A cool respite from the hustle and bustle of Metro Manila, Tagaytay has always been a go-to place for city dwellers who want to unwind, breathe fresh air and escape the busyness of the city life. But apart from the cool climate, scenic landscapes and picturesque views that Tagaytay offers, it also boasts of best kept restaurants, homegrown cafes and dishes that would tickle every foodie’s taste buds.
The Lifeaholics has curated a list of food, places and restaurants that you shouldn’t miss when you’re in Tagaytay.
Getting around the city from one place to another can be challenging since there are only few public vehicles and buses plying to and fro the city. So, for your convenience, we’ve mapped out beautiful spots and must-try restaurants that you can use as a guide to maximize your time and budget when visiting Tagaytay.
1. Visit Taal Basilica and Explore Taal Heritage Town
Before embarking on our Food Crawl in Tagaytay, we decided to brush up on the city’s historic landmark. Our first stop was Taal Basilica, canonically known as Basilica of St. Martin de Tours which is dubbed as the largest Catholic church in Asia. This distinct religious landmark sits atop a hill right at the center of the town. Standing 96 meters long, and 45 meters wide, the church was hard to miss. It was visible in most parts of the town proper and other neighboring areas in Lemery, Batangas.
The formidable structure features a facade with twenty-four (24) classical columns in pairs, lined up in two rows. Inside the church, you’ll get mesmerized with the intricate and detailed paintings on the walls and ceiling. The aisles in bewtween rows of pews were wide and spacious. At the focal of the altar sits a tabernacle made of silver which is said to be the only one of its kind in the Philippines.
When we visited Taal Basilica, we didn’t pass the chance to climb the top of the bell tower and get a panoramic view of the town proper. We paid a fee of P15 per head and we got to check out the mini museum inside the church where archaic articles were displayed. The ascend to the bell tower was both exciting and exhausting. The passage got narrower and dimmer as went up the tower.
Upon reaching the top, we were in awe with the splendid view we saw. It was a delicate mix of the old and new. Seeing the structures from the bell tower’s viewpoint felt like we were transported to the Spanish colonial period. We spent a good deal of time at the top of the tower immersing in the rich history and culture of the town so we didn’t have enough time to tour the other parts of the heritage town which is best explored by foot.
Nearby the Taal Basilica, there are a handful of remarkable ancestral houses and museums that are equally interesting to examine like Escuela Pia, The White House, Ylagan- Dela Rosa Ancestral House, Villavicencio Ancestral House, Don Leon Apacible Museum and Dona Marcela Agoncillo Museum.
2. Quick Stopover to Admire the Medieval Castle of Fantasy World
On our way to our next stop, we passed by a colorful medieval castle that’s standing mighty proud around the lush greens along the highway of Lemery. The castle is the focal point of Fantasy World, an amusement theme park which was supposedly built as the country’s first theme park exclusive to its members and guests. But due to unknown reasons, the operations ceased and the once vibrant castle turned into an eerie one.
3. Check out The Puzzle Mansion and Sample their Coconut Cream Pie
One of places where tourists flock in Tagaytay is the Puzzle Mansion. If it’s your first time to visit the city, it’s best not to miss out this place. The Puzzle Mansion is a house museum where you can find the record-breaking puzzle collection of Gina Gil Lacuna. It was on November 29, 2012 when Gina was officially recognized as the world record holder of the Largest Collection of Jigsaw Puzzles with her 1,028 puzzles. It was astonishing to see a wide assortment of puzzles of different sizes and shapes (2D, 3D, 4D).
Aside from a puzzle museum, The Puzzle mansion also has an infinity pool, a 400 sq m function room that can accommodate up to 400 guests and ten (10) Bead and Breakfast rooms. So, if your family or travel buddies plan on an overnight in Tagaytay, you can book one of their family rooms with a set of double beds and a full size bathroom and shower.
One interesting truth about our visit to the Puzzle Mansion was not really about the breaking world record collection of puzzles. To be honest, our main agenda was to sample their famous Coconut Cream Pie. The foodies in us demanded that we check out the hype of their exquisite dessert.
After marveling over the variety of puzzle collections, we visited their cafe which is located at the second floor of the puzzle museum and ordered a box of Coconut Cream Pie which we asked to be served in slices. It was served cold. And true enough, the dessert tasted heavenly! It’s like the creamy goodness of your favorite mango float meeting the classic taste of the buko pie with its cream topping, sprinkled with desiccated coconut. The english biscuit crust added texture and crunch which was a perfect complement to the soft and lush dessert.
4. Lunch at Mahogany Market’s Bulalohan
The Tagaytay-Nasugbu road is dotted with several Bulalohan establishments — from humble eateries to fancy restaurants fronting Taal Volcano.
