Travelers escape to the Laguna countryside for many reasons. Families relax in the hot spring resorts. Students go on field trips to see the birthplace of Jose Rizal. Others drive to Laguna for newer attractions like Enchanted Kingdom, outlet shopping, or the province’s growing restaurant scene.
But what makes Laguna a road trip favorite is the delicious delicacies you can buy in roadside stalls and souvenir shops. The sight of buko pie (young coconut pie) stands vying for attention is a potent reminder that you are indeed in Laguna. Nevertheless, many of the province’s food finds are Filipino culinary icons. And after a long day of food tripping, sightseeing, and bathing, what is tasty to bring back home? Here is a guide to Laguna’s yummiest and most famous food finds, plus where to find them.
Bibingka de Macapuno
Bibingka galapong (baked coconut milk and rice cake) is a Filipino favorite. But the people of Laguna have taken this holiday fare up a notch by making it sweeter. Bibingka de macapuno is a local take, substituting the salted egg topping for macapuno (tender coconut meat) filling. Tio Casio’s in Sta. Cruz is the place to go if you’re looking for this sweet treat.
Tio Casio’s Bibingka de Macapuno is in Sambat Bubukal, Sta. Cruz, Laguna. It is open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. For details, call +63 926 888 6179.
Buko (young coconut) pie is an all-time Laguna classic, and rightly so. These coconut pies use custard sweetened with condensed milk. Like the author, perhaps you grew up seeing buko pie stands dotting the national highway, counting how many you’ve spotted or wondering which brand was really the best. Locals recommend Lety’s, which has multiple branches:
Bring home a box or two of Lety’s Buko Pie at any of these three locations:
- Across Heaven’s Memorial Garden on National Road, Los Baños, Laguna. This branch is open daily from 6:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
- Near the University of Los Baños campus at Agapita Plaza, Barangay Batong Malake, Los Baños, Laguna. This branch is open daily from 6:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- Beside a Shell gas station on National Road, Los Baños, Laguna. This branch is open only from Friday to and Sunday from 6:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
- In Pansol, Laguna. This branch is open daily from 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
For details, call +63 49 536 1332.
You may have heard of the expression mukha akong espasol growing up. But how did espasol get associated with this phrase? What is espasol? It is a chewy, cylinder-shaped rice cake filled with sweetened young coconut. What makes this Laguna delicacy different from Japanese mochi or Chinese-Filipino tikoy rolls is that espasol is smothered in toasted pinipig (pounded rice flakes) that have been ground to a powdery consistency. The pinipig powder lends espasol its nutty flavor, but makes the sweet treat enjoyably messy to eat. Ofreng’s has been making espasol since 1974. Like many local makers, Ofreng’s individually wraps their espasol in thick white paper.
Ofreng’s Espasol Atbp. is at 87 General Luna Street, Barangay Maracta, Lumban, Laguna. It is open daily from 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. For details, call +63 49 501 9865 or +63 935 681 0163.
Kesong puti (native white cheese) is an unaged cheese made from carabao’s milk. Although it can be found in Metro Manila and Central Luzon, and you can try making it at home, there is nothing like the kesong puti in Sta. Cruz, Laguna. In this town, kesong puti makers traditionally use banana leaves to pack the cheese. Look for the shop of Arlene Macalinao, who produces organic kesong puti and even kesong puti ice cream.
Arlene Macalinao Kesong Puti is at Barangay Bagumbayan, Sta. Cruz, Laguna. She can be reached through +63 49 810 1691, +63 927 689 8216, or +63 999 715 9226.
There is monay (dense, sweet bread), and then there is monay Bae (pronounced as “ba-E”). Monay from the town of Bay (pronounced like the English word “bye”) is bigger and less sweet. The crust is smooth and unglazed. Monay Bae also has a few raisins that give the bread its flavor and charm. Every bite is a mountain of goodness you can’t find anywhere else. And there is only one neighborhood bakery that has been baking this bread since the 1950s: Tenorio’s.
Tenorio’s Bakery is on Rizal Avenue in Bay, Laguna. Get in touch with the bakery at +63 49 536 0011.
There is much to love about Laguna, especially with the sweet and savory delights on this list. Make the most of your Laguna road trip with access to resorts around the province. Through KKday, book a tour of Hidden Valley Springs, Caliraya Resort, or Mountain Lake Resort at rates from 616 to 4,000 PHP.
*Featured image via Rene Salta & K Abejuela on Shutterstock & Tio Casio’s Bibingka de Macapuno on Facebook