Even after a long day at work, one of the things I find comforting is when I get to cook. It’s an escape from a blinking (and demanding) computer screen and into the warm welcome of a kitchen counter, chopping board and pots and pans. But living near the Kapitolyo area (it’s been a year!) provides another source of comfort–exploring its bustling dining scene.
The neighborhood of Kapitolyo in Pasig has been abuzz of all things food for some years now when restaurants, cafes and other eating joints started sprouting in every corner of the residential area (especially along East Capitol Drive). I’ve always wanted to list down some of my favorites, so here goes. If ever you’re in the neighborhood of Kapitolyo and you’re wondering where to eat, here’s my quick guide (just prepare for the not-so-quick search for parking):
Cafe Juanita is probably the grandmommy of all the restos in the area. Even before the neighborhood became a hotspot for dining, this Asian-themed restaurant has been receiving couples set on having a romantic date, professionals on lunch meetings, families on a weekend lunch and balikbayans or tourists looking for some flavorful Filipino dishes. Not all the Filipino and Asian dishes sing, but you can’t go wrong with the Kare-Kare and Crispy Pork Binagoongan.
Address: 19 West Capitol Drive, Barrio Kapitolyo; phone: 632-0357
Charlie’s Grind & Grill: Another relative veteran among the newbie restos. When burger joint Charlie’s opened, boasting freshly ground Kitayama wagyu and Black Angus burgers, the diners came. Its location, almost hidden behind a car wash probably added to its unexpected charm. It also has a respectable selection of beers that goes well with its menu of meats–burgers, cheesesteaks, and my favorite, its snapdawg or all-beef hotdogs. P also loves their ‘dogs and even prefers them over Gray’s Papaya, which he searched for in last year’s trip to NYC. We both love it so much we don’t mind having it as occasional breakfast fare with a side of sweet potato fries.
Address: 16 East Kapitolyo Drive; phone: 501-0137
Good Burger: Not a meat eater but still want a satisfying burger? Then head over to Good Burger. It serves veggie burgers with different vegetarian-friendly toppings like veggie ‘bacon bits’, mushrooms, sour cream, roasted tomatoes, coleslaw, etc. I’m an unabashed meat-eater, but on days when I want to skip on the red meat but still have a burger, Good Burger is a good option. It’s one of the more affordable dining or take-away joints in Kapitolyo with the burgers ranging from P60 to P120.
Address: 24 West Capitol Drive; phone: 636-4663 (Good Burger also has branches in C5 Pasig, Greenhills in San Juan, and Sikatuna in Quezon City)
Edgy Veggy: Here’s another vegetarian option in the area. It’s located in the same building as pretty furniture store Heima, dessert place Classic Confections, and an Urban Ashram branch. Since I have a flexitarian sister (no, not vegetarian, she corrected me the last time), who cooks delicious vegetarian and vegan fare I’m a bit spoiled.
Egdy Veggy serves really delicious vegetarian food like the Spicy Bibimbap Rice or its mushroom burger. My only complaint: there’s not enough of it on my plate! Blame my carnivorous appetite, but I don’t feel satiated after eating. But a lot of meat-eaters flock here when they want to eat healthy, so join the congregation when you want something light and flavorful.
Address: 3 Brixton St., Kapitolyo; phone: (0917) 8474831. See complete menu here
Milky and Sunny. The go-to place of Kapitolyo-bound diners who prefer to have their breakfast any time of the day. A tiny, bright spot along East Capitol Drive, they have a menu of comforting favorites: soft, pillowy pancakes (want cream cheese and strawberries in it?), sinful cured meats, and the savory ‘silogs.’
Address: 9 East Capitol Drive; phone: 654-2049
Epic Coffee Roastery: Friends working nearby have for a time made this coffee shop in Kapitolyo their go-to place for meetings. Aside from being geographically attractive, I think it also had something to do with the the interiors–roughly finished wood, brick walls, vintage signs and memorabilia, and a couple of bikes, which all come together for a warm, cozy atmosphere.
Now, I can’t properly review the coffee since I don’t really drink it often enough, I do know that the cafe sources some of its beans locally, from Bukidnon and Benguet. For non-coffee drinkers like me, there’s matcha tea. (Also, recently found out that dishes from Poco Deli, another restaurant down the street, can be ordered in Epic, because they have the same owners!)
Address: 102 East Capitol Drive; phone: 631-0057
Poco Deli: Sausages, bacon slab, and more sausages–these are the reasons why many folks troop to Poco Deli. The first time I got to eat here, we made the mistake of ordering a sandwich and some truffle pasta. The sandwich was forgettable (I can’t even remember what it was) and the pasta didn’t seem to have that distinct flavor of truffle. So, do yourself a favor, if you do choose to eat here, order the sausages. I also heard good things about the bacon steak (or inch-thick slab of bacon), which I’ll probably try when I’ve scheduled an annual physical exam just to be safe. (UPDATE: Finally, got to try the Bacon Slab: you can hardly go wrong with pork belly and this one doesn’t; it has a rich flavor…too rich for me though and there was hardly anything else on the plate to cut the grease so I ended just eating one slab and bringing home the other one for the hubby.)
Address: 21 East Capitol Drive; phone: 477-4332
Silantro Fil-Mex Cantina: When you’re craving for Mexican food, the closest thing there is in Kapitolyo is Silantro. I’ve dropped by several nights–usually after an exhausting week that can only be remedied by a plate full of nachos smothered in cheese and a cold glass of mojito. (The comfort of cooking at home doesn’t stand a chance.)
The Mexican fare may not be the most authentic (it is Filipino-Mexican, after all), but it’s inventive and the servings are generous. Count on rich and familiar flavors and the hint of cilantro to cut it. Plus, the luchador posters hanging on the wall make this casual neighborhood hangout a knock-out.
Address: 75 East Capitol Drive; phone (0917) 508-4748
Ba Noi’s: Given a choice between ramen and pho in this part of Pasig, I recommend that you go for pho in Ba Noi’s. The Vietnamese restaurant that used to be in Makati has moved into the already crowded resto area, but as it is always full, it appears that people want their pho. It’s warm comfort in bowl with the broth light, the beef tender, and every sip of the soup reminds me of a vacation. While waiting for your bowl, order the fresh spring rolls and the stir-fried beef with fried basil. (Find a mouthwatering, full review on The Happy Lab).
Address: 12 East Capitol Drive; phone: 477-9761