The old world charm of Agatona 1927 Museum Cafe

On a laidback Saturday evening, we escaped from the exhausting heaviness of  a searing hot day by visiting the newest heritage house cafe in Jaro district.  We fancied enjoying a light meal in view of a breezy, airy balcony overlooking the elegant, newly restored Graciano Lopez Jaena Park commonly known as Plaza Jaro. The Jalandoni-Montinola ancestral home, now rebranded as Agatona 1927 Museum Cafe is an iconic landmark heritage house at the entrance corner of Arguelles Street. It recently threw open its doors (and balconies) to the general public. Growing up, I've always been fascinated by this beautiful edifice with gorgeous gothic glass windows. Home to Iloilo's buenas familias, this ancestral house has been restored and transformed into a museum cafe, adding gravitas to the newly minted UNESCO Creative City for Gastronomy. True to form, the museum cafe has a cozy, feel at home ambiance that pairs wonderfully with heritage recipes and Filipino comfort food. If you want to feel like an illustrado in the first millionaire’s row in the country, the museum cafe is worth visiting. One of the grandsons of Donya Agatona heads the kitchen as its resident chef. 

The museum cafe is inspired by its namesake Donya Agatona Escarilla Arguelles and it was built in neoclassical architectural style in 1927 during the height of the American colonial period. We enjoyed the guided tour that highlighted artifacts, rooms and collections in the house as well as bits and pieces of anecdotal history.

From someone who appreciates houses with high ceilings and wooden interiors, Agatona 1927 Museum Cafe is one of the best representations of architectural style and function that suited the dignified, gilded lifestyle of Iloilo’s old rich. 

After our museum tour, sauntering under the moonlight in Jaro Plaza was the next best thing to do. We were surprised that Plaza Jaro just like Molo Plaza now has piped in jazz/classical music for the masses! How cultured! 

To inquire about group or personal tours, the museum cafe can be reached via their Facebook page and QR code. 

Jaro Plaza, Iloilo City
Mobile: 09125003883

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