By Jen Freeman
The Spanish word “Olé” has been defined as an exclamation of approval, encouragement, triumph or joy, customarily used at bullfights, flamenco dancing, and other Spanish or Latin American events. And in recent years, to define the cuisine at one particularly well-loved Boracay dining establishment.
Situated in D’Mall, at the heart of the island’s vibrant restaurant and entertainment hub, this delicious destination offers tasty Spanish, Mexican and Cuban fare, to satisfy the cravings of food-loving travelers from all around the world.
Owner and proprietor Stephen Zafir, a native of Philadelphia and long-term former resident of Miami, Florida, drew on his extensive experience of running a Cuban restaurant in Key West, having eventually made his way to Boracay by way of Thailand and later, Manila. The island’s irrepressible charm soon persuaded him to put down roots, together with his wife Ana Sagarino Zafir, a native of Davao, Philippines, and in 2005 the idea for Olé Tapas Bar and Restaurant was born.
The restaurant’s warm and relaxed atmosphere reflects the couple’s friendly, hands-on approach to their business, with menu options thoughtfully chosen to introduce exotic and original specialties alongside tried and tested comfort food classics.
A firm menu favorite is the paella, and Oléoffers no less than six varieties of this internationally-known and loved Spanish rice dish, which originated in the Valencia region, on the eastern coast of Spain. Portions are designed with sharing in mind, and can be ordered for two, four or six people to enjoy.
Paella Negra, for example, is a mouthwatering mix of black squid ink rice with shrimp, chicken, pork, squid, ham, vegetables, mussels and clams; Paella Mixtacombines Spanish sausage with seafood, pork, chicken and vegetables, and the luxurious Paella Bogavante is a sumptuous feast of lobster, seafood and vegetables.
Seafood lovers will truly be in their element at Olé, where freshly-caught produce arrives daily from Roxas City, Panay Island – the “seafood capital of the Philippines.” Plump, juicy Gambas (prawns) are served two ways; either grilled to perfection, or sautéed with mustard and wine; Langosta Asada ala Thermidor is a tantalizing dish of lobster with mushrooms in white wine sauce, while Zarzuela de Mariscos is a light stew of squid, shrimp, mussels, clams and fish fillet in tomato sauce.
Unsurprisingly, you’ll find a tempting selection of both hot and cold tapas options on the menu here, with no less than 15 dishes to choose from – an ideal way to sample several smaller portions and share them with friends.
Meanwhile, the tasty yet unpretentious Mexican specialties will not disappoint hungry diners. Be sure to try the flavorful Fajitas – one of the most popular choices at Olé. Select either steak, chicken or shrimp, served up in a warm tortilla with onions, bell peppers and tomatoes. Chili con Carne, Enchiladas, Tacos and Burritos also feature on this enticing section of the menu.
And while carnivores are well taken care of, with hearty steak and lamb offerings such as Prenderero Mignon Steak – premium beef tenderloin cooked with bacon, Felete de Carne de Vaca – cubed beef tenderloin sautéed in garlic and olive oil, and Parillas de Carne – grilled lamb chops and potatoes, vegetarians have not been neglected, with several appetizing and satisfying meat-free choices on offer.
The extensive menu also includes Spanish-style soups, Huevos y Tortilla (Spanish omelets), spaghetti dishes, and lighter options such as salads and sandwiches (the classic Cuban sandwich, made with grilled pork tenderloin, ham, cheese and pickle is a must-try!).
Combination Mexican, grilled meat and seafood platters are also available, for groups who love to share. Find Olé at D’Mall, Station 2. For reservations, call (+63 36) 288 5940 or find them on Facebook: OléTapas Bar Boracay Philippines.