A Spanish Feast at Alqueria Tapas, Paella y Bistecas in SM Mega Fashion Hall

Screw those shoe stores and boutiques—SM Mega Fashion Hall is a foodie haven. Ever since this wing opened in SM Megamall, big brands (clothing and restaurant alike) quickly seized their own spaces. In the midst of all the bustle is Alqueria, a Spanish restaurant operated by the SumoSam Group (John & Yoko, Banzai, Teddy’s Bigger Burgers)—specializing in tapas, paellas, and steaks. Formerly known as Boqueria, Alqueria seems a little out of place among its international rivals; however, the restaurant aims to prove that their food could easily propel them to the forefront of the competition.

And this was instantly confirmed by the packed restaurant when some blogger friends and I visited one day for lunch. Alqueria’s interior is modern and dramatic—a classy space which is perfect for a romantic date, a lunch meeting, or a hearty family meal. I loved the chandeliers, wall patterns, and red cushioned seats; every detail transports you from the mall to … somewhere else.

For lunch, we tried a few small bites to start. I loved the fresh and garlicky flavor of the Gambas al Ajillo (PhP375): fresh, plump white river shrimps sauteed in olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and paprika, then finished with white wine and butter. The flavors were bold and shameless—it was a perfect starter for a delicious Spanish carnivore feast ahead.

The Pan con Queso (PhP265) was exceptionally good—a simple grilled cheese sandwich made with manchego and cheddar, with a layer of what tasted like a deliciously tangy tomato salsa. I loved the gooey texture that mixes with the tangy bite from the tomatoes. I highly recommend this dish!

Sadly, the Coca (PhP315) wasn’t as good as I had hoped. Flavor-wise there was nothing bad to say: the flatbread came topped with caramelized onions, olives, tomato confit, and anchovies—sweet, acidic, and salty all at the same time. However, the crust could be a lot softer.

We tried two variants of paella. The first one was the Paella con Mechada (PhP950, medium): saffron-infused rice cooked with sofrito and pomodoro, then topped with braised shortribs, grilled tomatoes and confit potatoes. This one was a little too mushy for me, but flavor-wise it was incredible. I loved the tenderness and flavor of the beef—and the smell? Damn, it floats and wafts into our noses like the wickedest temptation. I really wished there were more tutong (socarrat).

The Paella Negra (PhP825, medium), on the other hand, lacked the ooomph that hardcore squid ink lovers would definitely look for when ordering a dish like this, but texture-wise it was better than the Mechada. Clams and shrimps sit atop the beautiful bed of black rice.

Then came the steaks, and from this point onward, I could no longer look away from the table. Not only were Alqueria’s steaks a delight to look at, they were also incredible on the taste buds. I loved the Skirt Steak (PhP1,310/500grams): Wagyu beef served with thick-cut fries, tomato and onion salsa, sweetish roasted garlic, and salsa verde. The meat was so tasty, especially when doused with the salsa verde.

The highlight, of course, was the Rib Eye Prime (PhP2,030/300grams)—ultra-tender, perfectly medium-rare slices of flavorful beef, delicious even when eaten without sauce. I loved the bloodiness and juiciness of this one.

Alqueria’s steaks are imported from Margaret Farms and are wet-aged to attain their awesome texture and flavor. The portions are good for sharing (3-4), and each order comes with a side salad, a side dish and a sauce of your choice.

There was also a Lengua Estofada (PhP470) which I refused to eat because I’m not a fan of ox tongue. However, my friends forced me to try one bite and the lengua was incredibly tender and not too “slimy”.

For desserts, I liked the Turron con Chocolate (PhP88) which was a roll filled with banana-langka, served with Valor chocolate dip. It had just the right amount of sweetness, and the chocolate was incredible, with a boldness almost like tablea's, but a bit sweeter.

If you like flans or custards, try the Canonigo (PhP218), a cake sitting atop a pool of caramel sauce and flambeed bananas. The cake itself was light, and I suggest going easy on the stuff underneath if you don't like desserts that are very sweet.

The Churros (PhP168/3 pcs, PhP248/5 pcs) were very good, but I honestly don't like fried desserts. However, I think churros lovers should try Alqueria’s and let me know what they think—I’ve heard that the ones sold here are the best.

If you find yourself tired and hungry after a long day of shopping at SM Megamall, head over to the Fashion Hall and check out Alqueria. It’s advisable to try a few tapas, at least one paella, and a steak to share to fully enjoy what the restaurant has to offer. Make sure you bring your family or friends so you can sample a bigger variety.

3/F SM Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City
Budget: around PhP700/head

Follow Alqueria on Facebook or Instagram to learn about their regular and monthly promos (50% off on whole cochinillo, anyone?).

My meal was sponsored by Alqueria. All opinions, however, are my own.

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