(SPOT.ph) In the past few years, Baguio has seen an explosion of new restaurants, reflecting its cosmopolitan and shifting demographic. Being a foodie on the prowl in the Summer Capital has never been so good. Here are a dozen of Baguio’s newest and most buzzworthy restaurants to date—12 good reasons to keep going back to the mountains.
Lemon and Olives Greek Taverna
26 Outlook Drive, Baguio City
Contact: (074) 442-4079, 0995-995-6732
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The old Baguio home on Outlook Drive has been revived as a Greek taverna called Lemon and Olives. Its balcony overlooking pine trees offers an intimate view of the mountains, chalky white wooden walls, and Mykonos blue doors that give the restaurant’s patrons a peek at life on the Greek isles. Notable among its slew of appetizers is their authentic Tzatziki (P120), a dip made of yogurt, cucumber, garlic, and olive oil. Souvlaki plates (P240 to P320) feature grilled chicken, pork, beef, and lamb (or all of the above!), and include french fries, pita bread and garlic, chilli, and tzatziki dips. Other entrees include Gyros (P110 to P140), Steaks (P390 to P790), and a Rack of Lamb (P990) that is already good for two people.
The Coffee Library
Rex Hall, Upper Bonifacio Street corner General Luna Street
Open daily from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
After their culinary training at the Hanoi Cooking Center, brothers Stephen and Kenneth Zarate partnered with their Vietnam-based aunt to create The Coffee Library, which specializes in Vietnamese and Italian coffee. A taste of their hearty Pho Bo or beef noodle soup (P150) and Pho Ga or chicken noodle soup (P150) reflect the siblings' time spent in Indochina. The Nem or Vietnamese spring rolls (P150) are likewise worth a try.
One should not leave the restaurant without ordering some of their coffee whose beans are sourced from Vietnam. The Ca Phe Sua or milk coffee (P75) is served in a traditional Vietnamese drip filter while another must try is the Egg Coffee (P100) otherwise called Ca Phe Trung, which is made with egg yolk, condensed milk, and robusta coffee. The spacious and thoughtfully decorated café is a cozy setting for these stimulating coffees served in delicate Vietnamese cups and saucers, or in the case of their Turkish Coffee (P95), a dainty Turkish copper coffee set. Such attention to detail sets The Coffee Library apart from other coffee places, giving its patrons a chance to dream of distant shores while sipping on what the Vietnamese like to call “black gold."
32 Ili Likha Artist Community, Assumption Road
Open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Café Cueva, which is owned by Lady Alberto and Shagum Okubo, is located at the Ili Likha Artist Community, the latest artistic endeavor of the "Father of Philippine Independent Cinema" Kidlat Tahimik. Using only organic and locally sourced ingredients, the café earned a nomination for Best New Café from local newspaper Baguio Midland Courier in 2016. Crowd favorites include the Savory Tuna Crepe (P150) with egg and cilantro, topped off with a creamy yogurt sauce on a bed of greens, Kiniing Wrap (P150), which consists of locally smoked meat, Grilled Porkchops with Red Rice and Salsa (P190), and Salted Caramel Apple Waffles (P100). An order of their freshly squeezed juices or ginger-honey lemon tea may help cleanse the palate after an evening of munching.
Leonard Wood Road
Contact: (074) 423-0438
Open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Monday to Thursday); and from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Friday to Sunday)
In a town full of Korean restaurants, offering unlimited samgyeopsal for only P299 is one way to elevate yourself from the competition. Aside from their delicious grilled dishes, their fresh and generous sides like kimchi and caramelized baby potatoes take center stage. Regulars not only go here for the restaurant's scrumptious food variety, but also for its warm company. Mother’s Hand’s Korean owner loves to interact with the customers and takes the time to demonstrate the correct way of eating samgyeopsal to Korean food newbies.
Yasuragi Japanese Cuisine
1C-106, Swamp View Betag La Trinidad, La Trinidad, Benguet
Open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Tuesday to Sunday)
For fans of epic sushi rolls, this restaurant is a gift from the heavens. It certainly might appear as if the gods plunked down in the middle of nowhere as it's right next to La Trinidad’s famous strawberry fields. From traditional sushi rolls such as Tekka Maki (P110) and California Maki (P165), to a list of more exotic fare such as the Salmon Skin Roll (P100), Dragon Roll (P315), and Yasuragi Roll (P200) topped with strawberries, you will find every reason to go to Baguio’s neighboring town to give in to that sushi craving. Other items on the menu include a selection of donburi, ramen, and tempura dishes.
