Makati’s CBD always has new things to offer in terms of entertainment and dining. New shops, bars and restaurants pop up like mushrooms. Some sprout up with so much razzle-dazzle but die out once the hype is over. There are a few however, that have quietly managed to stick around for quite some time. I love places like these. I love that they are not shiny and new but cozy and full if character. Don’t get me wrong, I love checking out new restaurants but there is something to be said about having an old reliable to go to.


One of my favorite restaurants in the CBD is La Tienda on Polaris Street. It’s where we usually end up when we don’t want to deal with the unfamiliar. It’s where I grab a bite before heading down the road for a gig. It’s where I tell my new-in-town students to go to. It’s where many birthdays and anniversaries have been celebrated and family decisions made. More importantly, it’s where we go when we want to have some kick-ass paella and chorizo.

Most of the patrons, like my family, are return customers. The fellows who sit at the bar are the same fellows who have been sitting there for years. They always come back because aside from the fact that the food is really good, the atmosphere and service is too.

After a couple of visits, everyone from the parking attendant to the mariachi band says hello like they’ve been expecting you. The waitstaff remembers what you like to eat and drink and gives you a heads-up if there’s something special in the kitchen. The chef comes out to say hello, as does the ever-dashing proprietor who leaves his well-worn seat at the bar to exchange pleasantries.

It seems to me that the charming interiors, the well-stocked little store, the honest, unpretentious food, the well-modulated mariachi band (they are never too loud and have an amazing repertoire), and quiet warmth and easy-going yet efficient staff is what gives this place it’s staying powers.

I am very glad, that in the middle of Makati’s constant reshaping, there are a few old reliables that have survived. Because really, being trendy can be tiresome and sometimes disappointing.  It’s nice to know that there is somewhere you can go where you are guaranteed a satisfying and charming dining experience.

They definitely get from me.