By P (Your Ultimate Randomista Travel Buddy!)
A trip to Cebu is a like an journey to a Philippine culinary melting pot, and my last adventure there a week ago was just like that: non-stop chibugan all the way from brekkie till supper! I am a foodie at heart and traveling for me requires dedication and commitment in finding the best gastronomical discoveries in each locality I visit.
Unlike Manila, I’ve noticed that there are lesser competition from international F&B brands here, hence more room to develop a unique flavor and creativity among local restauranteurs and food lovers. What I also remembered seeing is the influx of boutique and art-inspired cafes and dessert houses in all corners of the city which makes me stop and think: dayum, if only I had the luxury of time to try out all of these!
When it comes to dining options, I suggest that you SHOULD NOT only confine yourselves with what the restaurants in big malls like Ayala Center and SM City Cebu offer. Yes, the world-famous local lechon (suckling pig), CnT, can also be bought inside the foodcourt of a mall which might prove to be very convenient for many–hence no more reason to go out, drive around town, and seek what’s new in the area–but it’s also good to try out a mix of non-conventional restos together with the already tried-and-tested food outlets in your next trip to discover what the taste of the real Cebu is.
With the help of my Cebuano friends, here are 14 well-loved dining spots in Cebu City which I have personally tried and have given my two thumbs-up.
FOOD PORN ALERT! FOOD PORN ALERT!
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|Photos from: cafelaguna.com|
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Best for sunsets and dinners, the primary draw factor of Lantaw Busay is the alfresco dining experience with a breathtaking view of the city skyline. I don’t know if it was the ambiance that made the food taste better or was it the other way around (i.e. great tasting food that made me appreciate the scenery even more), all I know is that I really enjoyed my kare-kare and grilled pork belly together with a bottle of San Mig Light. (Busay, Cebu City)
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Stumbling upon Rica’s Cafe is like discovering a pot of gold at the end of a beautiful rainbow. I enjoyed myself at Rica’s so much the first time I was there to the point that I had to come back again the next day with my parents for dinner. I like everything quirky and unusual, hence The Henry Hotel’s official food concessionaire was my default go-to place to unleash my inner “creative” self while dining. Entering the restaurant itself is already an amusing experience on its own as you have to pass through the quaint-looking Henry Hotel lobby area. You will then be greeted with their art murals and funky-looking interiors. The resto on the other hand welcomes you with full eccentricity–from big chairs, small chairs, white chairs, to black chairs, and everything odd that suit perfectly well with the overall theme of the property. My mom loved her order of Spinach Mushroom Cannelloni, while I enjoyed my out-of-this-world Brazo Mantecado cake. (#1 Paseo Saturnino, Ma. Luisa Banilad, Cebu City)
Oh! Georg may look everything but ordinary from the outside, but it’s the typical comfort food that leaves a smile to your hungry bellies. They are always packed every day, but I give plus points for their quick service. Their best-sellers include the mango tahini salad, beef lasagna, and beef ribs. (Ayala Center Cebu) Photo from foodspotting.com
ANZANI NEW MEDITERRANEAN CUISINE
|Photos from anzani.com.ph|
Anzani ups the tempo in Cebu fine-dining as they serve premium Mediterranean gourmet dishes. For delicious pizzas and pastas with price ranging from PHP280 to PHP395, it’s definitely not bad at all! For lunch, I had the combination Penne Napoli and Smoked Salmon Pizza gulped together with a can of Coke (oops, yes I’m sosy like that). Muy bien! Muy bien! (Panorama Heights, Nivel Hills, Lahug, Cebu City)
ONE CLAYPOT HOUSE
Cebu is now seeing more and more unique hole-in-the-wall dining experiences across the city and One Claypot House is one of them. What sets it apart from other boutique restos is that it has carefully designed their space very well despite the limitations in the floor area. For a 30-40 seater restaurant, it is a great place for private events, get-togethers with friends and families, bridal showers and even birthday parties. One Claypot House is what I call ‘organized-chaos’ as you’ll see various beautiful art pieces and decors hanging on the ceiling and on each side of the walls–from abstract paintings, black chandeliers, bird cages, big wooden boats, etc.
