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Dessert Diary, Jetsetter's Food Finds

Food Scene at Intramuros: Barbara’s and Illustrado

For any first time visitor of Manila, one must not miss out Intramuros.  A military fort and city that was built during the Spanish era in the Philippines, the rich history and culture remains until now.  Some of the streets are still of cobble stones and the some original stone walls still protect the city.

My youngest sister Kira and I showed Bob, Fort Santiago which is famous for being the military fort of the Spaniards and where the country’s national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal was imprisoned before his execution.  

All the walking made us very eager to go and grab lunch. A short ride further down Manila Cathedral to Plaza San Luis Complex and just across the San Agustin Church, Barbara’s is located.

Walking inside Barbara’s, it gives you the old Spanish Filipino feel. Going up the stairs, it looks more like an ancestral house.  Here, they serve lunch buffet. There was a group of traveling senior citizens having lunch that’s why the place was too packed.  We decided to have lunch at Barbara’s coffee shop by the garden instead. Peaceful and breezy.

By the time we arrive, we were so famished.  Kira and I decided to order the best of both Filipino and Spanish cuisine.

There should always be SINIGANG NA SUGPO (tamarind soup with jumbo prawns) on the table.

Bob ate the prawn already before taking a photo of his bowl

It’s appetizing because it’s sour. There’s some long beans, kang kong, eggplants and tomatoes to make it deliciously healthy.

Filipinos are big on pork so you can’t miss out on CRISPY PATA (deep fried pork knuckles).  I love to dip it in the soy with spicy vinegar sauce.  There must be some chopped onions inside it.

The BISTEK TAGALOG (Filipino beef steak) is one of the dishes that I missed the most too.  It’s basically sirloin beef marinated with soy sauce, calamansi and black pepper.  It is then fried with some garlic and onion. Definitely a winner with hot rice.

The queen of the Spanish cuisine which most Filipinos love would probably be the SEAFOOD PAELLA. This rice dish is cooked with saffron, the most expensive spice and the day’s freshest ocean catch.

We feasted until our tummies can’t take no more.  As for dessert, I heard that Intramuros offers a special treat.  Further down the road beside Silahis Center is a restaurant called Illustrado.  They are well known for serving Sampaguita Ice Cream.

Sampaguita is a small, white and fragrant flower.  It is also known as Arabian Jasmine or Melati Putih.  This is the national flower of the Philippines.

At Php 120 (SGD 3.50) a serving, this dessert will awaken your senses.  A fragrant burst of sampaguita will surprise you.  As what my sister, Kira said, “I suddenly feel holy!”.  Taste-wise, it is like vanilla with a faint burnt caramel.  That sampaguita ice cream went down fast.

The Sampaguita Ice Cream

We took a moment to savor what happened that day over some cups of cappuccino.  I cant help but admire the decor of this small cafe.  Vintage posters ornate the walls and a statue of St. Michael Archangel holding a bottle of Ginebra San Miguel.  Quirky right?!

Anyway, I feel so happy that there are such restaurateurs who still embraced the culture. It was so nice to  actually come back and experience what most Filipinos take for granted… our heritage.  I do hope in the future more cafes and restaurants like this will flourish so that a foodie like me would have a lot more things to blog about! :)


Plaza San Luis Complex, Gen. Luna St. Intramuros
Manila, Metro Manila

ILLUSTRADO, Intramuros
744 Calle Real Del Palacio, Intramuros
Manila, Metro Manila


One thought on “Food Scene at Intramuros: Barbara’s and Illustrado

  1. great! yayain ko husband ko dito….

    Posted by reyahs kitchen | April 8, 2012, 7:16 pm

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