close

follow us on

This Baguio Gem Of A Restaurant Has A Gypsy's Soul

Be charmed by meals full of laughter, stories and hearty, delicious dishes inspired by travel

Perched on a hill with a stunning view of the City of Pines, Gypsy Baguio by Chef Waya has a romantic Bohemian charm and an eclectic, travel-inspired menu that celebrates the best of seasonal, local ingredients. It’s delicious, homey cooking that comes from the heart, as only Chef Waya Araos-Wijangco can make. 



If the name Gypsy Baguio sounds familiar, that’s because it's the former Gourmet Gypsy Art Café, a charming homey restaurant along Roces Street in Quezon City, that was transplanted to Baguio in 2021. The OG Gourmet Gypsy (a second branch later opened in Maginhawa Street) was a low-key institution, beloved for its laidback vibe, and eclectic menu of hearty dishes from all over the world. 


One of the reasons Gypsy Baguio is such a hit is due to its unique ability to find the right balance between indulgent food and wholesome dishes. Chef Waya prides herself in serving guilty pleasures, while also having a myriad of offers for vegetarians, vegans, and foodies with dietary restrictions like their Vegan Adlai Paella and house-made sugar-free ice cream (their Miso Butterscotch should not be missed!)



We were fed a feast when we visited Gypsy Baguio and honestly everything we ate was delicious — from the salad made from vegetables we picked earlier in the day, to the off-menu dessert inspired by a local farmer’s rhubarb grown especially for Chef Waya. 


We started the meal with Peruvian Pulpo Ceviche (octopus in citrus marinade with aji amarillo) served with baguette slices. The octopus was tender and the marinade was beautifully tangy and ideally wiped off by the bread. 

540x540
Peruvian Pulpo Ceviche | Ching Dee

We also had a trio of Mediterranean Dips: Turkish Eggplant, Roasted Beet with Feta, and Chicken Liver Pâté, which Chef Waya loves to give to her friends and family during the holidays.


540x540
Mediterranean dips: Turkish Egglant, Roasted Beet with Feta, Chicken Liver Pâté | Ching Dee

The salad was a love letter to Baguio and its amazing produce: kohlrabi, baby carrots, and beets from Dontogan, roasted cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, locally grown oranges, alfalfa sprouts, and nasturtiums. The Miso dressing tied everything together, keeping the vegetables’ bright flavors while adding some depth with umami and subtle sweetness.


540x540
The salad was an ode to Baguio's fresh produce. | Ching Dee

Next, we had some hearty soup courtesy of their best-selling Seafood Laksa, which is also Chef Waya’s mom’s favorite. The rich coconut broth is not too spicy, so you can still enjoy the real flavors of the prawn, fish cake, and the various herbs and spices. The rice noodles are still chewy, nothing too mushy. This is perfect for warming up in Baguio. 


540x540
Seafood Laksa | Ching Dee

For the mains, we were served the Vegan Adlai Paella, Gypsy’s version of the Spanish classic with heirloom grains from Bukidnon cooked with mixed mushrooms and various vegetables.


540x540
Vegan Adlai Paella | Ching Dee

The Burnt Miso Butter Salmon, which features a salmon filet with crispy skin served with umami rich miso butter and roasted vegetables, including the baby carrots we harvested earlier in the day. 


540x540
Burnt Miso Butter Salmon | Ching Dee

Indonesian Beef Rendang with extremely tender and flavorful braised beef in rich and spicy coconut sauce, which was so wonderfully complex and begs to be eaten with rice.


540x540
Indonesian Beef Rendang | Ching Dee

We also had Gypsy’s version of Indian Butter Chicken or chicken tikka in a creamy and tangy yogurt tomato masala sauce.


540x540
Indian Butter Chicken | Ching Dee

And of course, we also had the crowd favorite Salted Egg Pork Belly, which has hefty chunks of juicy pork belly deep fried to a golden crisp and tossed in umami-rich salted duck egg sauce with curry leaves.


