AFTER a long week of hustling, all you need is food that is simply delicious. And when you’re craving for a simple yet soul-satisfying meal, a visit to Estos Kitchen + Cafe is sure to lift your spirits.
Tucked away in the small town of Guagua, Pampanga, Estos is a newly-opened restaurant and cafe that refuses to be boxed in by culinary traditions.
Chef Al Lawrence Fernando, its owner, continues to transform the local culinary scene as he strays away from the norm, offering dishes that are no-frills but also finely crafted and executed.
The 24-year-old culinary genius shared that his goal is pretty straightforward: to serve downright good food that is affordable and made fresh everyday—all for his kababayans.
“I just want to offer the people of Guagua a better, closer, and more convenient choice. So that they won’t have to drive all the way to San Fernando or Angeles to find a place where they could dine, hangout, and enjoy quality food,” he said.
How it started
After a one year internship in the United States, Chef Al, a culinary graduate from the Center for Culinary Arts in Manila, knew what he want upon coming home.
“I really wanted to have my own restaurant. Ever since, it was my dream,” he quipped.
He added that while there are many hip places to choose from, he considered no other choice but his hometown to put up his very first dining outlet.
“I grew up here in Guagua. And my first instinct was to give back to the community and of course, help the people. All my staff are actually from here,” he tells.
Chef Al shared that he named his restaurant Estos to pay tribute to his grandfather, Modesto, a hardworking businessman known having been one the first to open a lumber and hardware venture in Guagua.
Moreover, coming from a family of doctors, Chef Al said that he thankful for his supportive parents who let him follow his calling: to curate mouthwatering food down to a science.
Kitchen + Cafe
Chef Al keeps things effortless, from the menu to the decor. Estos moves toward a more pared-down aesthetic by having modest, neutral-colored furnishings and bare walls, with the only splash of color being a few large contemporary murals in the dining area.
As for the menu, Estos lean in American, Italian, and Asian fusion. One can find comforting favorites like pizzas, pastas, burgers, sandwiches, and of course, rice meals.
Estos takes the food that we have all learned to love and adds their own spin to them. For instance, their Chicken Wings, one of the best-sellers, are not your typical chicken wings. In Estos, this well-loved finger food comes in three unusual yet oddly satisfying flavors: Honey Sriracha, Adobo, and Kare-Kare.
For a healthy and hearty start, have a bowl of Mixed Green Salad made of Lala Rosa, pecan granola, feta cheese, shallots, red raddish, poach pear, celery, and matched with honey roasted pecan dressing.
If you’re a burger-lover, definitely go for the Double Cheese Burger made from freshly-baked brioche buns, 100 percent double beef patty, American cheese, shredded lettuce, white onion, and tomato pickles.
Furthermore, if your belly shouts for a homemade pizza, you won’t be able to resist Estos’ Four Cheese pizza. Dip a bite of this Italian staple in their special Chili Honey sauce, and you have the recipe for instant happiness.
For the main entrees, prepare yourself for an ultimate gastronomic experience as Estos will tickle your tastebuds with tasty and sensational choices. If it's your first time, order the Tenderloin with Chimichurri sauce, or better yet the 15-hour Red Wine Braised Short Rib, Chef Al’s favorite.
Also, definitely try the Southern Fried Chicken. It’s addicting! Another must-try is the Estos Large Chicken, served with Estos’ special gravy and katsudon rice.
To end a very satisfying meal, order the Choco Lava Cake with coconut ice cream, served with strawberry syrup and vanilla ice cream, coated with toasted coconut shavings. It’s pure heavenly!
Friends who love to chill over a cuppa, or students and professionals who need a little jolt to get their work done can likewise get their caffeine fix at Estos. The restaurant slash cafe serves hot and cold coffee, iced tea, milkshakes, frappe, and smoothies.
Take note, don’t let all these fancy food names fool you. Estos’ meals are actually very affordable. Its offerings range from as low as P99 to P315. Each is served with a generous and hefty serving.
Estos Kitchen + Cafe is located at Ferdiz Building, San Pedro, Guagua, Pampanga. For more information and reservations, call 0925 707 0750 or 0917 864 7891. You may also checkout its official Facebook page: ESTOS Kitchen + Cafe. (Erika Mariel Gines)