Marilaque, the highway that spans Marikina-Rizal-Laguna-Quezon, has always been our go-to destination for weekend rides. For those based in cities in the North and East of Metro Manila (like Quezon City, Pasig, Marikina, etc.), this highway leading to Infanta through the Sierra Madre Mountains is the favored destination for road trips, much like Tagaytay for Southerners.
A decade ago, when we started frequenting this area, there weren’t a lot of places to eat except for Mang Vic’s, Sierra Madre Resort, Pranjetto Hills, Frank’s Bulalohan, and Jariel’s Peak which just served budget-friendly meals for cyclists and motorcycle riders. Through the years, newer places were established like Cafe Katerina, Martessem, Paseo Rizal, and Lutong Pugon which made the highway even more popular among riders and families looking for wider food options.
But since the pandemic hit in March 2020, the area has just boomed with pop-up coffee shops and a whole new crop of family-friendly al fresco restaurants with well-designed interiors that specialize in different types of cuisine and serve high quality coffee compared to the usual brewed and 3-in-1 options of the old.
The area is becoming an alternative to Antipolo and Tagaytay when it comes to food trips and vacation resorts. With more families looking for scenic destinations near Manila for food trips and urbanites who just recently got into cycling and motorcycling during the pandemic, there are a lot more restaurants to choose from these days.
Here are some of the newest al fresco restaurants and cafes along Marilaque just established from 2021-2022 (that I have personally been to) for your weekend food trip and coffee rides. There are still a LOT of new developments in the area.
NOTE: The list is arranged in terms of distance coming from Quezon City with the nearest ones first. I’ve included their location on Googlemaps for easier reference.
Kaulayaw at Cuyambay (Cuyambay X)
Aside from Kaulayaw Coffee’s branch in Antipolo, which can get quite crowded and hard to park on weekends, there’s a new branch in Cuyambay that offers a more chill place for riders and cyclists to relax and have coffee on weekends. Kaulayaw Coffee is located in a small area called Cuyambay X, which has several cafes with different food concepts accessible through one entrance, including Kamala Cafe, which serves Thai food and Midoriyama Ramen Bistro, a Japanese restaurant.
Kaulayaw Coffee is the first area you’ll spot right next to a small parking area for motorcycle riders and cyclists. The main al fresco area offers a cozy spot with a great view where cyclists can enjoy coffee with their bikes easily parked next to them or at least in plain sight of the parking lot.
But in case it’s raining or is too hot, the cafe also has an enclosed dining area a few steps down with wide glass windows that still offers a great view and protection from the elements. What’s great about the cafe and the other restos here is that they were built built around existing trees. It looks like a really chill place to enjoy a cup of coffee with friends and family.
Kamala Cafe, opened in 2022, is one of the newest al fresco restaurants in the Rizal area. The rustic cafe, which is also part of Cuyambay X, serves authentic Thai cuisine and offers stunning unobstructed views of the mountains and Laguna Lake. The cafe feels very natural, as it uses a lot of wood accents and seems to have been built around existing trees on the ridge, which I definitely appreciate.
Kamala Cafe serves a focused menu of Thai dishes, including Pad Thai, Satay, Tom Yum, Thai Iced and Hot Coffee, Sticky Rice and Mango, and more. Since they have just a few food options, they can focus on quality.
Kamala Cafe is a bit hidden and easy to miss, as it’s located early on in Marilaque just across the road from Pico de Pino. The cafe uses the same entrance as Kaulayaw Coffes’s Cuyambay branch. This is good for couples on dates and small groups if you want a place that’s a little bit quiet.
Tanay Highlands Cafe
If you’re traveling with your family or a large group, Tanay Highlands Cafe is one of the best options because it’s very spacious, has enough parking for cars and has a wide view deck that’s a great spot for group photo ops.
I think Tanay Highlands Cafe offers one of the most photogenic views in the area, because you get a great unobstructed view of mountains with the Pililla Windmills in the distance framed by Laguna lake, and a lush forested area with pine trees right in front.
