Antipolo, an old city, has always been known for its pilgrim church. Back in the olden ages, Catholic devotees would travel for days to reach Antipolo. The women in their long baro’t saya are carried in a hamak or hammock to keep their clothes from being soiled. These travelers would then take the afternoon to relax along the once-pristine Hinulugang Taktak. Those are the two major pastimes they can get out of this city.
Fast forward to the future, the once sleepy town has changed. Over time, it has retained some of its heritage but has also embraced something new to cater to its growing city population. An interesting observation is the flourishing community of coffee shops in the city. Thanks to the coffee culture brought by Starbucks and the like, resident entrepreneurs of Antipolo are bringing coffee right on our doorsteps.
Café Cristina is among the many coffee shops found in Antipolo City. Located along ML Quezon Street (in front of Shopwise Antipolo), it has been serving customers for more than 2 years, and has become a favorite among students, yuppies, as well as professionals who want a relaxing place to dine and get some work done through their unlimited free Wi-Fi access.
Owned by businessman Felix Marinas, the coffee bar and restaurant offers a dizzying variety of hot and cold coffee and tea beverages, as well as hot rice meals, pastas, sandwiches, and other finger food.
Too lazy to prepare breakfast, my sister and I decided to start the day at Café Cristina. This coffee shop happens to be one of our favorite food stops because we love the place! Café Cristina’s interiors have this cool artsy atmosphere with an indoor fish pond and glass walls. With its dim lights and pop music, I find the place relaxing and inviting. It is a good place for a first date. Aside from its homey appeal, the coffee shop offers affordable breakfast meals and lunch sandwiches. A tuna and crab sandwich is priced at P95, while a plate of creamy Carbonara costs P125.
That day, my sister and I had Lechon Kawali (P140), a garlic rice meal with deep-fried pork served with soy vinaigrette, and Beef Tapa (P130), a garlic rice meal with curried beef slices, and an egg served sunny side up. We also had a plate of Beef Salpicao (P150). All these dishes are served with your choice of hot coffee or iced tea.
An advocate of a good breakfast, I find my Lechon Kawali truly filling -- the portions are huge, and the meat is well cooked. Its crunchiness is worth dipping in the pinkish vinaigrette. The Beef Tapa, meanwhile, is delicious according to my sister. Good for two, the Beef Salpicao’s flavorful with lots of mushrooms on it. For drinks, I had coffee while my sister decided to have a glass of cold red iced tea.
Red iced tea
Iced white mocha (P95)
Suitable for breakfast, the hot coffee I had was plain; I doused it with fresh milk. I’m not a professional cupper, but if you like smooth, mild coffee you’ll love the blend of Café Cristina. I wasn’t disappointed: their coffee has a fairly even blend from first sip to the final aftertaste. The owner of Café Cristina says they do the roasting in-house and use a select blend of Robusta and Arabica beans. The beans are darkly roasted to provide each cup with a full aroma and body. I think they’ve done a fine job with this blend.
If you like having coffee after meals, I suggest you try their hot Vanilla Nut Latte (P90) and their iced Banana Mocha Granita (P100). These two are my favorite special coffee desserts -- the former has a nutty sweet aftertaste while the latter tastes like banana split. For those who want to have a ‘kick-in-the-head’ wake-up coffee, a shot of Espresso (P40) or Americano (P55) can do the trick!
Of course a coffee shop is never complete without -- cakes and pastries! Café Cristina’s cake fridge is always full of mouthwatering baked goodies. Most of the time, they offer slices of rich chocolate cake, carrot cake, blueberry/strawberry cheese cake, banana cream pies, and Oreo fudge cake. If you think a slice of cake’s overwhelming, you can take a nibble with their revel (P40) and chocolate walnut (P55) bars and chicken pies. A healthy slice of cake can cost a hundred pesos and above. Oh and by ‘healthy,’ I mean you won’t feel deprived.
Nowadays, a lot of people say it’s getting difficult to find a good cup of coffee because everyone is selling it on every street corner. And while that does seem to be the case, there are still good places to find that offer great coffee. Café Cristina is just among the few places here in Antipolo wherein you can enjoy good food and drinks, all reasonably priced.