I was invited to check out this new cafe nearby called Santiago’s Cafe. It is located in one of the side streets near Boni Circle (map below).
This is one of those places I would consider as a hidden gem of Mandaluyong – the coffee is great, and as for the food, their Bacon Truffle Pasta is really good.
From the outside, Santiago’s Cafe looks nondescript. I almost drove past it. The area is very residential. It is owned by the same family behind Black Maria cinema, which is just next door. Black Maria is a tiny theater that screens indie films.
Santiago’s Cafe is named after one of the children, and some of the milkshakes are named after other family members.
I’m in love with the decor. The flamingo pink and rose gold theme feels hip, fresh and not 80’s tacky. It is a small cafe that probably seats around 20.
“Contact Us” wall:
The menu is limited to a few dishes, but I don’t mind. If you watch Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, you’d know that a smaller menu is easier for a restaurant to manage. It’s also better from the customer’s point of view because we get fresher food from faster turnover, and there’s a big chance that only the best dishes are offered.
The best out of all the dishes I was able to sample is the Bacon Truffle Pasta (P220). I like that the serving is big enough to satisfy hungry customers. The truffle flavor is pronounced, the sauce is thick and creamy, with bacon bits and mushroom bits mixed in. They also add more bacon on top! This is the dish I recommend.
You’ll notice that bacon is a recurring ingredient in many of Cafe Santiago’s dishes. According to the manager, Pat, they use a special brand of bacon. The bacon they use is sliced thinner than usual, and not as greasy compared to other bacons in the market.
The Chicken Parmigiana Pasta (P180) is coated in a thick and rich tomato sauce. I liked it.
They also have an All Day Breakfast plate (P250) that has 3 kinds of sausages – longganisa, cheese sausage, and spicy German sausage. And bacon. You can ask for the eggs to be cooked according to your preference. Served with garlic rice.
I also loved their Beef Cheddar Panini (P175) – they put in a lot of sukiyaki-cut beef in this sandwich! It has onions, lettuce, and some cheese, but what really made this sandwich work was the slightly sweet ginger mayo that they spread on the bread. I recommend this, too.
Bacon Express Panini (P165) – basically a bacon and egg panini.
The paninis are served with some honey butter potato chips 🙂
Santiago’s Cafe uses coffee beans from Bean & Barley, and their coffee is pretty good. I tried their Ginger Latte (P120) – it was definitely not the usual coffee. They make an effort to make sure the beans they use pair well with the flavor – in this case, ginger – and it does. Objectively, it was good, but a coffee latte with an undercurrent of salabat is just not something I am crazy about. I think it would be better if they added some spices and turned it into a gingersnaps-flavored latte instead.
I also had a cup of their 48-hour Cold Brew (White, P180) – the light but solid flavor of the coffee shines through the ice and the soy milk. It’s a caffeine punch. They use soy milk instead of regular milk because the lighter flavor of the soy milk carries the coffee flavor better without competing with it.
I can’t remember exactly, but I think this is the Santi’s Milkshake (P180).
BLACK MARIA MICRO CINEMA
Black Maria is just next door. Santiago’s Cafe actually acts as a waiting area for Black Maria patrons.
We were given a tour of Black Maria – it’s just one cinema that seats 30. Ticket price is P200. The screen is 20-ft (diagonal), and they use Dolby Surround Sound 7.1. You can rent the cinema for block screenings, all you need to do is buy out all the 30 seats. You can arrange to screen whatever movie you want, as long as you have permission to do so (Intellectual Property stuff).
Some old equipment were also on display along the small hallway.
Inside the projection room:
You can take food from Santiago’s Cafe and eat it while watching the movie, and what’s more, you can drink alcohol inside the movie theater! Of course, all the food & drinks should be purchased from Santiago’s Cafe.
Of the dishes I was able to sample, the best one, in my opinion, is the Bacon Truffle Pasta. The Beef Cheddar Panini would be second. The rest of the dishes are okay – good, but not outstanding.
According to the manager, Pat, most of the customers go to Santiago’s for the food. I think that’s such a misappreciation! Santiago’s Cafe is a third wave coffee shop – and they serve great coffee. How many third wave coffee shops do we have in this area of Mandaluyong?
This coffee shop looks great: it feels indie, but not too “out there” that it will put off people who are not into indie stuff. Thank goodness they didn’t go with the “cinema” theme. The decor theme is flamingo with rose gold accents, which I find very pretty. Their cinema style menu board is the only accommodation they gave to the cinema theme.
I noticed that they only had some cupcakes on display. They need to add some cakes & pastries to pair with their coffees.
Pricing – I find their pricing reasonable – it’s on the same level as similar establishments. However, I find their food and coffee above average compared to similar establishments. 🙂
Santiago’s Cafe is a hidden gem tucked inside one of the quiet residential streets of Mandaluyong. Unfortunately, parking is limited, and you’re left to your own devices to park along the street. I heard of a carnapping incident on this street, so I think they should do something about the parking situation. Perhaps work with the barangay or something for added security.
Even though indie movies are not my thing, I will go back to Santiago’s Cafe for coffee and that Bacon Truffle Pasta! It’s also just a 15-minute drive away from home in normal traffic, and I really love these kinds of hidden gems.
779 San Rafael Street, Plainview, Mandaluyong City 1550
Hours: 12 noon – 12 midnight
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