El Cucinero: Connecting two cultures in one cuisine

This restaurant destination down south of Luzon will pump the Spanish blood in you

“How Spanish is the Philippines?” is the opening question from the viral video of the Israeli Arab male vlogger, who happened to like the Philippines a lot. In one minute, he enlightened his millions of followers how Spanish our country is because of our religion, architectural designs, cognate language, and surnames such as Mendoza and Mercado.

“Colonization might be over, but its influence is always there if you look hard enough for it,” the vlogger ended.

True enough, much of our way of life has been rooted to the heavy influence of the Spanish culture ever since the colonization happened 496 years ago. And apart from what the vlogger has cited, food is the most evident factor that can attest to how Spanish our country is. One of the strongholds to validate that is El Cocinero.

El Cocinero is the go-to Spanish restaurant destination down south of Luzon. It is owned by the Nasugbu-born Chef Arnaldo Limeta, who honed his expertise in Ibiza, Spain for more than 10 years. Chef Arnaldo then brought the authentic Spanish flavors to his hometown Nasugbu, and later on in Tagaytay. Both branches serve as a quiet dining retreat where a bursting vegetation will keep you company until your very last bite. Interestingly, the Tagaytay branch is well-surrounded by some of the reprinted masterpieces of the late Spanish artist Pablo Picasso.

Here, Chef Arnaldo justifies that food is not only a basic necessity but also an unforgettable experience that every traveler deserves when either in Nasugbu or in Tagaytay. With every bite, customers can be transported to Spain through its bestselling Paella de Marisco, Paella Negra, Rollo de Pancetta Asada, Pescado Al Horno, and Gambas Ala Jillo, among others.

Now, if you want to know how Spanish the Philippines is, we suggest for you to take a three-hour drive from Manila to either of El Cocinero’s branches and let your taste buds pump the Spanish blood in you.

El Cocinero by Chef Arnaldo is located at 164 J.P. Laurel St., in front of Roxaco Landing Townhomes, Nasugbu, Luzon 4231, Philippines; and at La Bella Residences, Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway, Tagaytay, Philippines. Both branches are open from Mondays to Sundays, 10:30 AM to 10 PM. For reservations, kindly contact 0916 341 2489.

Photography by Ian Francisco


Our journey began with an idea to discover what it means to travel the Philippines, beyond the alluring images of sparkling blue waters and powder white sand. We seek to share travel stories to inspire the wide-eyed traveler, moving them deeper into the destination with stunning images and narratives about its sights, tastes, textures, smells, and local life.

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