Contrary to the name, it’s not all chocolate at Auro Chocolate Cafe. The tree-to-bar brand’s flagship cafe in BGC has set itself up to be more of a celebration of Filipino identity and creativity, through and beyond chocolate.
This isn’t to say of course that the wondrous cacao isn’t the star here—it is. But it just so happily shares the spotlight with an ensemble of other ingredients and flavors.
The creativity and passion is palpable the very moment you step inside the cafe. There’s a portion of wall accented by relief formed after the chocolate bars’ patterns, while another wall is covered in prints depicting Philippine cacao and other native flora. Wood and weaves also mark the dining areas, both indoor and al fresco, while the dome-like ceiling visually lets the space expand and breathe.
With all these vibrant colors and textures, the cafe already imparts the feeling that you’re going to have a good time here. And with such an extensive menu (and operating hours running as early as 7 a.m. to as late as 10 p.m.), the “good time” may well be any time.
What greets you as you enter the cafe is the glass display case filled with an assortment of pastries and baked goods, basking under the glow of a neon “Proudly Filipino” sign. The selection runs the gamut from croissants to pan de tsokolate, or what they call their chocolate sourdough pandesal. They also have a beautiful take on the pain au chocolat, called the “pain Auro chocolat,” developed by neighborhood bakery Simone (of which Ecole Ducasse Manila’s executive pastry chef Laetitia Moreau is at the helm). You can even watch as they make the day’s bread through a tinted glass section at the corner of the counter.
And though it is a cafe in name, the extensive menu has hefty enough options for lunch, dinner, and even drinks after that.
They aren’t boxed within a single cuisine or influence, either. There’s the cafe brunch staple chicken and waffle combo, but made uniquely Auro by pairing the ube waffle with toasted coconut milk latik and cacao tablea syrup. The same syrup makes the perfect topping for the bibingka Dutch pancake—the dish itself being an amalgamation of two desserts, of which the components of the syrup find their match.
Savory options abound in the menu, too.
The chicharron manok, essentially chicken skin chicharrones, is served with an avocado herb sauce dusted with cacao. The pairing sounds unusual, but one crisp bite is resounding proof to convince you of the refreshing play in flavors.
The ginataang kalabasa is another thing you wouldn’t expect to enjoy at a chocolate-branded cafe, but the creaminess and spiciness of the curry where the tenderly cooked squash and French beans swim is so hearty, it’ll be hard to stop eating spoonfuls of it. (A bonus: It’s vegan and gluten-free, too.)
There’s also the flavorful chorizo fundido, which gives us something of a full, well-rounded meal as the chorizo and red pepper garlic rice comes topped with melted cheese, cherry tomato salad and saba on the side.
And true to their spirit of collaboration, the brand worked with Don Papa rum to develop four tiki drinks, which come in the cutest glasses. Take the Lapu Lapu, which mixes two types of rum with orange juice, lemon juice, passion fruit syrup and simple syrup into a bright red fish-shaped cup. The classic cocktails on the menu, meanwhile, were crafted by Poblacion-based Run Rabbit Run.
Not to be missed, of course, are the coffee options, which use beans from farms in the mountains of Itogon, Benguet.
While they offer all the standard coffees, go instead for the assortment of mochas to get a full Auro experience. The dark mocha is a true classic, while the iced salted caramel white mocha is a light and sweet number best enjoyed for a cool afternoon sip.
The heart of the brand of course is its chocolate, and the flagship cafe has made sure to dedicate a space for their various products. So yes, you can have a meal, some coffee, maybe a cocktail, and go home with a couple chocolate bars, too.