Isabelo Garden Restaurant

I didn't know it yet then but that exact moment, I discovered a treasure.

“Are you sure this is it?” I asked Bea then I scratched my head. We were still inside the car and in front of us was an unadorned silver gate. A plain old silver gate. No sign. No picture. No arrows. No nothing. Half of me felt lost. The other half was pretty sure that we were in the exact spot the star in the map locates. That half was hopeful. After all, Marikina is a long way from our office and retreating is not an option.

After a minute or two of going over and over the map , checking all the possible ways that we could’ve taken a wrong turn, we finally decided to honk the horn. The guard obliged and opened the gate.

I didn’t know it yet then but that exact moment, I discovered a treasure.

Isabelo Garden Restaurant asked me how I found out about the resto and however hard I try to recall exactly how, I couldn’t. I could tell she was surprised. Save for the restaurant’s website, she never used any form of advertising– an ironic move from someone who used to thrive in the world of advertising.

“The discovering part, that’s part of the experience,” she explains. That is also her reason why she never put up any sign. There’s no use, too, asking the locals for directions for a few know the restaurant’s existence in their neighborhood. What we experienced: exchanging puzzled looks, lingering a few minutes in front of the gate, and hesitantly honking, were after all common for Isabelo’s first timers. A quirky right of passage, I suppose?


Isabelo Garden Restaurant

Discover a secret treasure at the heart of Marikina. Co-owner Portia Baluyut tells more about the beginnings and offerings of this “dinner by reservation only” garden restaurant.

Hearing this, my expectations rose up. If this is enough reason to start up a restaurant, then it must be really good. I immediately pulled the serving dish towards me and helped myself.

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