There is nothing fancy and lavish and elegant in this list. But it doesn’t mean either that there is nothing delightful and heartily yummy here. Most of the best foods I’ve tasted in the city are not within the comforts of extravagance, they are in fact modestly low-priced. This list is for those who really want to eat in Baguio. And that means eating where the Baguio public eat.
If you're visiting Baguio City this holiday season, try skipping those places with lines that go across the road. Here are 8 restaurants/cafés that you may not have heard of before, places that serve great food without pretension, places where many locals eat.
Now that you know how to avoid everyone in this city, it's chow time.
Mandarin Restaurant is an institution here up north. It’s an old Filipino-Chinese restaurant located at Assumption Road, corner Session. For the hungry, their Mandarin Fried Chicken, Lechon Macau, and Lechon Rice are the recommended meals that will surely fulfill your appetite. For something quick, an order of Crispy Bihon is already satisfying, but I personally love their burger for it has this mild curry flavor that goes well with warm beer that goes well with the cold weather.
Sad note: stories surround town that Mandarin will only be with us until the end of the year due to the rapid commercialization of Session Road and the city in general.
Luisa’s Café is also a Filipino-Chinese restaurant located in Session Road just beside Rumours Bar. Their Beef Wanton Mami is divine, its soup dazzles in good fatty flavor. Makes you think it’s something from Cooking Master Boy. Their chicharon bulaklak is also good with beer.
Old people gather here in the morning to have their coffee while reading the news. It’s a pleasant place to start the day.
Another humble Filipino-Chinese house in the list is Cathy’s Restaurant located in Diego Silang St. between Harrison Rd. and Session Rd. Their Buttered Chicken is a crusty crumbly crunchy perfection--moist and really buttery. Their Lechon Soup and Egg Foo Yung (scrambled egg with sauce and vegetables) are also suggested grubs.
Rainbow Café can be found within the busy affairs of the market. It is in Kayang Street or Hilltop. Like the first three food spots, this café mostly serves Filipino-Chinese meals. If asked why the abundance of Chinese food in the city, a friend told me that according to her grandmother, it is because of the vibrant contrast between Iluko food that is simply lambong or boiled and Chinese food that is “marekado”.
Beef broccoli and pancit are the appealing must-trys in the house.
This eatery in Outlook Drive right next to the barangay hall serves the best bulalo in town. Period.
“Manong sa slaughter house nga ho.” This is what we tell the driver if we are headed to Brgy. Sto. Nino. Without the Baguio context, it does sound sketchy. But the line of cafeterias in the former slaughter house is where you’ll certainly find delectable treats. They serve good old Pinoy food like Bulalo, Dinuguan, Inihaw na Liempo, among others. They also serve Northern dishes such as Pinikpikan and Papaitan.
To add nostalgia and sweetness in this list, try Streamline Cake for it never gets old. Even if the legit bakeshop’s already closed, they still supply other bakeries and café’s such as Tea House, Victoria Bakery and Rainbow Café with their renowned cake.
This might be an exemption in this list. This coffee shop located in Gibraltar road is not really a low-brow homegrown café but they do serve the best and freshest Arabica coffee from the Cordillera. Café Yagam tied with the Cordillera Green Network promote Arabica coffee as an alternate cash crop for farmers since planting coffee requires the farmer to maintain a forest ecosystem in order for the coffee to survive. This is because Arabica coffee being grown in Benguet and Mountain Province needs the shade of taller trees.
Café Yagam purchases their coffee directly from the farmers, sort them in order to get the best coffee beans, roast them themselves in the café and brew them as ordered. They also serve native delicacies like Inkiwar (glutinous rice cake) and Inanchila (rice cake with coconut milk).
Do you have other homegrown restaurants to suggest? Share them in the Comments Section below!