The Luscious Flavors at Lilac Street

Marikina

It’s been a while since the Urban Roamer embarked on a food tour. So what better occasion to go on a food tour again than doing it on a day after this Roamer’s recent birthday early this month. (Still not too late to receive well-wishes or whatever gifts you like to give me, lol)

For this particular food tour, it was an opportunity to finally check out one of the rising food districts in the metropolis, a street named after a fragrant flower that has become known for its fragrant flavors. Welcome to Lilac Street in Marikina.

Stretching from the Marikina Heights down to the Antipolo border (marked by a small creek), Lilac Street is considered to be the main thoroughfare of Concepcion Dos, a Marikina barangay that is mostly comprised of middle-class families. Many of these families were beneficiaries of an SSS housing project that was set up there in the late 1960s, a housing project that would become what we know today as SSS Village.

Going back to the street itself, Lilac Street first rose to prominence as a food district in the metropolis sometime around 2010s. How it came to be known as such is something that deserves documentation someday since sadly I can’t find any. Nevertheless, its popularity grew as people began to take notice. Eventually, the Marikina city government began promoting it actively, at one point even helped organize a food festival in the area.

It has been said though that the emergence of the Lilac Street food district was Marikina’s answer to the Maginhawa food district in Quezon City. In some aspects, their stories are similar: middle-class neighborhoods that were originally government housing projects that evolved into commercial dining districts. The only difference is that Lilac Street does not have as much dining choices to offer as Maginhawa has, partly due to Lilac’s shorter length as a street and Maginhawa being older and more established as a food district. This may be a drawback to some who may be looking into doing a Lilac Street foodtrip but it can be also an advantage as well.

For one, the shorter length of the street makes it less tiring if you wish to go on a walk from end to end, even if you take account the sidestreets and their respective establishments along the way. It also helps for a better appreciation of the neighborhood itself of what it has to offer.

And make no mistake, the row of dining establishments along the street and nearby offer a diverse selection of cuisines and specialties for almost any type of palate. From pasta to ramen to Chinese noodles, from Italian to Korean to Mexican, from milkshakes to coffee, from cakes to pan de sal. There is so much to explore to visit.

Another difference between Lilac and Maginhawa is that Lilac is actually more “commercial” in nature, especially in recent years. You might be surprised to see along the way a branch of a large supermarket chain or that of a large commercial bank or even fastfood chains as well. Some may not mind that one but it is understandable if there are those who feel otherwise. One can’t help wondering how such commercial activity would affect the Lilac Street restaurants, many of them essentially small and medium businesses, in a positive or negative manner.

But at the moment, at least both big business and the small local business there seem to get along fine. It makes for a fascinating facet that one should check out in this neighborhood. Like its namesake flower, Lilac Street in Marikina is a neighborhood that not only attracts attention but offers sights and flavors that makes you yearn for more.

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