Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > China & Southeast Asia >
Mar 7, 2009 10:44 AM

last minute reccos for Manila, El Nido and Batanes?

I have been honored with an invitation to visit the PR this month as a last minute trip. I am traveling w/Pinoys so I wont be hungry BUT I'd love suggestions on these places if anyone can recommend anything that is "not to be missed" on this once in a lifetime trip. One of my best friends Mom is taking me :) along with her son and a chef from Roy's in LA. Should be amazing. I live in San Francisco area so we do get decent Filipino food. Oh and I pretty much eat anything. Chocolate meat, yum! Looking forward to a Balut experience too. I heart anything Adobo. Fun booze is always a plus.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Check this out: (there are a couple of other posts that I can't seem to link)

    El Nido is composed of a resort with two locations in Palawan. I've only been to one of them--the smaller, more rustic one--because we didn't see why we should go anywhere else. But the resorts aren't near towns of any significance (part of their charm), so you'll have to eat what the resort offers. The food wasn't great, but it wasn't bad, either.

    Never been to Batanes, but I hear it's beautiful in a very different way from the rest of the country.

    Your best bet for good food in the Philippines is in Manila. Outside Manila, my favorite dining cities are Bacolod and Iloilo, but you can get some of the best food at private homes, and it sounds like that will be nicely lined up for you. Bring loose clothing! Elastic waistbands will be very useful ;-


    But it sounds like YOU should be doing the reporting when you get back! We'll look forward to hearing from you. Enjoy the Philippines!

    5 Replies
    1. re: pilinut

      Well I am back. Didn't make it to any place but Luzon(Mangaldan, San Fabian, Dagupan, Baguio, Manila) & Batanes (Basco, Ivana & Sabtang Island). Darn Holy week threw a monkey wrench into my ideal travel plans. PLUS my hostess insisted that I would be kidnapped if I traveled by myself!

      Overall the food was fantastic, I even loved Balut and grilled chicken intestines on the streets of Manila-YAY! Great food country but I missed my salad a little.

      Here are my memories of what we ate:
      Manila-My host was a Pinoy Chef from LA(I need to email him and figure out where EXACTLY we went) so he took care of us. We did just about every wet market. I can't remember all of them! I do remember eating exceptionally well in the cafeterias/dining halls. Delicious tiny fried shrimp-like CRACK. Great Garlic/Chili Crabs. One was near where the stadium where the "Thrilla in Manila" took place. One was near Quaipo. Maybe Quinta or Ilalim Tulay? Thats where I ate the great little chickie intestines & various deep fried battered eggs on sticks. There was another one or two I cant remember where we were at all.

      In Intremuros, or near, we ate outside by the Cultural center and it was tasty. We had Bangus, of course, BBQ Pork, Adobo, Pusit, Soman & a fantastic version of Bibinka from a street vendor nearby. I think the resto was called Kusinang Tagalog.

      Near where my host lives, I think toward Antipolo, we took a trip up a mountain with a freshwater lake and awesome resort. We ate on the way back down at a touristy place called Exotika, right on the road near the bay. Good Sisig-which may be my new favorite Filipino dish. Frogs legs were tasty. Pancit canton was OK. I would come here for a drink and to look at the pythons and monkeys. Its like a Filipino Adventureland.

      On the drive we picked up various fruits to try-Chicos, Jack Fruit, Star fruit, buko/buko juice, Mangosteen(NOTHING like TJ's freeze dried), Rose Apple, etc. YUM.

      We also got to tour my host's family farm, DCM. Its a Hatchery and Pig Farm-LECHON SUPPLIER. Yeah-Hello! Pig farms are sort of scary though. The screaming of hungry sows is terrifying.

      Eh. Not my favorite part of the Eating trip. Gorgeous Island though. We ate breakfasts at a crummy resort called Seaside Lodge. Standard touristy Filipino fare. At least there was garlic rice. Unmemorable on all counts as far as the food went. We did have a phenomenal beach side lunch of Lobster and coconut crab on Sabtang Island. Do not miss coconut crab if you like coconut and crab. The flavor was astoundingly coco-nutty.

      More on the rest of the trip later...

      1. re: mmerino

        Too bad you didn't try Eve's Garden in La Trinidad, just outside Baguio. You could have had a huge salad that looked like a centerpiece, to boot!

        1. re: prasantrin

          Wow-that would have indeed made me happy!

