The other day, a few foodie friends and I checked out this new place near Katipunan called Tortuga, and I had no idea what to expect.
It is located along Esteban Abada St., near Xavierville, somewhere at the back of McDonald’s Katipunan.
When I arrived, I had a small issue looking for parking because Tortuga did not have their own parking space, and there was no guard or staff to assist with the parking, or at least, to tell me where I could park. I ended up parking at a nearby 7-Eleven and just bought a little something there for the trouble. Apparently, you’re supposed to look for parking at one of the nearby streets. I don’t frequent this area so I was not familiar with where to park.
Upon finally entering Tortuga, I was pleasantly surprised by the nice beachside bar shack ambience. Tortuga is a Caribbean-themed restobar. Tortuga is the Spanish word for turtle or tortoise, and is also the name of a Caribbean island. The restobar officially opened about a month ago.
They also have this turtle-decorated room that can double as your sanctuary:
We started with the Jamon Croquetas (P100). It’s so difficult to pick a favorite, but I am definitely coming back for these little balls of fried creamy goodness. Golden brown and delicious on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside with little pieces of ham in the creamy mashed potatoes. Highly recommended!
My dining companions really loved this potato omelet, the Awooga Tortilla (P110). It is perfectly done, the potatoes are cooked but not mushy, the egg is firm but not rubbery nor runny, it is lightly seasoned but the sweet, intense, jammy syrup on top really brings out the flavors and contrasts.
These Beef Skewers (P110) are tender, meaty beef cubes – no gristle or tough beef anywhere. And the flavor! Like our local barbecue, but better and tastier.
Jamba Gambas (P130) – these were also delicious, but kind of run-of-the-mill, not outstanding. Similar to this type of dish in other restaurants.
Jerk! Chicken (P200) – do you love chicken barbecue? Well, this is loads better. Chicken barbecue amped up with cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices. Awaken your senses. Really liked this dish a lot.
Jungle Pumba (P200) – this one doesn’t look very appetizing, but it delivers on flavor. Pork belly meat and fat melt in your mouth from hours of slow cooking, all covered in this sweet, lemongrass-y and mildly spicy sauce.
Tortuga’s Kare-Kare (P190) – the presentation of this dish is nice, but for me, this dish didn’t quite meet the high levels that the other dishes did. The vegetables were perfectly cooked and sweet, and while I do enjoy the deconstructed Kare-Kare, I felt like the fried tripe needs to be cooked until it’s more tender, and was fried too long at low heat, resulting in an oily and tough breading. I liked their bagoong. The Kare-Kare sauce was just ok, and I think kare-kare lovers would prefer to have more sauce. I personally like my rice swimming in kare-kare sauce.
For dessert, we had Basil Ice Cream (P50). Seriously, it’s only P50! It tastes like pesto. A bit weird, but an easily acquired taste. For some reason I don’t quite understand myself, I think it will do very well turned into a sauce or a foam for steak…
We also had their Deep-Fried Ice Cream (P85):
Scoops of strawberry ice cream are wrapped in something like a crepe, and deep-fried. It is served with a chocolate waffle batter that has been fried to look like rice crispies, and drizzled with chocolate syrup.
For our drinks, we tried several cocktails:
I had the Guava Lava (P95), this is a ginger-guava-lemon flavored drink, spiked with vodka. Not bad.
Cocomo (P95), I thought I would like this, but I was expecting a more pina colada flavor. It’s nice, but not my favorite. The owners told me some customers have been stealing the cups Well, the cups are nice and unique! But resist the urge to take the cups home.
and I also tried a sip of their Earl Grey-based Sneaky Tiki (P95), which I also really liked but did not order anymore. It’s like a spiked iced tea.
Tortuga serves flavor-packed, well-spiced food at really affordable prices – the food was much, much better than what I expected from an area like Katipunan that is known as a student hangout. The ambience is great, it’s like being transported to some Carribean beachside bar shack.
They are also very particular about the funk / groove music they play. They have a curated playlist of mostly 70s music with a lot of Nile Rogers influence, including songs from the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, America, etc… Credit goes to our dining companion, Foodgrammer.PH, who told us all about the music from his era, hahaha, joke lang The music wasn’t too loud and we could talk while we listened. It was an afternoon that went by too fast in wonderful company.
Everything is cohesive, from the decor, to the food, to the music. Prices are also very pocket-friendly, with cocktails starting at P95, and rice meals at around P200.
If you are looking for a new place near Katipunan, check out Tortuga.
PROS: Really good food. Wonderful ambience. Affordable prices.
CONS: You’re on your own with parking, and you’re supposed to just park on one of the nearby streets.
42 Esteban Abada, Loyola Heights, Quezon City, Philippines
Call 0995 590 8803
Hours: 1:30 PM – 1:00 AM ; Closed on Sundays
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The Barat Queen
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