Luneta remains one of the most important historical places in the country. In 1896, it witnessed the martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal, whose death inspired every Filipino to fight for our freedom. But where a great Filipino icon’s life was ended, another one was born.
Nearly 40 years after Rizal’s death, Luneta was again put at the forefront of history. This time, to witness the birth of another icon – The Aristocrat Restaurant, a culinary icon and institution in itself, has served almost all of the country’s presidents from Manuel Quezon to H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Founded by Justice Alex and Dona Engracia “Aling Asiang Cruz-Reyes, The Aristocrat was first put up using an old, battered Studebaker parked in Luneta. For P70, it was modified into a rolling store that offered sumptuous meals for people with small incomes and large appetites.
It success as a rolling store notwithstanding, Aling Asiang soon though of putting up a more permanent business at its present site in Malate. Today, OFWs and people from the provinces would make it a point to include a visit to the restaurant as part of their itinerary when in Manila. They would also celebrate important occasions at Aristocrat as though it were part of their family history, a tradition they can never forget.