Restaurant and Bar: Local Knowledge

cebu dining, cebu restaurants, food in cebu


Whilst we don’t claim to be culinary experts, we have traveled extensively around-the-world, as a result, we do know what’s good and what’s not! We have made some suggestions below, which we suggest you check-out. The choices range from a fifty peso meal, to the top notch establishments.


Grills, Grills and More Grills

Whilst we don’t claim to be culinary experts, we have traveled extensively around-the-world, as a result, we do know what’s good and what’s not! We have made some suggestions below, which we suggest you check-out. The choices range from a fifty peso meal, to the top notch establishments.


Grills, Grills and More Grills

Whilst in Cebu, you should definitely experience some of the sugba or sinugba (barbecue) restaurants or stalls. A superb example of Cebu’s grills is Tsibogs (pronounced – Chee boogs). Its famous for its mouth-watering BBQ produce that has been marinated is all sorts of special herbs and sauces. Washed down with lots of ice-cold San Miguel’s… Tsibogs will certainly keep you coming back for more.

Another of the more famous grills, is Larsians on AS Fortuna – Neo Neo (just past the old bridge) and Tongs (Marina Mall) on Mactan Island are both clean, spacious and fun places to hang-out and enjoy high-quality grilled food.

For those who love lechon baboy – roast pig, marinated and grilled on a spit over charcoal – most good grills serve it. If you haven’t tried this delectable signature grill dish, do yourself and your cholesterol levels a favor.

I Want My Chicks For Free and My MTV…(a royalty cheque would be a bonus)

If you prefer fancier, more upscale dining, there are a number of modern international restaurants.

For the finest local seafood offerings and a location to die for, head straight for the Shangri-La on Mactan Island. Ponder: A chilled buttery chardonnay, coupled with fresh grilled lobster – Divine. Throw in a couple of million stars, delightfully twinkling above you and the soft-beats of some ultra-chic lounge music. Your backdrop is the sea, indistinguishable from the sumptuous blue-black of the night, so that lights from the bobbing large boats wink like diamonds on a velvet tray. All this is enhanced by the night air, which has a quality of stillness and softness. The gentle sounds of the sea-lapping up to the rocks below and your partner’s increasingly glowing smile; divine intervention…(not needed). Your already there!

A new-kid-on-the-block on the Cebu ‘must-do’ list is Abaca. Whilst the name – originates from the banana plant – doesn’t conjure up any grand visions, the food and the location will. Sublime sums up both. Abaca, is located a few-hundred metres past the Hilton Hotel, in Punta Engano on Mactan. A boutique establishment, you will be enchanted by first impressions. After a brisk walk down a path meandering through lush tropical landscape, you encounter the oasis of the evening, the main dining-cabana.

Located on the coast, one can enjoy sipping a flute of champagne, as you absorb the intimate setting and the outstanding hybrid Balinese-Thai architecture. The cuisine, concocted by Chef Jason Hyatt, takes on interesting names such as: “Nightmare Broccoli”. Most with a PR story behind them. Rest assured, no nightmares to be had by the quality and presentation of this dish or any of the others we sampled on the menu. A feature of the restaurant is their much touted, wood-fired oven. Needless to say, if you want a real pizza, with that unique taste one can only achieve with the wood-oven, then look no further. We are in love with the Lamb pizza. Our only caution here; the prices are the most expensive for dining in Cebu.

Another trendy outlet that consistently serve delicious cuisine is Olio. We suggest you try the scallop with caviar, or the aubergine with mozzarella and anchovies… mmm! Olio Bar and Restaurant, conveniently located at Crossroads, Banilad.

Ginza is another place where you will dine in style with food to match. This establishment is 26 years old and still counting. Stood the test of time with much aplomb and with the recently decorated interiors slides effortlessly into yet another gear. The food is contemporary Japanese. Signature dish is the Pork teppanyaki. Slithers of tender pork, served with a hybrid mayo wannabe sauce. Ginza: Old Banilad Road, Banilad, Cebu City (231 4612) Another excellent choice for Japanese is Nonki on AS Fortuna. This is again a stand-out and reasonably priced Japanese restaurant.

Just down the road from Olio, near the entrance to Maria Luisa Estate; just off Banilad Road is Giuseppe’s. This fantastic restaurant serves; in my humble opinion the very best pizzas in Cebu. Guiseppe, was the first to bring the wood-fired oven to Cebu and it truly lives up to all the hyperbole. In addition to the pizzas, you will find sumptuous pasta offerings, (wood-fired) oven-roasted lamb, roast beef, all served with the freshest of fresh ingredients. This is home-style Italian at its best.

A laid-back atmosphere radiates from this establishment. Run by ex: Shangri-La regional chef, Giuseppe’s restaurant is a must do whilst in Cebu. Giuseppe’s, Maria Luisa Park Road Cebu City. (343 9901)

Literally, just up the road from Giuseppe’s is another newby; Gustavian. This is a Swedish take on a deli, come cafe, which in a strange Cebu way morphs into a restaurant with all the right clientele! They have a superb array of breads and deli products. Their daily specials and sizes of their portions are both generous and of a high standard. A recent addition to the establishment is an authentic British pub. Yes, you read right… Having said that, it is not out of place and there you can enjoy any sport you can imagine via the plasmas plastered on the walls. The crowd there is a fairly good cross section of well-to-do locals and expats alike. In anycase, I like going there and don’t fall into either category!

Another fledgling addition to the restaurant scene, which is hauling in the positive reviews like a Cebuano fisherman reels in the fish, is “The Loft”. Located in the Ayala Business Park, just off Banilad Road. Established under the interesting Cebuano indigenous term ‘resto-bar’ (restaurant – bar for the unintiated), the bars seems to excel at both.

