It’s that season when families flock to churches around the country. And there’s no better time to discover a quaint café nestled in a quiet corner of the vast Santo Domingo Parish in Quezon City. Named Café Inggo 1587, this café marks the arrival of the Dominican friars in the Philippines in 1587. They soon began establishing missions all around the country, eventually building the present-day Santo Domingo Church, also known as the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of La Naval de Manila.
According to café owner Vic Alcuaz, “Inggo” happens to be a nickname of Santo Domingo himself, a mark of Alcuaz’s close connection to the Dominicans. It turns out this much-respected hospitality consultant was once a Dominican seminarian, then later on studied at the University of Santo Tomas. As such, when Fr. Rolando Mactal O.P., Prior of Santo Domingo Convent, asked Alcuaz to take charge of the café, he couldn’t say no.
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With its high ceilings and large windows, Café Inggo 1587 exudes warmth and cheer, a welcome stop after hearing mass, or if one is in the neighborhood, for a quiet meal (with ample free parking to boot). The café proudly displays its Catholic connection with the walls filled with Alcuaz’s collection of 27 beautiful pen-and-ink sketches of Philippine church façades by Alex Uy; as well as a portrait of Santo Domingo and a white bust of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary donated by the Dominican priests. The café also channels its Filipino-Spanish heritage, with a shelf full of antique Spanish books from Alcuaz’s family, and of course, with its Filipino-Spanish menu developed by chef-consultant Willie Domingo.
Among the main courses, the Chicken Galantina ala Inggo is a bestseller—a chicken meat loaf dotted with green peas and served with a rich gravy. (You can order the entire loaf for takeout.) Pork Adobo features fork tender chunks of pork belly and lots of garlic. Bacalao ala Vizcaina is made with fresh cod, says Chef Willie, but done the traditional way with onions, peppers, garlic, and potatoes swimming in olive oil. The Fabada is a full-flavored tomato stew filled with pork, beans, and chorizo, that can be eaten almost like a soup, or even better, spread on toast. The Pinaasiman Lechon Kawali is a satisfyingly sour sinigang, but tweaked with crispy lechon kawali for added decadence.
The Dominican friars have put their stamp on the menu as well, adding Domingo’s French Fries and Catherine’s Nachos to cater to their students from Angelicum College. For cocktail hour, there is Father Boyd’s Sangria with a twist, as well as Father Joemar’s Craft Beer which is brewed in house based on his very own recipe.
Café Inggo 1587 welcomes diners in the morning to partake of its hefty breakfast meals, or for afternoon merienda to grab a sandwich or enjoy a refreshing Halo-halo a la Inggo, homemade Apple Streudel with coffee, and soon to be offered, bibingka with salted egg.
While a visit to Café Inggo 1587 won’t absolve you of sin, it comes pretty close. The cheerful interiors, really good comfort food, and blessed vibe are there to remove whatever anger or stress you may have that day. And if that doesn’t work, just walk to the church next door to say a prayer or light a candle.
Santo Domingo Parish, 537 Quezon Avenue, Santa Mesa Heights, Quezon City
This story originally appeared on Metro.Style