I love going up to Baguio for some many reasons, the top three being the cold, the scenery, and most of all, the food. Masarap kumain kapag malamig (it’s good to eat when it’s cold), so it goes without saying Baguio is compelled to churn out great comfort food.
I already have my favorite restaurants in the City of Pines, but I always enjoy trying something new, especially since there’s been an influx of new restaurant concepts in Baguio. My new favorite from among those I’ve tried is Tsokolateria, which opened in March 2015.
Tsokolateria is from the Happy Concept Group by Happy Ongpauco, who also brought us Pamana and The Original Hawaiian BBQ, both of which I blogged about here recently and incidentally also have branches in Baguio, at the same building as Tsokolateria. Its first branch is the one in Baguio, the second being the Tagaytay branch, which I have yet to try.
It’s the perfect setting for a romantic date or a cozy dinner with family and friends. Soft lounge music plays in the background, while you enjoy your delicious chocolate-infused meals in their al fresco dining spots and huts amidst the cool Baguio weather.
Tsokolateria is a chocolate-lovers’ haven like nothing you’ve ever experienced before, and it’s worth a visit or two (or more) when you’re in Baguio for the ongoing Pangbenga Festival (click here for activities you can enjoy there until this weekend, March 4, 2018) or anytime this summer. Every dish I ordered with my family had a unique and unexpected twist—all are unlike anything I’ve tried before, but they all worked! Everything has chocolate, everything is homemade; it’s pretty impressive how creative they are. The chocolates are sourced locally, too: from Malagos, Davao, Cotabato, and even Baguio, of course.
Take the Tsokolateria Salad (P260), for example. Like a typical salad, it’s made of mixed greens, tomatoes, and onions, with the addition of casuy (cashew) and my favorite singkamas. But, it’s also topped with your choice of homemade Crispy Bacon Belly (our pick!) or crunchy baby calamares. Besides the bacon belly, what makes the salad so special is its use of a homemade dressing that’s a mix of local chocolate and homemade vinaigrette. The delicious dressing has a hint of delectable chocolate blended well with the mild vinaigrette for a sweet-sour flavor like nothing you’ve ever tried.
But let me take a moment to talk about the Homemade Bacon Belly: It was so unbelievably crispy! That huge pile of Homemade Crispy Bacon on top (which you can order a la carte, by the way, for P260, with tablea syrup) makes this salad so filling, even people who are never satisfied with salads will not feel like they’re deprived.
This is probably the most sinful salad you could have, but it makes you feel just a tiny bit less guilty about indulging in all the chocolatey goodness (but then, that bacon belly!). The serving is definitely for sharing.
Then there’s the Native Chilli Tsoko Con Carne (P230), which is basically your chocolate-infused chili con carne, made of sili sigang agli olio, served with a medley of fresh kamote and Baguio potato fries. It smelled so good when it was served, and while I could never imagine what to expect of the taste, it was delicious! The local chocolate they used tempered the acidity of the chili, which was also complemented by the mildly sweet and savory kamote fries served on the side. I love the flavor and the heat in this dish—make sure you enjoy it while it’s piping hot! It’s even topped with my favourite grated queso de bola and herbs. The only thing that’s missing? Nacho chips!
But the one dish you simply have to try (and order each time you visit) is their bestselling Tablea Champorado, made the old-fashioned way: mountain rice cooked in rich native table, served with adobo flakes, chicharon (mix of may laman and hangin, which is how I usually describe chicharon types!), and crispy fish chips (they used espada). It’s served in a clay pot that they heat before serving so the champorado is sizzling hot. The chocolate used is a mix of their original blends of Tsokolate ah (milkier chocolate) and Tsokolate eh (richer chocolate), so the champorado is so rich, decadent, and sweet, with a creamy hint. Even their chicharon is homemade, and it’s super crispy! Meanwhile, the savory espada breaks the sweetness of the champorado. It’s so good, I can’t wait to visit and order this again! It warms you up while you indulge, so it’s the perfect thing to order in a cool place like Baguio or even at their branch in Tagaytay—definitely comfort food material.
My mom’s special request was their Churros Bites (P180)—12 pieces of churros pieces sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, and served with Pinoy Tsokolate ah fondue for dipping, made of tablea + bar, so it’s thicker and richer. It’s sweet and friendlier to eat than regular churros, and we loved the rich chocolate dip that you can even refill.
Of course, what’s a visit to Tsokolateria without ordering their Tablea House Blend hot chocolate, hand-made the old-fashioned way, with servings that are good for two. They have both the Tsokolate ah (P160) and Tsokolate eh (P160) variants, as well as the Sili Labuyo Tsoko Blend (P150).
The Sili Labuyo Tsoko Blend is made of milky sweet Tsokolate ah with, yes, red-hot siling labuyo. I love the extra spicy kick with every sip of this hot chocolate.
My hands-down favorite is the original Tsokolate eh, which is richer, semi-sweet, and to me, even a bit bitter—exactly how I like my hot chocolate. It soothes my soul with every sip, enveloping me in warmth while I indulge.
Enjoyed my Tsokolate eh at Tsokolateria with my parents and husband
However, when we found out they served tablea chocolate-infused cocktails, it’s party time! They made us try a sort of combination of the Peanut Butter Batirol Martini (P260) and the Tsokolateria Sake Martini (P270), which has Tsokolate ah.
The Peanut Butter Sake Martini tasted like a milder, chocolatier mudslide with rich, locally-made peanut butter that you can lick off the glass rim with every sip for an even more indulgent experience. I love that the peanut butter isn’t too sweet and you can taste real peanuts in it. It balances the taste of the Tsokolate ah and the sake, so the drink is not overwhelming, confusing, or even bitter on the palate. It combines hot chocolate and hot sake in one cold drink with peanut butter, but it’s actually light and not as sweet or cloying as you would expect. You can really taste the smooth, strong sake, it’s not diluted by the chocolate. In fact, the chocolate seems to enhance its taste. The thick chocolate (which is the same sauce they serve with the churros) also pooled at the bottom of the drink, so it’s delectable to the last drop. It’s up to you if you want to really mix the drink to get all of that chocolate with every sip.
With all the treats we enjoyed so luxurious, we were surprised that the pricing was so friendly. Each dish was definitely worth what you pay for. Plus, the service is so warm, fast, friendly, and great overall. We had such an amazing experience dining here, and you shouldn’t miss it when you are in Baguio this summer.