Baguio Dining Delights
Oh My Gulay, Café by the Ruins, PNKY, and other suggested stops for a great Baguio food trip.
Vacationing in Baguio this holiday break? Editor Sunshine Selga-Funa shares her favorite haunts for farm-fresh veggies, hearty Pinoy breakfasts, strawberry fondue, and the best Baguio comfort food around.
If I were to list all the dining places in Baguio, I'd have to wrestle with perhaps more than seven pages, with tiny font and text in single spacing. So let me just dish out the must-dine-in restos that either I have personally experienced or are highly recommended by my Baguio-based friends.
For starters, head off to Session Road (you can never have too much of this street when in Baguio--it has more to offer with every visit!). Craving Mongolian dishes? There's Gobi, with a bowl so big you may want to consider sharing. If pizza-pasta is your preferred combo, Volante is a must-visit for their fabulous Italian fare. It's open 24 hours, so you can barge in anytime you crave for a taste of Italia. There are, of course, the usual fast foods and restos you see in Manila--Jollibee, Greenwich, Mc Donald's, Don Henricos (though this started in Baguio), and Mario's (upper Session Road). But what's the fun in that? Being in Baguio is all about tasting home-grown Baguio fare, right?
If you want to opt for a healthier menu, drop by Oh My Gulay, a vegetarian restaurant housed within the interesting walls of Vocas Gallery (featured in The Art Lover's Guide to Baguio). Oh My Gulay boasts healthy vegetarian fare. A must-try is their Eggplant Parmigiana, a layer of bread sandwiching thinly-sliced eggplant baked to a delicious finish. It's like eating a healthier kind of pizza. You also can't go wrong with their Lumpia (spring roll) Salad in a bed of fresh green lettuce sprinkled with Asian dressing. The spring roll itself is filled with oyster mushrooms, soft tofu, and carrot. If you want some noodles, try Oh My Gulay's Chow2x--fresh egg noodles mixed with fresh veggies like carrots, green pepper, and broccoli. When you're done with this healthy feast, ask for their signature coffee blend to top off all the freshness.
Another vegetarian place is Bliss Café at the lobby of Hotel Elizabeth on J. Felipe Street, its new home. Try their best-sellers: "No-oink" Sisig and "No-quack" Curry. Their desserts are a mouthful, too, especially the Bliss Balls--coconut balls covered in coconut shavings, and the Bliss Crepe made of lots of fresh fruits.
For a perfect Baguio breakfast, spend your morning at Café by the Ruins on Otek Street. The walls of this café are what's left of an old garden theater which became the home of the first civil governor of Benguet, Phelps Whitmarsh. The café is delightfully cozy without feeling crowded, so you'll definitely enjoy your morning fare. There is also a regular display of artwork--photographs, paintings and sketches--that punctuate the walls.
Café by the Ruins' French Toast is divine, especially when you pair it with a cupful of fresh fruit salad. Having rice for breakfast is also a good choice--go for their Spicy Bangus or the Adobo Flakes. But if you really want a true-blue Pinoy agahan (breakfast), why not opt for Champorado (chocolate porridge) sprinkled with tinapa (smoked fish) flakes? Whatever your breakfast choice is, it will surely go great with a cup of either freshly brewed coffee or hot chocolate made of real cocoa tablets.
Also on Otek Street is O'Mai Khan, another Mongolian restaurant. The dishes are served in worth-the-price sizes, and any dish you pick is great-tasting. Don't forget to order a plate of sweet and spicy dilis for your appetizer--it's a must-try! O'Mai Khan also offers a good selection of desserts consisting of cheesecakes, chocolate cakes, and fruit salad.
When in Baguio during summer or the cooler months of September to December, make sure to drop by Little John at the Mile-Hi Complex in Camp John Hay (the complex also houses a number of restaurants you can choose from; Little John is one of the more notable). Order their wonderful chocolate fondue served with sweet strawberries that are in season during those months, together with slices of bananas and cute little marshmallows. But first, try their yummy Rib-eye Pork before going for your fondue dessert. While waiting for your order, why not grab a crayon and doodle on Little John's (manila) paper placemat? Who knows, your artwork might end up framed on their walls. And if you're lucky enough to get a table at the far end of the restaurant, you'll be treated to a pretty view of a forgotten hanging bridge set amidst lush greenery. If you're extremely lucky, you might even witness a flock of ravens swooping down to get bread crumbs generously given by Little John's kitchen staff!
If you want a more homey feel for your meal, PNKY on Leonard Wood Road is a good choice. The bed-and-breakfast boutique has a small restaurant perfect for intimate get-togethers. The menu includes intriguing fare like Chicken Spinach Riviera and Le Louvre, as well as pasta dishes like Ciao Bella Carbonara and Specialita di Bologna. For a real Baguio treat, order a bottle of PNKY's home-made ube jam for yourself or for pasalubong. PNKY also offers more than yummy treats--eclectic home furniture and décor, lifestyle accessories, and even some indigenous artifacts are all for sale!
Want to dine with some attitude? Then head to 50's Diner, also on Leonard Wood. All-American food like burgers and fries come in big servings. Of course, your dining experience won't be complete without the '50s feel--from the music they play to the servers' uniforms.
If you opt for the road less traveled, there's Tomay Farms in Lower Tomay, Halsema Road in La Trinidad, Benguet. It's a little far from the busy city of Baguio, but the trip is worth it. Just remember to make reservations at least a day before you plan to go. Your jaunt is made more special with a tour of the farm where Tomay's vegetables are grown--the same fresh vegetables you'll find in your salad!
All these varied dining choices prove that Baguio City has more to offer than just its cool, relaxing climate.
(Gobi and Tomay Farms are now closed and O' Mai Khan is now at a bigger location at Upper Session Road. - ed.)