They say you travel when you read a book—the same can be said for dining! Tagaytay abounds with Filipino cafés and restos, but if you want something new for your next visit, check out these hidden gems that are sure to take you places with their authentic dishes and exquisite decor.
Mediterranean: Marcia Adams’
Entering Marcia Adams’ can be described as an Alice in Wonderland or Secret Garden experience—there’s a beautiful Tuscan door, and an entrance that leads to a long walkway down what feels like a magical dimension. Trees and flowering plants surround the cobblestone patios. Clay bricks, Machuca tiles, stone statues, vintage furniture, trusses and plant-lined trellises all lend to the rustic ambiance.
To the left of the garden is “Tuscany,” the main dining hall that transports you to Italy with its interiors. To the right is “Greece,” the sunset-viewing al fresco area with unmistakably Greek trimmings. Marcia Adams’ menu matches this vibe of Italian hillside-meets-Greek taverna, with classic Mediterranean dishes of fresh greens, pasta, seafood, beef and lamb, and of course, wine. The menu constantly evolves depending on the season and availability of fresh ingredients, so be sure to ask about their current offerings before you visit.
Price for two: P2,200
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European: Chateau Hestia
The French word for “country house” and the Greek goddess of hearth and home—its name alone evokes images of warmth and comfort food. It’s exactly what you’d find at Chateau Hestia, a garden restaurant, bed & breakfast, and deli for the perfect mini getaway. Owned by Vienna native Johannes Zehethofer, its European cuisine and interiors have a particularly Austrian influence. One of the Spanish casitas even has Biedermeier furniture dating back from the Austrian-Hungarian empire!
You may be familiar with Italian cold cuts, Austrian and German sausages, Spanish-style Gambas, stroganoff, osso buco, and the usual pizzas, pasta, and steaks. At Chateau Hestia, you’ll also encounter dishes named Alt Wiener Erdapfel Suppe (Viennese potato soup), Salmon Gravlax (the Scandinavian version of Visayan kinilaw), Kummelbraten with serviettenknödel (Viennese pork belly), Geschnetzeltes (chicken breast in creamy white wine sauce) and Kaiser Schmarren (Emperor’s shredded pancake). A mouthful—literally and figuratively—but you’ll have Johannes as your culinary tour guide.
Price for two: P1,600
Thai: Lime & Basil
Two commonly used ingredients in Thai cuisine practically give away the type of food served in Lime & Basil. The concept was inspired by the chef-owner’s love for Thai food and Chiang Mai, a mountainous city with a vibe similar to Tagaytay. The interiors are replete with Thai décor staples such as carved wood, Sawasdee statues, elephants, Thai batik, and the color purple. As for the food, there is perhaps no better place to be whipping up wholesome, flavorful Thai meals using freshly picked herbs and spices.
Popular dishes to try are Lime & Basil salad with tamarind dressing, tom yum, fresh spring rolls, pad thai, yam pla duk foo (the Thai version of mango bagoong rice), and sate chicken. To complete your Thai trip, pair with a glass of refreshing lemongrass juice and end with Kaffir lime crème brulee with mango.
Price for two: P1,200
Vietnamese: Bawai’s Kitchen
Dining at Bawai’s (Vietnamese for maternal grandma) is really like visiting your grandma’s house—if your grandma is from Saigon and cooks authentic Vietnamese dishes bursting with freshness and flavor. The actual bawai of this kitchen is Yong Tatlonghari, who married a Filipino and settled in Tagaytay in the 1970s. The restaurant is on the second floor of the couple’s home, adding to the familial comfort the meals bring.
Try Bawai Yong’s cha gio, the Vietnamese version of fried lumpia (minced buttered chicken, pork, herbs and veggies in crispy fried rolls) or goi cuon, its fresh lumpia counterpart (fresh noodles, caramelized pork and steam shrimp wrapped in Vietnamese rice paper).
Other favorites are Bawai’s Salad, ca kho to (braised fish simmered with savory caramel sauce and coconut juice), ga kho guong (ginger and lemongrass chicken), and her legendary Basil ice cream.
Price for two: P1,200
Bawai’s Vietnamese Kitchen is at J Hernandez St, Bukal, Silang, 5km from Serin East Tagaytay. Open Tues-Sun 10am-10pm. Make sure to book (and even give your orders) ahead of time for availability. Call 0920-972-2924 or visit bawais.com.
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Japanese: Aozora Café + Bistro
On the rooftop of Domicillo, a minimalist boutique hotel designed by Budji Layug, is Aozora. The name means “blue sky” for the majestic skyline view guests are treated to. Per Japanese aesthetics, the design of Aozora’s interiors and staff uniforms are sleek and modern with zen elements. The menu items follow the same concept: authentic, simple with a modern twist.
With Chef Seiji Kamura at the helm, Aozora serves breakfast sets, soups, udon, sushi, sashimi, makimono, curry, teriyaki, yakiniku, agemono, donburi, and ramen that will satisfy die-hard Japanese food fans. Beverages include sake, Japanese beers, Key Sumiyaki coffee, and green tea shake, as well as house wine choices. On the “twist” side, Aozora Ramen is enriched with Tagaytay bulalo as soup base, while the Aozora Salad has organic greens topped with lechon kawali. For dessert, try the classic green tea ice cream or the mango tempura with vanilla ice cream.
Price for two: P1,100
What do these places have in common? They’re all near Serin East, Avida’s first residential retreat in Tagaytay. Imagine weekend getaways right in your backyard: cool mountain breeze, lush gardens, refreshing swimming pool, and a picturesque view of Taal—plus your new favorite garden restaurants just a few minutes away! Share this post with your foodie friends!