Hot Cat Specialty Coffee
Old Orangewood Bed and Breakfast, 20 Gomez Street, Lower P. Burgos
Open daily from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 2:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Together with his wife Len and “third wheel” Aldrix Navalta, Aly Young hopes to raise the benchmark of coffee shops by exposing his customers to high-quality specialty beans. Hot Cat Specialty Coffee's Arabica beans, namely the Brazil Machado and Panama Finca Hartman, are sourced from El Union Coffee in San Juan, La Union. The Flat White (P120) is a bolder alternative to the classic Italian Cappuccino (P120) while their Café Mocha (P130) is mixed without sugar because, in truth, it doesn’t really need any. The Cold Brew (P100) is their take on the famous 12-hour brew, delivering the highest caffeine content among all their drinks. But the best one of all is the Dirty White or Manchado (P130), an extraordinary iced latte.
They also have cupcakes by Manuel Nacimento of Spiked Sugah featuring quirky flavors such as Jack Daniel's, Baileys, and Cerveza Negra (P75). For the three-man crew, it’s all about the coffee, and coffee aficionados love them for it. A quiet nook in an aged Baguio house with giant windows looking at the mountains, Hot Cat Specialty Coffee is the city’s newest and coolest place to warm yourself up.
Farmer’s Daughter Restaurant
Contact: (074) 661-4384
Open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The simple, cogon-roofed structure sets the tone for those in search of good, healthy Cordilleran cuisine that doesn’t break the bank. Pinikpikan with Etag (P90), Kinuday Jen Manok (P100) or smoked chicken meat served with rice, vegetables, and beef broth, Dinakdakan (P110), and the Pak-Pako (P75) or fern salad are only a few tasty dishes on offer that will silence the mind and comfort the belly. For those with more adventurous taste buds, try the Pinuneg or Ibaloi Blood Sausage with a touch of soy sauce and chilli.
25 J. Felipe Street, Barangay Gibraltar
Open daily from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Known for its good coffee and authentic Cordilleran dishes, Café Yagam sources its Arabica beans from the Cordillera Green Network, an environmental non-profit organization. Cordillera Green Network (CGN) provides farmers in Kibungan, Coros, Kabayan, Tublay, and Kapangan, Benguet and in Kadaclan Mountain Province with coffee seedlings and workshops on growing and tending coffee plants. The roasted and ground coffee beans are packed and sold locally while some are exported abroad. At Yagam, you can choose the brew (paper drip or french press), roast (light, medium, dark), and strength (light, medium, strong) of your coffee. The Iced Café Au Lait and Latte (P75 to P90) are notable for their distinct coffee flavor. They also offer Irish Coffee (P120), Café Royale (P120), which is made with brandy, and Baileys Coffee (P150). Aside from pasta and sandwiches, Café Yagam’s menu serves authentic Cordilleran cuisine such as Pinikpikan with Etag (P200), and Binungor (P150), a Kalinga dish of vegetables served with rice and dessert. For the sweet tooth, try the Inanchila (P60), a Kalinga sticky rice fare with latek.
Amare La Cucina
EGI Albergo Hotel, 1 Villamor Drive, Barangay Lualhati
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
After years trying to get hired as a nurse abroad, Edmark Bustos decided to put his money where his mouth is—and that was in making Neapolitan pizzas in a traditional brick oven. The wood-fired pugon is the first thing that greets you as you enter Amare La Cucina, which means “to love the kitchen." The chefs—all former farmers from Quezon who received retraining from Ed—expertly toss pizza dough for all to see. Taking off from traditional pizza flavors, Ed has come up with unique creations such as the delectable Foie Gras Pizza with Truffle Oil (P580) and Lamb Pizza with Alfalfa Sprouts (P480). For vegetarians, he created the Roasted Garlic and Mushroom Pizza (P430), a margherita-based pizza that uses garlic that's been roasted for hours in the brick oven. To not waste the oven’s intense heat, Wood-Fired Ribs (P355) were added to the menu. Once an accidental discovery is the Nutella Pizza (P260), which is now a favorite dessert among Amare’s regular patrons. Their Affogato (P150), meanwhile, is made with their own creamy, homemade gelato.