Another interesting establishment which opened in Mactan Island, is Vine City Wine Bar and Restaurant (032 342 8927). Situated on the main highway, 50 metres past Marina Mall heading towards the new bridge. Delightful staff serve simple but high quality (pastas, steaks, salads etc.) fare and a reasonable selection of wines. Tastefully decorated to some, this is just what the doctor prescribes; if your eaten too much lechon and live in a country outside of the PI.

If you have no time to dine-in, and want something quick, cheap and cheerful: there is always Davinci’s Pizza in Mactan, famous for the white sauce pizza – err at least that’s what they claim. (420 8888)


Hamburgers To Die For…

If a simple burger is what you crave, fret not. Cebuano’s are proud of their tantalizing grills. As a result, they have come up with more variations on the common burgers than the McDonald’s Burger Universities testing kitchen. In fact, many of Cebu’s better known burgers eateries, make the ‘other’ more famous international brands pale in comparison. Noteworthy is Flame-it and Burger Joint. Don’t go there thinking your in for a light snack. The Flame-It 1/2 pounder – is just that. Half 1/2 a pound of magic primetime beef. Yep, primetime! The real deal; no Holyfield…Juicy and marinated, for who knows how long and with who knows what. It is a orchestral nirvana for your taste-buds; who will do back-flips when the first bite touches down. Burger Joint is a similar concept. Eat in both, and you will shun going back to the other…brands.

Another favorite of Mactan residents is the French cafe at Marina Mall, Cafe de France. Whilst there was no Frenchman to be seen behind the counter, the Parisian inspired freshly baked pastries, croquet monsieur’s, pig-in-a-blanket, and their assortment of waist-expanding deserts is second to none in Cebu. More good news… It is a cafe, therefore one can wash-down these with copious amounts of coffee. Thus ensuring a latent caffiene buzz to last you through the morning. Definitely, a winning-combination after a big night out on the town!


Clubbing Like There’s No Tomorrow!

Nightlife in Cebu is lively and really begins to rock after 8pm. The seedier go-go dance places are mainly concentrated on Mango Avenue (now General Maxilom) with establishments like Viking, Pappillon and Blackhole. The latter is a larger place filled with more scantily-clad dancers who will come up and ask the S.O.P., “helloooo sirrrrrr, wear rrrrrrrrr yoooooooo froooooom, sirrrrr?” Not too far from Mango Avenue is Jaguar KTV and go-go dance place. This is located in a plush theatre.

On Mactan Island, there is a similar establishment to the above genre called “Mermaids”. Now, whilst we are certain you will find no mermaids inside this bar, we have heard that Friday & Saturday nights feature a live “Shower show”.


The Live Wire

If you prefer a more sophisticated ambiance with world-class music to match, look no further than Jazz n Bluz. This slick restaurant-bar, – which could double as a Blue Note anywhere in the world – usually has two bands performing and doesn’t close until the last customer leaves. Despite the name, you will find Jazz, a tiny sample of Blues and a lot of easy-listening music.

Ratskys in Ayala, Papa-Roast and Seafood Resto Bar and Kaona Grill also have their fair share of good live music to complement the food.


Spinners Inc.

If you prefer to hear DJ’s, the Crossroads complex on Banilad Road which houses small intimate clubs such as Vudu (downstairs: house & techno music upstairs: hip hop till you drop!!!) and Cafe Teatro which also has a DJ on most nights playing faves from the 70’s, 80’s and some Latin beats.

Teatro is run by an attractive Cebuana appropriately named Queenie, who is a wonderful host. Further down the (Banilad) road you will find Formo (Banilad Town Centre), which after dinner, transforms into a cool club with a DJ who plays mainly house and some lighter techno music. Live music is available on certain nights and the od famous (or semi-famous) DJ plays there. Formo has a great indoor outdoor location so it is perfect to enjoy those balmy Cebu nights. While Formo is a fun place to hang-out, be seen and dance, it should not be overlooked as a dining experience.


Disco Duck…

Both NASA and Sunflower Discos are large clubs/ discos, with big thumping sounds systems and lots of colored lights. The latter attracts its fair share of the Korean tourist trade. Not really the ed’s scene so we unfortunately can’t shed much more light on them!

Real Pubs!

Noteworthy on the sports bar side is Badgers and now Gustavian’s new addition. An appealing sports bar with lots of plasma TV’s, live coverage of most worldwide sporting events, deco that could be from any North American bar and the has some decent pub food on offer. It is also one of the few, if not the only bar that sells Guiness stout and one of the few that sells real Aussie meat pies.

Magellan’s Landing at Marina Mall (three of their ever smiling staff pictured above) is also a great place to hang-out, enjoy a coldie and kick back. They serve some excellent pub-grub there and the clientele is an eclectic mix of foreigners and locals. Be sure to try the steak and mushroom pie, or cajun chicken dishes.


Kimchi Anyone?

With burgeoning Korean tourist influx, we are now witnessing the growth of KTV places (Karaoke TV) popping up all over the place. Small wonder then that karaoke parlors everywhere have prominent signs posted for (GROs) or guest relations officers. These very nimble ladies can have quite an impact on your wallet if you’re not eagle-eyed. Two of the larger and more upmarket KTV’s are located in Mactan. The White Castle on Airport Road and another in the Waterfront Airport Hotel.

If you’re passionate about music and looking for a comprehensive list of bands in Cebu go to the band directory.

If you have some favorite places to hang-out or to eat in or wish your establishment to be listed, be sure to let us know. We’ll quickly mobilize our wonderful editor to check it out. Believe us, his stomach is proof of his love for the finer things in life! Even better to get lots more tips on restaurants.

Lami-ah! and Party

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