Nostalgia seems all the rage these days, mostly for establishments that have been in the Filipinos’ collective consciousness for so long. After the frenzy for the OG burger joint Tropical Hut, it’s Alfredo’s Steak House’s turn. This time, however, there will be no need to rush getting a table or ordering as many dishes for delivery. Without so much as a public announcement, the restaurant closed its doors forever last Thursday, June 30.
The beloved steakhouse, a landmark in its Tomas Morato corner Scout Lazcano address in Quezon City, has already been rumored to have shut down in 2020, a few months into the pandemic. The whole thing was, of course, proven to be just that—a rumor. There was even an earlier “fake news” that circulated saying the owners were selling the building.
In a July 2020 piece by Micky Fenix for ANCX, the veteran food writer brought us back to the early days of the restaurant. The husband and wife team of Alfredo and Mitos Araneta opened the business in 1968 and was originally called Alfredo’s Country-Style Steaks. It was located on Timog Avenue, among a row of apartments, and moved only to its two-storey Morato building in 1972 where it continued to serve steak imported from New Zealand and Argentina, grilled by Alfredo himself.
“My memories of the place were of a simple restaurant with no frills but with great steaks that were quite affordable and where we could even mix our own drinks, sing if we wanted, even dance,” wrote Micky. “It had the same vibe as the hit TV series ‘Cheers,’—‘where everybody knows your name.’”
Back in those days, people go to steakhouses to mark an occasion. “Steakhouses during that period were always where to bring a serious date, a potential client, or have a grand celebration,” recalled Micky. “Steak, after all, was considered more expensive. Alfredo’s Steak House on Morato added to that mystique by enhancing its interiors with lighting fixtures fashioned out of chuck wagon wheels with period gas lamps. The hush-hush atmosphere was punctuated by the sound of sizzling steaks that came to your table, like an unneeded announcement to everyone there that you ordered steak.
“While other steak places offered the usual table sauces and gravy, Alfredo’s Steak House's concocted different ways to have your steak—Mediterranean style with herbs, spices and anchovy, a la pobre with fried garlic, or with a lot of a pepper and a sauce of pepperoni. For those who would rather not eat steak, there were other grilled items like chicken, burger, fish, pork ribs, and pork chops. Pasta and pizza would be added and, of course, cakes for dessert.”
Despite the many new steak joints that sprouted all over the metro, Alfredo’s Steak House was doing good business pre-pandemic, logging in an average steak consumption of a thousand kilos a month. It was a good place for big family dinners. People looked forward to the Sunday buffets. The old school Western ambience just clicked with the Pinoy steak-loving crowd.
Alfredo’s was famous for its tenderloin, its filet mignon and porterhouse. Others craved their Buffalo wings and Jack Daniels cake but it was the steaks people kept coming back to. As that famous screen cowboy hero John Wayne once said, “There are some things a man just can’t run away from.” No doubt one of them is a good steak.