The Caf Is the School Cafeteria You Always Wished You Had

This new food hall in Katipunan brings together Sweet Ecstacy, Don Churros, and more.

The Caf
2/F Phase One, UP Town Center, Katipunan Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City
Open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Monday to Thursday) and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Friday to Sunday)

PHOTO BY Patrick Martires

(SPOT.ph) Everyone who's been a student knows that it can be a tough time for your wallet. You don’t have a steady source of income yet, so you always need to make do with how much money you have to hang out with your friends. Even if you’re no longer under the whims of your parent-provided allowance, the need to stay within budget remains as strong as ever—perhaps even more so, now that you know just how many deadlines you had to power through for that paycheck.

PHOTO BY Patrick Martires
PHOTO BY Patrick Martires

The folks behind UP Town Center are very much aware of all these concerns—after all, with the mall’s prime spot near some of Manila’s top universities, they’ve become a haven for students. The Caf food hall puts together a wide variety of tasty eats—some old favorites and some newcomers—where you can get a filling, satisfying-on-all-accounts meal worth your buck.

Ho Cha is Manila's newest milk-tea shop with pretty, ombre milk tea. 
PHOTO BY Patrick Martires
Fast-casual chain Sen Lek offers Thai classics like Pad Thai (P150).
PHOTO BY Patrick Martires
Paotsin is also here for reliable skewers or dumplings in a jiffy.
PHOTO BY Patrick Martires

Even their name is reminiscent of a student’s hangout, but there’s no bland or overly greasy cafeteria food to be found here. Selections range from Cebu liempo and fried cookie dough, to rolled ice cream and more.

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PHOTO BY Patrick Martires

Sweet Ecstasy

This burger joint—that first opened in Cubao but became famous for their Jupiter Street drive-by shop—is now back in Quezon City, and perhaps fourth time's the charm. They’re offering their full menu of cheeseburgers, Buffalo wings, onion rings, and milkshakes—many of which earned top spots on our Top 10 lists. Don’t forget to order their off-menu Steamed Cheeseburger (P205), the worthy champion of our Top 10 Cheeseburger list, for its steamed-instead-of-grilled patty to make it less greasy, then topped off with lots of melted cheese and your usual fix-ins.

PHOTO BY Patrick Martires

Liloan’s Pride Liempo

With a lot of lechon places popping up in Manila recently, we’re starting to realize why roast pork is a huge deal for Cebuanos. One of the first to actually bring Cebu's famed roast pork to Manila is Liloan’s Pride Liempo, but instead of lechon, they offer—what else—liempo. Their version of the succulent pork belly is adorned with all kinds of herbs and spices so each slab is chock full of savory, herby flavor that’ll banish any thought of sarsa. Liloan’s offers whole slabs of Cebu-style liempo, a spicy version, and a whole Roast Chicken, but if you’re dining solo you can opt for their liempo and chicken rice meals, as well as all-day -silogs.

PHOTO BY Patrick Martires

Joe’s Longganisa

If you’re a self-confessed longganisa fan, we know we don’t even have to tell you to drop by Joe’s Longganisa. At this all-day-breakfast food stall, you get to control what goes on your longgasilog, from the type of longganisa (chicken, beef, or pork, and sweet, salty or spicy), and the type of sauce (BBQ, garlic, Salisbury, classic vinegar, or teriyaki). While you might be tempted to just opt for vinegar, the savory Salisbury gravy adds a layer of richness to your longganisa, and also pairs well with the garlic rice. Aside from -silogs, Joe’s also whips up a mean Sisig de Longga (P130/meal, P160/to share), a spicy-garlicky creation with sizzling longganisa bits and addictive Longga Balls (P160) filled with ground longganisa and cheese.

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PHOTO BY Patrick Martires

Slammin’ Sliders

As their name suggests, Slammin’ Sliders doesn’t offer full-sized burgers: Only sliders. But don’t be fooled by their proportions because they pack lots of juicy, beefy flavor. Plus, two sliders are actually heavier than a quarter-pounder! They’ve got a wide array of flavors with a few out-of-the-box ones like Hawaiian and Salted Caramel—a sure win is the Bacon N Mushroom with crispy bacon strips, melted cheese, and button mushrooms for extra bite and umami.

PHOTO BY Patrick Martires
PHOTO BY Patrick Martires

Elait and Overdoughs

These sister food concepts have got your sweet tooth covered. Elait focuses on rolled ice cream—their Mango Pavlova (P140/solo, P200/regular) is a stunner with mango and kiwi chunks, strawberry drizzle, and meringue, and you can almost pretend it’s good for you because it’s so fruity. Though nothing else says ‘treat yourself’ more than the Chocolate Overload (P140/solo, P200/regular), with chocolate ice cream, chocolate shavings, brownies, chocolate-topped Pocky sticks, and a generous drizzle of more chocolate syrup. Because of the limited space, Overdoughs trims down their menu to just the fried cookie dough, but once you’ve got fried chocolate chip cookie dough in your hands, can you really think of anything else?

PHOTO BY Patrick Martires

Don Churros

If you’re a regular at Salcedo and Legazpi weekend markets, you’ve most likely had Don Churros’ sugar-covered, fried treats. Now that they’re a mainstay at The Caf, you won’t have to wait until the weekend to have your fill of their churros, which have an addicting butter-like saltiness to them that makes them a winning complement with a dusting of sugar and/or cinnamon and the Davao-chocolate dip. If that doesn’t convince you enough to try them, they also made it to SPOT’s Top 10 Churros in 2017!

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Photos by Patrick Martires

*Prices to be updated

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