Little Baguio in San Juan us riddled with what one could consider hole in the wall places. Cafe Sanso is one of these tucked along an unassuming side street. It almost doesn’t look like a cafe from the outside but the inside is as homey as can be. In my opinion, at least. The juxtaposition of a Spanish tapas cafe in a predominantly Chinese area of Manila known for those banquet style meals is ironic but it works somehow.
Th space is a bit on the smaller side and can fit a limited amount of people but it makes every meal feel quite intimate. There’s a small outdoor seating area as well if that’s your cup of tea. I personally think this place is Insta worthy because the ambient light during the day makes for beautiful photos and the lighting during the evening isn’t too shabby either.
On to the food! We started with gambas al ajillo, sautéed shrimps in garlic infused olive oil because that’s a classic. These gambas were a little bit on the spicier side of the spectrum as you can tell by the addition of chilis. I liked it better because there was a yummy kick. The shrimps were juicy and full of flavor. Definitely a must have and probably best to get more than one order!
Beside the gambas was an order of salpicao, tender beef chunks sautéed in well, garlic infused olive oil as well! Aside from small plates I really have a thing with garlic, olive oil, and chilis. The beef was super tender and the sauce goes really well with rice if you’re into that kinda thing. Best part: no need to slice the beef chunks since they’re served in bite sized pieces!
We picked up a chorizo platter because cold cuts rule! So I’m not sure what the different kinds of meats were but they were all delicious! I cannot resist cold cuts. This is why I can’t fully be vegetarian… Anyway, I did like the chorizo in the middle the best since it had just the right amount of fat in the mix. Also, Sky Flakes for the crackers!
Churrasco pork belly was up next for our bigger-than-small plate. This was cooked perfectly and the baby potatoes were super soft but not mushy. I will say that the second time we had it, it wasn’t as good. Wonder why. Hopefully just an isolated case of bad pork belly for that night.
So if I had to pick a fave paella, it would be paella negra because squid ink! I also like to check my smile out after eating this squid ink based dish. I like negra because I think the flavors work really well together and really focus on the basics of seafood. In my opinion paella de marisco/marinera seems all over the place and has way too many peas. This dish was not as big as traditional servings of paella but can also be easily shared between 8 people to taste.
I washed this all down with a fruit salad and by fruit salad I mean a sangria. I picked red wine of course and would’ve gotten a whole carafe if my parents weren’t there to judge me. This drink, I like it! ANOTHER!
They also have churros but those went byebye before I could take a pic so yeaaaaaa. I will say that this goes great with a cup of coffee and Sanso uses Illy beans!
Word of warning: Parking can be a pain in the ass because of limited spots and street parking is still currently forbidden because of road repairs.
Cafe Sanso is definitely a place I can go back to over and over again. Whether for lunch, dinner, coffee, or drinks, this one is definitely a check in my book!
32 V Cruz St, Little Baguio
San Juan, Metro Manila
+632 275 2200 or +63 922 894 6144
Monday to Wednesday 1100H – 2200H
Thursday to Saturday 1100H – 0000H
Sunday 1100H – 2200H