They serve a fusion of Singapore, Thai, Malaysian, and Pinoy-inspired dishes. My personal favorites are the Thai Glass Noodle Salad, Pork Binagoongan (I can still imagine the taste of it!) and the Claypot Rice (which I think is a unique Singaporean-version of a paella). (Mariepaz Suites, 18 Rosal St. corner Molave St., Camputhaw, Lahug, Cebu City)
If you are looking for a cutiepatootie place to chill out with your girl friends on a weekend, Cafe Maru is the ideal coffee and dessert shop that you should visit. The homey-and-colorful decor and Korean-inspired cafe theme of Cafe Maru makes me reminisce all the pretty cafes in Seoul I’ve visited two years back. Aside from cafe art, they are also quite known for their best-selling Ice Cream Waffles. Yum! (Ground Floor Ethans House, Goc. Cuenco St., banilad, Cebu City; +632 2397909) Photo on the left: shankybaby.blogspot.com)
SUNBURST FRIED CHICKEN
|Photo from thepickiesteater.net|
As a great alternative to famous fast food giants, Sunburst serves crispy fried chicken that can surely rival against KFC’s or Jollibee’s. Best comfort food ever! (2/F Ayala Center Cebu, The Terraces, Cebu City)
|Photo from liasfoodjourney.blogspot.com|
La Marea’s Warm Brownie Cups are LOVE! Eating it can surely cheer me up any given day. One thing’s for sure, La Marea is only for those with a sweet tooth as most pastries and cakes that they have are extremely sweet but oh-so yummy. (Crossroads, Banilad, Cebu City; The Walk, IT Park, Cebu City; Paseo Arcenas, Labangon, Cebu City)
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To be fair, I’ve only tried two types of desserts at Fudge: the bestselling Lava Cake and the chocolatey Oreo Mini Cake. But I’m definitely coming back for more. I enjoyed the lava cake the most as it was perfectly moist plus the ice cream on top adds to a beautiful OMG!–dessert experience. (4th Flr. Ayala Center Cebu, The Terraces, Cebu City)
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My first experience at Dolce was nothing spectacular. It took about more than hour for them to bring out the dish I’ve ordered even though there were only less than 20 guests in the entire cafe. It also drizzled that night and since my friends and I were seated outdoors, we were forced to eat our food quite fast. In short, I wasn’t really that amused… I guess it was just not my lucky night.
So I decided to give them a second chance and returned with a much more hopeful mindset a few months after. With the company of my good friends, I enjoyed a special night-out at their resto with my Dolce cappuccino drink and a great order of spinach & mushroom quiche. (Panorama Heights, Nivel Hills, Cebu Veterans Drive, Cebu City)
LA VIE PARISIENNE
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For only PHP200-300 a bottle, you can choose the right wine that fancies you. Perhaps something sweet or maybe something strong? They’ve got a lot of options in their wine cellar and you will definitely spend a few good minutes searching for the perfect bottle. Aside from being a wine bar, they also have a bakery that serves the best croissants in town. You will usually see tons of locals buying bags of croissants with them. I like eating mine while sipping a glass of red wine in their romantic garden found just beside the store.
HARBOUR CITY DIM SUM HOUSE
|Photo from captainfood.blogspot.com|
They probably have the best dim sums in Cebu. I’ve lived in Singapore (which is another culinary haven especially for Chinese cuisines) for six years now, which means I’m probably much more accustomed to well-cooked and intricately prepared Chinese cuisines. Harbour City is definitely on top of my list in Cebu for good, inexpensive dim sum gluttony. I can devour 30 pieces of siomai plus dive into their sweet & sour pork, spring rolls, and crab pincer all at one go for sure! (L/G Flr. SM City; 3rd Level Ayala Center Cebu) Photo on the left: @_samyg’s Instagram account