3 Guevarra Street, corner Rimando Road, Aurora Hill
Contact: 0927-986-7938, 0928-689-8650
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
A desire to have the taste of home is what pushed Natasha Liclic Chapra to open a Middle Eastern-Mediterranean restaurant in the heart of Baguio after deciding to settle down in her mother’s hometown. Equipped with recipes gathered from her travels, she decided to put her passion to the test and put up Chef, which she proudly advertises as having a “five-star menu at a no star price."
The space is white and simple, but the food speaks volumes. Their Hummus (P65) is lightly velvety with a zesty aftertaste—much like what one would be served in Lebanon. The Moutabal (P65), a grilled eggplant dip with yogurt, olive oil, and tahini, is faintly smoky and melt-in-the-mouth. The Classic Prawn and Scallop Toast (P115) is a surprise favorite, a deep-fried shrimp toast appetizer served with Chef’s special garlic sauce. The Chicken Tikka (P145) is marinated in herbs that are specially sourced to ensure the dish’s authentic flavor, and is slow-roasted to perfection. Top-sellers are the Chicken Biryani (P155) and Lamb Biryani (P215), which are, indeed, the “food of the gods."
Baguio Craft Brewery
120 RKC Building, Ben Paslispis Highway (Marcos Highway), Km 4
Contact: 0917-777-6215; 074-620-2278
Open daily from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.
From the moment it opened in June 2014, Baguio locals greeted this microbrewery with open arms—and some with a tight bear hug. It’s not difficult to see why because the partners of Baguio Craft Brewery, headed by “Chief Executioner” Chris Ordas, have passion for making beers in the true tradition of craft brewing philosophy. Chris has come a long way from playing around with a home brew kit in the garage during his free time. After studying the craft in Munich and Prague, he was able to create innovative flavors using only natural ingredients, eschewing the preservatives and additives used to make commercial beers. His love for experimenting and commitment to maintaining a high standard is the reason Baguio Craft Brewery has developed a loyal clientele.
For those who favor lager, start with the Old Xavier (P200). There’s Rolling Fog (P170) for those hankering after Germen Heferweizen, while the Krakken (P170) is a Baltic Porter. The Philandering Pauper (P200) is a Belgian Dobel. The Englishman in New York (P180) is an American pale ale, while the Hop Attack (P180) is an Imperial India ale. For those who are averse to bitterness, try any of their fruit beers, such as Passion Fruit, Kiwi, and Strawberry (P180). Pair any of these beers with their excellent menu offerings: Stinky Dane Burger (P400), Fish and Chips (P320), Hot Buffalo Wings (P350) and Crispy Ruffles (P320)—the lightest, crispiest chicharon bulaklak on the planet! There are also Pinoy pulutan favorites such as Chicken Skin (P300) and Stout Isaw (P280). Perhaps, just like the rest of the brewery’s local clientele, you might never want to leave.
Café Adriana by Hill Station
Outlook Ridge Residences, V. delos Reyes Street, Outlook Drive
Contact: (074) 661-3591, 0935-459-7180
Open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Monday to Thursday), and from 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Friday to Sunday)
If the sweeping view of the Itogon-Benguet mountains from this lush little café doesn’t make you sing, then the food most certainly will. Café Adriana by Hill Station is Mitos Yñiguez’s newest concept, with a menu selection not repeated from her other Hill Station restaurants. From appetizers to desserts, she is riffing off her Spanish-Filipino roots to give a selection that has something for every palate.
Start off with the international tapas selection such as the Mushroom Bruschetta (P110), a medley of mushrooms with white wine and olive oil on melba toast. Then try their crisp and tasty thin-crust pizzas freshly made with whole wheat flour, fresh herbs, and micro-greens, with flavors such as the Margherita (tomato, basil, and carabao cheese) or the Mixed Sausage Pizza (P200 to P220) that's made with the café’s homemade sausages. The Paella Lengua (P375) is true to its name and is like eating paella and lengua at the same time.
Pair your entrée with any of their power salad bowls or drink of choice. The extensive drinks menu offers anything from fresh fruit smoothies and coffees, to cocktails, wines, and whiskies. Frozen Margaritas and Mojitos can be ordered by the half pitcher (P440) or full pitcher (P640). End your meal with a slice of Cheesecake Flan (P115/slice), an upgraded version of the traditional leche flan and a cappuccino, or their unique take on the Café Mocha that's made with dark Malagos chocolate from Davao. Whether you’ve come for a snack or a four-course meal, Café Adriana’s cozy and classy ambience against the backdrop of endless mountain ranges is the ultimate Baguio dining experience.