant offers five kinds of salsa: the Pineapple and Mango which is sweet and sour, the Salsa Pimiento which is sour and spicy, the Salsa Verde which is made from green chili and green bell pepper and is savory hot, and the Salsa Roja which is their hottest salsa, made from sili labuyo and red bell pepper. The last salsa is the Salted Egg Dip, joining in on the latest salted egg craze, and is something I would recommend. I loved it. Partner it up with the nachos, and you have yourself the perfect Mexican-Filipino snack.
As a bar and restaurant, you can count on it that Pelagio’s bar can quench your thirst. For beers they offer Corona and San Miguel, but if you’re going to Pelagio, we recommend the cocktails, of course! Nothing beats the good old Classic Margarita (Php 145) to partner with their tasty dishes, but I loved the Tamarindo, personally. Tamarindo (Php 165) is a tamarind cocktail, with a bit of chili in there to spice things up. These drinks would all go well with their dishes. That’s for sure.
Not in the mood for alcohol? Try the Horchata (Php 70), which was absolutely delightful. Rice milk and cinnamon are the main ingredients in this classic non-alcoholic Mexican drink, with a dash of vanilla and a bonus cinnamon stick. It’s like Christmas in your mouth.
Ultimately, I see Pelagio Bar and Restaurant as that place where friends come together for a chill night (or afternoon) in the suburban area that is Alabang. You can never go wrong with Mexican-Filipino fusion food, after all. And wherever there’s good food, good drinks, and good friends, a good time is always guaranteed.
(Plus, with Pelagio Bar and Restaurant’s efficient chairs with compartment, you can worry less about your stuff and focus on your quesadillas and drinks instead!)
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NOTE: This promo is only available for dine-in guests. Promo runs from December 1 to 31, except on Christmas Eve and public holidays.
Pelagio Bar and Restaurant
Ground Floor, Water Garden, Festival Mall, Filinvest City, Muntinlupa City
Operating Hours: 9 am to 11 pm
+63 927 335 0771