In our search for the BEST bulalohan in Tagaytay, we were directed by the locals and online sites to Mahogany Market. We were astonished with how neat and well organized the place was. One side of the market was dedicated to an array of vendors selling fresh fruits and vegetables. There were also flowers and potted plants being sold. At the back, just below the queue of bulalohan eateries at the second floor of the building are stalls selling fresh and high-quality meat of different cuts.
It was raining when we arrived at the Mahogany Market and it was fitting that we order a bowl of bulalo to warm our tummies. We scouted the long line of bulalohan stalls before getting settled and we noticed Algere’s Bulalohan packed with diners. It had the most number of customers among the stores, which meant that it must be really good so we decided to have our lunch there. Since we were a large group, we ordered two bowls of bulalo and for variety, we also ordered a bowl of Papaitan, a serving of sisig, crispy crablets and crispy Tawilis, a native Taal delicacy.
A serving of the bulalo costs P350 and it’s good for 3-4 persons. The bulalo meat was fall-off-the-bone soft, the soup was flavorful and comforting, the marrow was creamy and undoubtedly deadly. Devouring the succulent marrow and downing the piping hot of oily soup was a sin we all graciously committed.
With Tagaytay’s cool weather, bulalo is a perfect heart warming and filling meal at any time of the day.
As a handsome plus, after our sumptuous lunch, we were offered a bunch of señorita banana, a plate of fresh pineapples and unlimited kapeng barako. While preparing for our next stop and waiting for the rain to recede, we all enjoyed a cup of kapeng barako that was freshly brewed for us.
Dining at the Mahogany Market is a pleasant experience that’s a must try when you’re in Tagaytay.
5. Frolick at the Sky Ranch
To burn the calories from our satisfying lunch, we decided to try the rides and various attractions at Sky Ranch. We tried the Sky Eye, also known as the Tagaytay Eye. It’s the tallest Ferris Wheel in the country at 63 meters (207 feet) with 32 air conditioned gondolas or capsules that can accommodate 3-4 passengers per gondola.
With Tagaytay City’s elevation at 2000 ft above sea level, you’ll enjoy the highest point of the Sky Eye at 2,207 ft. The exciting ride will give you a breathtaking view of Tagaytay, its neighboring provinces, Taal Volcano and Taal Lake for 10 minutes.
6. Afternoon Coffee and Desserts at Bag of Beans
After an exhilarating ride at Sky Eye, we headed to our last stop before going home. We went to Tagaytay’s famous homegrown restaurant, Bag of Beans which is more known as a coffee shop and dessert place.
If you get inside the entrance of the restaurant along the highway, you’d thought that it’s just a small place. What will greet you upon entrance are shelves of pasalubong items such as coffee beans and home-baked goodies. As you descend the flight of stairs, you’ll be surprised with how spacious and roomy the restaurant is! There’s also ample parking space at back of the coffee shop.
We sampled their best selling Shepherd’s pie and Blueberry Cheesecake. We also ordered their House Blend Coffee and Kapeng Barako.
7. Visit Sonya’s Garden and Sample Freshly Baked Breads at their Panaderia
What started as a private sanctuary by the owner, Sonya’s Garden has bloomed into a bed and breakfast over time. A once best-kept secret, the garden has now been known to tourists as a place that’s worthy to check out when in Tagaytay.
Aside from providing unique accommodation to travellers, Sonya’s Garden is also open to wedding venue bookings. It houses a restaurant which offers a variety of healthy choices such as fresh salads and whole wheat bread and an array of dips. It’s Panaderia sells freshly baked breads and goodies that can be bought as pasalubongs to your loved ones. Their best sellers from their Panaderia are Cheese Hopia and Hispanis Bread.
8. Snacks at The Mushroomburger
The MushroomBurger has been serving quirky burgers and meals in Tagaytay and it has been in the same spot since 1980’s. Distinct from the usual beef burgers that we’re used too and ever curious as we are, we made sure that we get to personally check out the fuss about this local fast food place.
We tried their regular burger priced at only P40 ala carte. The value meal comes with your choice of drink and a regular mushroom fries at only P81.
The burger patties were a mixture of beef and mushroom bits. Although the taste was not really mind blowing, we liked that the patties were soft and juicy. Their mushroom fries were crunchy and not that oily compared to the regular potato fries.
9. Marvel at the View of The Taal Lake and Taal Volcano
And of course, no one leaves Tagaytay without a snapshot of the Taal Volacano and Taal Lake.
There are plenty of things to explore (restaurants to check out and fun activities to do) in TagayTay and we couldn’t cover everything in 48 hours as much as we like to. So ’til next time!