Baguio City is the summer capital of the Philippines. It’s a city located on top of the mountains in the northern region of the country. To get there, you’ll have to drive or take a bus from Metro Manila. The trip now takes 4 hours (Woohoo!) compared to the usual 5 thanks to a new segment of the TPLEX (Tarlac, Pampanga, La Union Expressway) just located right after the SCTex (Subic, Clark, Tarlac Expresway).
If you’ve been here before, I’m pretty sure you already have a list of things to do in Baguio. You’ve explored the usual tourist spots like Mines View, Camp John Hay, Burnham Park and The Mansion. You probably had your photo taken by the huge lion’s head along Kennon road & brought home strawberries & peanut brittle to your loved ones.
Baguio City remains a charming city with great weather all-year round and lesser volume of vehicle traffic and air pollution than Metro Manila. The truth is, I would rather go to Baguio than any other place in the Philippines for a vacation.
Where we stayed --- Lucia's Bed and Breakfast
I was lucky enough to stumble upon Lucia’s Bed and Breakfast while searching for places to stay in Baguio. It’s a charming house-turned-bed-and-breakfast by Ms. Lucille. Our host, Kulin, welcomed us. Lucia's is named after the owner herself, and her daughter Lia. This B&B, for me, is a quintessential shabby-chic rest house I imagined it to be. Everything about this B&B, from the little knick knacks that line its shelves, down to the fragrant afternoon tea we were served, are the owner's own items. The furnishings and little trinkets that you can see and fill the B&B are personal belongings of Ms. Lucille. It is these little details that give Lucia's Bed and Breakfast that warm and homey feel. Accommodations come with free breakfasts prepared at your requested time, and guests are free to use the home’s kitchen and dining area to cook and prepare meals.
Rooms can also be rented separately, and are great for couples or groups of friends looking for a quiet place to stay in Baguio while still having the tourist spots and the town square within reach. What's great? Free WiFi.
A hot afternoon English tea and wafers greeted us -- and this pretty living area.
My nieces enjoying their afternoon tea at Lucia's
The common area has a living and dining area, kitchen, as well as foosball and pool tables and about six bedrooms, roomy enough to house a large family on vacation.
The facade of Lucia's Bed and Breakfast (this is the basement of the house, the main entrance is about 30 steps uphill).
We stayed in the Luscious Room -- can accommodate 5 pax -- there is also a day bed inside. The mattress and the pillows are so comfy, we had a very good sleep.
The rooms and the toilets are squeaky clean. There's a wide cabinet for all our things.
Large windows from the living area open to the slopes of land dotted with pine trees and invite lots of natural light in during the mornings.
One of the highlights of our stay at Lucia's B&B is the breakfast served at the garden. Their breakfast are all made with the freshest ingredients available in Baguio. Everything was made with love. We had English muffin (freshly baked every morning) with Chorizo patty, spinach quiche, baked granola strawberry tart, and freshly brewed coffee. Yum….yum…yummy!!
Our gracious (back, from L to R) host Kulin and their concessionaire (yes, her cooking is really, really good).
Where we ate --- Ahmad's Brothers, Amare La Cucina, Dinelli Gourmet, Cafe By the Ruins, and Happy Tummy (Ketchup Community)
Ahmad Brother's Cafe
Baguio was never so much fun as it was on my last visit. I do like trying new things and one of the real surprises for me was an authentic Pakistani and Indian restaurant --- Ahmad Brother's Cafe --- along Legarda Road (just beside Gilligan's). One of the Ahmad brothers is the cook. The Beef Biryani Rice was most delicious. We also ordered their Vegetarian Biryani, which is equally good. Really affordable, or if you find it pricey, it's all worth it -- quality and quantity wise. Don't underestimate the serving coz it's a tummy loader indeed. Plus, they have lots of meat-free dishes.
Here's what we had that left us very happily loaded.
Chicken Tikka, Beef Biryani, and Vegetarian Biryani --- their serving is ginormous.
Beef Kebabs and dips
Uh oh…..Houston, we got a problem. Good problem though --- hinde nila malaman kung paano ubusin. My nieces ordered the Iced Lemon Soda and the drink were served with bits of coriander, black pepper, and cumin sprinkled on top. They loved it.
