Ruben Bar and Restaurant
San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines — As a travel and food blogger, I am always on the lookout for foodie finds, small food stalls, and other gastronomic discoveries in my travels.
When I joined a group staycation at Best Western Bendix Hotel in San Fernando, Pampanga a while back, the Ruben Bar and Restaurant in the hotel’s lobby added itself to my list of all-time favorite restaurants in the north.
Ruben is impossible to miss when traversing MacArthur Highway in San Fernando, or when checking in at Best Western Bendix Hotel. Being the foodie that I am, of course, I made sure not to miss the opportunity to try out their Latin American-inspired and modern twists of Pampangan dishes.
The restaurant was named after Ruben Patawaran, the owner of the hotel. Ruben was a traveler and foodie himself, and although he passed away in 2012, his love for food, travel and Philippine culture lives on.
I was fortunate enough to have the restaurant’s very own Head Chef Lorenzo Vallar serve us their best dishes.
The appetizing Creamy Spanish-Style Garlic Soup, sold at Php150 a bowl, had a very sharp and distinct flavor. It perfectly whets the appetite and goes well with their crusty bread.
Other amazing appetizers are Mojito-Style Ceviche, made with fresh chunks of tuna, lime juice, cilantro, mint, and dance moves (seriously entertaining btw). We were also given a sample of Arugula and French Cheese Salad.
After the appetizer, Head Chef Lorenzo immediately proceeded with their delicious mains.
We had Sizzling Corned Beef Sinigang. Yes, you read that right: sizzling. Corned beef. Sinigang. Corned beef brisket smothered in thick, sinigang broth topped with cherry tomatoes, crispy green beans, and onions.
Seafood Paella is another dish that we sampled. The soft rice was so heavenly, and it was overloaded with flavorful mussels, squid, clams, prawns, and olives. The freshly cooked rice absorbed all the flavors of the day’s fresh catch. Yummy!
Another signature dish that we had was their Ruben 6-Hour Beef Caldereta. I believe that the dish was given that name because it is prepared in six long, and flavorful hours. The braised beef ribs were oh-so tender, and since they were cooked in red wine, every bite was bursting with flavor.
Another playful twist to a traditional dish was the Sizzling Crispy Pork Belly Adobo. The crispiness of belly contrasted with the soft touch of thick adobo sauce.
I thought that they had run out of ideas to blow my foodie mind. But when they served their Aligue Pasta, I was in awe. This dish is amazing. The sauce is made of aligue, or crab fat, coconut milk, cilantro, and the sharp flavor of lime. It costs only Php 260, and I can officially say that the dish is my new guilty-pleasure.
Ruben also gives off a homey and comfy vibe with its classical breakfast dishes, like the Potato and Chorizo Hash is a big plate that has poached eggs, potatoes, and smoky chorizo. Perfect with coffee on an early morning.
Drinks and Mixes
Ruben is also known for its drinks. Their baristas serve Sunset Craft Beer signature brews, a Scottish brand of drinks based in Pampanga. They also served a mix of concoctions for us to try, each drink was uniquely named and among all the drinks served, my favorite would be their “Old Fashioned” – a cocktail made by muddling sugar with bitters, with whiskey and finally a twist of orange rind.
No need to worry for pulutan or finger food too, as they offer Nachos, Fried Spanish Sardines, Roasted Pork Belly with Truffle Lechon Sauce and Calamares, and yes, even Truffle Mushroom Burger.
The Ruben Way
Whether or not you are a foodie like me, I can guarantee that you will fall in love with Ruben’s tasty, innovative, and classic dishes…In fact, I consider this restaurant and bar as one of Pampanga’s best.
Location: Lobby of Best Western Bendix Hotel, McArthur Highway, 2000 San Fernando, Pampanga
Facebook Page: Facebook.com/ruben.barph
Telephone: (02) 982 3333