What’s your point of reference when you think of San Pablo City? The Seven Lakes? Coconuts? While the largest city in Laguna (in terms of land area) checks these off, this destination – which is just approximately two hours away from the city – is also home to some amazing food finds. The place is specifically gaining more and more popularity among enthusiasts who prefer local cuisines set against amazing backdrops of nature.
But it's not all just greeneries and traditional dishes here. The city is actually keeping up with the latest culinary trends with its growing collection of modern restaurants. Excited to visit now? Here, we list the top places that will make you want to add this city to your food crawl bucket list.
1. Sulyap Gallery Cafe and Restaurant
Address: Cocoland Compound, Barangay, San Pablo City, 4000 Laguna
Take a trip to the past when you visit Sulyap Gallery Cafe and Restaurant, a popular destination that is part restaurant, part bed and breakfast, and part museum. The place is ranked as one of the must-visits in San Pablo because of its wonderful nod to Filipino heritage. Sulyap offers traditional and modern local cuisines set against lush greens and old-world interiors reminiscent of the Spanish Era, while its museum showcases a wonderful collection of antiques, some of which date back centuries. Sulyap also has four B&Bs that guests can spend the night on namely Casa de Alitagtag, Casa de Obando, Casa del Remedio, and Casa San Juan Bed and Breakfast Boutique. Try the Kulawo – a local dish of eggplant in coconut cream and grilled liempo – and Kare-Kare when you drop by for a visit.
2. Cafe Lago
Address: Dagatan Blvd, Barangay V - A, San Pablo City, 4000 Laguna
Overlooking the wonderful view of Sampaloc Lake is this rustic garden restaurant owned by environmentalist and San Pablo local Mandy Marino. Cafe Lago reflects the city’s richness of flora and fauna with its open-air setting adorned with hanging baskets of plants, trees, and ferns. The cafe, which offers wonderful takes on homemade local dishes like Binagoongan and eggplant omelettes, is the perfect place to chill after biking around the perimeter of the lake. You can enjoy the cool breeze drifting from San Pablo’s biggest body of water after taking snaps of its creatively painted walls and picturesque garden setting. Highly recommended dishes are its Paco Salad and Honey Drizzled Tofu.
3. Si Christina Gateu Sans Rival
Address: NO.6 Rizal Avenue, San Pablo City, 4000 Laguna
One of the hidden gems of San Pablo City is Si Christina, a restaurant that started as a pastry shop but is now offering a wide variety of Filipino, American, and Italian dishes. Though its sweets – particularly its sans rivals and pastries – are still its main draw, locals and tourists are also constantly flocking the place for its good food and cozy, rustic ambiance. Order their Baby Back Ribs – juicy, fall-off-the-bone masterpieces that you can pair with buttered vegetables and rice. Don’t forget to order their Sans Rival Sampler too. Their pistachio variety will definitely have you planning your second trip back after the first bite!
4. Samuel’s Plate Gastropub
Address: Cipriano Colago Ave, Teachers Village, Barangay San Roque, San Pablo City, Laguna
Priding itself as the first-ever gastropub in Laguna, Samuel’s Plate mixes rustic with modern in both its food and interiors. The three-story brick building is a favorite place for groups of friends and families thanks to its delightful menu and relaxing aura. Samuel’s Plate gives a unique spin to local favorites with dishes like Crispy Kare Kare, Adobo sa Gatang Ribs ng Baka, and Lechon Inalamangan. Besides from its Pinoy hits, however, its menu also offers international selections like Hainanese Rice and Miso Glazed Flank Steak. Pair these with their wide selection of refined drinks like malt craft beers!
5. Le Manays
Address: Col Lauro L Dizon St, San Pablo City, Luzon 4000
Foodophiles know that sometimes, hole in the walls are exactly where you find the best grub. This is the case of Le Manays, an almost non-descript culinary destination tucked in one of San Pablo’s narrow streets. The place may not rank first when it comes to interiors and space, but it serves some of the best and affordable bites the city has to offer. For a price tag of below a hundred pesos, you can choose from a wide selection of Filipino, Italian, and Mexican food. The restaurant offers everything for the palate, like their fried chicken for kids, nachos for the barkada who just wants to hang out, and tapas and other mains for those who want a filling meal. Le Manays popularity is evident on the size of the crowd it attracts—the place is almost constantly packed!
6. Patis Tito Garden Cafe
Address: 285 Santa Cruz Putol, San Pablo City, Laguna
From the moment you step into Patis Tito Garden Café, you’ll immediately feel transported into a different world. Every corner and detail in this wonderland of greenery seems to be perfectly curated, which comes as no surprise since the destination is the brainchild of designer and local purveyor of Filipino fashion Patis Tesoro. Tesoro, together with her husband, decided to translate her love for local art in this garden café that also doubles as a B&B for those looking for a relaxing stay in Southern Luzon. Similar to her style, Patis Tito Garden Café is also aesthetically adorned with upcycled antique materials to give nod to our local aesthetic and culture. Other than its stunning landscape, the garden café also offers slow-cooked Filipino meals made only with locally-sourced, fresh ingredients. Try its Lumpiang Shanghai platter and Kinulob na Manok for the ultimate Pinoy food experience.
7. Simple Treats
Address: Barangay IV-B P. Zulueta St, San Pablo City, 4000 Laguna
Simple Treats’ name is a wonderful oxymoron to the quality of food it offers. A fine-dining restaurant, the place makes the case for international dishes with its offerings of steaks, pasta, salads, and wine. San Pablo may be known for its wonderful rendition of local cuisines, but with its classy interior design and fancy ambiance, Simple Treats is the perfect destination for those who want to treat their palate to a different kind of flavor. Cap off your filling meal with a creamy cup of cappuccino just because.
8. Mi Café Padres
Address: Manuel L. Quezon Street, San Pablo City, Laguna
Mi Café Padres, translated as ‘My Father’s Story’, is a restaurant specializing on coffees brewed from beans harvested from its owner's San Pablo plantation. Since the place shares a compound space with other shops like a car wash, a clinic, and a spa, the café has become a favorite hangout place for those who want to kill some time. Besides their good brew, Mi Café Padres also offer brick-oven pizzas, pastas, and cakes.