The Philippines is truly a wonder to behold. With over seven thousand islands to explore, there are boundless places to go and sites to see that it gets confusing on where to go first. If you are the type who likes rich history and fun adventure in nature with a bit of modern city life, Cebu is the place you should go to.
Cebu is the operational center of the Visayas, and it is the most densely populated province in the Philippines. Its capital, Cebu City, is the second most important city next to Manila. Having the busiest seaport and the second largest airport in the Philippines, Cebu draws more than two million tourists every year. Cebu is known for but not limited to its sandy white beaches and marine life.
However, Cebu is not only known for its beautiful views but also for its significance in the history of the Philippines. This is the place that marked the end of Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigation of the world, and it was also the place where he met his death; in Mactan, to be exact, by a warrior named Lapu-Lapu.
It is also the cradle of Philippine Christianity, and many places have been created to display their devotion to the patron saint, Santo Niño. Even if you are not a Christian or religious, the picturesque views are truly worth your time.
Aside from the sites and activities, the best part of traveling is unarguably trying the different food around the area. The Queen City of the South has a variety of food places to choose from and so much food you can try.
Remember that it is not uncommon to be skeptical about the sanitation of the food around the area but fear not for here is a Food Guide for eating around Cebu City (and some within Mandaue City, which isn’t so far away from Cebu City and some others that are worth the long traveling distance).
If You’re on a Budget
Just because you want to save some money does not mean that you have to compromise the quality and cleanliness of your food. Indeed, there are cheap eats that allow you to say that you have tasted Cebu to the fullest level.
If you are craving for good old Filipino style barbeque, you should give Yakski a try. Branded as Cebu’s best barbeque restaurant of 2014 by Sun Star’s Best of Cebu awards, this barbeque is cleanly prepared and just as delicious as the local barbeque; and not to mention, it is also very reasonably priced.
However, what makes Yakski barbeque really good is the unique sauce that comes in original and spicy flavor. You can also always ask for more sauce to dip in your wide variety of barbeque including pork, chicken, liver, and gizzard.
It is best to go at night or when it is not too hot because there is no air conditioning. But come on, where are the barbeque vibes without the feeling of open air? Yakski currently has two branches. Its first branch is found in Capitol at this address 268-B Don Mariano Cui St., Capitol Site, Cebu City, while the other branch is located in Asiatown IT Park.
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Another go-to barbeque place for people in Cebu City is Matias BBQ. This often-crowded barbeque place had its humble beginnings as a tiny stall, but now, with loads of people coming in, you will not be surprised to see basins of different kinds of meat ready to be barbequed.
They also have a variety of barbeque, and they even have their own signature sauce in spicy and original flavor. They also have cool fruit shakes to go with your hot barbeque. Like Yakski, this place too is an open-air restaurant to bring out the good barbeque vibes.
You can find this local favorite in A.S. Fortuna Street, Mandaue City. This is a city right next to Cebu City; in fact, this area is like a bridge between the two cities. This is nearer for you if you live by the Mabolo or Banilad area.
Only found in Cebu City (but is reportedly opening the door of possibility for a Metro Manila franchise), this Cebu-based Chinese fast food restaurant helps you satisfy your dimsum cravings. Their signature dish that everyone orders is their steamed, fried rice.
Their rice is mixed with their delicious rich sauce; once you taste it, you will understand why everyone orders it.
They also have standard dimsum dishes like siomai, spring rolls, and more all under one hundred pesos! They have unlimited sweet and sour sauce for you to get from but their best sauces are no doubt the ginger sauce and chili sauce which you can request over the counter upon paying.
They have branches almost everywhere within Cebu City especially inside malls, and they also have other restaurant chains with more or less the same dishes but with different names like Harbour City, Ding Qua Qua, and Ding Mow.
Their takeout has an extra charge for their container.
If you are in the mood for burgers, especially late at night, look no further because The Gallery in Lahug has Burger Joint. The burgers are freshly fried in front of you as you wait in the open-air stand. They have a variety of burgers to choose from; they have large servings and are worth your money. They also have delicious side dishes like onion rings and fries.