540x540
Salted Egg Pork Belly | Ching Dee

For dessert, we had to try their house-made Miso Butterscotch sugar-free artisanal ice cream, which was so creamy and sweet, complementing the subtle saltiness of the miso and salted butterscotch.


540x540
Miso Butterscotch Ice Cream | Ching Dee

Chef Waya also turned the rhubarb from Dontog Techno Farm into a Rhubarb Cobbler. They cooked the rhubarb into a jam, which balanced its natural acidity. Aside from the crispy crumbly topping, the house-made vanilla ice cream finished this dessert on a beautiful note.


540x540
Rhubarb Cobbler | Ching Dee

While Chef Waya takes care of the food part, her partner Margo Flores, a PR practitioner, advertising executive and coffee aficionado, takes care of Taguan Café, a quaint coffee shop at Gypsy’s al fresco area. Do not miss the Ube Latté, which is said to be Kapamilya actress Julia Barretto’s favorite when she’s in Baguio. 


Gypsy Baguio is a win-win for any foodie who finds himself in the City of Pines. Great food and equally great coffee, what’s not to love?


Every meal shared with Chef Waya and her family (both her biological and culinary families) is not just delicious, but full of stories and laughter, which leads us to the story of how she ended up back in her hometown of Baguio City.

540x540
Ube Latté | Ching Dee

Bittersweet Homecoming 

At the height of the pandemic, Chef Waya and her team at Gypsy Gourmet Maginhawa and Roces (both in Quezon City) tirelessly helped feed frontliners and fellow essential workers, while also taking in delivery and take-out orders for the restaurant. But like many other businesses that folded because of the flip-flopping policies, multiple lockdowns, and the repercussions of the two, they had to make the hard decision of closing both restaurants.


Chef Waya packed up her stuff, sold everything from the two restaurants, and found herself back in Baguio where she grew up. In 2021, her whole family moved to the City of Pines for good. She also brought a few colleagues-turned-friends from Metro Manila to host them in Baguio for a week or two… and they never left.

540x540
Chef Waya Araos-Wijangco | Ching Dee

Sweet Beginnings 

Meanwhile, PR practitioner and advertising executive Margo Flores only met Chef Waya in Baguio in January 2021 and they hit it off immediately. Admittedly, he only planned to stay a few weeks, but Baguio’s charm was impossible to resist. Weeks later, he decided to move to Baguio for good as well. He and Chef Waya teamed up to bring Gourmet Gypsy from Quezon City to Baguio and with it Chef Waya’s signature dishes. 


On May 28 2021, they officially opened the doors of Gypsy Baguio by Chef Waya. It was almost like a reincarnation.

540x540
Chef Waya with Margo Flores and his dog, Yakult | Ching Dee

The restaurant, which sits on top of Quezon Hill overlooking the city, used to be Chef Waya’s apartment. They leased it and turned it into a restaurant with a main dining area, which sits at least 50 guests, two private rooms which can sit between eight to 20 diners, and two outdoors areas — the al fresco area at the front of the restaurant overlooking Quezon Hill and the back area where Taguan Café is situated with a few tables and Japanese-inspired floor seating.


540x540
Gypsy Baguio, perched on its hill | Ching Dee

Aside from the restaurant, they also recently opened a test kitchen of sorts along Yangco Road (corner Brent Road), just behind Hot Cat Specialty Coffee and Mt. Cloud Bookshop. New dishes are tested here before it makes it to the Gypsy menu.  A new dish is introduced every Thursday, which is available for dine-in, take-out, and delivery. During our visit, we enjoyed a huge bowl of Vietnamese Caramelized Pork with lots of local vegetables and Gypsy’s best-selling Chili Lime Nuts with some coffee from Hot Cat. 


Make sure you say hi to Yakult, Margo’s Pomeranian and Gypsy’s official mascot, when you visit both locations.

540x540
Scenes from the Gypsy Test Kitchen | Ching Dee

Fresh Advocacies 

Despite having been in the culinary industry for decades, Chef Waya couldn’t get rid of the developmental worker in her. She has been actively providing relief for victims of natural calamities and fires, as well as professional training for our brothers and sisters in the autism spectrum. 


