My mother’s palate has never been adventurous – she always relies on safe choices, food she’s liked through the years. She is a huge fan of well-prepared Filipino food, American food, the occasional Italian pasta dish, and the hearty, bold flavors of Spanish cuisine. She isn’t big on spice and despises eating with her hands.
This is why, for Mother’s Day this year, I opted to treat her to a restaurant that deviates from her usual culinary preferences, but still manages to come off as familiar. After days of research, I finally decided on Silantro Fil-Mex Cantina, located at UP Town Center. I have nothing but good words and rave reviews about this restaurant.
I used to wait in line for hours at its Kapitolyo branch, and it was always worth the wait. People flock to this place when they want hearty, straightforward food at prices that are reasonable. The UP Town Center branch was surprisingly crowded – we were greeted by a loooong queue and took over an hour for us to get seated, despite the presence of many other restaurants in the area.
When we finally got seated, my brother, a wrestling fan, got psyched because of the luchador-themed decors of the place. He gamely took photos of the walls while waiting for the food. The food arrived less than ten minutes after we were seated, and we dug right in. We ordered the Caliente Wings, their version of Buffalo Wings. Five large pieces of chicken wings fried to perfection, then smothered with a smoky, sweet, and spicy sauce.
It came with a heaping mountain of shredded greens (lettuce and cilantro), mixed with a little of their green sauce. The greens helped tame the strong flavor of the chicken. It was really good.
We also ordered two kinds of quesadilla – their Beef Quesadilla and the Silantro Quesadilla. Both were huge and good for two very hungry people, and served with a generous serving of skin-on fries. The beef quesadilla had tender chunks of beef and white sauce, wrapped in two pieces of tortilla. The Silantro quesadilla, meanwhile, had chicken and some pimiento. Both came with lots of oozing, melted cheese. These are must-orders from cheese lovers!
One of the things I love ordering from Silantro is their soft tacos. I always go for the completo, which gives me the option to order three kinds of meat with my taco. Lamb, beef, and oxtail are my go-tos, but you can also opt for chicken, pork, fish, and lengua. Mixed with greens, tomatoes, and piled high on soft tortilla, this is quite the treat for carnivores. One serving is good for two people, or one very hungry person (aka me, every time I go to Silantro).
Lastly, we ordered their burrito. They did away with beans – something that I like, as a I always pick out the beans from my burrito – and stuffed it with tomatoes, tender chunks of beef, and Mexican rice that is neither too flavorful nor too bland. The flavor was just right. The burrito was rolled tight so it wasn’t very messy to eat, and it was huge.
Like I mentioned earlier, Silantro gives you great value for your money. We ordered two of each of the dishes mentioned above, and our bill was less than 1,500 pesos! We even had the burritos taken out, which two people devoured. No wonder people are willing to line up for hours just for a bite.
Another thing worth mentioning is that the flavors were tweaked to suit the Filipino palate. A lot of places fail at this – the resulting dishes either end up too sweet, lacking in flavor, or something completely Filipino – but Silantro pulls it off beautifully.
The bold Mexican flavors are definitely there, but tempered and made more “malinamnam” so even non-lovers of the cuisine, such as my mom, would end up liking the food. Oh, and if you ever want to indulge in copious amounts of mojito, Silantro offers unlimited mojito for only 250 pesos.
Now you know where your next Friday night hangout will be. Silantro Fil-Mex Cantina is located at UP Town Center, Diliman, Quezon City.
Watch Your Pinoy tour guide at Silantro Fil-Mex Cantina – Best nachos in Manila by Remus Mark Carballo