Cucina Higala – Good friends, great food, is the newest modern Filipino and heritage cuisine restaurant open in Cagayan de Oro City that offers its own awesomeness.

I had the privilege of being invited to the pre-opening of Cucina Higala. Owners Jan and Maggie Uy of  8 year old TFC Group, imparted their wonderful vision and mission for this restaurant during the pre-opening event. We can’t deny the fact that Kagay-anon‘s love to eat and this is what they thought too. Big and small restaurants are everywhere. Even street foods and homemade meals are awesome! But with all these many food choices available in the city, they wanted to give us something different, something unique, something memorable. They wanted to serve food that takes you back to your roots.

Cucina Higala

Cucina Higala photo by ACadeO

With this vision in mind, they started working on the mission and made this happen by going all over the Philippines to find original recipes of Filipino food. After all those travels and with all those knowledge and recipes in tow, they wanted a name to go with it, a name which immediately brings Cagayan de Oro to mind – Cucina Higala. “Cucina”, the Spanish word for kitchen and “Higala”, a vernacular term for “friends or family” plus Cagayan de Oro is known to be the City of Golden Friendship, hence the name.

Handpainted Mural by local artist

Handpainted Mural by local artist – photo grabbed from ACadeO

Personally, I love how Cucina Higala is supporting local farmers by buying their produce and supporting local artists by being the museum of their artworks. Almost all their ingredients are from local suppliers all over Northern Mindanao, except 2 spices which can’t be found here (yet).

Aside from that awesome support to local suppliers, they also pledged to sponsor qualified and deserving indigent individual for a full HRM course and will be given an OJT for one year in their restaurant.

Cucina Higala's Main Door

Cucina Higala’s Main Door is made from old wooden train tracks

Straw Star Decor at Cucina Higala

Pretty Straw Star Decor at Cucina Higala

From the ingredients, to the interiors, and furnishings of the building, to the people running it, screams nothing but heritage and culture with a modern twist. The modern Filipino bayanihan.

Now, about the food… Have you seen the movie Ratatouille? Specifically the scene where Anton Ego, an imperious and harsh food critic, was served a simple peasant dish, ratatouille? It was so brilliantly good that Ego was brought back to a specific childhood memory of his mother cooking it for him.


Well, I had that similar experience at Cucina Higala! Minus Ego’s tears. The first dish I was able to taste was their Kinilaw.

Kinilaw na Isda at Cucina Higala

Kinilaw na Isda at Cucina Higala

I couldn’t stop telling everyone beside and across me how good it was and how I’m reminded of that specific ratatouille scene because it just happened to me! KC and Yanie of AboutCagayandeOro was literally laughing at how ecstatic I looked like.

While savoring the Kinilaw and being happy about it, told me to try the very good pork barbeque (in the menu it’s 5 Skewers Pork Liempo). I hesitated at first because it looked like just a normal bbq to me. But, alas! Aside from the pretty presentation with it’s own charcoal fuelled warmer, it took me to another food memory which Michelle Francisco and I both share – the barbeque of Tely’s Kitchenette.

5 Skewers Pork Liempo at Cucina Higala

5 Skewers Pork Liempo – under the grill is a wooden bowl with lit charcoal to keep the food warm.

Tely’s was just a small carenderia across the old Tay-Yen Restaurant (beside PBCOM) but everyone loved their bbq that all classes of the city who knew how it tastes like would definitely grab some. So anyway, back to Cucina, it was that good that Michelle and I had to tell everyone our memories about it too.. We also ended up digging-up Tely’s recipe from remaining relatives after that. Haha! That’s how powerful their menu is!

Cucina Higala’s food definitely takes you back to how Filipino food used to taste like. I highly encourage you to go try it as soon as you can! Here’s another unique and a must-try, Cucina Higala’s Magic Potion. This drink changes colors as you mix the ingredients served to you. This drink is packed with health benefits from a very common flower – Blue Ternate. Google its healing wonders!

Magic Potion at Cucina Higala

Magic Potion at Cucina Higala

I have only mentioned 2 of the food in their menu of 25 dishes. 1 drink among the few. You should try and experience their awesomeness for yourself. Here’s a glimpse of one of their dessert – Sizzling Binaki a la mode.


Their place is really spacious and they have a very relaxing vibe of an ambiance. I agree with what DelishNotes said on her post about Cucina Higala, it’s a place where you spend time with loved ones. Someone you want to make memories with – may it be family or friends. Here’s a glimpse of the pre-opening. You will also see the balcony view of Cucina Higala.


They just took over all the good stuff I’ve put into my mouth, overthrown-ing everyone that pleased by taste buds since then. LOL! Yes, for me, they are that good.

Interested to book the place? They can seat up to 200 pax. You can also reserve their function room for smaller groups or take the balcony view. You can contact them at (088) 881 1570 or 0917 794 6118. Store hours: 11:00 AM – 2:30 PM / 5:30 PM – 10:00 PM. But they are still on their soft opening so they will be open from 5:00 – 10:00 PM for now. They are situated along Capistrano-Mabini Sts. formerly Thai Me Up.

Follow them on their social media accounts for updates:


To the owners, Jan and Maggie Uy, the manager Ms. Bridge, and Cath Libarnes, thank you for having me during the pre-opening. My family and I will definitely be back for more of your goodness!

Friends at Cucina Higala

Friends at Cucina Higala


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