Most of the eating places in Bontoc town proper and Illi are located on the main road, much like the arrangement of restos and cafes in Sagada. Even if you’re new to the place, it’s fairly easy to spot them, each one just a short walk, after alighting from the bus or van from Baguio or Banaue. Thing is, the main avenue can be noisy at certain times of the day, and if you’re looking for a quiet place to eat, relax, chill or meet a date, it’s a tricky proposition to find it. Well, good thing there’s Caja.
It’s off the main road and a bit tricky to find, a street away from the large thoroughfare. The landmark is the local SSS office. You have to walk through alleys of private homes before coming to a rather non-descript house with just a small logo. The cafe/restaurant is actually located in a house converted into a homey cafe that opens up to a view of the rice fields which at the time of our visit was a vibrant shade of lush green. After spending the morning trekking to and from the Hammuyo Falls in Talubin, the place with its view was downright relaxing, just what we need to rest our weary legs and sate our hungry tummies.
From the veranda where we seated ourselves, we found rows of herb plants downstairs which makes sense as Caja uses only fresh herbs picked from their garden. We ordered half an etag (local version of dried meat) pizza along with tomatoes, mozarella and fresh herbs and half Meat Fest variant on a thin crust also freshly-made in the cafe’s own kitchen.
For dessert, we had two kinds of cupcakes — bugnay (wine made from a local berry) and strawberry cheesecake to go along with our barako coffee. Very, very good coffee, we must say. The place adds to the eating experience — really conducive to relaxing with the green scenery, the warm wooden interiors, and tasteful country crafts adorning the nooks and crannies. The staff is very friendly and helpful while the service is prompt. Next time you find yourself in Bontoc, we suggest wiggling your way to Caja if you’re up to something a bit different when in these parts.
Caja: Pizza, Cupcakes and more
Location: Near SSS Bontoc and Lynda’s Guest House behind the Bontoc Municipal Hall