BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – Ah, Baguio – its cool climate makes sharing a hot, comforting meal that much more enjoyable. And whether it’s a fine dining restaurant or a hole-in-the-wall joint, Baguio City’s gastronomic offerings caters to all tastes and budgets. (READ: Baguio City: Your complete weekend itinerary)
While we’re all familiar with Good Shepherd’s Ube Jam and La Trinidad’s fresh strawberries, local restaurants around the city still have plenty of items on their menus worth trying. Here are some of them:
Homemade green tea ice cream at Chaya
Japanese restaurant Chaya serves rich, authentic Japanese fare, from fresh tuna and salmon sashimi, to crisp vegetable and seafood tempura. But it is their homemade green tea ice cream – a small serving of which comes complimentary at the end of every meal – that really takes the cake. Served with red beans and, in the case of the Cream Anmitsu, a generous serving of fruits in season, the green tea ice cream makes for the perfectly refreshing cap to a classic Chaya meal.
Lagud (Strawberry beer) at Baguio Craft Brewery
Baguio’s first craft brewery offers a variety of flavors that will keep both the curious and the avid craft beer fan on their toes. Try the distinct flavor of the strawberry beer, Lagud, which is highly recommended with the buffalo wings.
Other beer variants are, among others, Kabunyan (Wheat Beer), Dalo (Brown Ale), Kraken (Baltic Porter), Ripe (Passion Fruit Beer), Englishman in New York (American Pale Ale), Message in a Bottle (India Pale Ale).
Dark beer cheesecake at Ozark Diner
Bareng Drive, Bakakeng
You probably won’t eat cheesecake and down it with beer, but there’s another – nay, more ingenious – way of doing it: the dark beer cheesecake, which you can indulge in at Ozark Diner along Bareng Drive in Bakakeng. And if you’re still up for another slice, also try the Chocolate Siling Labuyo cheesecake (yes, complete with candied chillies on top).
Balbacua by Urban Camote, Ili Likha Artist Village
How far can P50 get you? At Balbacua by Urban Camote at the Ili Likha Artist Village along Assumption Road, Baguio’s newest food community, you can get a steaming bowl of balbacua.
Balbacua is a Southern Mindanao beef stew dish, slow-cooked for six hours and served with your choice of mountain rice or noodles. Factor in the place’s rustic, artsy ambiance and convenient location and you’ve got yourself your newest Baguio haunt.
8-course degustation at Mama’s Table
888A Ambuklao Road
Chef Vicky Tinio’s private dining at her home is a celebration of fine food. A bread board preludes the eight-course degustation, and includes freshly baked goods from Baguio kitchens such as Cafe by the Ruins and the Baguio Country Club.
These come with Chef Vicky’s own creations – chicken liver paté, artichoke farm spread, semi-cured tomatoes, and blue cheese mousse. The course starts with the amuse bouche, soup, intermezzo 1 (to clear the palate for the next dishes), seafood, intermezzo 2, meat, digestif, and dessert.
There is no menu, and Chef Vicky accommodates only one group a day (minimum of six people in a group to book, at P1,500 per person with 10% service charge). Booking at least a week in advance is required.
Lomo Ribs at Canto, Ketchup Food Community
Romulo Drive, across Wright Park
It’s easy to see why Canto, a restaurant at the Ketchup Food Community, is always full with diners (with more lining up outside): the lomo ribs, one of the few offerings on its menu, are just mouthwatering.
Served with an excellent salad and either mashed potato or rice, it’s hard to believe half a slab goes for only P190. A whole slab – which can probably feed up to three people – is at P270.
Head to Canto early for lunch to avoid lining up, especially on weekends. The restaurant is closed on Mondays.
Death by chocolate cake at Hill Station Bistro
Upper Session Road; Camp John Hay Technohub
This dessert sounds very intriguing, doesn’t it? Take one spoonful and wait for all the sensations to register – hot, sweet, and cold – and it’s easy to realize the inspiration behind its name.
Each serving goes for P110, and is available at the Hill Station restaurant along Upper Session Road (Casa Vallejo Building) and at the new Hill Station Bistro at the Camp John Hay Technohub.
Chona’s Delight at Tea House
Call it a cake, pudding, or whatever — Chona’s Delight, a combination of moist chocolate cake, cream, and still more chocolate, is a piece of sweet heaven inside an unglamorous microwavable container. One bowl goes for P130, and there’s also a newer Strawberry Delight variant to try.
Pansit Lomi at 456 Restaurant
At P100, a bowl of 456 Restaurant’s Pansit Lomi is rich, reliably good, and affordable – perfect for those who want to wash down a hangover (the restaurant, conveniently located along Session Road, is open 24 hours). For good measure, add liberal amounts of the restaurant’s signature chili sauce. Another no-fuss local joint, 456 also offers home-cooked Filipino food and beer.
Buttered chicken at Good Taste
Cariño St.; Behind Baguio Center Mall
Don’t let Good Taste’s no-fuss, food court ambiance fool you: this old favorite serves up food that’s not only affordable but also very memorable and tasty.
Most notable of these is their signature Buttered Chicken – sweet and savory, with just the right amount of crispness, this is fried chicken done consistently well. Half a serving, which goes for P145, can feed up to 3 or 4 people.
Good Taste’s newer branch along Cariño Street, near Burnham Park, is recommended for its larger seating capacity and parking availability.
Puto bumbong at Solibao
Burnham Park; Session Road
Available all day, every day, Solibao’s puto bumbong makes everyday Christmas possible. Made with pure ube and topped with generous muscovado sugar, shredded coconut, and a dollop of butter, a serving of puto bumbong is always perfect for a cold Baguio evening.
Apart from its puto bumbong, Solibao also serves notable Filipino classics, such as pansit palabok. Also try their new Puto Bumbong Shake – the classic recipe, blended with vanilla ice cream.
Strawberry chunks and syrup added to the classic taho, this popular street snack is widely available in any of the city’s parks – Burnham Park, Mines View Park, Wright Park, Botanical Garden, etc. – for P15 to P20 a cup.
Sans rival at Sizzling Plate
Session Road; Cariño St.; SM Baguio
Light, crisp, buttery, and creamy, Sizzling Plate’s Sans Rival makes for the perfect cap to the restaurant’s sizzling steak dishes.
Its wafer base makes it a much lighter version of the usually dense cake, and at only P26 a slice, you’ll most likely order second or third helpings. Whole servings are also available at P300.
Raisin Bread from Villa Cordillera / Baguio Country Club
Outlook Drive; SM Baguio
You don’t need to be a member of the Baguio Country Club (BCC) to enjoy its famous raisin bread. Enjoy this classic at Villa Cordillera along Outlook Drive, or bring home some from the Villa Cordillera Stall at the Upper Ground Floor of SM Baguio. Each freshly baked loaf – rich, dense, and bursting with raisins – goes for P190.
Strawberry sorbetes from La Trinidad Strawberry Farm
Km. 5, La Trinidad
If you’ve gone strawberry-picking in nearby La Trinidad, you’ve probably encountered vendors with their signature offering: the classic sorbetes, in the not-so-classic, hot pink, chunky strawberry flavor, which are sold only around the area for P20.
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Nikka Corsino is a writer based in Baguio City. She blogs at two2travel.com