6 years ago an old friend who was an UP Los Baños alumnae kept sharing how interesting her college days were. How they spent countless hours in their favorite restaurants savoring good and yet cheap food shared with friends. They call Los Baños as their second home because it embraces its visitors with open arms and will make you feel included.
“Elbi” is the term they use to show their endearment to the place. 6 years ago we drove to Elbi and ever since we kept driving back to this place. I actually cannot decipher what is this certain pull that Elbi has, certainly not just the hot springs which it is famous for. She’s actually more than that. The local agriculture, Mount Makiling just standing grand, small independent bookstores, the wonderful food scene, the open field of UPLB, and the fertility tree in the grounds.
A Quick Snippet of Background
- Pre Colonial: Los Baños started as a settlement, a barrio of Bay, called “Mainit”, the Tagalog term for “hot”, because of the thermal springs at the foot of Mount Makiling. By 1589, through a Franciscan friar, it became popularly called by its present name, “Los Baños,” which is Spanish for “bathing place.”
- American Period: 1909, the University of the Philippines College of Agriculture (UPCA) was established.
- In 1962, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) began its operation.
- Modern Period: Los Baños was further declared as an “Agriculture, Forestry, and Life Sciences Community”
A Different Kind of Neighborhood Food Crawl
For the adventurous foodies a short two (2) hour drive outside Manila to quest for diverse, authentic, and value for money hidden gems is worth every spent time.
Let us tell you about our fondness with Los Baños Laguna, where the municipality is rich in landscape diversity, hot springs are everywhere, and the food scene is interesting.
Let us tell show you Where to EAT, Where to Go, and What to DO.
Inside the University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) campus is Milka Krem where you can get fresh pasteurized milk, yogurts, and even cheese products. We never return back to Manila without grabbing a bottle or two of these creamy carabao milk. Positioning themselves as a dairy delicatessen and social advocacy hub.
Never leave this place without hoarding tubs of Kesong Puti (white cheese). A tub will cost you only 75php.
Pro tip: Come thru early if or go to this place first as daily stocks get pretty limited. Bring a cooler and just stock it with lots of ice.
- Location: UPLB Grandstand, Mariano M. Mondonedo Ave, Los Baños, Laguna
- Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday.
One of the best tasting inasal we’ve had! A proper contender to rest most popular chains you may find in Metro Manila. Pretty big portions that are perfectly cooked. Juicy, grilled accordingly, and compliment with at least 2 cups of steaming white rice!
The price point is very student-friendly. A quarter chicken of thigh and leg and the crowd favorite “Pecho” which consist of breast & wing part will only cost you less than 90php per serving and that includes rice already.
No frills dining at its best. The place gets pretty packed during lunch and dinner peak hours so we suggest coming here at least an hour earlier before lunch/dinner.
For all chicken inasal aficionados, this place will definitely hit the right spot.
- Location: UP Los Baños, Silangan Rd., Los Baños, Laguna
- Operating Hours: Monday- Saturday / 11:00am-10:00pm
Beautifully crafted fixtures, capiz windows, paintings, softly-lit lamps, and earthy colors adorned the interior of Herb Republic. Wonderful playlist plays assertively at the background while you prepare to order your meals.
Their menu roster showcases organically grown produce that is priced reasonably. Why do we vouch for this place? The Herb Republic is more than just a restaurant that serves organic food. They provide production modules for livestock, herbs, vegetables, horticultural improvements, and waste processing. They advocate producing sustainable, quality, and safe food for consumption. Also, their food is mighty amazing! Comfort food choices made healthier and mindfully.
What to Get
They use organic pork, they when we tried this dish for the first time we thought it was chicken. It tasted clean and refreshing, not the usual words used to describe a pork dish.
The generous serving of this bokchoy balls. Steamed bokchoy with ground meat at the center. It’s tasty and filling.
You can choose what size you prefer but we recommend trying their organic chicken, it’s moist and tasty.
- Address: Km 63 Lopez Ave, Batong Malake
Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines
- Open from 11:30 AM to 9:00 PM (SUNDAY TO FRIDAY)
Smacked inside the Demarces Subdivision is this cozy third-wave coffee shop called Siento Café. “Siento” is a Spanish term for “To Feel” and to Filipino translates to “100”. The brainchild of five (5) friends who share the same passion for good coffee and giving homage to their beloved Elbi. Wifi is not available so to encourage their customers to be more engaging in conversations.
We arrived around 4 pm on one rainy afternoon on a Saturday. Their space is quaint and inviting. Natural light floods in through their glass windows. Ferns hang loosely above and thoughtfully placed pots of plants placed around the area.
They create hand-crafted coffee specialties from local and exported single-origin beans and curated blended roast. The price point is pretty affordable as well. You’d be able to get a 400ml V60 coffee brew for just 120php!
Don’t forget to get their pastries too. We got the Tablea moist cake and it was absolutely divine. Definitely, a must-visit coffee shop when in Los Baños.
Video Credit: Tin Tenorio on Vimeo
- Location: 10665 Oregano St Demarces Subd College, Los Baños, 4031 Laguna
- Operating Hours: 11am-11pm
Other places worth mentioning;
- Bonito’s Bar & Restaurant (Hefty servings good for sharing comfort food)
- Dalcielo Cafe (delectable baked goods and savory dishes)
- Satya Graha (vegetarian)
Locations: All can be found in Waze and Google Maps
Go for the diversity, value for money, and well worth road trip experience. These places we’ve mentioned has the perfect recipe of a well-curated good food, unquestionably great ambiance, fair price points. We suggest you take your time going around Los Baños and UPLB grounds you’d be surprised with what you eat, see and do.
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