(SPOT.ph) When you’re at the mall with Mom and in need of a quick bite or break, Mary Grace Café is likely one of the first places that comes to mind. The café-slash-restaurant was established by—and named after—Mary Grace Dimacali, who used to sell fruitcakes during the holidays. Dimacali then traveled to the U.S. to take a special baking course that would help hone her craft. In the '90s, Dimacali joined her first bazaar and sold ensaymada and cheese rolls, before opening her first store in Glorietta in 2002. By 2006, she opened the first-ever Mary Grace Café in Serendra, Bonifacio Global City.
Today, Mary Grace is well-known among Titas of Manila for their selection of baked goods and merienda-perfect fare, so we asked them to let us in on the best-selling dishes on their menu. We bet a lot of your favorites are on the list, too.
Note: This list is not ranked.
These are the best-selling items and most popular dishes on the menu at Mary Grace Café:
Mary Grace Café has become practically synonymous with ensaymada—the yeasted bun of Hispanic origin—and for good reason. Their famous Ensaymada (P658/box of six, P756/box of eight, P1,098/box of 12) is soft as a cloud, yet wonderfully rich with its generous amount of real butter, eggs, and grated Edam cheese. It also happens to be our favorite ensyamada in Manila.
Cheese rolls could very well be called ensaymada’s minimalist cousin, and nobody does it quite like Mary Grace Café. Their version (P404/box of six, P764/box of 12) is as soft and pillowy as can be, stuffed with cheese that practically becomes one with the melt-in-the-mouth bread base. No wonder it landed second place on our 2019 Top 10 Cheese Rolls in Manila list! According to Mary Grace, this is a favorite among children as the cheese used is milder than what is used in the ensaymada.
Whether for pairing with their ensaymada or cheese rolls, or just for curling up to on a chilly day, Mary Grace Café’s Hot Chocolate (P198) always, always hits the spot. It’s made with Belgian Chocolate, resulting in a thick consistency and a rich and full-bodied flavor. Aside from this signature drink, they also offer other hot-chocolate flavors like the Tsoknut, Valencia, Traditional Tsokolate, White Hot Chocolate, and Cold Hot Chocolate.
Crispy Cassava Chips with Onion Dip
It’s always worth beginning your Mary Grace Café meal with one of their savory starters, and the Crispy Cassava Chips with Onion Dip (P258) is a popular option. With crisp but light cassava chips from Bohol and a creamy onion dip, it’s the kind of appetizer that takes the edge off your hunger without filling you up.
Fried Boneless Bangus
Mary Grace Café has a Filipino breakfast section on their menu—one crowdpleaser among which is the Fried Boneless Bangus (P438). Here, local milkfish (a.k.a. bangus) is fried to a crisp while retaining a juicy interior, then served with rosemary-garlic fried rice and eggs served your way: scrambled, sunny-side up, or as a mushroom-and-cheese or ham-and-cheese omelette.
Toasted Vigan Longganisa
Another popular entry on Mary Grace Café’s breakfast lineup is the Toasted Vigan Longganisa (P462). Mary Grace makes their own Vigan longganisa, which has a good, garlicky hit, and pairs it with rosemary-garlic fried rice and eggs served your way. With its pungent-meets-herby profile, this is the kind of dish that we could really have any time of the day.
Maybe you’re looking to actually hit your veggie quota for the day, or you’re just looking for a light but filling meal. Either way, Mary Grace Café’s Caesar Salad (P428) is a great option that you can have on the side of their heavier mains or as a standalone main in itself. It’s got a simple but stellar mix of breaded chicken fillet strips, crisp romaine lettuce, croutons, and bacon bits tossed in a caesar-salad dressing, so you get a mix of different tastes and textures in every forkful.
Sure, there are purists out there who will insist that Filipino-style carbonara (i.e., the kind with cream and bacon) is “not real carbonara”—but we say this dish is in a league of its own. If you’re looking for a great version, try Mary Grace Café’s Classic Carbonara (P398/solo, P423/with extra bread). Fresh mushrooms add an earthy punch to this dish’s blend of smoky bacon strips, cream, and pasta noodles.
Fili Beef & Tomato Sandwich
Sometimes, nothing satisfies the meat craving like having it between two slices of bread. Mary Grace Café’s Fili Beef & Tomato Sandwich (P368) is a great option in such times. Here, tender beef-sirloin slices join forces with a pesto dressing, tomatoes, lettuce, and batard bread for a power combo that makes for a not-too-heavy lunch or filling snack.
Mushroom & Garlic Pizza
Mary Grace Café introduced pizzas to their menu relatively recently, and one flavor that has won over their audience is the Mushroom & Garlic (P598/14 inches). It’s got a thin crust, mushrooms, garlic, and bechamel sauce, and is a hit among the young and old alike.
Photos courtesy of Mary Grace Café