Another Glimpse of San Pablo: The Sulyap Café

Our trip to Cagbalete Island cut short by a family emergency, we drove straight for home once we disembarked from our boat at Mauban port past 1PM. It was not yet dark when we reached San Pablo City and were contemplating having dinner at one of the gas stations along the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX). However, Nina’s aunt and uncle suggested we take early dinner instead at the Sulyap Gallery Café inside San Pablo City proper. They assured us the stopover would be worth it.

Sulyap Gallery Cafe and Restaurant in San Pablo City
One of Sulyap’s 3 Spanish-era houses-turned restaurants

Once inside the compound of Sulyap, we soon realized this was more than just another café establishment with a small arts gallery. Immediately to the front of the entrance gate is a long 3-story building that resembled a school. We would later find out that this building used to be the Southern Luzon Colleges. The structure now houses a museum showcasing the antique collection of the owners and a function hall – both of which are on the building’s first floor.

view of Sulyap Cafe's Casa de Cabay from the patio
The patio and fountain
stairway leading to the second floor dining at Sulyap Cafe
Stairs leading to one of the dining houses

In another part of the property and set amidst landscaped gardens are three Spanish colonial-era ancestral houses that function as restaurants. The houses are built in typical 18th – 19th century fashion with brick or stone first floors and wooden second stories. Much of the furniture of the casas are antique sets that add to the colonial feel of the place. Old handicrafts and other collectibles further enhance the atmosphere.

Spanish colonial architecture at Sulyap Cafe
The second floor dining areas are spacious and airy
antique furniture, handicrafts and other collectibles at a dining room
Antique sets, handicrafts and other collectibles grace the dining rooms

Dining facilities exist in both first and second floors. We opted for the second floor where we could dine on the balcony and enjoy the view below.

dining room at the second floor of Sulyap Cafe
Inside one of the dining rooms

The food at Sulyap Gallery Café is mostly Filipino but with some dishes prepared with a creative twist. For dinner we had pako or fiddlehead fern salad (always a favorite of ours), kulawong puso ng saging (sliced banana heart in coconut milk with grilled pork belly), eggplant omelet, chicken barbecue and crispy pata (deep fried pig knuckles).

native Filipino dishes at Sulyap Cafe and Restaurant

Somewhat tired from our early morning jaunt at Cagbalete’s Yang-In Sandbar and the return trip here, we had a chance to relax, unwind and enjoy the ambiance of Sulyap. Continuing on to Metro Manila later that evening we would encounter the dreaded heavy traffic along EDSA during a late evening downpour but we were sufficiently fed and rested by then, thanks to our cozy experience at San Pablo’s Sulyap Gallery Café.

Sulyap Cafe and Restaurant at night

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