Los Indios Bravos Boracay: Revolutionary Gastropub Cuisine

It intrigues me that, despite the popularity of White Beach, the top Boracay restaurant in Trip Advisor is hidden in a quiet street in Bulabog. Los Indios Bravos, a gastropub specializing in international bar fare and local craft beers, is wedged right below a backpacker hostel—a vibrant neighborhood restaurant catering to locals who know where to go and to tourists who do their research.

A fusion of a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, fabulous food, and delicious brews, Los Indios Bravos stands far away from the usual beach crowd yet creates a noise of its own. Owned by Tristan (a Filipino) and Heather (a Canadian), the gastropub flawlessly combines popular bar grub from all over the world with a selection of homemade beers on tap—and integrates these offerings into a setting where diners will lose track of time and find themselves downing beers over endless talks.

Leather seats, heavy accents, and dark wood give off a gentleman’s pub vibe, where one could almost expect men in coats and fedoras smoking tobaccos in a corner. The ambience, though, is not stiff but casual—the seats comfortable and the tables close together. It was as if Los Indios Bravos was especially designed as a place where people can commune, where food and beer lovers can meet and strike up a conversation.

The bar shows off an array of craft beers on tap, the variants depending on availability. If you go alone, pull out one of the leather stools and chat with the bar man, or let the chalkboard menu help you make your choice. Los Indios Bravos offers brands like Craftpoint, Crazy Carabao, Joe’s Brew, and Nipa Brew, alongside imported liquors, including hard-to-find whiskeys.

But more than the usual gastropub where drinks come first and food is less than stellar, Los Indios Bravos sprang out of a desire to break new grounds in the island. True to its name, the restaurant aspires to be like the brave natives it emulates, to wear the derogatory label like a badge and stir up the Boracay dining scene.

The menu is not an afterthought, as one who is wary of gastropubs might think. Instead of playing supporting role to the libations, the food is what keeps people coming back to Los Indios. From appetizers to mains, the pub’s selections will satiate any craving: whether it’s a small, quick bite you’re looking for, or a proper meal.

Craft beer is best consumed with food, and we tried Los Indios Bravos’ best-selling starters with the owners’ recommended beer pairings. The Bitterballen (PhP220)—Dutch croquettes made with beef hash and gravy—are unlike anything I have ever tasted. The batter was delicate, not thick and overly crispy; the insides were moist, thick, and savory. The Dijon mustard and curry ketchup? OMG. I hate croquettes and anything that looks like them, but please someone tell me where to get this in Manila.

Its pairing was Craftpoint’s Liberation Pale Ale, a bold beer that has hints of caramel, nuttiness, citrus, and tropical fruits. It was an amazing complement to the flavorful croquettes.

The Beer-Battered Chicken Goujons (PhP200) are crispy strips of chicken tenders served with a sweet chili dip. Judging from this dish and the Bitterballen, it seems like Los Indios has mastered the art of batter—both had coverings that allow what’s inside to shine but not overwhelm. With the Goujons I could taste the perfectly-cooked chicken, spiced up by the dip, then made even more delectable by its beer partner: the Exit Wounds IPA.

IPAs (India Pale Ale) are the hoppier beer types, and are generally more bitter than lagers and wheat beers. Paired with spicy food, Crazy Carabao’s Exit Wounds somehow intensifies the heat from the dip first, before cooling the mouth down. A lovely pairing! (Or maybe I’m just partial towards IPAs, LOL.)

The next dish sent me drooling all over the table (and my laptop as I wrote this piece)—the Oysters Rockefeller (PhP310). Remembering is a struggle—all I have for this dish is yearning. Crispy bits of bacon, melted cheese, and creamy mornay sauce sheathe sautéed spinach nestled atop the baked melt-in-your-mouth oysters. If there was only one seafood dish I would eat for the rest of my life, this would be it (sorry, scallops).

Its partner was the Tarsier Wheat Beer from Crazy Carabao—a weizen with subtle hints of banana and clove. Refreshing and light, this beer pairs well with seafood, and indeed it made the oyster dish shine.

By the time our mains arrived, we have already finished a couple of glasses, but the sight of the Chicken Tikka Masala (PhP395) sobered me up. Los Indios’ version of this Indian dish could be a lot bolder, but the cubes of chicken tikka smothered in curried tomato masala were so delicious that the absence of ablaze mouths was instantly forgiven. The rice was left untouched; the cucumber raita and tomato chutney suffered the same fate. This dish was exquisite!

The Pan Roasted Salmon Fillet (PhP390) is for fans of the delicious, flaky fish—at Los Indios, a generous pink-orange chunk came topped with tomato chutney, and served with steakhouse sauce and a side salad dressed with a tart passionfruit vinaigrette. The salmon was gorgeous and perfectly cooked.

Beef lovers would enjoy the Salt and Pepper Beef (PhP580)—double-cooked US Angus Beef riblets with cinnamon salt, onions and chilies, then topped with stir-fried veggies. It came with some spiced vinegar that was so addicting, and which cut through the strong flavors of the beef. If vinegar doesn’t do the trick, I’m sure some dark beer (like Nipa’s Midnight Blur) can do the job.

At this point, I couldn’t tell anymore what beer I was drinking; we ordered a flight consisting of 4 different variants—Nipa’s Bliss Point Blonde Ale among them—but I was having so much fun talking to my friends and listening to the hospitable owners’ fascinating stories that I no longer cared which is which.

I guess that’s why people keep coming back to Los Indios Bravos—the fact that it’s so easy to get lost. To lose count of how many pints you have finished, or how many hours have passed. Each plate is full of surprises, each dish a gateway to somebody else’s culture. All the elements at Los Indios blended perfectly, and it’s no surprise that its desires to bring revolutionary gastropub cuisine to the table is not only recognized in this busy island, but also embraced.

Los Indios Bravos
Road 1A, Bulabog, Malay, Aklan
Operating hours: 10:00AM - 12:00MN
Budget: around PhP500/head

Have you tried Los Indios Bravos? How was your experience?

My meal was sponsored by Los Indios Bravos. All opinions, however, are my own.

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