Don Vicente Restaurante Latino

Aside from doing freelance makeup, another thing I enjoy is eating out and trying new restaurants... Living in Zamboanga City can be a little frustrating for my palate since there aren't a lot of unique dining places that grab my attention... So obviously I was delighted when a fellow Zamboanga blogger and friend, Anj, blogged about this new place that's going through its "dry run" phase... I decided to stop by for lunch the other day and I'm glad I did...

Don Vicente Restaurante Latino is a cozy little resto located at Crispin Atilano Street, Tetuan, Zamboanga City. It is currently owned and managed by Mr. Vincent Paul Elago...
This is what Mr. VP Elago had to say when I asked him a bit more information about Don Vicente...

"I have been around and I love eating good food mainly mexican and italian food. I noticed that the real Mexican and Italian food have their distinct taste compared to the Filipino version of some of their known food that we also cook filipino style. There are plenty of herbs and spices absent in our local versions that give the real Mexican or Italian food that distinct taste reflecting their origin... So, I decided that it's time that the people of Zamboanga be given the real taste of Mexican and Italian cuisine through a small Latino restaurant that I decided to open and name after the patriarch of my clan."

For now, the restaurant is going through their "dry run" period with currently 10 tables ready to accept diners... But in case of a sudden rush of diners, they also have a their "VIP" area to accommodate the diners. Don Vicente is open daily starting 10:30am-2pm after which they close for "siesta break" as said by Mr. Elago... The resto then re-opens at 5pm-11pm to serve dinner.

I asked Mr. Elago regarding his crew, his chef as well as the food preparation and here's what he had to say :

"The best sellers so far are the Mexican asadas, lenguas and the various pastas. The dry run menu is some kind of a test. We are observing closely the movement of our food as well as the preference of our clients.By the time we will be officially opening, we will definitely have more choices for our clients.
The ingredients especially the herbs and spices are imported. However, we have also started to grow them right here at the restaurante. Don't be surprise when you'll notice one of this days, our chef going out to pick some leaves at the garden and going back hurriedly to the kitchen.

Our meats are washed and cooked separately. Beef, chicken and pork are washed in different basins and also cooked saparately. This is very important for the restaurante since some of the people who come don't eat pork due to their religious customs.
Our chef is Italian who used to work in a prestigious ristorante in Italy also in a European cruise ship. The frontline crew or attendants as I prefer to call them are mostly my relatives and are working hard to meet the standard I have set. Give them a couple of weeks more and I am sure they will be among the main reasons why clients will enjoy the restaurant even more.."

Now that I've given you guys a little background information about Don Vicente, it's time for a review of sorts...

When we arrived at the resto the other day it was around 11:30am and we were just in time for an early lunch... As I walked into the resto, the first thing I notice is the plush interior. It had a very nice feel to it, very latin-ish. Their air conditioning was also running properly, it wasn't too hot nor too cold. Just the right temperature for people to enjoy their meal away from the Zamboanga heat. One thing to take note of were the big tables that seat 6 or more people, definitely perfect for family meal time. I actually noticed a lot of things upon entering. Why? Well because for 15 minutes Cj and I were left standing and waiting anxiously since no one was at the "receiving area" to help us to a table. Yes, that was the first "uh-oh, minus 1 point" for Don Vicente on this review. I believe that a restaurant's receiving area/table should always have at least ONE (1) person to assist diners at all times. Especially once the "OPEN" sign is already posted on the door...

After around 15 minutes, someone finally came to assist us to our seats. Our attendant gave us a quick overview of the menu and also answered our questions regarding  the dishes. We placed our orders and waited...

While waiting I took time to take some shots of their dry run menu.

One of the things that certainly caught my eye while waiting was the elaborate set up of the whole place as well as the dining table. For now they have round tables that seat 6 or more people. Hopefully they will have table that seat a smaller number of people (2) for those who wish to have more privacy during their meal. Plus points on the lovely plates, silverware and glasses. As well as the lovely golden colored place-mats and dark blue table covers that really give off a lovely vibe.

We were first served our drinks. We ordered the usual Cokes because we wanted to focus more on the food served at Don Vicente. As our attendant started pouring our cokes into our glasses I noticed he took a bit more time in pouring mine and eventually he said "Ma'am papalitan ko po yung baso kasi madumi." (Ma'am I'll be replacing the glass because it's dirty.)

