Nearly every 20 minutes, men clad in black motorcycle garb enter the store and pick up brown takeaway bags from the counter. That’s what we noticed during our short stay in Green Bar. I figured they’re the guys from online food delivery service FoodPanda.
It makes sense because after all, Sarada Santos, one of the owners, said that this vegan café was supposed to only offer pickup and delivery service, not house the dine-in place it had evolved into. When we checked the restaurant’s rating on FoodPanda, they have more than a thousand of four- to five-star ratings. It was impressive for a restaurant that only caters to a niche market.
Sarada with her sister Jade first started Green Bar in 2014, in a building with a yoga studio in Alabang. “We thought veganism and yoga would go well in the same location,” shares Santos. But after a year, they’ve concluded that the market in Alabang was a bit tricky. They decided to move to Makati and establish a pickup and delivery service. A year again passed when they saw that this city’s market was starting to demand a place for dining in. Thus, the small café.
Trained by their experiences growing up vegetarians and traveling, all of the items on Green Bar’s menu are the owners’ own recipes. “We grew up making this food since the time we could cook,” says Santos.
“We’re happy that a lot of meat-eating people love our food,” says Santos. Their vegan café brings the community together—both meat-eaters and not—when you think another group of a different spectrum would be divisive.
One of the dishes that’s been stealing the spotlight in Green Bar lately is their Wild Thing Burger. They launched it during the obstacle race Spartan Race last September and it was lauded as “it’s uncanny how red and meaty it looks.” Vegans won’t miss the meat texture while eating this plant-based burger.
It now shares the ranks of other best-sellers in the main menu like the Breakfast Burrito, savory and creamy with a slight hint of sweetness from the seitan sausage. The burrito has been a favorite since Green Bar’s early days.
Santos admits that the struggle is mostly in baking. “We have to be the most technical when baking because of [the absence of] eggs and butter to make it fluffy,” she says. So the secret? Soy milk in perfect consistency and temperature.
Creativity paired with patience led the owners to finally create vegan donuts. Yes, it’s possible.
There are still a lot in store for Green Bar. For starters, they’ll be leaving the nook they’ve grown comfortable with for a better place that really matches their vibe.
“Now we’ve outgrown the little café. It’s time to move,” says Santos. But patrons in Makati, worry not. They’ll still stay in the city.
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Writer: YAZHMIN MALAJITO
PHOTOGRAPHY DANICA CONDEZ