Intramuros Escapade: Casa Manila and Belfry Cafe

I have been to Intramuros many times, and I am still in awe how this walled city manage to keep its beauty. This time, we were there to visit Belfry Cafe, but since we had more time in the afternoon, we decided to check Casa Manila first.

How to Go to Intramuros

The pandemic made it impossible to ride a G-liner bus going directly to Quiapo, so we had to ride a bus that dropped us off at LRT-2 Gilmore Station. Across the road, there are jeepneys to Recto, and in Recto, there are jeepneys that can drop you off at an area near Intramuros. This means the LRT-2 Recto station is also a possible mode of transportation.

You can use Google Maps to walk toward Casa Manila and Belfry Cafe (or just rent a pedicab).

Casa Manila

You need a StaySafePH account or QR code to be able to enter Casa Manila, which is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. This will be your entrance and exit pass to the museum, aside from the ticket worth seventy-five pesos (non-students).

Upon entering, you will have a glimpse of the casa’s office-like area, complete with the antique bookshelf, candleholder, and lamps. By the way, always be mindful and walk on the red carpet. We got scolded because we forgot about this reminder. Hehe.

Next seems to be an area where guests can be entertained. The grand piano and the harp were splendid sights. If my guest room would be this huge, then I’d love to have these.

Rooms with painted self-portraits, canopy beds, and ceilings and walls painted with heavenly creatures are luxurious, don’t you think. Though they look like high-maintenance.

At the end of the Casa Manila tour, we got to see the bathroom, the toilet room (yes, they are two different rooms), and the kitchen. Here, I learned that there is no such thing as “too many pots and pans.”

After Casa Manila, our next destination was supposed to be Belfry Cafe, but we saw the Book Stop Project near the Manila Cathedral, so we stopped by to take photos.

Belfry Cafe

Belfry Cafe (open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.) is just a minute or two away from the Manila Cathedral. It displays huge bells hanging from the ceiling of the cafe. Aside from this feature, they have approachable staff and homely ambience.

I ordered their coffee mocha blended (Php 140) and garlic cream cheese bread (Php 120). The frappe was fine—nothing extraordinary, same as other iced blended drinks. The garlic cream cheese bread, however, gave me a unique experience, as it was my first time.

Check out their updated menu on their Facebook page.

Favorite Picture

What’s Hot and What’s Not about La Cathedral Cafe in Intramuros (Plus Jones Bridge Side Trip)

A week before my birthday, we had this sudden urge to try La Cathedral Cafe in Intramuros. It looked pretty in Facebook posts, plus the cafe was a hype. Things got disappointing at some point though, and then it got better.

How to Go to La Cathedral Cafe

Coming from the East, ride a G-liner bus going to Quiapo and tell the driver to drop you off at SM Manila. It was a two-hour ride, so we decided to decline the hundred-peso tricycle trip and walk toward Intramuros instead, with Google maps as a guide (you can ask around if you want). Then, we hired a pedicab driver to drop us off at La Cathedral Cafe.

What to Expect at La Cathedral Cafe

It was a Sunday, and I understood how busy they were. What I didn’t expect was the two-hour waiting time (yes, two hours) to get seats. Seats pa lang ‘yon, wala pa yung pagkain. But since we had nowhere to go to, we patiently waited. So if you’re planning to visit La Cathedral on weekends, either you reconsider your options or you charge your phones to keep yourself entertained while waiting.

We arrived at 8 p.m., hoping that people were about to finish their dinner, but unfortunately, the venue was still crowded. Beverages are ordered on the first floor, while the restaurant itself is on the roof-deck.

Quite frankly, I was a bit disappointed with the management of the cafe. The hanging roses were messily taped on the ceiling, and the comfort room was not “comforting,” so to speak. But here’s the thing: the staff were nice. I could sense the tension and impatience among some customers, but they kept smiling amid the exhaustion, entertaining inquiries from approaching customers.

Maybe I’ll try going there on weekdays when they aren’t too jam-packed.

What to Eat at La Cathedral Cafe

Their frappes were okay, a 7/10; mine was mocha frappe worth Php 150 (I go for mocha whenever I am hungry and afraid of my lactose intolerance). Although they served our beverages 10–15 minutes after we ordered, it was not as creamy when it was our time to sit at the roof-deck. I was already hungry and disappointed, thinking that if the food didn’t taste good, I might throw tantrums (elsewhere, of course, not confident to do that in front of many people).

But the food was surprisingly good, and it was able to keep me silent about my frustration and forget them for a bit. We ordered beef steak (Php 250) and chicken caldereta (Php 205), both must-trys in La Cathedral. It didn’t disappoint, both a 9/10.

How to Go Jones Bridge

Beside La Cathedral Cafe is Beaterio Street. Walk straight ahead until you see Colegio de San Juan de Letran. Turn right to Muralla Street until you see the exit toward Anda Street. You will be able to see Jones Bridge as soon as you get to the end.

I’ll go here again another time, probably when it’s about sunset (I heard the golden hour highlights its beauty even more).

Favorite Picture


La Cathedral Cafe
8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. (roof-deck)
98 Cabildo St, Intramuros, Manila
https://www.facebook.com/lacathedralcafe/

The Grandeur of 1919 Grand Cafe in Binondo

Binondo maybe the last place to think of as grand. Busy, crowded, colorful, vivacious . . . but not grand. So seeing this old, colonial-era building turned to this cafe called 1919 Grand Cafe was a surprise . . . at least for a first-timer like me.

Directions

For Rizal travelers, ride a PUJ or a PUV going to LRT-2 station. Go down at Recto (last stop). Ride a jeep going to Divisoria and tell the driver to drop you off near Binondo Chinatown Arch (or “arko”). Walk along Plaza Cervantes. Use Google maps for your convenience.

Place

The walls were decorated with wine bottles, which made the place look more like a bar than a cafe. The high ceilings and mirrors amplified the whole place, with wonderful chandeliers hanging atop the kitchenette.

The second floor was similar to a regular coffee shop, excluding the rooms that seemed to be for meetings.

My favorite part was the comfort room: cemented, neat, and simple. And for the picky ones, you must not worry—there is a bidet.

Food

While the place may seem majestic, there was not much to explore in terms of food. I ordered their cafe latte and their carbonara, which are “too ordinary” for a cafe as grand as this. Both tasted good, a fair 8/10, but I hope they would consider including more food in their menu that would complement the cafe’s grandeur.

Favorite Picture


1919 Grand Cafe
11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
117 Juan Luna Street, Binondo, Manila