Now that she’s in Baguio, she’s helping local farmers diversify their produce, directly connect with restaurants, and even create byproducts from what would have been post-harvest waste. Another cause close to Chef Waya’s heart is encouraging young people to get into agriculture in the hopes of becoming farmers, especially since the average age for Filipino farmers is 58 years old.


540x540
Chef Waya at Dontog Techno Farm | Ching Dee

To give us a better understanding of local farming in Benguet, Chef Waya took us to visit two small farms she’s currently working with to supply Gypsy Baguio and other restaurants in the city. But not before we stopped by one of Chef Waya’s favorite coffee shops: a coffee cart at the back of a 4x4 on the side of the road right by the entrance of The Master’s Garden along Lamtang Road in La Trinidad. 


540x540
Chef Waya's favorite roadside café | Ching Dee

Pat Acosta owns The Master’s Garden, a teaching farm where he grows salad greens and cherry tomatoes. It’s also a place where anyone who would like to know more about agriculture can drop by and learn from a working farm. Growing vegetables organically and without chemical pesticides may result in imperfect produce with some holes here and there, but Chef Waya insists these are just as delicious and healthy.


540x540
At The Master's Garden | Ching Dee

Nick Loque, founder of Dontog Techno Farm, is another of the young farmers in Benguet that Chef Waya is regularly working with. He used to be a teacher before he decided to become a full-time farmer. Now, he divides his time between farming and educating others about agriculture. Up in Saddle Poblacion in Benguet and Sto. Tomas Central in Baguio City, Nick houses his quaint aquaponic greenhouse where he grows some of the healthiest and plumpest vegetables this writer has ever seen — picture-perfect ruby red Beefsteak tomatoes, celery plants with thick stalks and leaves, the most vibrant baby carrots, lush purple mizuna with deep violet stems and bright green leaves, beets with vivid hues of magenta and fuchsia, and lavish pots of culinary herbs like sage, lavender, rosemary, and tarragon. Lowlanders would be happy to know that Nick is in BGC every Saturday with the Benguet Young Farmers to sell their freshly harvested produce at the De Jesus Oval.


540x540
Nick Loque of Dontog Techno Farm | Ching Dee

On the day of our visit to Dontog Techno Farm, he also showed us how he managed to grow kohlrabi and rhubarb, vegetables I thought were only possible in temperate countries. Chef Waya immediately snatched both and turned the kohlrabi into a refreshing salad and the rhubarb into a sweet and tangy crumble for dessert served with Gypsy’s house-made vanilla ice cream.


540x540
Beefsteak tomatoes, big, juicy, luscious! | Ching Dee

A visit to Baguio wouldn’t be complete without going to the Baguio Public Market. Roughly a month after a devastating fire, which razed Area 4 of the market, the community is back and thriving – thanks to the help of the local government. Chef Waya became our tour guide as she wove in and out of the market’s narrow hallways, finding her suki while showing us some of the most beautiful produce we’ve ever seen. The colors were so bright, the vegetables so incredibly fresh, and the price! Oh, the price! It’s a haven for foodie bargain hunters.


540x540
Chef Waya at the Baguio Public Market | Ching Dee

Spending time with Chef Waya in her hometown showed us a different side of Baguio outside of the usual tourist destinations (and traps), countless pasalubong stores, and stall after stall of ukay-ukay. We saw the Baguio – its culture and its people, their grit and their grace – that persists no matter what the changing tides may bring.


Margarita Forés's Lusso Now Has Branch In Rockwell

RELATED STORY:

Margarita Forés's Lusso Now Has Branch In Rockwell

Gypsy Baguio by Chef Waya | 0927 851 7856 | IG: @gypsybychefwaya | FB: @gypsybychefwaya | Taguan Cafe FB: @taguancafe | Taguan Cafe IG: @taguancafe | 6 Quezon Hill Road 2, Baguio City, Philippines.