Food districts and food parks are sprouting one after the other in locations that were previously known as residential areas, but are now peppered with affordable restaurants, cafés and food stalls among them Maginhawa, Kapitolyo and Marikina.
If you want to shy away from the congestion of the metro and opt for a destination where it still accessible and the air still feels wonderful in your nostrils, consider a food trip to Sumulong Highway in Antipolo.
Antipolo is not new to the gimmick crowd, but it was known mostly for its alternative nightlife offerings; a place you could go to for a cold beer and a mountain view, overlooking the city lights. However, a wider variety of budget-friendly yet delightful dining options has found its way to Sumulong Highway, and one of these is Sulok Café.
The café is a joint venture of former college mates, couple and young entrepreneurs Rods Escobar and Andy Riel Wong. Only in their 20s, both had 9-to-5 jobs before deciding to put up their own business.
Escobar tells the story behind the café’s name.
“You know how each one of us has one sulok na sanay nating puntahan? Na even if it’s the most uncomfortable space, pumupunta pa din tayo du’n kasi that’s our comfort zone. Tayo lang, sulok natin ’yun. We take ownership of that place. We take care of that place. Nand’un tayo palagi.”
“Nothing pretentious, just a special place that people can call their own corner,” he shares.
Escobar is right when he says that the café bears no sign of pretentiousness. It has simple interiors; more on the laid-back cozy side,
with original Filipino music— including that of indie artists—playing in the background. An ideal hangout for friends, colleagues, students and small families either residing, working or studying within the vicinity, or out on a drive on their way to Pinto Art Museum, Antipolo Church or the nearby Ynares Center. The museum and church are only a few minutes away.
If the clean air and the mountain view are only secondary, there could only be one reason for you to go to Sulok Café. Sulok’s menu boasts of tasty dishes with a twist. Some are actually well-loved comfort food sprinkled with something new.
For starters, try the Chilli Poppers (P140). Made with molo wrappers, cheese and special spices, they are crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. The Fish Tacos (P165), on the other hand, offer a meatless yet appetizing bite-sized alternative to the Mexican favorite.
Instead of the usual carbonara, there’s the Roasted Tomato Pasta (P185), creamy and delightfully flavorful, but just right. It goes well with the Spicy Chicken Bagizza (P140). Fresh from the oven, the Spicy Chicken Bagizza drips with the goodness of three different types of cheese, with a bit of zing from the chicken.
The Tuyo Mushroom Pasta (P165), on the other hand, is a tastier and better alternative to your aglio oglio, while the Malunggay Pasta (P160) is meant for those with adventurous taste buds and, at the same time, are health-conscious.
Rice is life
A certified Pinoy who can’t get through a week without your fill of rice-based meals? Sulok offers tasty, filling and yet easily affordable rice bowls for your substantial consumption. The Adobo Flakes (P110) is a crispy take on the classic Filipino favorite, and its serving is suited for those with huge appetites. You can opt for the Gyoza Rice Bowl (P110), but take note, the centerpiece—the gyoza—is crunchy since it’s fried, not steamed.
We couldn’t call Sulok a legit café if it didn’t have a memorable selection of coffee and other refreshments. There’s the usual Americano, cappuccino and caramel macchiato among others, served hot or cold. All are made with using that intimidating espresso machine and choice ingredients that you might see in other, more popular commercial cafés.
Hot favorites from Sulok’s drink selection are the Café Armando and Café Antonio, named after the fathers of the owners. They are made exactly in the way Rods and Andy’s dads want their drinks—strong and bursting with flavor. Café Armando (P120) is black coffee with three shots of espresso while Café Antonio (P110) is a creamy and delightfully sweet concoction with 2.5 shots of espresso.
If you want something cold, sweet and yet refreshing, Sulok offers no less than eight frappe varieties to choose from. Kids will love Cookies and Cream and Vanilla Berry, while parents who want to taste nostalgia from their childhood can try the Chocnut Frappe, packed with all the nutty chocolatey taste you could ever want. Not into nuts? Just go for Chocolate Frappe, oozing with comforting chocolate milk goodness. If you still want a kick of espresso to go with your iced drinks, order the Caramel, White Chocolate or Mocha Frappe. Frappes are priced at P150 for the regular size and P240 for the large serving.
Sulok’s menu also includes tried and tested items such as chicken tenders, salads, sandwiches and even pancakes in different varieties. Going on its second year, Sulok knows what works with its customers, but are exploring more ways to please even more patrons. The food is simply delightful and the servings are hefty, so make sure to rev up your appetite before going there. Better yet, take a drive with a bunch of your friends to enjoy the sumptuous food and savor the laid-back comfort. In terms of taste, serving, pricing and service, the trip will definitely be worth it.