Do you know which restaurant has got the best burrito in Manila? Well, according to spot.ph, the champion in this category is no other than Chihuahua Mexican Grill and Margarita Bar in Makati. Beat that? There’s only one way to find out—and it’s when you grab a bite of their “finest Mex-Tex” food yourself!
Ines Cabarrus (in photo with me below) and Elian Habayeb have ventured in the Philippines to serve authentic flavors of Mexico and American Southwest cuisines combined. The menu is so joyously predictable. To boost their competitive edge against Mexican food establishments that are sprouting over the city, Chihuahua plays with much creativity and innovation.
With bigger and newer plans still up and coming to improve their menu, Chihuahua teams up with world leader Monin, the French company that has been producing gourmet flavors for over 100 years. This February 2014, they will be releasing three new margarita variations: strawberry, red berry and passion fruit. For the non-alcoholics, there are new flavors of quesadilla, new variations of nachos and smaller size of burritos to intrigue patrons like me. Let’s see how Chihuahua Mexican Grill and Margarita Bar’s food fared in my taste test.
Review of Chihuahua Mexican Grill and Margarita Bar (Makati City)
This branch of Chihuahua across A-venue Mall has two floors and can accommodate up to over 50 people. This place is screaming RED! Making the ambiance pretty upbeat, this predominant color in the interior stimulates the energetic vibe.
Acoustic music pumping through the speakers helped to set the mood for the night. Incidentally, we came on a Wednesday night and Chihuahua has a live acoustic singer/guitarist every Wednesday. Tip: Say the password “acoustic” to the cashier and get a free Chihuarita shot to help you sing along.
Disco lights pulse and dance around the walls and ceiling. Props such as game boards, cowboy hats, balero cups and other toys are placed at the sides. These can be borrowed for picture-taking.
The owners and staff are very accommodating and friendly, so ordering from a wide variety of food on their menu board on the wall behind the counter can be done easily. The ordering process starts upon selection of meats or veggies, then deciding whether you want them in a soft taco, burrito, salad or burrito bowl. Third step is either you witness how preparation of food is done or wait at your table. Mostly everything else once the food is served must be self-service.
Different types of condiments (pickled Jalapeno peppers, fresh guacamole and Pico de Gallo) are available at a counter, and several types of homemade sauces are accessible from their “hot sauce library.”
First and foremost, we had the classic favorites: three types of nachos, namely Chips & Queso “Special” (PHp 195), Steak Nachos (PHp 385) and Chicken Nachos (PHp 345) which all had corn, salsa, grilled pepper and onions. The Chips & Queso “Special” was made with queso and some chili con carne; the Steak Nachos, with tender, char-grilled, perfectly marinated American beef; and the Chicken Nachos, with lean marinated breast. All were really tasty and the matching condiments were as well rich and intense.
After having a bit of everything, it was hard to say which I preferred the most. The nachos were crisp and crunchy. The toppings worked harmoniously with the delicious corn flavor.
It seemed almost like a rare deal when the dish was served to us warm. I loved that melted cheese was still runny-rich and viscous and not a state where it had already cooled and thickened. What I also liked was the mix of quality ingredients in a bowl.
Next were two types of burritos, the “pride and joy of Chihuahua.” The Mini-Me Burritos (PHp 225) are lighter, less packed but just-as-good-yet-smaller portion of the original 12-inch sized award-winning burrito.
The Two-bean Burrito (PHp 135), an entry-level burrito worthy of the coveted Chihuahua brand, can suit vegetarians’ taste best. It is made with smoky refried beans, Mexican rice, black beans, creamy queso, and chipotle salsa, wrapped in the 10-inch soft flour tortilla.
Thirdly, we had two different viands of brilliant quesadillas: the Veggie Quesadilla (PHp 385) and the Chicken Spinach Quesadilla (PHp 495). These quesadillas look like a large Mexican pizza made with two toasted flour tortillas held together by three kinds of cheese. Both were served with pico de gallo, chipotle salsa, sour cream and guacamole.
I tried a slice of each but I could not just finish the whole thing. There was a lot going on upon the first bite. I thought the Veggie Quesadilla was more delicious, since the corn kernels, grilled peppers, onions and zucchini had a good contrast.
On the other hand, the overall taste of Chicken Quesadilla was not as appealing to my taste buds, but I liked it, too! This quesadilla was made with grilled marinated chicken breast and butter-sautéed spinach with garlic, onion and cilantro.
Coming soon are the Steak Quesadilla (PHp 545) with grilled USDA beef, onions and peppers; the Carnitas Quesadilla (PHp 485) with slow-cooked pork, red onions, and cilantro; and the Picadillo Quesadilla (PHp 465) with spicy ground beef and red onions.
For a good Mexican dessert, we closed the deal with Chihuahua’s Banana Nutella Quesadilla (small PHp 195, large PHp 345), which had a firm but moist patty. Each bite was nice, juicy and nutella-flavored, thanks to the following ingredients: Nutella®, Jiffy’s Peanut Butter® and then topped with vanilla ice cream, cinnamon, shaved almonds and cajeta (a Mexican caramel similar to dulce de leche). The fresh bananas were responsible for the hint of sweetness. Yum! 😛
We washed all the food down with Strawberry Frozen Margarita which was made with real tequila. It was nicely tart but wasn’t too fruity or too sweet for me. As a “powerful cocktail drink,” this margarita was a little less syrupy than most versions I’ve tried in other bars. The acidity was adequate and the drink didn’t come with an unpleasant aftertaste.
Price for Value: ★★★★☆
Chihuahua Mexican Grill and Margarita Bar is a Mexican food lover’s paradise. Their offerings are so much a marriage of Mexican and Texan food and flavors. I was mostly impressed with the quality and presentation of the food but less impressed with the prices which I thought should be tagged a little lower. Of course in Manila, you can get nachos, burritos, quesadillas and drinks for half the cost. However, what you can’t get elsewhere is the FUN!
In Chihuahua, one can take advantage of the festive ambiance and enjoy the night away with free salsa dancing lessons every Saturday night at 10:30PM. Yup, this place transforms instantly from a rather quiet dining area to a home of the best salsa dancers residing in the metro. The good news? Everyone is invited and the party lasts until 5AM. 😀 So if you feel like chilling and letting loose, schedule a trip to Chihuahua this Saturday right now. I bet you’ll have the most fun, hands down.
If you’re not okay with Saturday, you can still have an equally fun ride at Chihuahua’s every Friday when they feature music more on the Reggaeton tip. You’d know it’s real when you see Domicans, Cubans, Costa Ricans and Panamanians in the crowd. The Corona-sponsored weekly’s Urban-Latin club music comes courtesy of Jonathan Picayo and some of the best DJs the city has to offer.
I’m not exactly running back for another set of Mex-Tex food right away, but if a burrito craving strikes me back again, I’ll know where to go. And by now, I think you also do. 🙂
Thanks, Aldous, for the invite! 🙂
Operating Hours: 11am until 3am (Mon-Thurs), 5am (Fri-Sat), and 12am (Sun)
G/F Greenbelt 2 (Esperanza street-side across from The Residences) | 625-0106
Operating Hours: 11am – 11pm daily