Café by the Ruins: History, Menu, and Branches

Last Updated: January 21, 2023

Date Published: September 14, 2020
Learn more about Baguio’s well-beloved restaurant, Café by the Ruins.
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Baguio’s well-beloved restaurant, Café by the Ruins, shot to nationwide fame when it became a location where the hit movie, That Thing Called Tadhana shot a scene.

The movie’s popularity brought excited fans to the restaurant, as well as other people who were just interested. And via word-of-mouth marketing, the restaurant became even more popular. 

On April 30, 2017, Café by the Ruins was partially burned down. A year later, the iconic restaurant made a comeback.

While the signature façade remains intact, Café by the Ruins has been completely revamped, offering a more modern look, but still providing the same old favorites from their menu. 

About Café by the Ruins: A History

The ‘ruins’ in Café by the Ruins may evoke thoughts that the restaurant was built amidst the rubble of the 1990 killer earthquake. It wasn’t. In fact, the lot where Café by the Ruins stands used to be the Garden Theater – an outdoor cinema that was built in 1912 by Hubert Phelps Whitmarsh.

Later, the place was converted into Whitmarsh’s residence, but was later destroyed by carpetbombing tactics during World War II. It was from these ruins that 12 Baguio Artists – Adelaida Lim, Ben Cabrera, Christine Arvisu, Baboo Mondoñedo, and Roberto Villanueva, among others – built Café by the Ruins in 1998.

The Ruins was home to visual art, poetry, and music that highlighted the creativity of locals and attracted creative-minded folks from all corners of the Philippines. 

As a pillar of the community, Café by the Ruins was at the forefront not only of the art scene, but of outreach programs as well.

Café by the Ruins became a soup kitchen when disaster struck Baguio – once during the 1990 killer earthquake, where the café provided soup and supplies to people in need.

In 2009, Café by the Ruins once again extended a helping hand to Baguio folks when Typhoon Pepeng struck. All the while, people kept coming back to Café by the Ruins, from interested tourists who have read so much about the restaurant in the press, locals who loved the enterprise, and creative folks who considered the place an extension of their homes. 

Today, Café by the Ruins is a popular destination for both locals and tourists in Baguio. 

Café by the Ruins Dua 

Café by the Ruins Dua is the first branch of the beloved Café by the Ruins in Baguio after 25 years as a standalone establishment.

Its new location beside Mario’s Baguio on Upper Session Road serves as the main bakery and commissary for baked goods and pre-cooked frozen pasalubong. Just like its main branch, Café by the Ruins Dua features an artsy interior with the comforting touch of home. 

Café by the Ruins Dua Menu.

The Café by the Ruins Dua menu includes:

  • Cafe Espresso, Siphon Coffee, Teas & Infusions 
  • Cold Drinks 
  • Chocolate Treats, Special Breads 
  • Breads & Spreads, Salads 
  • Appetizers, Soups
  • Slow Foods 
  • Vegetarian Fare 
  • Pasta, Soup & Sandwich 
  • Merienda, Cafe Desserts, Strawberry Festival 

The menu is pretty much similar to that from the main branch, except for some entrée items that are exclusive to the Café Dua branch, like the Slow Food specialty selection. 

Café by the Ruins Baguio (Main Branch)

Cafe by the Ruins is located along Shuntug Road across the City Hall. A year after it was partially burned down, the iconic restaurant made a comeback.

While the signature façade remains intact, Café by the Ruins has been completely revamped, offering a more modern look, but still providing the same old favorites from their menu. 

Café by the Ruins Baguio Menu.

The Café by the Ruins Baguio menu consists of:


  • Cheese Lumpia Straws Crisp rolls filled with carabao cheese, smoked fish and basil.
  • Lemony Chicken Nuggets Golden fried chicken pieces with a honey-lemon dipping sauce.
  • Herbed Cheese Caprese (V) Goat cheese baked with cherry tomatoes and basil leaves. Served with warm Camote bread.
  • Galantina De-boned chicken stuffed with ground pork, chicken liver, bacon, ox-tongue and a variety of vegetables. Poached and served cold with aspic and fresh green salad.
  • French Fries (V) Double fried potato sticks – crisp on the outside and soft inside.


  • Kalabasa Puree Cream of squash soup with peppercorn.
  • Forest Steam Soup Fresh shiitake mushrooms and water cress in clear broth.
  • Batchoy Soup for breakfast or merienda on rainy days: pork tenderloin, spleen, brain, in soup stock with miswa. A Tagalog tradition and recipe of Cafe friend Pepot Ilagan.
  • Binakol Chicken soup with coconut meat and juice flavored with lemon grass and ginger.


