By Nikka Garriga
SAGADA, MOUNTAIN PROVINCE – It takes nearly half a day to get there but for some die-hard travelers, it is well worth the long drive or bus ride.
And why wouldn’t it be? Unexplored caves, hanging coffins, pine tree forests and rice terraces are just among the many things visitors appreciate in this mountaintop town.
The less adventurous, meanwhile, finds solace in Sagada’s fresh, cool weather and tranquil ambiance. Indulging in native mountain coffee or tea after a hearty meal isn't a bad idea for a few days worth of vacation.
Here’s a list of restaurants-slash-cafés-slash-tambayan (hangout) worth every penny for first-timers or those looking forward on their next Sagada trip.
Bana’s Café. It is a must when visiting the Cordilleras to veer away from the 3-in-1 coffee mix sachets and go for the real deal. And Bana’s Café is a good place for that perfect brew of Cordillera coffee.
Its owner, Melay Sibayen, takes the business of coffee very seriously that even her husband spends most of his time searching for various coffee varieties. Take in a view of the mountains from the veranda while sipping coffee and trying out their home-cooked specialties like the Bana’s Vegetable Mushroom Soup and Creamed Chicken.
Salt and Pepper. This local diner is among those that serve Sagada’s version of bagnet and tapa or more popularly known as etag.
The etag is sliced, smoked meat from native pigs that is salted then cured either by smoking or sun-drying for weeks. It’s not something for those with a weak stomach should try, though it’s also safe to say you haven’t been to Sagada without trying this staple food item.
But apart from a taste of the local cuisine, Salt and Pepper is also a recommended spot for those in big groups looking for a delicious yet affordable meal with a wide variety of dishes to choose from.
Lemon Pie House. This delicacy house is a certified favorite among famished adventure seekers for its homemade egg and, of course, lemon pies. Visitors are lured by the smell of the pies baking fresh from the oven. And true enough, the lemon pies are worth the hike up from nearby Lumiang Caves.
It’s a cheap treat, at just P18 a slice, and best paired with a cup of native Arabica coffee.
Yoghurt House. If there’s one thing all food houses in Sagada have in common, it’s their fixation for freshness. And the Yoghurt House in no exception to that.
The house specialty, obviously, are its yoghurt treats. In keeping with its reputation for being fresh, everything from the yoghurt to the fruits lazing on top is homemade. Their generous food serving completes the entire package.
This place is popular among tourists for its quaint, homey interior. There’s even a balcony at the second floor that offers a view of downtown.
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