El Jardin by Ciudad Fernandino: a charming bed and breakfast under the vines and stars | Pangasinan


I've passed through Dagupan several times previously, typically for quick pit stops at random cafes. A weekend with friends last summer allowed me the opportunity to stay overnight and explore more about the city's nature spots, old churches, and, of course, its culinary delights.

Where to eat and stay in Dagupan
Welcome to El Jardin by Ciudad Fernandino

Together with four other travel writers and our host Bong Esguerra we arrived at El Jardin by Ciudad Fernandino a couple of hours after lunch. The property is well-known among locals for its beautiful al fresco setting, where guests can enjoy a sumptuous meal under the vines and stars. It also accommodates events and has five rooms for visitors to spend the night.

Karla Ramos
The vine-ney garden dining area

After dropping my overnight stuff to my room, which comes modestly sized with a simple decor expressing provincial vibe with a window scenery of Tambac River, we met the matriarch of the family who owns El Jardin by Ciudad Fernandino.

A Family property since the 1920’s

Bong's mom Mrs. Cynthia Esguerra immediately welcomed us with a wide smile and a gregarious personality as if we're long lost relatives long due for a catch-up session.

Cynthia Diaz
Cynthia Esguerra and son Bong Esguerra

After a brief exchange of introductions, mother and son Cynthia and Bong shared the story about the origin of their property. El Jardin was originally purchased by Bong's great-grandfather, Sotero Esguerra in 1926. Initially, the plan for the 7,500 square meter lot was to convert it to a trading post for farmers hauling their produce down the Tambac River and into the old Dagupan Railway station.

Thea ifurung
A passion project resulted to this charming nook in Dagupan

After Sotero's passing, half of the property went to Bong's grandfather Nicholas. The property was left neglected for decades following WWII until Cynthia's husband and Bong's father Fernando went back to Dagupan City in 1986.

Sophie Gianan
El Jardin has enough space for wedding receptions and other outdoor events

Small improvements gradually turned the area from a chicken farm to a warehouse storing construction and utility materials into a modest farm where native tree species, vegetables, and ornamental plants thrived and blossomed, giving the place a green character.

Plants and colorful flowers everywhere

Already a business owner for more than a decade having operated Ciudad Fernandino Hotel and Cafe Dos by Ciudad Fernandino in Urdaneta City, the family decided to create an outdoor events venue and bed and breakfast on their estate.

A taste of Spanish-Filipino inspired cuisine under the stars and trees

After a wonderful afternoon filled with fascinating talks and a brief tour of the surrounding nature spots, which included a picturesque cruise along the waters and mangrove forest of Tambac River, we returned to an awaiting gourmet dinner set-up in the garden of El Jardin by Ciudad Fernandino.

Muffet Sta Maria
Garden dinner set-up under the trees and stars

We were joined by Cynthia's daughter Carmina and her husband Mon Camacho, who are both chefs with extensive experience working in various restaurants before they decided to focus on the family's restaurant business.

Charisse Vilchez
But first, an appetizing Charcuterie board

Chef Mon in particular, specializes in Spanish cuisine which explains why the Paella dishes he served us that night; Paella Negra and Paella Laing Con Bagnet, tasted so much better than the Paellas I've had before.

Where to eat in Pangasinan
Bagnet Laing Paella. This paella tapped the rich taste of laing for broth before topped with extra crispy bagnet.

Other delectable delicacies on our menu include Sopa de Mariscos, Bangus al Jorno, Gambas, slow-cooked beef belly, and the El Jardin Salad, Apple Crumble Cheesecake, Chocolate Mousse, and Panna Cotta.

What to eat in Pangasinan
Paella Negra. The blackness is caused by squid ink and topped with tiger prawns, squid and crab legs.

Before we dug on the main course, we indulge in another lively socials with the Esguerra family over a free-flowing Sangria and an appetizing Charcuterie board of various cheese, cold cuts, fruits, and biscuits.

Where to eat in Luzon
Slow-cooked Beef Belly. Milked for delicious flavor through an 8-hour cooking process

Under a clear night sky visible of stars and illuminated tree branches and vines, the ambiance exudes every bit of a charming setting. No wonder, the place is fast becoming a popular venue for bespoke private dining, intimate gatherings and a go-to romantic dinner date for couples.

Kate Alvarez

I went to bed satiated gastronomically, filled to the brim, and with newfound knowledge of elevated Spanish-Filipino fusion cuisine. 

Gay Emami Mitra
Bangus El Jorno

The next morning, I awoke to the sounds of birds chirping and the delicious aroma of our breakfast composed of dried tuyo, sausages, tapa, sunny side up eggs, fried rice, and fresh salad. As I was sipping my freshly brewed coffee, I can't help but wonder about when I'll be able to visit El Jardin again. I bet for sure that would be another epicurean delight.

Audrey Trinidad
Our breakfast the next morning

El Jardin by Ciudad Fernandino is located at 185 Tambac-Tebeng Road, Brgy. Tambac, Dagupan City, Philippines.