Antonio and I just returned from a week long trip to Boracay in the Philippines. This small and beautiful island is a haven for beach lovers, kite surfers and those who like to pioneer destinations. I was just starting to believe this would be no paradise for foodies. Four and a half days of food poisoning (still trying to figure out from what). The food poisoning chained me to my room at the Lingganay Resort where my only choices for breakfast were either Filipino (Fried Rice, eggs and sweet sausage) or “American” (deep fried eggs, sweet sliced bread and bacon). These highly caloric breakfast choices would put me over my daily calories in one sitting. I was glad when the antibiotics kicked in and I was able to leave the resort to hunt for some good food. I’ll break down the food experience here. If you want more info on each of the locations, click the picture. It will take you to a more in depth review of the food, service and cost.
It started when I asked the locals where I should buy some meat. They directed me to the Value Mart or to Craft. Value Mart was a bust. The only meat selection there was Spam. The veggies were canned and the amount of processed food was large. The only good part about this market? It has wine, the selection is not great, but sufficient. Craft is a bit better on the selection, but still not what I was looking for.
The next day we were committed to finding real food for cooking (The apartments at Lingganay have kitchens). This beautiful tropical island should have a bounty of fish and delicious fruits and veggies. Wouldn’t you know it? A few steps away from Craft, there are local merchants. They sell everything from chicken, rice, tomatoes and tons of other goodies at very good prices. Not a proper market or galeria, but things were starting to look up.
After lunch, we went exploring and stumbled upon Heidiland. It is a great little German deli. This became our defacto shopping place throughout the trip. It is conveniently located in D’Mall and supplies everything from asparagus (which was later grilled), bread, cold cuts (mortadella, hot dogs, bangers, almost as good as NY deli counter), cheeses and wines. The quality of the food at this market is good, but again, you will pay a bit more for it. Heidiland also carries wines and since the store is air conditioned there is less chance that your wine will be cooked.
We made another great discovery when the owner of Lingganay told us about D’Talipapa. This is what I was looking for. A serious outdoor market. It is located not too far from D’Mall, down a long narrow street. As soon as you arrive the smell of food will hit your nose. There are small restaurants where the locals devour freshly cooked seafood. There are makeshift restaurants that will cook whatever meat or fish you have just purchased at the food stalls. You can find everything from calamansi, bitter melon, mangos and anything your heart can desire while in the tropics. In between all the shops is a raised area where the fish mongers and butchers do their best. Here the lobsters and crabs look up at you in anger as they try to flee their buckets. Sure, you will see a fly or two land on the meat and fish, but the stuff is so fresh it will not disappoint. Dinner was good that day.
On our walk back, we were walking down Remedios Street, when we spotted a deli called Bakers Brothers and a Spanish restaurant called Dos Mestizos. I think when I finally ate sandwiches from the shop, I realized that I was feeling a bit home sick. The sandwiches at the deli were made with high quality meats. The bread was the best on the island as of yet. We walked in and met the owner of both establishments. Super nice guy named Andre. We ended up grabbing a snack (actually two) at Dos Mestizos. Yum! We liked the food so much that we had him deliver sandwiches to our residence a few days later and were not disappointed, his deli would stand up to any NYC deli. Do not miss these places.
We also happened onto Tropical at the Best Western. We did a buffet lunch for our party. This is a great place if you are looking for a less expensive meal. The food is not as amazing (like the food at Discovery Shores or Epic), but fine for the price. The service was nice here; quick, polite and prompt. Drinks were not lacking at any point during lunch. The bartender made some delicious fruit juices for us (watermelon, mango). If you are on a budget, this is a good option.
Another great place to try is Zuzumi. The food at this beach front establishment is Greek, but does include some traditional Filipino dishes. The wine list was not so great, but the food was quite tasty. I would recommend this restaurant if you need to switch things up a bit. They have dining on the beach as well, (most of the places on the beach have outdoor seating) so it makes for a nice romantic night meal.
The last leg of our trip, we decided to move to the Shangri-La. The Lingganay was beautifully manicured, impeccable, had a small private beach and a gorgeous pool; but it was missing a bit of luxury that I am always looking for. I would recommend Lingganay for families with kids. It is safe, removed from the insanity that is D’Mall and quite safe. For luxury travelers, I would say just spend the extra money and stay at Shangri-La. The lunch buffet at Shangri-La is great. I preferred the buffet at the Sofitel in Manila, but Sofitel was missing one huge thing – LECHON! Also, the Shangri-La has some more specialized restaurants, we tried Rima…and although it did not stand up to NYC standards, it was a lovely meal with great service (timing was a bit off, but the server warned us ahead of time).