  • Carabao Cheese Salad Carabao cheese coated in bread crumbs and sesame seeds then deep fried in butter and placed on a bed of garden greens.
  • Warm Shiitake Salad Grilled Shiitake Mushrooms and watercress. Served with our classic Upland Vinaigrette.
  • Gado-gado Salad Crisp, fried tofu cubes on watercress with peanut sauce.
  • Thai Beef Salad Seared minute steak and salad greens with Thai dressing – a sweet, salty, sour, spicy, and slightly bitter sauce.


  • Pasta Negra Black squid ink noodles with mildly hot fish roe sauce.
  • Classic Pomodoro Fresh tomato sauce with basil-pili pesto.
  • Pasta a la Carbonara Home-cured bacon, eggs, cream and fresh pasta.
  • Deborah’s Dish (V) Shiitake mushroom cream sauce and Cafe-made spinach pasta.


  • Fillet Mignon A thick slice of tender beef loin wrapped in Ruins bacon. Served with a choice of fries or rice.
  • Tia Olympia’s Fresh Lumpia (V) A crepe roll of julienned vegetables and tofu sauteed with garlic; with a sweet soy-based sauce and chopped peanuts.
  • Tortang Tagalog (V) An omelet of grilled eggplant stuffed with carabao cottage cheese.
  • Beef Sinigang Beef stew cooked with rattan fruits and fresh vegetables.
  • Baguio Bagnet A typical Ilocano meal: double fried pork belly accompanied by padas bagoong and tomato relish.


  • Mama Jean’s Bamboo Bowl Steamed chicken, bacon, shiitake mushrooms and bamboo shoots.
  • Kinunot Fish fillet cubes cooked in coconut cream.
  • Long Life Tofu Pouches (V) Mushrooms stuffed tofu pockets braised in brown sauce.
  • Pinikpikan The Traditional Cordillera chicken soup for healing. Contains etag, or smoked salted pork. Served with mountain rice.
  • Rita’s Rice A rich and saucey presentation of chicken, button mushrooms, celery and chicken liver in cream, over buttered rice.
  • Ginataang Langka at Pako (V) Green jackfruit and fiddlehead fern cooked in coconut cream, and tinapa flakes toppings.

Sandwich Pairings

  • B. L. T. Bacon, lettuce and tomatoes in kamote bread.
  • Steak Sandwich Tender grilled beef sandwiched in bolillos bun served with guacamole and onions caramelized in tapuey.
  • Ole Nick’s Open Face Tuna Sandwich Nick Joaquin’s instructions to the cook: Butter the bread, spread flaked tuna evenly over the buttered surface, dip, in a beaten egg and fry in MORE butter. This is our take.
  • Galantina Sandwich A slice of galantine with fresh watercress and tomatoes in kamote bun.

Served with your choice of Kalabasa Soup or Green Salad. All orders come with French Fries.


  • Ernie’s Camote Bread A Cafe by the Ruins favorite, this bread has highland sweet potatoes, milk and molasses.
  • Pan de Sal The traditional Filipino bread. You have the choice of our regular or whole wheat variation.
  • Basil Bread Green-flecked bread with basil leaves. A savory bread, good when dipped in olive oil.
  • Focaccia Flat Italian bread with herbs and garlic.
  • Bolillos Mexican crusty loaf.

Your choice of bread and an accompanying spread.

Special Breads

  • Scones a.k.a. Biscuits Buttery and crumbly shortbread. Your choice of three: plain, cheese or mango.
  • Chocolate Croissant Malagos chocolate rolled in croissant dough.
  • Lola Luisa’s Ensaymada A traditional sweet bread, rich with eggs, butter and queso de bola. (Goes well with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee for breakfast or merienda).


  • Herbed Liver Pate A butter-rich chicken liver spread seasoned with rosemary, sage and laurel leaf. Served cold.
  • Fish Roe Pate Salted fish roe blended with fresh cream and butter.
  • Kesong Puti and Basil Carabao cottage cheese.
  • Herbed Cheese Chevre cheese and butter with garlic and basil leaves.
  • Butter and Jam Our in-house strawberry jam and butter.


  • Lelot Balatong Sticky rice and monggo beans cooked in fresh coconut milk. Served with langka (jackfruit) and latik.
  • Arroz Caldo ni Roberto Make it with diket (sticky rice), he said. Rice porridge with ginger and chicken.
  • Champorado Chocolate rice porridge served with fried fish – comfort food of Pinoy children.
  • Suman at Tsokolate (V) Sticky rice cake cooked in coconut milk and served with a demitasse of thick chocolate.


