Have you eaten what looks like an ordinary lumpiang toge but after a few bites, you will wonder where’s the toge? What’s inside instead are buko strips, veggies, ham, and cheese.
Or how about have your mojito for lunch but still be completely sober and even share it with your kids without feeling guilty?
These and more are a constant staple at Caffe La Tea, the newest restaurant to grace the long Congressional Avenue perhaps because of the burgeoning demand of diners within the area.
Thanks to the kind invitation of OpenRice PH, this mama was able to uncover a hidden gem just 30 minutes away from home, and which she believes her boys would love too.
Caffe La Tea has a cozy neighborhood cafe set up but offers more than one could imagine. Conceptualized to offer the best of both worlds, Caffe La Tea has more than just milk tea and coffee; it has almost all the basic comfort food offerings and even classic lutong bahay in its menu. Yes! The cafe has appetizers, salad, pasta, rice meals, desserts, coffee, and milk tea. They even have free WiFi for customers used to being online all the time and expect an internet connection wherever they go.
Almost all its rice meals are less than P100.00. The most expensive is the grilled liempo and salted egg at P109.00.
Among the many rice meals served to us, my top choice is the Crispy Dinuguan followed by Cabsy Longganisa. Both are at P89.00 per serving.
Unlike the usual dinuguan, Caffe La Tea’s version is kinda dry with the pork blood covering the hot rice and the pork meat fried to crispiness. The crunch of the blistered pork skin is just heaven. So scrumptious and filling, this viand is best paired with hot steamed rice and should be consumed ASAP to savor, again, the crispiness.
Cabsy Longganisa is a house specialty. This dish is Cabanatuan’s famous longganisa atop a bowl full of flavorful bagoong rice. A bestseller, Cabsy Longganisa is what the amiable staff of Caffee La Tea describes as “a taste of the owners’ hometown’s delicacy in a bowl.”
The owners of this cafe (sisters and friends, as oriented to us) are from Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija (3-4 hours bus travel from Manila). They braved the market and put up branches in first, neighboring Pangasinan and Tarlac, and then in Project 8 in Quezon City. They opened another branch in Anonas, also in Quezon City last January 2016 and are set to introduce another one in Valenzuela City this March 2016. The one we visited at Congressional Avenue in Project 8 is Caffe La Tea’s central Manila branch.
Other rice meals are equally sumptuous and satisfying.
For those who prefer to have pasta than rice, the cafe also offers pasta dishes from the kid’s favorite Pomodoro & Meatballs to most moms’ favorite Tuna Pasta (tuna chunks + mushrooms + cream sauce) or Pasta Espanola (Spanish sardines + chili olive oil). For health buffs, they may opt to order Gambas & Mushroom (shrimp + mushroom + slightly spicy olive oil) or Hungarian Sausage & Pesto (sliced sausage + pesto + olive oil). All pasta dishes range from P149.00 to P159.00 per serving. Servings are good for one person only though a group of three could share and sample each dish should they opt to; they just need to buy a plate or two of other pasta.
To truly excite one’s appetite, this cafe also serves tempting appetizers. My favorites are the Chiz Buco, Crispy Baked Wings, Chili Bombs, and Mozza Lava Sticks. These tasty bites are perfect to start any meal as customers wait for their rice meals or pasta. Each finger food has an equally flavorful dip as well.
Caffe La Tea has cupcakes, too, the perfect company for those milk tea and coffee. Cupcakes range from p49.00 to P59.00 a piece. The cafe’s bestseller is the bannoffee at P59.00.
I bought two boxes of cupcakes (choice between four and six cupcakes in each box) for my boys and for my mom and I as well , and in a blink of an eye, the little cakes were all gone just like that. Life can sometimes be unfair.
But what makes Caffe La Tea stands out among other cafes are the drinks it serves. This charming diner offers a wide variety of drinks from iced tea to fruit teas, milk tea to smoothies, signature teas to hot coffee and tea. A customer may even order a fruit tea, for example, the way he wants it to be. He can choose his black tea to have strawberry or passionfruit, kiwi, lemon, blueberry, mangga, and green apple among others! They also serve sodas and beers to those who would like to chill a little over some crispy baked wings or chili bombs.
Quite fascinating is the price of the drinks. In some cafes, a cup of frappe or coffee may cost one around P120.00 to P180.00. In Caffe La Tea, one may enjoy almost the same quality of these drinks but at a lesser amount. Its Milk Tea Smoothies, for instance, are priced at P99.00 for a grande size and P119.00 for venti.
We stayed at Caffe La Tea for about two hours and a half. I have noticed that the foot traffic is quick impressive. Customers come and go with satisfied smile on their lips. Most diners come in pair, either wanting to have a decent late lunch or some quality time together. Other customers are obviously there to hang out, people watch, and meet friends.
I plan to bring my family at Caffe La Tea one Sunday lunch. I guess it would not hurt our budget as Caffe La Tea is one of the few establishments I have tried that serves quality food at an affordable price. As what my mother would often say, “the great value for quality food is what keeps customers coming back for more.”
CAFFE LA TEA
Address: 16 Congressional Avenue, Project 8, Quezon City Phone: 02 5877275 Hours: 10am to 12mn
So see you again, Caffe La Tea!