Siargao’s Spotted Pig has finally landed in Manila. The specialty coffee shop has made its latest home in the heart of Legazpi Village, serving a comprehensive coffee menu, all-day brunch options, some wine, and some beachside vibes.
Even from afar, you’ll be hard pressed to miss the cafe. It’s a visual breath of fresh air that sticks out from the gray expanse of the Makati CBD. The cafe is decked out with calm teals and bright whites, with plants at almost every corner. The cafe’s vibe harkens back to its Siargao roots as a beachside retreat, with the light wood accents and wicker chairs.
The entrance to the cafe is elevated from street level and hosts a sizable al fresco area. There’s a bar with stools overlooking the street, so you can comfortably people watch while having a cup of coffee.
Its atmosphere—especially in the al fresco area—is very close to beachside-retreat status, which makes it very popular among the TikTok and Instagram crowd. But more than being the “it” cafe of the moment, they also happen to serve some really great food and drinks.
Unlike other cafes, the team behind Spotted Pig isn’t a group of friends or business partners. They’re family—in the literal sense of the word.
It’s all in the family
Spotted Pig’s inception was one born out of a great opportunity and her dad’s dietary restrictions, says the Makati branch’s manager, Belle Alvarez. She and her parents, Lui and Hazel, and her brother Anton, own and operate both Spotted Pig branches, as well as the Las Palmas resort in Siargao.
“My dad actually has a very strict diet for health reasons. He’s dairy free and sometimes meat free. He doesn’t like saying he’s vegan, because it’s actually different. Because of that he noticed that especially in big cities, surprisingly there weren’t many options for [his diet],” she said.
They observed that a big facet of Siargao’s food scene was heavily influenced by surf culture—one of the things the island is most famous for. Siargao’s surf scene attracted many Western tourists, which brought along more vegan and vegetarian-friendly options.
This cultural intersection gave them the idea to curate a menu that offers more options for her dad, but also presents itself as approachable to the international crowd.
“That’s why we have more sandwiches and other brunchy types of food. And that’s also where the options of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free came in, which is something we’re really passionate about,” she explained.
Finding another home in Makati
For the surf crowd, Spotted Pig has been a Siargao go-to since it opened in 2019. It wasn’t until the tail end of 2020—and the mess that was Odette—that they considered opening in Manila.
“It was just a casual conversation between me and my brother. After Odette happened, we were talking about how Siargao probably won’t have tourists for a year. We were asking ourselves ‘What should we do?’ because most of our businesses are based [in Siargao],” said Alvarez.
She commented that opening a branch in Manila might be a good idea, since a lot of their regulars in Siargao also happened to be local tourists from the capital. Her dad happened to overhear the conversation and thought there was merit to the idea.
When it came time to choose the specific location, Makati was top of mind.
“We liked Makati because there were also so many independent specialty coffee shops here so we thought we’d fit in well,” she said.
And their arrival was definitely marked with a warm welcome.
When it comes to coffee, Spotted Pig takes things very seriously. They’ve teamed up with The Good Cup Coffee, Gio Visitacion’s brainchild. It doesn’t hurt that Visitacion also happens to be a Cebu native.
The cafe’s pour over bar takes up a full page of their menu. Aside from the espresso selection and food, it’s one of the cafe’s main attractions.The beans they’ve selected are sourced from places like Ethiopia, Bolivia, and Ecuador. But according to Alvarez, the most popular ones happen to be from our own backyard. So to speak.
Of the 11 options on the comprehensive drip coffee menu, the most popular ones are the Bukidnon Mirayon Milalittra from the Bukidnon region and the Marivic Dubria Lactic Fermentation from Balutakay in Davao.
The Bukidnon pourover has notes of clementine, vanilla, and sugar cane, while the Marivic Dubria contains notes of clementine, chocolate, and honey.
Other stars of their drink menu include the duo and the Spanish latte. The duo is two shots of coffee served in separate vessels. The proper way to drink it is by taking alternating sips of both drinks—kind of like the coffee version of a shot and chaser combo. My caffeinated teammates remarked that the duo is one of the most unique brews they’ve ever tried. And of the Spanish latte, they said that it was done very well.
