Sago at Gulaman, P65 (small) or P105 (large)

Tootsie’s Family Recipes

Restaurants that remind me of eating in my Lola Belen (my late grandmother)’s house earn instant points in my book. Tootsie’s Home-Cooked Specialties in Tagaytay has that vibe—where you sit in a cozy wooden chair surrounded by country-style decorations as you wait for your home-cooked meals and refreshments.

I remember meeting the owner, Tootsie Eduque-Marco, a few years ago when my family dined at her restaurant for the first time. She told us that moving to Tagaytay is a refreshing change from Manila’s congested space and hectic lifestyle. My parents now have a rest house in Tagaytay, where we would escape to once in a while.

We recently visited Tootsie’s for a weekend family lunch. A number of new dishes were added to the menu, such as sinigang na ulo ng salmon sa miso, P283, a fusion of the classic Filipino sinigang with the western salmon head. They also have Taalmusal, an all-day breakfast selection of country sausage, P165, and Nanay Gin’s pancakes, P135 for two pieces or P155 for three pieces. Both breakfast dishes come with rice or pandesal, fried egg and bananas, fresh fruit slices and coffee. Now that’s a steal!

I ordered the prawns Gabrielle, P390, large shelled prawns drowning in butter and cloves of garlic that made the word “sautéed” an understatement. The tilapia frita, P185, were crispy, deep-fried slices of freshwater fish served with two kinds of sauce—onions sautéed in sweet vinegar and spices, and the classic soy sauce mix. The laing sa hipon, P180, was an impressive take on Bicol’s popular dish—gabi (taro) leaves shredded and simmered in shrimp paste, chili pepper, ginger, onions, garlic, and coconut milk.

My refreshment of choice was sago at gulaman, P105 for a large glass of caramel syrup, tapioca pearls, and diced gelatin served in crushed ice. For dessert, my family shared a carved fruit platter for P255.

The menu’s comfort Filipino dishes remind me a lot of my grandmother, who loved cooking and baking for her huge family, whatever the weather or occasion. Tootsie’s nostalgic descriptions of her dishes show you that her recipes are inspired by loved ones or shared by good friends. The prawns Gabrielle, for example, is described as “my daughter Gabby’s must-have dish—always,” while Bianca marinara “came to being during my daughter Bianca’s debut.”

That personal touch makes Tootie’s one of my favorite places to eat whenever I’m in Tagaytay.

Tootsie’s is located at J. Abad Santos corner Aguinaldo Highway (about 57.5 km after Lourdes Church), Tagaytay City, Philippines
Tel. no. +6346-438-4629
Mobile no. +63917-TOOTSIE (866-8743)
Hours: Mondays at 11:00 pm – 9:00 pm; Tuesdays to Thursdays at 11:00 am – 9:00 pm; Fridays at 11:00 am – 10:00 pm; Saturdays at 7:00 am – 10:00 pm; Sundays at 7:00 am – 9:00 pm