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COCONUTS HOT SPOT — Tucked inside a cute little art space on busy Wilson Street is a cute little vegetarian haunt, whose presence you’ll only know of, thanks to the tie-dye tarpaulin hanging on the wall.
“I’ve been vegetarian all my life, I don’t know how meat tastes like,” says Maya Ladyong, the owner of My Little Art Place and Lucy in the Sky Café. “We’ve been thinking about how to expand the art place because it’s been up for 7 years already so we thought, we’d run a vegetarian café na.” She says opening a café was the original idea but she didn’t push through because “wala akong experience.”
After gaining seven years’ worth of operational experience running My Little Art Space, she opened the 25-seater Lucy in the Sky in August 2014. It serves homegrown vegetarians dishes that her family has developed through the years. It’s what they actually eat at home. “We all have our specialities. Mine are the pastas, my mom’s is the burger, as the name suggests, so all of us have contributions.”
It shares space — what used to be their garage — with the gallery, so you can imagine how artfully done and homey the restaurant is. Old chairs and dressers Maya found in their home have been repainted in vibrant hues and repurposed. Colorful paintings, Maya’s actually, hang on several walls. In another wall however, a series of black and white photographs balances all that colorful joy.
She says she wants to introduce carnivores to what vegetarian cuisine really is. “It’s not just about salads,” she says. So at Lucy, they serve burgers that are made with banana blossoms, veggie meat made with wheat protein that they tediously labor over every day. “There are vegan versions of vegetarian dishes, if customers want that,” she says, adding that they actually use vegan-friendly pasta noodles.
If you’re looking for restaurant-grade highfaluting vegetarian food, perhaps Lucy is not the place to go to, because Lucy, which is named after the Beatles song, is more like the food you’ll get at your groovy tita’s house. It is simple and homey and says Maya, is something that kids can and will eat. “We’re practical vegetarians, we eat like normal people so we don’t want to scare carnivores with all these difficult vegetarian concepts,” Maya says.
Given the simple flavors, the excellent service, and all the homey effort put into the food and the experience, it’s hard not to stay for another round. It’s vegetarian, anyway. Surely, it can’t be all that fattening.
Lucy in the Sky, 222 Wilson St, San Juan. 11am-9pm. +63 2 3704113
My momma’s burger PHP185
Cheese sticks PHP115
Barbecue, served with rice PHP185
Headline photo: Derrick Lim courtesy of Lucy in the Sky