Best tacos in Manila

LO de Alberto offers bigger portions of tacos (leftmost) while Lagrima has the best-tasting ones in the metropolis (below).

Tacos are one of my favorite things to eat. There’s something about the innate messiness of it that make them taste that much better and I love adding more heat and more citrus to every tortilla disc I encounter.

Manila has always embraced Mexican food in some way, shape or form and the recent resurgence of taco-mania has led to some truly great taco places breaking ground. Currently, the most popular ones include Lagrima, a tiny space in Legazpi Village; Lo de Alberto, which styles itself as the only authentic taqueria in town; and La Chinesca, Bruce Ricketts’ ever-popular casual spot that is known for their insane lines and off-the-menu specials. I decided to break down which one is best and which one you should be heading for your fix next.

Best overall

I am a huge Lagrima fan, so I’ll have to admit that there might have been a bit of bias going into this taste test. I love the bare-bones interior, the succinct menu and the honesty of the fare here. In the first few months of its operation, I truly disliked what they had to offer, but after going through a bit of a rebirth, it has become one of my go-to restaurants. Their soft taco fillings are spectacular and really remind me of ones I’ve eaten in taco carts in LA.

Surtido is my favorite–braised stomach, tripe, skin that make for a variation of soft, chewy and crunchy textures. Get it also in a fried super quesadilla for something incredibly indulgent. Don’t forget their avocado tostada, which is so hefty, it could pass for a main. It’s refreshing and insanely under-appreciated.

Lagrima is at BSA Mansion, Benavides Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City.

LA Chinesca’s innovative tacos.

La Chinesca
Best tortilla and most innovative flavors

Trust Bruce Ricketts to come up with a Mexican place that isn’t strictly Mexican, and colors far outside of the lines. The corn tortilla that makes the base of their tacos, is the best one and is almost perfect in taste and texture. I sometimes think that the flavors need a little editing, since Ricketts loves adding more elements and sauces than normal, but when they work, they are genius. Off menu oyster is fried well and uni tostadas retain all the brininess of the orange lobes. Lamb barbacoa is also a great choice, offset by the brightness of the pickles in each bite.

La Chinesca is at 248 Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Parañaque City, and at Stall 9, The Grid Food Market, Power Plant Mall, Rockwell, Makati City.

There’s something about the innate messiness of tacos that make them taste that much better.

Lo de Alberto
Most bang for your buck

I was disappointed by Lo de Alberto, mostly because it talks a big game. I can’t tell you if it’s the most authentic, but I can tell you that it lacks the punch of flavor that the previous contenders brought to the table. Their corn tortillas are actually fairly decent, but their quesadillas are generally boring and tasteless. Tacos and burritos are generally better, but only best its peers with the serving that comes at its price.

Lo de Alberto is at City Golf Plaza, Doña Julia Vargas Avenue, Ugong, Pasig City and at Tropical Palms Condominium, De la Rosa Corner Gallardo Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City.

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