10 Sweet Filipino Dessert Spots in the Upper Peninsula
Get your sugar fix from buttery señorita bread to ice-cold halo-halo.
It’s still Filipino History Month, so why not keep eating well into it? It’s a fascinating way to explore the mixture of Chinese trade, Spanish colonization, and American imperialism influences on indigenous and regional Filipino cooking. In our list of essential Filipino restaurants in Daly City, we mentioned that Filipinos make up nearly one-third of the city’s population. Naturally, the proliferation of diverse Filipino restaurants and bakeries also reaches neighboring parts of the upper peninsula, such as South San Francisco. After you’ve gorged yourself on peanut-y beef kare kare from a spot on the first list, use this one to find a sweet treat for afterward. Whether you want an airy, subtle mamon (sponge cake) or an icy, creamy halo-halo with the works, San Francisco’s neighbors to the south have got your sweet tooth covered.
“Vegan Filipinx Baked Goods” is what you need to know about this pop-up that officially debuted in January of this year. Using rich coconut milk and homemade vegan butter, Ube Mami sells ube and buko pandan (young coconut and screwpine leaves), pan de sal, crinkle cookies, cupcakes, and more at festivals and restaurants all over the Bay Area. Owner Desirae Devis sometimes offers a San Bruno pick-up point for those in the upper peninsula, as well. Her plant-based baked treats come in various cute boxed sets so you don’t have to agonize over choosing just one thing. It’s exciting to see Ube Mami debut new goods during each drop, like mini turon-flavored bundt cakes and Ube Oreo-Rice Krispies bars.
How to order: Follow the Instagram account for pop-up location dates and times.
Magnolia Ice Cream & Treats
Halo-halo. Halohalo. Or, according to the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (Commission on the Filipino Language)—haluhalo. However you spell it (from ihalo, “to mix” in Tagalog), halo-halo is an icy dessert delight that has infinite possibilities, and the nearly 100-year-old Filipino food company Magnolia is famous for it. Halo-halo often comes with some mixture of crushed ice, ice cream, fruit, jelly, and beans. A vibrant purple ube ice cream layer contrasted with chunks of golden mango and dots of dark red adzuki beans makes for a treat that’s as good to look at as it is to eat. You can even book your own halo-halo or ice cream bar from Magnolia. Macapuno (coconut), mango, and mais queso (corn and cheese) ice cream flavors await you.
How to order: Walk in.
Valerio's Tropical Bakeshop
From the Philippines to Southern California to the upper peninsula and all over California, Valerio’s first gained fame from its yeasted, twisted deep-fried dough called bicho-bicho (like a Filipino donut). Today the bakery is known for its pillowy pan de sal rolls, as well as ube ensaymadas (sweet dough pastries with cheese), custardy leche flan, and various kakanin (glutinous rice flour) desserts such as the chewy, coconut-y bibingka and the brown sugar-laced kutsinta. Don’t skip the savory baked goods like the empanadas and cheese pimiento, either.
How to order: Walk in or call to place an order.
We’ve already professed our love for Starbread, so of course it deserves a spot on this list. The famed señorita bread comes out steaming hot, melting the butter inside the little log rolls that are crisp on the outside, and softly chewy on the inside, all mingling with bits of white sugar in every bite. While you’re there, though, also consider picking up a grated cassava cake sweetened with condensed milk and coconut, or the crumbly shortbread polvoron. The Pacifica location has a bigger case of other baked goods to choose from, like seven(!) other flavors of señorita bread such as guava and Nutella. Or try the fruit empanada of the day or a coconut tart.
How to order: Walk in or call 650-733-7750 to place an order.