Lactose-intolerant or vegan friends will be also pleased to know that you can substitute the whole milk with non-dairy options like almond, oat, or soy.
For their non-coffee options, the chai latte is a must. Unlike mainstream coffee brands, you can actually taste the spices that they use and not just milk with a hint of cinnamon. As a non-coffee drinker, it’s my go-to whenever I’m in the area and in need of an afternoon pick-me-up.
For the other members of the non-caffeinated crowd, Alvarez recommends their raspberry iced tea (which was her drink of choice when we came to visit). It’s a light and fruity drink which is refreshing, but not too sweet. They also have other flavored and iced teas on the menu, like the passion fruit, earl grey, and peach iced teas. All of which will come in very handy in the coming summer months.
It’s all made here
One of the other things that the cafe takes pride in is that everything on the food menu is made in house. From the pastry selection to the breads that they use for their sandwiches, all the magic happens inside of the cafe’s kitchens.
For the pastries, I cannot stop recommending their kougin amann. It’s one of the best I’ve ever had—bar none. It’s a flaky, sweet confection that tastes just like a Danish butter cookie in pastry form. It has a rich, buttery flavor without being overwhelming. And best of all, it doesn’t leave that post-pastry film in your mouth.
The torta Cebuana is another pastry that I wholeheartedly recommend. It’s a special snack most popularly produced in Argao, a municipality in Cebu. It’s similar to mamon in its airy and soft qualities, but the torta is traditionally made with anise seeds to give it extra flavor. It’s also sprinkled with a generous amount of sugar to give it a crunchy exterior.
For people like me who love torta but detest the anise surprise, you’ll be glad to know that the cafe serves a version with some of that anise flavor, but without the seeds.
But frankly, any of their pastries would be a welcome pairing to your cup of coffee.
All-day brunching (and maybe just a bit of booze)
For people in search of more than just a light snack, Spotted Pig also serves mains. They have a good number of brunch favorites, like their seasonal avocado toast, pumpkin toast (which is available all-year round), and the king of all brunch dishes, eggs benedict.
All of the items on their all-day brunch menu (like their french toast and eggs cocotte) are vegetarian, bar the eggs benedict and the salmon benedict. And a good number of their selection is vegan or gluten free for those with dietary restrictions (like their granola and healthy pancakes).
For their sandwiches, the most popular item on the menu is the katsu sando. It’s a huge sandwich made with ciabatta (baked in house), breaded pork, Japanese omelet, and tonkatsu sauce. The sando is served with a side of taro and sweet potato chips, which may just be better than french fries.
The cafe also serves mains with rice. They have a variety of proteins available, like beef, chicken, fish (specifically salmon and bangus), and tofu.
Their tapa is truly a treat. It’s made with ribeye marinated in a Filipino-style, house-made, marinade. The meat is almost fork tender and comes without the tough and stringy bits. It’s served with two eggs of your preference, as well as atsara to break up the richness.
All of the bowls come with the option of either white or garlic rice and adlai for those with dietary restrictions (or a preference for it).
Boozy brunching is on the menu as well. The cafe has wine by the bottle available for diners who enjoy libations while enjoying their meal.
A welcome addition to the neighborhood
If you’re planning on trying out Spotted Pig anytime soon, make sure to be prepared for a bit of a wait. The cafe is enjoying its moment as the shiny new thing in Legazpi, which means you’ll have to queue for a table during peak times, which are lunch and dinner. On the weekends, Saturday and Sunday brunch are an especially lively affair.
For those of us who’d like to enjoy the cafe in a more calm manner, afternoons are especially picturesque. The outdoor area is spacious, which makes it a nice and breezy place to enjoy a cup of coffee and get some work done (which I’ve done many times).
The hype for Spotted Pig is definitely real (just ask all the influencers that shoot their content in the cafe). But we’re sure that once it settles down, it’ll maintain its status as one of the neighborhood’s most popular residents.
Spotted Pig is located at 109 Esteban, Legazpi Village, Makati
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