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Beverage Haven: Café de Soledad

September 3, 2018

The strawberry juice is one of my favorites.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 50mm f/1.8 II EF lens. ISO800, 1/90 sec., f/1.8. 

 

3rd day of September 2018. 

Snax used to be my barkada's every-night hangout place ever since we were in Pre-Dentistry. That's not only true for our case, but also for other UBelt people like us. It was a food park that had everything - Pancit Canton paluto, "sizzling" everything, non-alcoholic drinks etc., - name it, they have it. It was situated just beside the old UE Dentistry building in Gastambide St., Sampaloc, Manila, until came a day when demolition notices were posted all around it (they say it's because the previous owners had to sell the lot). So the then-Snax needed to be relocated into another place in UBelt. Today it is named Gastro Street Food Hub, and is now owned and managed by a successful businessman - Mr. Dan Villacruel. It is found at M.V. Delos Santos St., Sampaloc, Manila - just in front of the University of Manila.

 

It is my utmost dismay to inform everybody who's been a regular, but not passing through Gastam anymore that our beloved Snax turned into just another low-class, high-charging parking lot today (in contrast to what was rumored that it is to be turned into some sort of another food park or apartment).

 

Their lemonades and juices artistically displayed in big Mason jars.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 50mm f/1.8 II EF lens. ISO800, 1/60 sec., f/1.8.

 

Their lemonades and juices are artistically displayed in big Mason jars.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 50mm f/1.8 II EF lens. ISO800, 1/250 sec., f/1.8. 

 

As I said, you can find everything in Snax - almost, if not all. The choice of food is abundant, but most of the stalls pair their meals with just a single option of beverage - the powdered iced tea (yikes!). Not everybody likes that. So thank God for blessing the food park with Café de Soledad, the one that cleanses our palate with difference and it somehow bound the food park together ever since 2014, when it was established by a dear friend - owner, Michelle Villareal-Bugawan and her family. 

 

Their bar counter, well lit and displayed with art carefully chosen.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens. 10mm, ISO1600, 1/20 sec., f/4.5. 

 

Pink is undoubtedly the owner's favorite color, as you can see on the café counter (and everywhere).

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens. 10mm, ISO800, 1/10 sec., f/4.5.

  

 

I've been their alaga ever since Café de Soledad started. Most of the students who dine in the food park are also her regulars. In fact as you scroll down, you will see photos of a collection of graduation pictures of ate Michelle's other alagas throughout the years.

 

Strawberry syrup being turned into a tasty drink.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 50mm f/1.8 II EF lens. ISO800, 1/90 sec., f/1.8. 

 

Hot Milo is overrated, that's why they decided turn it into a shake.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 50mm f/1.8 II EF lens. ISO800, 1/90 sec., f/1.8. 

 

Freshly-squeezed oranges and lemonades are also available. They're one of my regular orders, too!

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 50mm f/1.8 II EF lens. ISO800, 1/90 sec., f/1.8. 

 

As successful as it is today, it was not that easy for them to fully establish the place. It all started as a simple food cart - serving burgers, fries and whatnot. After a few months or so, ate Michelle realized settling with this will not yield enough fruit. So they had to find what was missing in the food court and luckily, it was the beverage business that clicked and eventually that brought even more life to Snax.

 

The old stall at Snax.

(c) Michelle Villareal-Bugawan

 

Café de Soledad posting contest winner.

(c) Michelle Villareal-Bugawan

 

Quotes in wooden decors welcome you as you approach the café bar.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 50mm f/1.8 II EF lens. ISO1600, 1/90 sec., f/1.8. 

 

The owner, Mrs. Michelle Villareal-Bugawan, manning the order station herself.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 50mm f/1.8 II EF lens. ISO800, 1/60 sec., f/1.8. 

 

She takes orders in a systematic way, that's how her establishment thrives during populous hours.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 50mm f/1.8 II EF lens. ISO800, 1/90 sec., f/1.8. 

 

I have always vented out at Ate (or sometimes, Tita) Michelle about my problems in the clinics and academics (or lovelife). She's always ready to listen. In fact, she gives the best advices. She calls everyone her anak, aside from her originals: Mark, Jannus and Pia. And that makes us feel we are home, most especially in my case for I'm almost 500 kms. away from mine. Her husband, Tito Jun, is a fellow Ilocano - also a good thing because that's another step closer to home.

 

After ordering, Raymond and Sis assume different roles in creating your beverage of choice.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 50mm f/1.8 II EF lens. ISO800, 1/90 sec., f/1.8. 

