The surfing capital of the north has gotten an influx of tourists, surf newbies, and beach lovers alike in recent years, thanks in part to the resurgence of hip and affordable hostels, some of the most IG-friendly coffee shops and restaurants we've seen in a while, and the opening of Tarlac-Pangasinan-La-Union Expressway (TPLEX) four years ago, which has cut travel time from Manila to La Union.
Home to El Union, “the Philippines’ most and least serious coffee company” and many an Instagrammer’s favorite place to hit up for a dirty horchata and a mean grilled cheese with bacon jam, Km 274+600 MacArthur Highway Brgy Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union now houses The Great Northwest Philippines Travel Stop & Viewing Deck.
Led by Manila surfers Mia Sebastian, Kiddo Cosio and Raffy Castillo, the Great Northwest was built on the idea of “creating a coastal commune focused on curated options and start ups that are environmentally conscious, community centered and design forward.”
According to Castillo, interested tenants submit their concepts to the team and once it gets the nod, they also approve the tenant’s architectural plans. He says, “We tried our best to make sure the concepts are not directly competing but rather complementing each other.”
This brand new hotspot just opened in late September and is certainly drawing crowds whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, dinner, day drinks, and even tattoos (yes, there’s a 55 Tinta here). Get to know the stalls you absolutely need to check out the next time you swing by Elyu.
If you’re overwhelmed by the choices at this seaside commune, Castillo breaks down the perfect weekend at GNPTSVD:
- Grab a cup of coffee from El Union Coffee and a fruit smoothie bowls from Makai Bowls for breakfast.
- For lunch, Papa Bear's best seller pork sambal is a must but they also have Thai salad and pho if you're vegetarian.
- Get a crab roll or scallop roll from Great Gamble as a post surf snack.
- Enjoy beer from Curious Creatures or unlimited wine from Artek Wine Yacht while watching the famous La Union sunset either from our viewing deck or the beach garden.
- Don't miss the Honey Bagoong Fried chicken if you're feeling adventurous, but you can always go with the original recipe from Sabong Fried Chicken.
- Finally, get a henna or a permanent tattoo from 55 Tinta before leaving as a souvenir of your La Union trip.
— LA, GMA News