People who find themselves in Antipolo and are up for a food trip usually only have a handful of cafes as their options. With the area looking to be a potential food hotspot, couple Anna and Joseph (Antipolo natives) felt that their hometown is now ready for more diversity in food options. Hence the birth of LEON Authentic Mexican. It was borne out of the passion for Mexican food and the possibility to put Antipolo on the food map.
LEON sits on a corner of the second floor of Okinari Arcade – also where Sulok Cafe is. It’s a budding complex with other restaurants occupying it too. Going up to the place, we were greeted by a bold list of iconic and classic Mexican fare before crossing the threshold into the place. I guess it’s mostly what to expect from this joint. The deep grey of the walls comes in delightful contrast with the light finish of the wood furnishings. The modest space gets flooded with natural light as allowed by big windows. It’s reminiscent of the industrial feel of the modern taquerias sprouting all over Metro Manila.
It’s exciting to find out how exactly this new player in the vicinity will fare through their food. With it being remote from food hot spots and being new, you can’t really help but have a prejudice. But then again, I was there to find out exactly what LEON would bring to diners. A sweating pitcher of their Mojito was placed on our table to get things started.
A plate of LEON’s Louisiana Wings (Php 180) arrived at our table. It may look intimidating (I mean hot & spicy) because of the generous deep red rub, but that’s all the Mexican herbs and spices for a tasty trip to Louisiana. Nice and tender, but they could have let the rub steep for a few more minutes to really let it get in there.
Quesadillas! LEON’s Cheese Quesadilla (Php 105) was served with salsa and sour cream. Its tortilla was burnt just right and the cheese melds gracefully with the sour cream and the salsa. I must say their homemade salsa is somewhere close to perfect – right amount of sharpness and crunchy vegetables that have a delightfully ripe overall taste.
We had a sampling of their Crunchy Taco Ground Beef (Php 75). This is their take on a Chalupa, which is an open-faced taco except with a fried tortilla as its base. Playful crisp as it goes along with the well-spiced beef and a heaping topping of lettuce. Don’t forget the sour cream!
Their Sizzling Fajita Steak looks very inviting. It comes with the sizzling steak on a hot plate and a serving of rolled up tortillas in another. Make sure to eat the steak with the fajita for the full experience! Tender steak with vegetables that caramelized from the heat brought together by the Mexican herbs and spices. We downed that with some more of ice cold mojito.
And then we had the Chicken Burrito (Php 135), which is one of my top picks. The thing with these iconic and classic dishes from other cuisines is that it’s either good or not. This one is surprisingly good. I noticed the turmeric in the mix that just brought all the ingredients home. Once you taste it for yourself you’ll know what I mean.
Anna admitted that a hindrance to people actually trying out their food was the common perception that Mexican food is uncomfortably spicy. But we all know that’s not the case. Restaurants like LEON opening in such a young food community is a step to make more and more Filipinos open to the wonderful world of global cuisine.
Now, you guys know which spot to hit when craving for some flavorful Mexican fare in Antipolo.