Mahogany Market in Tagaytay City isn’t normally the place that gets featured in glossy magazines, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t warrant respect. Plenty have come to love the humble wet market, where home-cooked fare is served piping hot, and the freshest farm produce is light on the budget.
No other market is beloved by both locals and itinerant tourists than Mahogany Market. Mahogany Market is where discerning shoppers buy the best cuts of pork, beef, goat or lamb meat, as well as tawilis, tuyo, and other marine species endemic to Taal Lake. Cooks of the adventurous kind are regular visitors, as it is where they can also buy bituka (intestines) to barbeque, pig’s blood for dinuguan (blood stew), or goat innards for papaitan, an Ilocano soup dish known for its bitterness.
Tucked into an inconspicuous corner in Tagaytay, Mahogany Market is accessible via Crisanto M. De Los Reyes Avenue, on the right side of Tagaytay-Nasugbu highway. The market is located along its namesake avenue; a prominent sign out front instructs motorists to make a right (or left if you’re coming from Mendez). There’s also a newly built Municipal Trial Court right before the market entrance. Its grandiose facade is hard to miss, the white pillars announcing its presence from afar.
The dry goods and produce are near the main entrance of the market proper. The vegetables and fruit stalls are clustered together on the left side of the road that leads to the heart of the market. Feast your eyes on the fresh harvest: Atop each other are mounds of watermelon, jackfruit, mangoes, mandarin oranges, papaya and pineapples. Sometimes, a fruit is cut in halves, exposing the moist flesh inside to entice buyers.
Next to these stalls are a group of plant vendors where you could grab stalks of flowers, shrubs and herbs. From lemons and papaya to lavender and rosemary, there’s a wide array of plants to choose from for cooking, or accessorizing one’s home. Tagaytay is home to a number of farms and small, greenhouse operations, whence these sellers source their wares.
As you approach the wet market, you can hear the calls of butchers and their apprentices peddling their meat cuts by the kilo. The area where rows of local butchers have set up shop are on the ground floor of an old building, a little run-down by age. Moving closer to its facade, one might notice that the area is a little dark and dank, though the Tagaytay weather keeps any foul smell at bay.
Upstairs are the famed Mahogany Market eateries, adored by locals and Manilenos for their cheap specialties. Popular viands are baby crabs and tawilis fried to a crisp, chicharong bulaklak, or sisig. But the star of the show is the beef shank, which is used in the town’s famous bulalo, or beef bone marrow soup. A hefty serving of the dish is good for four to six persons and costs P350.00, on average. A good haggle could prove useful; it may also be arranged for the serving portion to be reduced for smaller groups.
The prices of food and produce are ridiculously cheap in Mahogany Market, compared with mall-based ones, unless the vegetables and fruits up for sale are not in season and in low supply. The best thing about shopping here is you can buy in bulk, be it dried goods, such as dried danggit or squid, various kinds of nuts and delicacies, or cooked viands.
For instance, if the cost of local kapeng barako at tourist shops is disappointing you, have a look around and find the shop situated near the entrance of the market that sells whole coffee beans. A kilogram of coffee is worth P350.00, so don’t let that keep you from buying more.
The coffee is blond and gentle on the tastebuds, good enough to satisfy your coffee cravings in the morning, and better-tasting than designer brew. Wait until you hear about the beef price at Mahogany Market: spareribs cost P190 per kilogram, while tender cuts cost P250.
Cheap prices or not, it’s its unassuming ambiance that keeps locals and tourists coming back. It may not be part of the flashy corners of Tagaytay, but its humble surrounds, great food and reputation make it unparalleled by a long shot.
Featured Image by Sandy Miguel