The foods that make up Filipino cuisine can range from the familiar to the exotic and one place to try these out is at the Everybody’s Cafe, a popular restaurant in Pampanga—the culinary capital of the Philippines.
Reputation of the Everybody’s Cafe
Opened in 1946, the Everybody’s Cafe is reputed to be one of the few remaining restaurants in the Philippines that serve authentic Kapampangan cuisine. Through the years, it had received accolade upon accolade from food critics both here and in other parts of the world. Recently, the Everybody’s Cafe gained international coverage as being one of the restaurants in the Philippines featured in two popular foodie travel shows of the Travel Channel: Bobby Chin’s World Cafe Asia and Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods.
Dining at the Everybody’s Cafe
Being in Pampanga for the annual hot air balloon festival, I suggested to my friends that we try out this restaurant. My friends were in the mood for a bit of food adventure during our road trip to Pampanga, so they were game about it. After all, it’s all part of the whole experience.
Getting There Was a Road Trip on It Own
There was just one little catch, though. The Everybody’s Cafe restaurant in Pampanga I knew was located in San Fernando, the capital of Pampanga. At that time, we were in Angeles, which was quite a distance away. I knew that driving all that way just to eat dinner would not only be very impractical, but extremely tiring for all of us, especially since we all knew that we had to get up the next morning for the hot air balloon festival.
It was a good thing, though, that I decided to give the restaurant a call. It turns out that they have another branch right in Angeles. I was ecstatic, until I asked for the directions to their branch in Angeles. All that the restaurant staff gave us to go with is to look for Nepo Mall. I explained to him that we were from Manila, and we aren’t really familiar with the ins and outs in Angeles. He assured me that it’s quite easy to find since everyone knows about it.
Our reality was nowhere close to what the restaurant staff member assured us. One of the things that I’ve learned about asking directions in the province is that they seem to have this presumption that you’re familiar with their place. Thankfully, Erika was based in Cebu, another province in the Philippines, for a few months and had a better understanding on how they give directions and after about 30 minutes driving around and asking directions, I saw the familiar sign of the Everybody’s Cafe.
Turo-Turo Style Dining at the Everybody’s Cafe
Despite the reputation of the Everybody’s Cafe, Erika and I were quite surprised to find the restaurant empty. Whether it was because this branch is not as popular as the one in San Fernando, or if it was because of the time that we arrive here, we weren’t too sure.
The Everybody’s Cafe features a turo-turo style of dining, which means that there are no menus here. Instead, you get to choose from the array of prepared dishes displayed behind a glass counter and simply point to what you want to eat.
We decided upon getting the morcon (meat roll made of ground pork, chorizo, queso de bola, and other ingredients), paksiw na bangus (milkfish poached in a vinegar-based broth), mixed seafoods, and kalderatang kambing (a local stew made of goat’s meat).
As my eyes surveyed through the dishes that are on display, I noticed that they didn’t have the ones that I was so eager get my friends to try: batute (deep fried frogs stuffed with ground pork) and kamaro (sauteed mole crickets). The waiter told me that the crickets were not available but the frogs were. One out of two wasn’t bad.
The Food at the Everybody’s Cafe
Since the dishes were already prepared, they were served to us within a few minutes of waiting. As the dishes were laid out before us, the one thing that we noticed was that the servings were quite small. The size is relatively good for two people, or one hungry person. Even the rice served to us (which was by the cup) was bit smaller than what we were normally used to that we each ended up asking for seconds.
A brief moment of silence greeted the frogs as they were served on the table. Brian and Erika moved forward to take a closer look at it. I smiled. I knew Erika is just as adventurous about food as I am. Brian, on the other hand, I wasn’t sure. He had always told me that he would eat anything placed in front of him, and this was the moment to see if he was really a man of his word.
We all took each a frog and decided to eat it all at the same time, just for the fun of it. The meat of the frog did taste a bit like chicken, but more delicate. The ground pork filling was full of flavor, however, it overpowered the very delicate taste of the meat of the frog.
The morcon very much tasted like your regular meatloaf. I didn’t get any sense of taste from the cheese or chorizo that was supposed to be in them. The meat kalderatang kambing was really tender and juicy—something that can only be attained by slow cooking with no short cuts. There was a bit of heat that helped heightened the taste, although I would have wanted a little bit more kick to the spice.
Next up was the mixed seafood which was made with an array of shrimp, fish, and squid. It was very light and pleasantly tasting. I particularly enjoyed the squid which was tender and not at all rubbery, which can easily happen if you overcook it.
If there was one let down during our dining experience at the Everybody’s Cafe, it was the price of the dishes. Considering the servings, the price that they charged for the dishes were quite expensive, particularly the morcon which was the most expensive dish that we ordered. The waiter explained to us that the restaurant is a novelty, which justifies the prices that they charge. Had the servings been a little bit more generous, we would have found it more reasonable.
Final Thoughts on the Everybody’s Cafe
As we left Everybody’s Cafe, I have to admit that my high expectations about the restaurant were a bit doused down by the small servings and high costs. Still, it is definitely a restaurant to try if ever you’re visiting Pampanga. Quick service and a great place to test just how adventurous you are with food. Just be prepared to pay the price.The Everybody’s Cafe in Angeles is located at Santo Rosario Street corner Teresa Street (in front of Nepo Mall), Angeles City, Pampanga. Click here to view a map to the restaurant. They are opened seven days a week from 10am to 9pm. To make a reservation, or ask directions to their branch, you can call them at (045) 887-0361.
Have you eaten at the Everybody’s Cafe? Share your experience below!