  • Ruins Leche Flan Lime perfumed carabao milk flan with caramel sauce.
  • Banana Turon (V) Saba bananas and langka (jackfruit) rolled in lumpia wrapper and fried, topped with mango coulis and coconut syrup.
  • Ginumis (V) Shaved ice dessert with coconut cream, gulaman, sago and pinipig. Sweetened with sinakob syrup.
  • Panna Cotta A refreshing carabao milk custard with a hint of lime.
  • Coffee Almond Jelly A combination of coffee and almond jellies with cardamom and milk froth.

Cold Drinks

  • Agua Fresca de Jamaica This infusion of hibiscus is slightly sour, rich in vitamins and served cold.
  • Fresh Fruit Juice The best of the season served cold. (Orange, Mango, Pineapple, Lemon, Papaya, Coconut)
  • Fresh Fruit Shake Fruits in season blended with fresh cow’s milk. (Banana, Mango, Papaya)
  • Fresh Fruit Lassi Yogurt blended with the best fruits of the season (Banana, Mango, Papaya)
  • Cordillera Gold Banana, Pineapple, Ginger and Turmeric Juice.
  • Ruins Sparklers A concoction of fresh sparkling lemonade and our house syrups. Choice of lemon or ginger-lemongrass.
  • Ruins Iced Tea Tall glass of cold tea with lemongrass and pandan leaves.
  • Cold Milk A glass of fresh cow’s milk from Sunfresh Dairy Farm in Pangasinan.
  • Tapuey A traditional fermented highland rice drink. (Servings: 250ml and 700ml bottles)

Teas & Infusions

  • Morocan Mint Tea A hot and yet cooling infusion of fresh mint leaves.
  • Salabat Ginger steeped in hot water. Best with honey or moscovado sugar to taste. Served by the pot.
  • Ruins Herb Tea Infusion of lemon grass and mint leaves with honey and a lemon wedge on the side. Served by the pot.
  • Black Tea Loose-leaf Ceylon tea with your choice of milk or lemon & sugar. Served by the pot.
  • Warm Cow’s Milk A cup of comfort from Sunfresh Dairy Farm in Pangasinan.
  • Tsaa Laya Fantastic blends of Philippine grown herbal teas. Ask your server for available choices.

Chocolate Treats

  • Rizal’s Tsokolate-e A hero’s cup of hot carabao milk blended with Malagos chocolate.
  • Tsokolate de Agua A mug of bittersweet Malagos chocolate dissolved in water, the Mexican way, with a touch of sugar.
  • Iced Chocolate Shake Cold milk and chocolate ganache blended with ice.
  • Minted Hot Chocolate A rich cup of cow’s milk and cocoa infused with mint and topped with milk froth and grated chocolate.


  • Siphon Coffee Our signature roast Kalinga or Benguet Arabica beans.
  • Ruins Coffee Arabica coffee steeped with cardamom and topped with whipped cream and cinnamon.
  • Ruins Espresso A double ristretto with sweet highlights and body.
  • Macchiato A double ristretto topped with frothed milk.
  • Americano A long black coffee: double ristretto with hot water.
  • Cappuccino An espresso capped with milk foam.
  • Cafe Latte Cafe espresso with plenty of milk.
  • Mochaccino Cafe espresso with chocolate ganache and milk.

Cold Coffees

  • Iced Ruins Coffee Our house special blended with ice and topped with whipped cream, cardamom and coffee jelly.
  • Iced Latte Milk and a double ristretto on ice.
  • Iced Americano A double ristretto shot poured over cold water and ice.
  • Iced Mocha A double ristretto with chocolate ganache and milk on ice.
  • Iced Cappuccino A cold cappuccino on ice.

Café by the Ruins Branches
You can find Café by the Ruins at:

Café by the Ruins 
25 Chuntug St. Abanao Ext. Baguio City, 2600, Philippines
Telephone Numbers: +63 (74) 6657662 +63 (74) 4230755
Email Address: [email protected] 

Café by the Ruins Dua
225 Upper Session Rd. Baguio City, 2600, Philippines
Telephone Numbers: +63 (74) 4229804 +63 (74) 4229466
Email Address: [email protected]

The Bottom Line

If you find yourself in Baguio, you should definitely check out Café by the Ruins! This iconic restaurant serves good food and coffee, and offers a classic and rustic interior with art-filled spots. It is a must-visit restaurant.  

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