Filipinos love celebrating, we are generally a happy people, who enjoy food, good company, and celebrations. For every Filipino family, they all have their favorite go-to restaurants when they celebrate great moments in life may it be a birthday, high grades, new year, or an anniversary. For my family, it was Mario’s.
From their original branch opening in 1971 in their first branch in Session Road, they were known for their Caesar salad and Mango Jubilee. My family had a guest house in Baguio and would stay for the entire summer, naturally, they frequented their halls. Eventually, this tradition would be passed on to me and my siblings.
As we approach the familiar green and white building, it feels reminiscent of a yesterday remembered. The cobblestone perfect for the cold weather.
Once you enter the establishment, ask to be seated near the fireplace or in their Al fresco dining area for a whiff of the air to appreciate the lovely Baguio weather.
As you take your seat, the servers will greet you like a regular and will almost immediately serve you ice water and a bread basket. This consistency in their service is one of the things most enjoyed by my family.
Fresh oysters baked and topped with cheese and Bearnaise sauce on a bed of rock salt. Add a pinch of salt and squeeze a bit of calamansi to fuse all the flavors. It’s creamy, a bit salty, and zesty. The contrast of flavors, and textures all in one bite.
Their Ceasar Salad. Fresh greens, tossed in their signature Caesar salad sauce, topped with croutons, bacon, and Parmesan, made right beside your table. There is really is no comparison to other restaurants. This is the best Caesar salad you will try, the perfect fusion of the eggs, anchovies, lemon, garlic, and mustard in harmony.
Disclaimer: This dish was split into 2, so please expect 2 pieces of prawns.
The creamy taste of the cheese sauce over the seasoned prawns. A light and tasty dish for those who wants to have something light for dinner.
What better combination can there be but Surf and Turf. The medium tenderloin, and shrimps topped with crunchy garlic bits on a bed of garlic rice. Excellently seasoned.
If you want something heartier, try their classic Callos Madrilena, the perfect unison of flavors and different textures in a single dish. The soft and chewy tripe, the salty chorizo and garbanzos beans stewed in tomato sauce. This dish takes a really long time to prepare as you first need to boil the tripe and get the right, soft, chewy consistency. This is just like how my grandma made it. Perfect with a bowl of plain rice. This is one of my favorite dishes here in Mario’s.
This classic Spanish dish consists of shrimps, crabs, clams, chicken and Chorizo on a bed of paella rice. Best when you squeeze a bit of lemon on top for a bit of zest. My favorite part of it the burnt crispy rice underneath.
Two pieces of succulent tender lamb chops on a a bed of gravy accompanied by mint jelly on the side. The Lamb is seasoned very well that you don’t taste that sort of bitter taste that non-lamb eaters try hard to avoid. Cooked perfectly medium, this dish is also one of the stars of the night.
If you’re a bit adventurous and want to try something new, definitely order this dish. This is part of their specials menu, the Bleu Cheese crusted Tenderloin. This was such a surprise, the blue cheese opens up the meatiness of the tenderloin and compliments it well. There are even fresh strawberries on top to cut the richness of the cheese.
Thanksgiving is my favorite food holiday, one reason I could not resist ordering their Turkey breast with gravy and cranberry jelly on the side. The Turkey was moist and juicy, that complemented well by the cranberry jelly.
Zesty, creamy, and light. What a Key Lime pie should be.
One of their more popular desserts, it’s sweet, buttery, and crunchy.
This is my dad’s favorite dessert, and every time I have this I remember him. The airy egg whites fluffed to reach this consistency then baked. Then topped with a syrup with a side of mangoes or cherries. A very light dessert, sweet and rich. One of our favorites. The perfect way to end the meal.
Mario and Nenuca Benitez had carefully crafted the menu from learned recipes from older generations. This classic traditional approach has worked well for Mario’s. While they do change their menu, they keep their traditional recipes at the forefront of their menu. This is what regulars come back for.
Every time I eat in Mario’s is a sentimental experience for me and my family. This is where we go when there are birthdays, where we go when there are anniversaries, where we go when there are major milestones in our lives. A lifetime of experiences in their hollow walls has all of wondering when to eat there next. This 46-year tradition keeps going stronger as each new generation experiences its superb food and impeccable service.
Forward concept restaurants like what we have in BGC Fort, Kapitolyo and those that are in your food parks are fun and interesting on a certain timeline, but they will die as the next generation will take over. Nothing beats comfort food, sustainable menu, and familiarity with the concept. That’s what Mario’s brings to us. A low key, family themed restaurant serving no BS menus that aren’t overhyped.
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6 Upper Session Road Ext, Baguio City
191 Tomas Morato Ave cor Scout Gandia, Laging Handa, Diliman, Quezon City
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