Cafe Lidia in Calumpang, Marikina

In a town known for its fiercely regionalistic attitude toward food, a restaurant that boasts of a very foreign menu is thriving. Quite surprising. Marikeños rarely talk about food that that did not originate in Marikina. They pride themselves with dishes like pakalog, everlasting, their version of escabeche and pininyahang manok. If they’re not talking about specific dishes, they talk about eateries and fool stalls that have been there for as long as they can remember. And they will assure you that this eatery or that food stall serves the best puto or sells the best barbecue.

Endearing and amusing, and probably a good way to keep regional food traditions alive, but not exactly adventurous. So when Speedy told me about Cafe Lidia, its very non-Marikeño menu and how the restaurant was packed with Marikeños, I had to smile. Finally, Marikeños are opening their arms, welcoming new food adventures and enjoying variety. Lovely. Bravo!

So, it was Speedy who first sampled the food at Cafe Lidia. He was invited by Raffy Malabonga, a PPSA buddy whose wife, Grace, manages the restaurant. Speedy enjoyed the food and the ambience so much and, about two weeks later, he brought me and the girls there. We had salad, beef salpicao, chicken cordon bleu, pasta and pizza. After the meal, coffee and dessert. The bill was something like P1,200.00. Not bad at all.

Grace chatted with us, told us they have four chefs who are each in charge of specific parts of the menu. The cakes are supplied by the same people who supply the cakes at a popular coffee chain. I was impressed. Speedy and I decided we’d go back on a weekday, on a dead hour, so I could take photos. And try other dishes on the menu, of course.

We did that yesterday. We had a late breakfast after a trip to the market, purposely skipped lunch so we could have a late lunch at Cafe Lidia. We got there just before 2.00 p.m., Grace was nowhere in sight since her shift didn’t begin until 3.00 p.m., but the waiters were attentive despite not knowing that we were friends with the manager. Nice. We were seeing the way things were actually done, sans special treatment. Buffalo chicken wings

Our meal started with buffalo wings. Beautifully glazed, not too spicy and the price kept low by serving them with sour cream, instead of the traditional bleu cheese, on the side. Caesar's salad

Speedy ordered Caesar’s salad and intended to have just that. But I had other ideas. Pasta Alfredo

I ordered Pasta Alfredo for myself… pasta

… And another pasta dish for Speedy — pasta tossed with the classic olive oil and garlic sauce, topped with fried breaded chicken breast fillets.

As usual, we shared everything we ordered so we could sample every dish. I loved my Pasta Alfredo but found Speedy’s pasta a bit bland. Perhaps, if there was grated Parmesan cheese on the side, it would have been perfect. Speedy Veneracion

Speedy looks happy and satisfied in the photo, doesn’t he? Well, he looks like that when he just had a good meal. “Are we in a hurry?” I asked him. “No,” he replied. Great. Because I intended to enjoy my coffee and dessert leisurely.

Between the pasta and the dessert, Grace walked in and chatted with us occasionally — there were other patrons who, just like us, were all paying customers. Equal treatment. Mocha sans rival

The mocha sans rival was glorious — light and crisp as sans rival should be. Chocolate dream

The chocolate dream deserved its name as it was truly dreamy — moist and dark inside, nutty and fudgy outside.

With our cakes gone, we dawdled over our coffee. Grace came over and asked if we wanted to see the function rooms upstairs. There was group of college students doing their thesis, she was giving them a tour of the place, and did we want to go too? Sure, we did. bar

Neither Speedy nor I knew about the function rooms on the second floor. They were spacious. I suppose they ought to be — the building itself used to be a shoe factory before it was a restaurant.

The first of the two functions rooms was really a party place. It has a bar… function room

… Oversized chairs and couches… function room

… And a stage. function room

The price? P10,000.00 for four hours. conference room

The second function room was smaller and furnished sparely as it is designed for meetings, workshops and conferences. P7,500.00 — consumable with food ordered from the restaurant — for four hours.

We went back to the restaurant and finished our coffee. We paid the bill (total bill — P910.00), I packed my photo gear and we were ready to go. We said goodbye to Grace who was chatting with whom we thought to be customers like us but who turned out to be the owner. We were introduced (he is a shooter and sportsman, hence, the sporty photos lining the restaurant walls), we swapped a few jokes and we were off. Tummies full and feeling relaxed. Cafe Lidia facade

Cafe Lidia is located at 64 Calderon St., Calumpang, Marikina. Parking can be a headache during peak hours so I really suggest you drop by between lunch and dinner when the crowd is thinner.

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The Author

Hello, my name is Connie Veneracion. I cook, I shoot, I write. But I don't do the laundry. I don't like housekeeping very much either... (more about me)

14 Responses

  1. Alex says:

    Wow. Hindi nanaman kami kasama.

  2. rhodora says:

    Just you and Speedy. Nice. Mukhang masarap yung salad!

  3. Beatrize says:

    I hope to be able to visit this Cafe on our next trip to Marikina. Thanks for posting!!

  4. TAO says:

    Looks like a nice place to eat! I’m always amazed at the reach of “Buffalo wings” around the world. I’m from Buffalo, NY where they originated from so it is of special interest to me. Of course the way they are prepared seems to change proportionally to the distance from their home city. However, I must say that if they are not spicy that is a strike against them.

  5. lemon says:

    Just in time, I have a hearing in Marikina on Wed. and I used to linger in Starbucks for some “me” time. Now I know where I will have lunch on wed.Thanks for the tip. I can’t get over the photo of the sans rival and choco dream so I demanded that husband bring home some cake.

  6. soccer2452 says:

    I live in the United States, and this food and restaurant looks so good to eat at. I would love to try Philippine food!

  7. arlene says:

    I would like to ask your prices in the menu because i would like have a surprise lunch or dinner treat for my family there in the Philippine. I have spoken to your Chef Rex. And i haven’t the menu list that you have so us the prices on it. I hope I could received a feedback on this as possible. I heard your having a good food. Well I’m not there in the Philippines as a matter of fact that’s why i want this as much as possible a very good and special gift treat for my family back there.

    thank you so much.

  8. Roegan says:

    Hi great write-up! I’m Roegan, and I handle product for looloo. Is there any way that we can get in touch with Cafe Lidia’s manager? We’d like to discuss a possible partnership with them. :)

    Thanks Connie!

  9. ronnie rubis says:


    asking for the function room accommodating max of 30 persons.

    that’s gonna be for a family gathering only so expected with kids around.

    looking forward to know the packages and list of foods plus the price.

    thank you,

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