Il dolce far niente! Oh, the sweetness of doing nothing.
There is an apparent renaissance that is taking the whole metropolis in its grip. They call it the “café culture”.
Clever marketing, creative concepts and trend-chasing brats have given rise to a renaissance of coffee-sipping and bean bag-lounging fad currently popular among the younger spectrum of the urban population. Apparently, cafés are in vogue — thanks to free wi-fi and western gentrification through social media.
The idea of lingering in a well-lit and well-ventilated waste of space complete with fluffy seats and freshly-brewed coffee isn’t exactly novel. For many decades, coffee houses in France and Italy bore witness to the unfolding of history, to birth of ingenious masterpieces, to stories of love and murder and even to the beginnings of wars. Cafés were said to play a big part in the social and political landscape in Europe at one time so much so that some key functions in the kingdom were moved from the royal courts to coffee houses.
Here in Cebu, however, we see some interesting twists to the western cafés we used to see only on post cards and chick flicks. From the Star Wars-inspired Amidala Café in Kamputhaw to the colorful Hanbok dresses in Café Tiala near the Grand Convention Center — ingenious marketing strategies paired with creative and unique concepts lure Cebuanos into this exciting novelty that involves nothing more than, erm, doing nothing.
I list down six (6) underrated cafés in the city that should be in your list when you badly need to kill time in style. These are cafés that, in my opinion, deserve more stars than what some travel sites and some “connoisseurs” (notice the quotation marks and see what I did there) gave them.
1. BOOKS AND BREWS
Books and Brews is – as the name suggests – literati’s heaven. It is very much like a library but with better seat cushions and ventilation. They serve great food, too.
The ambiance is more academic than casual. Big books on various subjects ranging from Philosophy to Fiction are neatly organized on top of the café’s white shelves. Apparently, the place has become a favorite hangout among the city’s word aficionados.
Once in a while, the café hosts workshops and literary events such as spoken poetry, blogging conferences, among other things. The UP’s Tinta now holds their literary seshes here after Handuraw Lahug closed its doors.
And, by the way, Books and Brews is just a few blocks away from the city’s nightlife capital. So, see you around.
2. CAFÉ TALK
Café Talk is a every couch potato’s living room: low-lying tables, bean bags and a flatscreen TV in every café room. The café looks like it’s cut out of a Venice romantic scene with its low arches and flowered balconies.
The café has a lazy Saturday feel to it that will make you want to spend the day in pajamas and fluffy slippers. As if that is not enough, it is located on the ground floor of Gaisano Country Mall, which is kind of private despite being a shopping center — if you catch my drift.
Café Talk can be a bit pricey though – so, make sure you are amply loaded when you decide to spend your day here. You don’t want to get broke over a cup off coffee, do you?
3. CELSO’S CRIB
This one is my favorite. It is in Piazza Elesia in Talamban. Celso’s Crib is as typical as any café can get: great ventilation, great food and, sometimes, great movies. It doesn’t really have a theme unlike the rest of the entries in this list but it is not inferior in any way.I especially like the food here. The Crib (as I like to call it) has creative menus to choose from and they are reasonably priced.Celso’s Crib is the kind of place you would like to go to while doing tasks the wife gives you but you don’t have strong affinity for like (in whispers) taking the dog to a pet salon, or taking the daughter to a dance class. You can kill some time in the Crib while you wait.
This can easily be everybody’s favorite. It has the millennial-slash-hipster ring to it — not that millennial and hipster are the same thing but they do share some common characteristics. If I should describe the café in one word, I would use “instagrammable” like any other good millennial would.Wooden balusters and nicely polished flights of stairs give Gentleman a rustic feel. They also have a decent wi-fi — at least, as decent as any free wi-fi can be. And, the food – oh, yes, the food – it is, in the humblest way I can say it, okay.The Gentleman can be quite a ride from the city, however, considering the infamous volume of traffic from Cebu City to SM Consolacion, where the café is located. Still, I hope you can spare the time to visit it.
5. SUNDAY 2PMThe naming of this humble café is already as interesting as its concept. “Sunday 2PM” is an allusion to the day and time when most people would be more likely to spend doing nothing. It is like a siesta of some sort on the laziest day of the week except that it’s a heady dose of asian cuteness: K-Pop. Perhaps, the whole idea of enjoying dolce far niente is more universal than we think it is and it surely is cutesier with tons of colorful post-it’s and a load of hand-drawn doodles with some scribbles I can’t read (no offense intended).I love this nondescript little café just right beside Sarrosa. A good wi-fi connection and a great smelling cup of coffee in your hand will surely make your Sunday 2PM a little bit more than the ordinary.
6. THE GRIDThis isn’t exactly a café but this is where you should be on a Friday or Saturday night. I don’t exactly know what to call the place but I am certain this is where I’ll be when I look for inspiration. The place is fun and when I say it, I mean it in its truest sense.Should you decide to wander into the place one day, here are some of the fun things you can expect: great food, graffiti and lots of artwork. I can’t help but feel like The Grid is some sort of an agora of creativity. It surely is teeming with resourcefulness and ingenuity. The place is a row of repurposed container vans stacked to form a housing complex with dormitories, diners, cafés and some art studios in it.The Grid is becoming a popular hang-out among students from TC, which is not really surprising since many of the renters here attend classes in the university so it can be packed on weekends.
Surely, there are more places we can kill time in but I am simply listing down those that, I think, aren’t given the notoriety that they are due. If you have some more to add to the list, let me know and I will gladly compile another list for you. In the meantime, I will see you around.