Amare La Cucina
Amare La Cucina is an italian restaurant famous for its traditional slow-cooked pizza and baby back ribs. Though it’s not in the heart of the city, a lot of people still visit the restaurant for the uniqueness and their traditional way of cooking its food. It’s for Italian cuisine lovers who want to try novelty pizzas in Baguio. Amare is now housed in what looks like a defunct mall just below Albergo Hotel. We recommend that you try their brick oven pizzas. Go straight to the pizzas. Their pastas and salads are not as good as the ones I had here in Makati. As I've mentioned in my FB account, this ristorante reminds me of Motorino's in Greenbelt.
Here's what we had.
Amare's Pizza Con Prosciutto -- with baby arugula on top
Tre Formaggi Pizza --- I looooove cheese…!!!
Margherita --- back to basics --- yum!
Happy Tummy (Ketchup Community)
Ketchup: The Food Community features homegrown food concepts – restaurants like Canto (Ribs, Burger, Pizza), Happy Tummy (Thai Cuisine), Rancho Norte (Filipino Cuisine), Green Pepper (Gourmet Foods), and Rumah Sate (Indo-Malay Cuisine). It’s for people who want to try almost anything as it has a wide variety of food ranging from horse tapa to sticky rice with mango. It’s not for groups of people who prefer an enclosed space. Depending on your liking, I'm sure there's something that will tickle your taste buds. And since it's fairly new, expect a huge number of crowds as you enter. A lot of diners on waiting list. Reason?? The food are cheap!!!
We had dinner at Happy Tummy because I am a fan of Thai cuisine, and because their place is spacious , unlike the other four restaurants which are a bit cramped.
It takes a Ketchup Food Community to make a Happy Tummy (or is it the other way around).
The most anticipated part --- digging in!
We had Tom Yam Gung soup which was perfect for another chilly night in Baguio. With the creaminess of the soup as well as a taste explosion of flavors like sweet, sour, salty and spicy, there’s no other reaction for your tongue but to tingle with delight. That's Chicken Sate, Chicken Wrapped in Pandan, Spicy Squids, Assorted Veggies, Thai Fried Rice, and Tamarind juice to wash it all up.
Cafe by the Ruins Dua
When in Baguio, it’s nice to look for home-grown restaurants to try. Cafe by the Ruins (since 1988) recently opened up a new branch on Upper Session Road (right beside Mario’s). This extension is called Cafe by the Ruins Dua (dua, meaning “two” in Ilokano). To you old Cafe by the Ruins loyalists, fret not because Dua is still the same old Cafe you have grown to love through the years, except it is now more modern-looking in terms of facilities, The bigger Dua branch, as I learned, is also in charge of producing and supplying Cafe by the Ruins’ pasalubong and bakery products.
Overall, ambiance is great but food was just okay. I guess, in my own opinion, the restaurant is overrated. Price of the food is not worth it based on its taste. You can't even experienced to burp AND the serving is slooooow.
Sinigang na Bagnet --- there are only 4 pieces of bagnet in this dish. I ordered another one because their serving is good for 1 and the server said it is good for 3. Baloney!
Fish Fillets simmered in coconut milk --- taste is bland. I was expecting something creamy but I am disappointed to taste canned coconut milk. Hinde namin naubos.
Dinelli Gourmet at Le Monet Hotel
Le Monet Hotel, which is quite new, is named after French impressionist painter Claude Monet. From the outside, you'll see their beautiful chandeliers that somehow beckons you to go in. The Dinelli Gourmet's breakfast buffet has been called the best in the city and this could be true. From the fresh yogurt to the thinly sliced tapa, this will definitely be your best meal of the day. Dinelli Gourmet Cafe is run by chef Robby Goco, the man behind Cyma.
The beautiful chandelier that greets you as you enter the hotel.
With a view like this, you will definitely finish your breakfast.
There were fairly enough choices from Filipino breakfast staples of rice, fried rice, tocino, etc., to sausages, bacon, and a host of other things. There are also stations for your sunny side-ups and omelets, bread, cereals, fruits, and drinks. That said, breakfast was pretty good.
My nieces, Sheena and Shane, enjoying their pancakes and cinnamon breads at Dinelli's. 2nd round!
Good breakfast…nice place…happy tummies = smiling faces.