Rufo's Famous Tapa

The Search for Rufo’s Famous Tapa

It’s almost midnight. It’s a Friday night and a lot of people are hanging out. Many are drinking, already drunk by this time. Sooner or later tempers are going to flare up. And we don’t know exactly where to go. Excellent!

We’ve seen Rufo’s somewhere in Makati. I know the original branch is somewhere in Kalayaan Avenue, a shortcut out of Makati to escape the hunger-inducing intense traffic in Makati. It’s a one-way road so it’s not like you can turn around if you’ve missed what you’re looking for.

A lot of streets in Makati are, in fact, one-way streets. Miss your turn and you have to go around. Add heavy traffic to menu (no pun intended) and it’s a recipe for a disaster. Go in a one-way street and pray the Makati police won’t swoop on you, little one-way street violator/criminal you.

Rufo’s is along Kalayaan Avenue, near the intersection of Makati Avenue. It’s not difficult to look for that intersection. It’s a couple of blocks from the City Hall and a walking distance from the red light district of Makati. How did I know that? My friends told me. Stop asking questions.

If you’re taking Makati Avenue from Ayala Avenue, you can’t take a left turn to Kalayaan. Drive across Kalayaan, paying attention to the stop light of course, then take the first left turn. That’s Eduque Street. Go straight and turn left at the dead end. The next intersection, at the left side is Rufo’s.

(Similar process if you’re coming from Rockwell — along Kalayaan from Rockwell, take a right turn in Makati Av, then left turn at Eduque. Or simply take Reposo Street or the one beside the Manila South Cemetery and go straight.)

This is the first time I’ve visited Rufo’s — the main branch or any of its franchise (yes, this creation of a group of friends in 1984 is now a franchise). I’ve always imagine Rufo’s as a great place to hang out with the barkada. Order a bucket of beer and pulutan and you’re good to go.

Rufo’s serves full meals. It has an air-conditioned area. It may be trying to cater to families, but I always associate it more with gimiks, the younger crowd, beers, and having fun.

The best seller, the waiter replied, is the tapa. The place, after all, is founded on this recipe. Rufo’s Famous Tapa. Next in line is the pork liempo. The sisig, of course, is quite as good. The liempo and pata have a tinge of sweetness, perfect for the bitter taste of beer. Add to the balance is the dip — vinegar, kalamansi, toyo and chili. Choose your mix and dig in.

The tapa and the liempo taste good. They don’t probably call it “famous tapa” for nothing. However, I prefer my liempo to be crunchy, just like a crispy pata. I prefer my tapa more dry. This preference, however, does not take anything away from the famous tapa of Rufo.

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