Food & Drink

How Las Flores, Rambla, and Tomatito Became the Country's Favorite Spanish Eateries

The La Lola Group's story started with a game of chance.
IMAGE MIGUEL NACIANCENO
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The story of how the La Lola Group came to be starts with a game of chance. Sometime in the noughties, Sergi Rostoll and Dani Aliaga were working on their university paper, which was a study in two parts: first, an analysis of wine consumption in the Philippines at the time; and the second, the logistics of setting up a restaurant there. It was a thoroughly researched affair, which ended where it began—on paper.

Then fate stepped in with a call from Rostoll’s father, with news on a space for a possible restaurant in the Philippines. Almost immediately, Rostoll packed his bags and left for Manila, followed soon after by Aliaga in August of 2006. They put up Barcino in what was once a hushed corner of Pasig, which was a place where superb Spanish wines could be purchased without leaving a dent on the pocket.


Uri Singla, Sergi Rostoll, and Dani Aliaga

In 2009, Uri Singla became the final player in their team. By then, Barcino was already a well-known name and staple dinner option, capable of standing on its own without its makers. The trio let go of their firstborn and moved on to providing Manila with standout Spanish dining options, with the collective goal of reshaping the idea of Spanish cuisine in the city, far and away from the average paella, croquetta, and sangria.

Forty days later, this idea manifested in Las Flores, a tapas bar bursting with Barcelona spirit. Quick to follow it was Rambla, which served modern Spanish dishes like liquid omelettes in champagne flutes, and tapas with air baguettes. With the city growing to accommodate more curious diners, the trio’s two restaurants couldn’t have come at a better time.


Churros at Churreria La Lola

By 2014, eager yet again to introduce something new, the three opted to go small with a mall churros stand called Churreria La Lola. Small as it was, the enormity of its reception was far from what they had anticipated. Diners eager to try it were willing to wait close to an hour just for a taste, which led them to open another stall, and another, until it became a household name.

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La Lola has 20 shops and is growing, and as if handling that wasn’t enough, the group opened up a cheeky tapas bar called Tomatito, and a casual paelleria, Rico Rico, after that. “We keep saying ‘no more!’ when one place goes up,” Aliaga confesses, “But once it’s there, our minds change and we think okay, maybe one more.” Through every game of chance that they’ve played, the La Lola group has proven victorious (to say the very least). Should they keep betting against the odds, they’ve got a good thing going.

This story was originally published in the November 2017 issue of Town&Country.

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Michelle Ayuyao
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