 

Raymond and his wife, Sheryl, has been with ate Michelle ever since the start of their business.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 50mm f/1.8 II EF lens. ISO800, 1/90 sec., f/1.8. 

 

The Café de Soledad team behind the bar.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens. 10mm, ISO800, 1/10 sec., f/4.5.  

 

WHY SOLEDAD?

She named the new establishment Café de Soledad after her grandmother, the person that truly inspires her most in doing business. They started serving coffee (that's why it was initially colloquially named as Kapihan sa Snax), juices and the like.

 

Lola Soledad, third from right, and the rest of the family. 

(c) Michelle Villareal-Bugawan

 

Soledad is a Spanish word which means "solitude" or the positive state of being alone without being lonely. I think a part of the message of which is that even if you're alone, they'll make you feel that you're not because they will be your companions - Ate Michelle, the rest of the friendly staff and the beverages they'll make for you. 

 

Through the years, I've seen how this business has grown into what it is now.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens. 10mm, ISO1600, 1/10 sec., f/4.5.  

 

Café de Soledad's well-lit menu. The writing makes you even crave more for a drink.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens. 10mm, ISO1600, 1/20 sec., f/4.5.  

 

Over the span of 4 years, graduation pics were collected from those who also regarded the café as their tambayan in their college days. My grad picture in tarpaulin will soon be posted on this same wall.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 50mm f/1.8 II EF lens. ISO800, 1/60 sec., f/1.8. 

 

More graduation pictures hang in a line that borders of the café bar.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 50mm f/1.8 II EF lens. ISO800, 1/45 sec., f/1.8. 

 

Siomai noodles being cooked. A great alternative if you don't want rice for dinner.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens. 10mm, ISO800, 1/10 sec., f/4.5.  

 

 

WHAT I RECOMMEND

Try their Freshly-squeezed Lemonade and Orange.

The mixed berries juice is definitely a recommend.

Milo dinosaur.

Yin Yang (Coffee and Tea).

Okinawa Milk Tea. (I call it Oki Nalawa, though, Ilocanos will get it)

Side the drinks with cheese sticks and noodles.

 

I actually am still proposing a custom-made drink to ate Michelle (started this in 2016): it's basically a half-and-half (half-lemonade, half-iced tea). It's green in color and they should name it after me because of my somewhat green of a mind.

 

Outside Gastro Street Food Hub, where Café de Soledad is located. This is just in front of the University of Manila.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens. 10mm, ISO400, 1/10 sec., f/8.0

 

Outside Gastro Street Food Hub, where Café de Soledad is located. This is just in front of the University of Manila.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens. 10mm, ISO400, 1/10 sec., f/8.0

 

Milk tea? Yep! They also serve that!

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens. 10mm, ISO1600, 1/10 sec., f/8.0.

 

The rest of the Snax/Gastro Street team.

Lugaw, Pares, Japanese.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens. 10mm, ISO1600, 1/10 sec., f/4.5

 

The rest of the Snax/Gastro Street team.

Amari's Silogan.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens. 10mm, ISO1600, 1/10 sec., f/8.0.

 

The rest of the Snax/Gastro Street team.

Bully Buffalo.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens. 10mm, ISO1600, 1/10 sec., f/11.

 

The rest of the Snax/Gastro Street team.

Korean, Heavenly Taste.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens. 10mm, ISO1600, 1/20 sec., f/8.0

 

The rest of the Snax/Gastro Street team.

Brunchee.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens. 10mm, ISO1600, 1/20 sec., f/8.0.

 

Students flock Gastro Street at around lunch and dinner. If you want a seat, go there as early as possible.

Shot with Canon 600D + Canon 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens. 10mm, ISO3200, 1/20 sec., f/5.6.

 

I cannot name all the establishments right now, but if you want to know more about Gastro Street, you can visit them yourself! Lots of food variants to choose from, and of course drinks in courtesy of Café de Soledad - a Beverage Haven -  as the title says it all. Everybody there is friendly so don't hesitate to talk to them.

 

Facebook pages on the hyperlinks:

Café de Soledad at

Gastro Street Food Hub

M.V. Delos Santos St., Sampaloc, Manila - just in front of the University of Manila.

 

Special thanks to ate Michelle, kuya Dan, tito Jun, kuya Raymond, ate Sheryl, Sis, Mark, Pia, and Jannus for wholeheartedly welcoming us to your humble establishment. My best wishes and goodluck to the future of your business!

 

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