It’s refreshing to know that in the age of processed and fast-food meals, there are still alternative dining places that offer “clean” food with recipes stripped off of preservatives and chemicals that could harm our bodies in the long term. Coming off from another revitalizing yoga session from Life Yoga, I ventured to the adjoining cafe Vibe Superfood. Just a cursory look at their menu and reading witty, music-inspired names of the dishes instantly put me in a good mood. I placed an order for their Curry Me Away (a song from the Doobie Brothers) and Matcha-Twenty (from the band Matchbox Twenty) and got excited for the treats to come.
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.
It’s a place where chickens can freely cross the road without being questioned. One of the amusing quotes found in the eye catching interior of Chopstop, a fastfood restaurant serving chops, nachos and unlimited margaritas. I must admit, the street corner theme complete with pedestrian walks and stoplights got me prodding to chop-around their offerings.
What’s in a drink? I mean everybody’s got to cool down especially in this hot weather and in what looks like an extended summer.
I try to drink like a liter and a half of plain water daily but if I crave for a bit of flavor, I’ll steer clear of sodas save for occasions when there’s no safe drinking water or strangely, after long mountain hikes (I know it’s not healthy but hey, this is just very rare). I also tend to favor either fruit juices over soda or if I want a bit of variety, I’d have some tea brews every now and then. Thing is, a lot of ’em tea brews are loaded with sugar. Flavorful, yes. Healthier than soda, ummm not really.
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.
“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.
Don’t chicken out! Especially when the newest Mexican-Latin flame-grilled chicken specialty restaurant, Gringo Chicken Ribs Friends, invades SM The Block. I recently got a chance to sample their main entree when they sent some goodie boxes to my office – one each of the Gringo Original Chicken, Southern Spice Chicken and the Baby Back Ribs. I can imagine the look of delight on my face as I opened the boxes must’ve looked a lot like the charming grin of the Gringo mascot character on the company’s logo. Each dish is paired with its own set of garlic rice, nachos, mushrooms and special sauces.