The Binka Bites concept is a fun ode to owners Jo and Jas Ongsiako’s childhood favorite food, bibingka—a chewy coconut and rice flour cake. The bakery walk-up window offers different flavored, bite-sized versions of bibingka (or bibingka-inspired goods, like mochi muffins), both sweet and savory. Try an ube cupcake topped with a square of leche flan or a small heap of langka or macapuno. Or a special mini cake made to order with black sesame whipped cream, sliced banana, and a drizzle of maple syrup. On the savory side, sink your teeth into a honey-cheddar-jalapeño or pepperoni BinkaPizza muffin. The drinks game is strong, too, presenting instant new classics such as calamansi matcha and dulce de leche milk tea.
How to order: Walk up to the window or order online for pickup or delivery.
The Bread Basket Bakery
Of course all things bread like pan de sal and pan de coco (filled with sticky coconut-caramel sauce) are at this family-owned bakery that’s nearly 50 years old. But there’s so much more than the delicious types of bread. Load up on the ube tarts, braided Nutella loaves, and varieties of the Visayan specialty suman, which is glutinous rice wrapped and steamed in banana leaves. There are new items every season, too, like the towering cinnamon buns that just debuted a few weeks ago. Fingers crossed for the return of pumpkin whoopee pies this fall.
How to order: Walk-ins only.
Auntie Em's Fine Foods and Pastries
Fans of halo-halo can find it in cake form at Auntie Em’s, which is a popular item that’s unique to the bakery. Alternating layers of pandan and ube cakes are nestled between tons of fluffy, fresh whipped cream, making it a decadent treat for special occasions like graduations. Dulce de leche ensaymadas are a sweeter take on the traditional coiled brioche roll. Also try the salty-sweet cheese rolls or flaky guava turnovers. For something more traditional, go for the sapin-sapin, which is one of the many glutinous rice cakes the Philippines is known for, but with colored layers flavored with langka, macapuno, and ube halaya (Filipino purple yam jam).
How to order: Walk in or call 650-588-6068 24 hours in advance for pick-up.
Red Ribbon Bakeshop
The bakery chain, started in the Philippines in 1979, is well-known for its meat-filled empanadas. But the number of sweet options far outweigh the savory, and the shelves lined with full-sized cakes and individually wrapped baked goods can’t be overlooked. Have a special occasion coming up? Order a yema (Filipino custard) caramel or sans rival (layered cashew) cake. Red Ribbon is also famous for it’s mamon (sponge cake). Try the original butter one, or get a bit more decadent with chocolate, cheese, ube, or mocha flavors.
How to order: Walk in or order online for pick-up or delivery.
House of Silvanas Bakeshop
Remember the macaron craze? (Are we still in it?) Trend or no trend, the Filipino version of macarons, silvanas, may be better than the original thanks to centers that are filled with buttercream and then frozen. The little treat is almost like a macaron-ice cream sandwich hybrid. What’s more, the wafers are made of cashew meringue, and the whole silvana is coated in cookie crumbs. Talk about a nutty, creamy, melty, delicate, slightly crunchy experience in just two bites—almost a cookie version of the shop’s famed sans rival cake. There are seven flavors, original buttercream and buko-pandan among them. Oh, there are other exciting desserts at Silvana’s, too. Calamansi squares are a tropical take on lemon bars, and the chocolate ensaimadas come with a chocolate (surprise!) filling that the original ones don’t.
How to order: Walk in or order online for pickup. Pick-up is available at Chibog Restaurant during days when the bake shop is closed.
There’s hardly a mall in the Philippines that doesn’t have a Goldilocks bakeshop and restaurant. That’s not quite the case in the Bay Area, but there are several locations throughout. The 55-year-old company offers some classic Filipino savory meals like breakfast silogs and chicken adobo, but it’s the baked goods that many people associate with Goldilocks. You can even mail order care packages full of ensaymadas (from original to macapuno) or the Ube Obsession box (full of polvoron, crinkle cookies, a cake roll, and more) to loved ones. In-store, you can get halo-halo or whole specialty cakes, most of which are made with a light chiffon base and come in varieties like Mangolicious and Choco Mocha Crunch.
How to order: Walk in, order pickup and delivery online, or mail order.