        2. re: mmerino

          OK. I forgot about "Dads" in Manila. Uck. Not my pick but it was the host's pick. Japanese, Filipino and I think either Hawaiian or Chinese. I think they had a ham/roast beef/turkey carving station too. Typical buffet food, all you can eat. Next to the train tracks. Would not return.

          OK on to San Fabian.
          This beach totally reminded me of Ensenada and other places on the Pacific side of Baja California. Except the Videoke and kilos of fresh Oysters, Crabs, Shrimps and Squids. Fabulous. You just pick what you want and they cook it right up for you. I am always happy when five of my favorite condiments show up- Vinegar, Garlic, Chilies, Citrus(kalamansi) and Soy. I had it all to use as I wished on our kilos of seafood deliciousness. Oh and did I mention Beers? Yes, hooray beers too. Red Horse and San Mig. We stayed @Sierra Vista Resort on the end of the beach and ate they typical breakfast of Bangus, Garlic Rice, Two fried eggs. I miss those breakfasts. Great fruit there too. One morning I swapped for Tocino instead of Bangus. Pretty sweet for my taste. ALso had a Tapa-like Sizzling Gambas al Ajillo. Tasty. We had dinner one night @ Sierra Vista it was nice. We ate in the Nipa Hut by the pool. Very nice as no-one was around the week before Holy Week. Overall nice eating in San Fabian. Great Halo Halo in town, just walking around we found it. The owner, who was surrounded by kids, said we were the first white people her kids had seen in real life. Too funny. I did get lots iots of stares. Im 5'8 blonde blue eyed, cant even pretend to pass. Its funny to see kids get all shy when you talk to them. It was quite a Halo Halo street show. The kids wanted us to sign our names on a sheet of paper. Pretty funny.

          There arent really restaurants in Mangaldon. Great wet market and streetside food but no real sit down places. Two places we did eat of note were Dagupena and Matutinas. I liked the food best at Matutinas. Superb Garlic/chili crab. The best I think I have ever eaten and I think they were mostly females. Yay! Again the fantastic popcorn type little shrimps that are impossible to stop eating. Sinigang, of course. The Pusit Adobo was great. Everything was wonderful. Dagupena was a little stuffy. The Pork Adobo was a pork chop. Weird to me, really dry. Other food was just fine but not super memorable. I like the idea and the history quite a lot. Bangus was great. I just missed the Pangasinan Bangus Festival and street dancing. Darn. That Bangus fat is something else. Those little fish really get under your skin. I will miss them. Maybe 99 ranch will have them.

          In Dagupan, we asked a tricycle driver where the best food was and he took us to a deserted, over water restaurant that had no customers. My friend said he thought he remembered eating there like 10 years ago and that you could throw the bones in the water. We asked for beer, no beer. Nobody around. D'Original Dawel. Sad state. We left after about 10 minutes of looking around for a server after we asked for beers. So we set off to a crowded place next door with wacky live music. Silverios. Pretty wonderful chicharron! Yay! I dont really remember the other food but it was fun & we sat right on the water.

          The rest of the time in Mangaldon we were cooked for. Lots and lots of fantastic seafood. I got rotisseried pork off the street, which was great. I loved the garlic/chili peanuts from the market. Pandesel-mmm-mmm.We checked out our Auntie/Friend Romana's cafe and Peanut Brittle place. Funnily I have met her son here in SF at his gallery, Duvera.(sp?)That was fun. Lots and lots of home cooked delights. I feel lucky.

          In Baguio we ate at the Cafe by the Ruins. it was serviceable. Nothing really struck me as superb. I did like the fried Cariboa cheese salad. The interior is neat. Nice lanterns/lamps. Fire ring is cool.

          On the way out, I picked up a Tamarind cutting board, Re-Bar Grill, Frog purses, Kung Fu Wine, Vino De Chino, Bacon Spread and lots of great candy/sweets. I love the sour tamarind candy and milk candies. Had to put someting in the Balik Bayan Box!

          Overall super eating. I cant believe Spaghetti is considered a Snack. Gotta get you 5 squares in the PR.


          1. re: mmerino

            Mmerino, thanks for the detailed post! I am truly pleased you had a good time and found lots of good food. There are obviously many, many places I have yet to see, and you've pointed me toward some new places, like Mangaldon, I've never even heard of.

            I can't see why anyone who actually enjoys food would want to eat at Dad's. A quick glance at the buffet and you'd know you shouldn't bother. Still, I'm really glad you enjoyed the food in the Philippines--probably the most underappreciated in Asia, since it doesn't fit most people's expectations of regional cuisine.