There’s a reason to be mad about Mad Monkeys in La Union — this small street corner stall sells only one dish – burgers! But boy, are they so good at it. Cue the funky jazz tunes, have a cold beer in hand and chomp on their Classic Burger (Php 180). In between the burger buns are one-inch thick and juicy 180gm burger patties laced with melted cheese and smothered in beer sauce. Owner, Mateo, an avid traveler, got inspired by the Mad Monkey’s hostel in Cambodia and decided to bring its chill backpacker vibe to La Union. He originally came here to surf but fell in love with the place, eventually setting up shop in 2015 and overseeing operations since then.
I have a friend who’s known as the “Sound Check Guy”. He’s musically inclined and decided to live in La Union for good, finding he felt more at home there. He worked as a barista for a small coffee shop for a while and that’s where I first heard about El Union Coffee. This small cafe ran by Kiddo and Sly sources locally grown coffee beans from around La Union. Their signature blend became a hit among the locals and tourists alike. The cafe quickly outgrew its original site and had to move to a new location along the MacArthur National Highway.
“A meeting place”, if you’re wondering what “Tagpuan” means in English. Tagpuan sa San Juan, the humble street corner eatery with a couple of tables and crates as chairs serves cheap comfort eats from kansi, goto to tapa and more. We weren’t actually looking for a meal that morning since we had breakfast but was delighted they serve real brewed coffee. Yes, not the instant 3-in-1 kind we had earlier. Even with the sweltering heat, I savor the warmth of a quality brew. I’ll take it any day warm or cool. But what made is visit this unpretentious eatery is not only for the food but their unique movement for the La Union community.
Food discoveries during travel have always been the heart of Happyfoodies. And during this Lakbay Norte 2, a familiarization tour of select places in Northern Luzon, we get to try out some interesting food stops on the way to Baguio from Manila on our first day. We had breakfast at SOUL Cafe in La Union, snacks at Cafe Isabelle and dinner at Hotel Elizabeth’s Flora Cafe.
Ah, the halo-halo. This quintessential Pinoy cooler is literally a hodge podge of locally-available ingredients. Just like the ubiquitous adobo, it varies from province to province with iterations that change partly due to what’s available, partly to what tickle the taste buds of the locals.