One of the things I loved most about living in San Juan before I got married was how our neighborhood had a lot of really good restaurants that are all within walking distance from our home. I always enjoyed trying new dining spots in the area with my parents—usually on a Friday night or for Sunday lunch after mass. These great laid-back meals and the proximity to amazing restos are among the many things I miss most about home.
One such restaurant we tried just a few weeks before I moved to Iloilo is the San Juan branch of Beeffalo by Hotrocks, located in Addition Hills, beside a car wash on Hoover Street. It is not as isolated as the original branch in Marikina, but it’s still outside the commercial centers—which I think adds to the charm of the place. It feels like you’re just dining at home.
The original branch, which opened in 2013, is located in an obscure corner of Marikina, far from the busy thoroughfare, and surrounded by talahib; the restaurant was not very easy to find. “It was like dining in the middle of nowhere, that was the magic of the place,” said Beeffalo General Manager Louie Abad. Customers persevered just to get a taste of the best-selling ribs and steaks made famous by word of mouth.
The 50-seater branch in San Juan opened in July 2017 and is slowly gaining ground. The interest grew when people found out that Beeffalo is a reincarnation of sorts of Hotrocks, the hole-in-the-wall that attracted droves to Auto Camp in Ortigas Center then later on, along Libis. Its successful eight-year run came to an abrupt close in 2012 after their lease was not renewed to give way to property development.
While Beeffalo reflects shades of Hotrocks, it’s a different concept altogether. “We want it to be a place where families can go to chill, have good food, then extend kwentuhan over coffee and dessert,” described Louie. “We’d like to keep the identity of it as a destination restaurant, a place that encourages people to go out of their way to visit,” he continued.
Well, for me and my parents, it wasn’t the case, but we did enjoy the walk to and from the restaurant so we somehow get to burn off some of the calories we gain from their delicious dishes that come in such huge portions!
The restaurant has a roadhouse concept—a Western lutong-bahay. Everything on the menu is straightforward, no twists. Their menu lists mainly American fare with some Filipino favorites. Aside from the grilled specialties of the house (Porterhouse Steaks and Baby Back Ribs, among others), you can find Nachos (with home-made corn salsa or spinach dip) and Buffalo Wings in Sweet and HOT (!!!) flavors.
For your appetizer, I recommend the Nachos with home-made Spinach Dip (P175), which is loaded with spinach, sour cream, and mayonnaise. It’s so creamy and delicious, it’s definitely a good way to get kids to eat vegetables—it’s healthy junk food!
Buffalo Wings, 50-50
You may also want to get the Buffalo Wings (P260). I prefer the sweet variant, which already has a hint of spice and doesn’t even need the bleu cheese dip that’s served with it. But if you’re into spicy food, then get the hot version, which is pretty popular—it’s definitely very spicy, but the savory flavor is so good (the dip can tame the heat)! Better yet, get 50-50 so you get to try both.
If you want soup, you have to try their homemade Broccoli-Cheese Soup (P145), served with two garlic bread slices. It’s so creamy and comforting, you don’t even feel like you’re eating a veggie-based soup. It’s a good way to get non-vegetable eaters to enjoy broccoli.
Taco BBQ Salad
We also had the Taco BBQ Salad (P315), which the menu says is good for two, but I’d daresay it can feed four! The HUGE salad is made up of lettuce, nacho chips, taco beef, salsa, cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, and garlic ranch dressing. I never imagined getting full off a salad until I tried this. It’s a big hit among my family, and I personally love the barbecue flavor.
It’s also good to know there’s a good steak place so close to home. All Beeffalo Steaks are served with real mashed potatoes and vegetable sidings. I tried their Porterhouse (P475 for 250g and P725 for 450g), which is tender and savory, with a nice char to it. I noticed it was served well done, but you may want to get it medium, too. They make their own barbecue flavoured steak sauce, which is sweet with just the right acidity and a hint of pepper.
Baby Back Ribs
What I really enjoyed is the Baby Back Ribs (P345 for single serving with java rice, P825 for full rack). The fall-off-the-bone meat has a good char to it, too, that was complemented by their own home-made barbecue sauce, which in my opinion is what makes it taste exceptional.
Garlic and Mushroom Biscuit Pizza
If you want pizza, their Biscuit Pizza has an extremely thin crust and is available in four variants (Pepperoni, Margherita, Garlic & Mushroom, and Three Cheese), all at less than P200. I got to try the Margherita (P185) and Garlic and Mushroom (P180) flavors.
Margherita Biscuit Pizza
The Margherita is so cheesy, topped with fresh tomato and basil that makes for an amazing combination. The Garlic and Mushroom had lots of garlic bits, making it savory and bold-flavored, which went well with the cheese. I love how you get to enjoy the toppings since the crust is so thin—which, I must say, holds up, even if it’s loaded.
Dulce de Leche Cheesecake
For dessert, try the Brazo de Mercedes (P125) and Dulce de Leche Cheesecake (P165), which they get from suppliers. The Dulce de Leche, as the name suggests, is sweet and decadent, with that rich cheesecake taste. I personally prefer the Brazo de Mercedes, which is delicious without overwhelming you with sweetness and a sinfully rich custard core.
Brazo de Mercedes
All these years, they’ve maintained the same menu and served the same dishes that have earned them a strong following, but they’ve recently added Grilled Salmon, which has been receiving a lot of good reviews.
The large portion of salmon has crispy, savory skin cooked in a blend of herbs and spices and served with java rice.
Everything I tried was such happy food and all reasonably priced. The average check per person is P350, and I guarantee, you come out of there so full!
Louie’s wife, Girlie Cosio-Abad, acts as Beeffalo’s executive chef. She applied her knack for what tastes good and her natural cooking prowess in researching and developing the menu for the business. It’s a real family restaurant, with recipes cooked up in their own home and taste-tested by the family before it even makes it to the menu. They use real food, vegetables, and ingredients—no artificial powders, no shortcuts. They also try to use mostly local ingredients to help local farmers. They make sure everything is prepared in their commissary, so all the food is consistent, and then brought to the two branches.
Beeffalo San Juan is located at #135 Hoover Street, Addition Hills. If you’re coming from Shaw, just turn into the corner of Toyota and go straight. For inquiries, you may call +632-636 5571. It is open from 11AM to 10PM, Monday to Sunday.
Their first branch is at Blk 6 Lot 3 Gil Fernando Avenue, Sto. Niño, Marikina City. You may call +632-9676008 or +63939-1130772 for inquiries.