We saw Gaia Café and Crafts on our way to check out Sumaging Cave on our first day in Sagada and wanted to check it out, but an enthusiastic dog stopped us because we weren’t sure if she was friendly or aggressive. The same dog appeared as we walked further along the path, and she was happily bounding alongside a guide and two foreign tourists. I was getting worried when she was getting closer to me, but one of the tourists said, “Friendly dog” and the guide told me that she came from the café. So when we finally decided to stop to eat at Gaia the next day, we weren’t worried when we saw the dog again. Her name is Isis because “she thinks she’s a goddess”, according to one of Gaia’s servers.
Gaia Café and Crafts appears to be a favorite among foreign tourists, at least based on the guests we saw there every time we passed by the place. Gaia serves vegan and vegetarian food and is a lovely dining spot, featuring a nice, quaint appearance, a small shop, a library, and a great view of Kapay-Aw Rice Terraces. A brisk wind was blowing when we stopped by Gaia for a snack, so the fresh air is another plus for the place.
While waiting for our food, Tj went down to check out the terraces, and I flipped through a copy of Death and Beyond: Death & burial rituals & other practices & beliefs of the Igorots of Sagada, Mountain Province, Philippines by Dinah Elma Piluden-Omengan. I wanted a copy of that and very much regret not having purchased it.
I ordered a bowl of Creamy Potato Soup with Lemongrass (P70), made creamy with a nut-based cream. I thought it tasted a bit like arroz caldo, and the soup was tasty and warming which I really needed given the chilly wind. Tj had the Vegetarian Adobo (P100), which consisted of seitan, carrots, and potatoes cooked in naturally brewed soy sauce and organic vinegar. It tastes pretty close to the real thing. I’ve never had seitan before, but it’s a great meat substitute. We also split a plate of Gaia Camote Fries (P55) and ordered ginger tea (P30) and fruit vegetable juice (P50), which is made from carrots, cucumber, and other vegetables.
Isis sat next to us as we ate. Okay, she did more than sit. She rested her head on our laps and prodded us, asking for food. She was a cute, irresistible dining companion.
Aside from the great food, eco-friendliness is another notable feature of Gaia. They use organic ingredients, serve MSG-free food, and find various ways to operate in an eco-friendly manner. For example, edible food scraps are fed to their pig, and non-reusable biodegradables are composted. They also have a rainwater collection system in place.
Gaia Café and Crafts is a little bit out of the way especially if you’re staying closer to the town proper. But there’s really no rush if you’re in Sagada, and a leisurely walk will easily take you to Gaia. It’s a great place for having some nice food and for simply sitting back and watching the day go by.