I admired his honesty regarding the glass situation (other attendants in other restos would have kept silent about it till the diner notices) but I wished that prior to serving they already checked the glasses (and other things) while still in the kitchen to avoid embarrassing moments later on.


Cj orderd the Lengua. On the menu is was described as "blando lenguas de vaca con sarsa de tomates o sarsa de crema". He decided to go with the more traditional kind of lengua and got the dish in "sarsa de tomates" which translates to tomato sauce. It cost 250 pesos and is supposed to be good for 2-3 people.

I won't lie, when the dish was served I had mixed feelings. First was, "OMG! It's such a tiny serving for something to be considered good for 2-3 people..." Felt more like good for 1 serving or at the most 2 people! Second was, "What a lovely plate though..." I whispered a silent prayer that the dish would taste mind-blowing or else I'd feel disappointed that the dish with that price tag didn't deliver.

Guess what? Cj & I loved the lengua. The lengua was super soft and all the herbs in the tomato sauce balanced and complimented each other well. The green olives were a lovely touch to the dish as well as the "bread sticks" of some sort that was brushed with what seemed to be herbed butter...

Cj had most of this dish with a single order of the "mexican" rice.

My personal order was the Asadas Mexicana de Cerdo which was described in the menu as "barbacoa de res servido con arroz mexicano y ensaladas"... I think that roughly translates to what you'll see in the picture below. 

My order was served on a lovely (and heavy) square plate. I've got to give credit to presentation... When most restos serve their rice in a "cup" or dome shape, Don Vicente serves it in a square-like presentation. My pork-chop looking barbecued piece was just lovely! It was grilled in a way that it was cooked but still had that very juicy touch to it that most grilled meats tend to loose. In my opinion the marinade sets this dish apart from other barbecue dishes in other restos. It's supposed to be a "secret recipe" marinade, and by golly! It really does taste good. The mexican rice was also very filling and complimented my grilled pork well. The ensalada which seemed to be a salad of finely minced ingredients also balanced out the slight tangy sweetness of the marinated meat by adding a hint or sour-like undertones to the meat. Was it worth the 185 pesos? Definitely!

Overall, I'd give Don Vicente a 3.5/5. Minus points on the absent attendant at the receiving area, lack of smaller dining tables for more "cozy" meals with your special someone, the issue about the dirty glass, and the rather small serving that's supposed to be good for 2-3 people (which can be subjective since Cj & I are a bit on the "huge eaters" side)... But aside from those very little complaints I love the restaurant. I'm even looking forward to bringing my whole family once they have their grand opening because I'm sure they'd enjoy the food and the ambiance as much as I did.

If you're from Zamboanga, and don't mind the rather "far from town" location, then by all means get your butt over at Don Vicente for a wonderful dining experience. If you want to make reservations or inquiries you may call one of their staff, Sir Claude at 09177566677.


  1. OMG!! I must try this place. thanks Jannie! :D hehe

  2. Truly a place that's worth the visit. :))

  3. huwaw! that's so spanish-y..eh? i wish baguio has that, too.. hihi

  4. Serving size can be an issue for me - it has to has to has to taste great so it'll be worth every penny we dole out. Thanks for the heads up and I know I'll drop by Don Vicente when I go home! :)

  5. Yay talagang initerview mo tlg ha? haha ika3rd ka na blogger ang nagadvertise nitong resto. gusto ko din matry. let's see :D

  6. Cool!! I wish they have something like this in Manila too.. I think one thing that sets Manila and Zamboanga apart in terms of restos are the themes.. Manila have lots of restos but most of them are too common.. nothing really special.. :)


    - Justin -
    The World According To Me

    1. Jaztien, there is a place in Manila, probably better also own by a Zamboangenio...it's called Paella..there's one at Green hills,on the 2nd floor. They have great food. Try it.

  7. Nice resto!
    Their Italian dishes are affordable:))

    Why is this place so far :(

  8. Thanks for posting :) Will definitely drop by since its just near at my place :D

  9. The place looks elegant and the food looks like its yummy! Will visit this :)

  10. Thanks for sharing. I was actually planning to visit and try the place out myself. You helped me big time in preparing for this! :)Thanks!

  11. haven't been there and might not go there yet... but the place looks interesting... reminiscent of the place I stayed in Rome with the deep blues and reds as the color scheme...

  12. ill try this place when JBSIII flies in fr d' US....

  13. food at DVRL is simply great yet not costly! a must try... :)


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