Looking For Authentic Spanish Cuisine With A Twist? Visit La Picara

Looking For Authentic Spanish Cuisine With A Twist? Visit La Picara


Once you enter La Pícara’s doors, you’re bound to bump into Isabel Calvo. Long, tall Calvo, the Spanish restaurant’s big boss (underlined by her business card that says “The Boss”) is a whirling dervish of energy, swirling and swinging along the bar, kitchen, dining area, and to every table. Salvo makes it a point to try and meet all her diners, checking if they’re well taken care of and often to converse—sometimes in the local vernacular. The latter catches many off-guard, especially since Calvo speaks Filipino with a thick Spanish accent. It’s unexpected, but delightful—which is what the La Pícara experience is all about.La-Picara

How it all began

La Pícara has the kind of underdog story that Filipinos love. Its story is the story of Calvo, who arrived in the Philippines as a language teacher a few years ago. The willowy Spaniard, who possesses the kind of effervescent personality typically seen in YouTube videos, comes from a family in love with cooking and good food. She brought that piece of home with her when she moved halfway across the world and infused it with local flavors and kitschy names. From her little kitchen she started producing croquetas, those delightful deep-fried béchamel pillows filled with jamon, cheese, and vegetables, to be sold at the popular Legaspi Sunday Market in Makati. From there she started catering parties and dinners, not just to the Spanish community, but to the many Filipinos who knew her as the tapas lady from the market. Somewhere along the line, the idea of a restaurant started brewing. This ambition is already fraught with peril—how many imaginative and innovative restos have perished under the weight of skyrocketing rental rates and the presence of franchise behemoths? To hear Calvo tell the story (it’s best done with a bottle of wine, of which La Pícara has nice selection) is to hear her struggle and relentlessness to achieve this dream. In the end, Calvo was able to secure, not only the perfect location in the heart of bustling Bonifacio Global City, but also like-minded partners who share her passion for creating fun dining experiences, complete with good food, mindful service, and a familial spirit.


Top picks

One of the most striking things about La Pícara is its interiors, which is so beautiful and picturesque that our art director wanted to stage a fashion editorial right then and there. Credit goes to architect Felipe Antonio Díaz de Miranda Fernández de Molina, who brought together mid-century pieces—think molded chairs and velvet upholstery, with Spanish design—machuca tiles, an abundance of natural light, and lush tropical touches—hanging plants, and a wall-sized jungle idyllic. La Pícara, means mischievous in Spanish, and this cheekiness can be seen everywhere, including the kitschy dinnerware, which includes costumed animal-printed plates and neon pink flamingo mugs, but is experienced most delightfully in the food. Tapas include the popular Sisig Pibil Tacos (P340), two soft-shelled tacos stuffed with crispy, creamy deep-fried pork topped with guac and picked onions, and the Chopritos (P320), perfectly seasoned fried pusit or squid. There’s also the Waffletilla de Patata (P340), which is basically the popular potato omelette shaped like a waffle and topped with aoili and sriracha mayo. Of course, there’s Calvo’s signature croquetas: the Kimchi Croquetas (P340) are served with thin slices of salmon sushi on top, and the Croqueyaki (P340), which is the traditional ham variant, but made to look like Japanese takoyaki. For mains, there’s the Beef Cheeks (P680), a slow-cooked dish that’s achingly tender and smothered with red wine sauce; the twist is the deep-fried saba, which gives the dish some contrasting crunch and sweetness. For lighter fare there’s the Salsa Verde Lapu-Lapu (P780), a soft fillet of fish topped with a piquant, lightweight green curry sauce and served with sweet clams. Of course, what would any Spanish restaurant be without its paella? La Pícara serves delightful twists on popular favorites with their Chili Crab Paella (P890), a deeply flavorful rendition served with either soft-shell crab or tempura and just a hint of heat. The Iberian Pork Fideua (P890) is full of umami thanks to the toasted noodles’ pairing with pork knuckle and braised pork ribs. Make room for desserts like the Arroz Con Leche (P280), a winsome take on the humble rice pudding, topped with caramelized mangoes and crumbly strudel. For those with a  sweet tooth, there’s the Puto Flan de Queso (P380), a combination of the local leche flan and cheesecake, topped with caramel and nuts.


La Pícara is often full, so it’s best to book a table in advance, especially if you want to take advantage of their happy hour, which happens daily and twice a day on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. From ladies-who-lunch, to families, urbanites looking for Instagrammable grub—and yes, Spaniards looking for a taste of home—La Pícara welcomes them all.

For reservations and inquiries please call mobile (927) 172 4480 or follow @lapicaraph on instagram and  Facebook

Photography by Floyd Jhocson of Studio 100
Art direction by Jann Pascua

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