Cafe Adriatico: Serving Delicious Filipino-Spanish-Etc Fusion in Metro Manila Since 1979
When in Manila and looking for a dining experience that feels like home and makes you nostalgic and proud of your culture and heritage, you have to go to the restaurant which has served delicious dishes with multi-cultural fusion since 1979: Cafe Adriatico has been the vintage go-to restaurant by families, lovers, celebrities, politicians, and artists for decades and it’s not very difficult to see why. Being the crown jewel among the LJC group of restaurants, founded by the late great journalist Larry J. Cruz, Cafe Adriatico offers some of the best traditional dishes which reflect our Filipino heritage: the blend of local, Spanish, American, and so many other culinary styles are present in every bite of their bestselling meals. Not only will your stomach be filled with comfy, delicious food, the atmosphere of Cafe Adriatico, featuring antique furniture and decors, will make you feel at home.
What better way to feel at home in Cafe Adriatico than to bring my family with me? So I invited my mother and brother who came all the way from Pampanga in order to join me in enjoying the amazing food that Cafe Adriatico offers.
We were warmly welcomed in Cafe Adriatico Gateway branch and we were immediately served our drinks. We all opted to try out their Buko Juice.
The Buko Juice was served really quickly. Great service in Cafe Adriatico, folks!
The accommodating waiters and waitresses told us that we would be served the bestsellers of Cafe Adriatico. No idea how they did it, but in less than ten minutes, we were already served our dishes! It’s the first time that I brought my brother with me for the feature and being a professional photographer himself, he assisted me with some of the shots.
Meet my brother who assisted me with some of the food photos here using, believe it or not, his iPhone.
And so the food came and we were all overwhelmed by the aroma of six freshly cooked dishes in front us. Two of these were my favorites in my previous visits to Cafe Adriatico: these are their two adobo dishes.
Spareribs Adobo Rice – P395
Cafe Adriatico chefs must love Adobo so much that they have two dishes which are totally different from each other. Their Spareribs Adobo Rice is the more familiar tasting among the two, being cooked in soy sauce and spices, just like the way we all like it. Delicious!
Lola Ising’s Adobo Rice – P435
But if you’re looking for a unique type of Adobo, you simply have to try Lola Ising’s Adobo Rice, which is, hands down, my most favorite dish in the Cafe Adriatico. The pork belly is deep fried on a bed of rice, sauteed in adobo sauce, served with a small cup of adobo dip. The crunchiness of the pork when sprinkled with the natural spice and saltiness of the sauce gives the fortunate eater that outlandish mouth experience of chewing a mixture of crispy yet wet adobo flakes, with the softness of the rice seasoned with adobo sauce. Amazing. Kudos to Lola Ising, LJC’s grandmother, whose culinary expertise we still appreciate after decades of perfecting this Cafe Adriatico specialty.
Lengua Estofada – P385
From Pinoy dishes, let’s go Spanish! To be honest, I’ve never really appreciated Lengua Estofada before because the idea of eating a cow’s tongue doesn’t quite sit well with my guts. But for the sake of this feature article, I took a bite of this ox tongue dish with olives and mushroom sauce. And then I took another. And another. How in the world have I never appreciated this? Cafe Adriatico’s Lengua Estofada made me a fan. It’s tasty and even reminds me of steak. Yummy!
Salpicao Rice – P390
Another Spanish dish served to us was the flavorful Salpicao Rice. These morsels of tenderloin sauteed in olive oil and garlic hints at some sour and tangy taste perfectly suited for the delicate and soft tenderloin strips. The Spanish do know some techniques to make their meat delectable!
Chicken Ala Kiev – P395
From Spanish we go… Russian? Cafe Adriatico really did surprise me with their serving of Chicken Ala Kiev. This classic style breaded chicken breast stuffed with garlic, butter and herbs was deep fried and served with vegetables and rice. It could also come with fries or mashed potatoes. When you cut through this fried meat, you will be amazed as your knife releases tender juices of herbs and butter. Very flavorful and satisying. Only thing lacking is ketchup… not. It’s perfect as it is.
Mozzarella Chicken – P350
And from Russia, we go Italian… or American. But whatever fusion it is, Cafe Adriatico‘s Mozzarella Chicken would feel familiar on your palate as it tastes like chicken on pizza… or vice-versa. This pan-fried egg and herb-coated chicken breast is topped with stewed tomatoes and mozzarella cheese and served with buttered spaghetti. If that doesn’t make you drool, I don’t know what will.
Time for the desserts! But before that, one more photo with Mama.
Me, my mother, and some of the best desserts in the metro
Cafe Adriatico won’t have the word ‘cafe’ in its name if it doesn’t serve coffee and desserts, right? True again to the fusion of cuisine that it’s known for, Cafe Adriatico served us four very different types of after-meal sweets.
Suman sa Lihiya with Salabat – P129
For those who grew up in the provinces like me, there is nothing better than some suman in a rainy weather, served with hot choco. Good thing, Cafe Adriatico shows some Filipino love in their Suman sa Lihiya with Salabat. Though we were served salabat instead of hot choco, the combination of the this sweet sticky rice with coconut jam and ginger tea was very appropriate with the rainy atmosphere in our visit. Delicious!
Chocolate Decadence – P175
Canonigo with Mango Balls – P120
Those who have sweet tooth for cakes, you might want to sink that tooth on Cafe Adriatico‘s Chocolate Decadence and Canonigo with Mango Balls. Both are served with special sauces, and they’re both wonderfully dreamy in every bite.
Claude’s Dream – P130
Perhaps, my most favorite dessert among those served for us is this very fancy dessert that Cafe Adriatico calls Claude’s Dream. It’s pandan gelatin and young coconut topped on macapuno ice cream. It reminded me and my mother and brother of buco pandan dessert which we enjoy in Pampanga. It made us feel at home.
Overall, the Cafe Adriatico dining experience was divine and comfy. After our meal, I had a small talk with Edz Tuazon, the Captain Waiter of Cafe Adriatico Gateway Cubao branch. He shared with me some tidbits about the history of the restaurant along with its sister companies in the LJC group of restaurants roster. His enthusiasm made me want to visit ALL of those other restaurants as well, considering that all of these are marked with the seal of approval and excellence of the late Larry J. Cruz himself. You may find out more about the other LJC restaurants through their website.
Me and the very accommodating Edz Tuazon, Captain Waiter of Cafe Adriatico Gateway branch
On behalf of my mother and brother, thank you, Cafe Adriatico, for the great meal! We can’t wait to try more of your diverse amazing dishes soon.
When in Manila, head over to Gateway Mall (Cubao), Remedios Circle area in Malate (Manila), or Mall of Asia (Pasay) and bring your family and friends for a wonderful culturally-rich, great tasting meals and desserts at Cafe Adriatico.
Gateway Branch: Ground Floor of Gateway Mall, Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City
Phone: 913 8736
Premiere Branch: M. Adriatico Street, Remedios Circle, Malate, Manila
Phone: 738 8220
Mall of Asia Branch: 2nd Floor Entertainment Section of SM MOA, Pasay City
Phone: 556 0608
Visit their official website.
Like their facebook page.