This new al fresco restaurant specialty Café, offers all-day breakfast meals, pasta, sandwiches and interesting drinks like Ube Halaya Latte, Chocnut Nostalgia and S’Mores Mocha drinks. The place is pet-friendly and bike-friendly as well, with several racks for customers. The space also serves as an events place & camping spot.
Ichan Tanay Viewpoint Dampa
Ichan Tanay Viewpoint Dampa is a new al fresco dining spot right beside Cafe Katerina that serves food, coffee provided by Kape Natividad, and beer. The resto has a small garden with a touristy Tanay sign for photo ops.
Based on the name of the place, I was expecting the place to specialize mainly in seafood, but they also had typical breakfast meals, pizza and pasta, along with the seafood options like Salmon Sinigang, Seafood Kare-Kare and Chargrilled Squid. We ordered the Squid Sisig and Grilled Scallops.
To be honest, the food could still use some improvement in terms of presentation and taste (especially for the price), but the place itself was pleasant. I was surprised to find Boondocks Session Ale and Katipunan Craft Beer being served on tap here (P195/250 ml mug), which kind of saved the visit.
Wyndell’s Al Fresco
For families/clans and larger groups, Wyndell’s Al Fresco is one of the most popular restaurants to dine in the Tanay area. From the entrance, it doesn’t look too big, but Wyndell’s offers a surprisingly large space where guests can dine with a view.
There’s a small cafe near the entrance for quick snacks and drinks, an open air grill that offers steak and seafood like grilled oysters, and even a K-BBQ al fresco restaurant for unli samgyup. They also serve a few international beer brands and local craft beer like Crazy Carabao, which is still rare in the area.
The food here is a bit more pricey than other restos along the Marilaque strip, but the view is great especially around sunset and there are a lot of dishes to choose from. They sometimes have live music here at night. Parking can be a big tight along the highway for cars as it’s located beside a lot of other restaurants, but there’s a secure parking area on the premises for motorcycles.
Cafè Marisse is an overlooking bar and restaurant located at Sitio Mayagay 1, Barangay Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal. The strategic location at a bend of the road means visitors get access to a great panoramic view of the mountains.
The cafe has a few kubo type huts and gazebos for groups, but also has a semi-enclosed and roofed multi-level dining area with pleasant interiors that will attract families and couples.
The cafe serves good coffee and dishes like Chicken Caesar Salad, Tendon (Tempura Rice Bowls), and Pesto Pasta (choices toppings Tempura or Grilled Chicken), among others.
Kabsat Grill and Restaurant
Established in June 2021, Kabsat Grill and Restaurant is an al fresco restaurant that serves Filipino cuisine, pasta, sandwiches and more. It’s located in Sitio Mayagay 1, Brgy. Sampaloc (in between Villa Gavina Resort and Pranjetto Hills resort).
NOTE: We visited in July 2021 when the place was just a month old, and haven’t had a chance to check out new dishes. It’s a nice chill spot for night rides if you want to enjoy homey food and live music.
Yeyi’s Pizzeria & Cafe
Like the name suggests, Yeyi’s is a Pizzeria and Cafe in Tanay. You can find this on the winding road past Paseo Rizal and Pranjetto before the intersection to Sampaloc.
It’s a small but chill restaurant with an overlooking view that offers a few pizza dishes, pasta, and coffee. Yeyi’s is very popular for group motorcycle rides, so it can get crowded especially during weekends.
La View Cafe Resto Resort
La View Cafe Resto Resort, which opened just last December 2021, offers an amazing view of the Sierra Madre Mountains. It’s located before Jariel’s Peak on the border of Infanta. The resort has free WiFi and has secure and spacious parking for all types of vehicles.
La View resort offers unique accommodations good for families and couples, including A-frame cabins and has an infinity pool overlooking the mountains, for about P4,000/night.
The resort is located in an area known for getting very cold at night and during the Ber months, so make sure to bring a jacket for the “Baguio Feels” especially if you’re staying overnight or going on night rides.
The food options were pretty good and the serving size portions were generous. Restrooms were modern and clean. Even if you’re not staying overnight, it’s worth a visit just for meals, coffee and the awesome view.
Got any other recommendations? Feel free to leave a comment below. Follow me on Instagram for more food trips and adventures!