The Abaseria in Cebu
Photograph by Julienne Termoso
It is no doubt that the Philippines is adored for its white-sand beaches, beautiful people and rich culture, but what stands out the most is its cuisine that even lumad Filipinos can never get enough of.
Abaseria Café and Deli — what at first looks like a showroom of various business hobbies — is a local restaurant that lives up to its name which means sari-sari. It serves common Filipino dishes with a touch of their own uniqueness, primarily the reason why it is a go-to place in Cebu City, as recommended by TripAdvisor. Originally a showroom of furniture, kitchen utensils and jewelry to its owner Carmela Jurado–Lava, Abaseria eventually evolved to a distinctive diner that most tourists find worthy to visit twice, thrice or a few more times.
The doors to the restaurant greet its visitors with home-grown vines and a hidden garden impression. Once inside, it is impossible not to notice the ceiling carefully embedded with marbles, so intricate that questions how long it took the designers to finish the roofing alone would be undoubtedly raised. Also exhibited are varying styles of jewelry, handbags and old books that can only be read when inside the place. On the walls are displayed articles about the place written by travel magazines, pictures of prominent visitors including the late Corazon Aquino, and her self-designed hand fan cautiously preserved in a frame.
Most tourists appreciate the distinctiveness of Filipino kakanin which is why they serve choco-durian special — chocolate cake topped with durian slices — brazo ala mode, durian coffee, pichi-pichi, palitaw and other delicacies from different Philippine provinces. Some of restaurant’s best-sellers include Ginataang Mongos, Baked Ginger Ribs, the Filipino-famous Humba, and Adobong Bangus Belly — all ranging from PHP 145.00 to PHP 300.00 only, affordable for a two-in-one package of exquisite food and incomparable ambiance.
“Abaseria may have an upscale feel to it, but if truth be told, it is in fact more affordable than most restaurants in Cebu malls. It is then no wonder why this became one of Cebu’s best kept secrets when it comes to unique dining experiences,” says one reviewer.
Having a first-hand experience dining at Abaseria makes it hard to question the good reviews and the many recommendations from travel advisories. What we could ask, however, is why this place has not been given as much attention as those with the common aspects of a “restaurant”. Abaseria provides the experience of having to eat at a fancy place at the same time feeling as if one were in his or her own dining table; the staff’s thoughtfulness and tact, the interior’s homey imprint and the food, makes one want to rush to the place just by the mere thought of it.
One can also be easily hooked by the smallest details that were not even neglected in the making of the place. With its unique chandelier — an art of dream-catchers and wind chimes — candles in the shelves that were made from empty coconut shells, and a tissue holder in the form of slender man, the place is a show!
The Philippines is a theater of world-class performances. We, the Filipinos, must be the audience in the front row seats. We have the closest reach to the curiosities raised by those halfway across the globe. Some even spend a fortune to see the beauty our country beholds. Why don’t we spend time devouring what is ours and nearest to us? We have to do something about us being tourists in our own country. Let’s grasp what is given to us.
This café is also open for exclusive reservations, catering to parties and business meetings. Abaseria Café and Deli is located at the farthest corner of Pres. Quirino St., Barangay Kasambagan, Cebu City. It is open from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday and 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. on Sundays.