You can also add as much ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise as you please. The burgers are juicy and cooked to perfection. Even if it is open at lunchtime, it is best to go at night or when it is not too hot. This is ideal for a chill night with friends.
(There may be some options over two hundred pesos especially if you buy drinks and side dishes.)
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Manila Foodshoppe is an ideal choice if you are traveling as a group. The food tastes homely; the servings are sharable, and best of all, it is good for your budget. The food is typically under two hundred pesos and can serve 3-4 people. The best group meals include battered chicken, spring rolls, pancit guisado, lomi and fried rice.
If you are traveling alone, Manila Foodshoppe also has solo eating meal options as well. The makimi and maki, especially when served warm, are comfort food you never realized you needed. Both of them are meals with extremely tender pork fillet cuts and some thick soup. Even if they have the same price, the difference is the presence of noodles in the makimi, which is recommended for those who want some carbs without the rice.
Branches of Manila Foodshoppe can be found in SM City Cebu, Colon, Parkmall and Escario Central.
For the Frugal Indulgent Glutton
While going around Cebu, there will be days when you will be so hungry; you will want to eat (servings about the size of) a horse. Cebu is swarming with cheap buffets that can satisfy your ever-changing daily cravings. Note that these buffets have limited choices but are guaranteed to make you very full afterward.
If you are achingly craving for chicken wings, Burrow may just be what you are looking for. Although there are many restaurants in Cebu that offer unlimited chicken wings, Burrow is the pioneer business and still remains the best among the others.
For only 199 pesos, you can avail of unlimited chicken wings in six different flavors along with unlimited rice, and for an additional 60 pesos, you can have unlimited iced tea as well. The most popular flavor is probably the Garlic Parmesan Chicken. They offer other food as well, but their chicken is what their customers usually come for.
The main branch is found in Lahug near JY Square Mall, while the other branch is in Parkmall in Mandaue. Unless you have an early lunch or dinner, expect a long waiting list since their place is quite small given their number of hungry customers in a day; but their chicken is worth the wait.
This restaurant was mentioned earlier in this Food Guide as one of the other chains of dimsum restaurants. However, this one is especially known for its cheap buffet that costs only 328 pesos. If you loved Dimsum Break’s food as well as the ones from the other chains, you would love the unlimited steam fried rice, siomai, spring rolls and all the other available selected choices.
This option is truly worth your money as you indulge in your dimsum favorites with no limit. If you decide not to eat the buffet, you may order dimsum a la carte. This is located on the second floor of JY Square Mall in Lahug.
Pro-tip: The steamed rice may be good, but it makes you fuller faster. Go for just the sauce then get more of the siomai and other dimsum options.
For Those Who Want A Full Meal
If you are willing to spend a bit more, try these restaurants to get your money’s worth and your stomach’s satisfaction.
Relatively old but gold, this is a Filipino restaurant in Cebu that has maintained its reputation even after many years with its palatable food. Its food has truly authentic Filipino taste. This is a good restaurant if you want a peaceful lunch. For dinner time, they have a live band that plays classic Filipino music every night, emphasizing the good vibes but that is not all; the extremely talented live band members are blind!
With a combination of appreciation for Filipino talent, good music, and delicious food, the ambiance of Lighthouse is a perfect place that truly exuberates positive Filipino vibes. It is located at General Maxilom Avenue.
This restaurant is known for its captivating view by the sea and to add to that effect, they serve delicious seafood. This is a good choice if you like seafood, but if you do not, there are other choices although not a lot.
It is an open-air restaurant by the sea, so the natural sea breeze helps with the cooling effect. It is more recommended to go at night, so it will not be too hot.
There are branches in Cordova and Busay which are quite far but worth the long drive.
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Cebu is known for its signature roasted pig or lechon. However, getting a whole lechon can be quite expensive and impractical unless there is a special occasion like a party or celebration. It is better to look for a place that sells the lechon by weight so you can eat only what you can consume. So, if you want to try it within the city, head on over to CNT Lechon. The lechon is prepared the classical Cebuano way, giving it just the right flavor then chopped into pieces and measured by weight.
CNT Lechon has three restaurants in SM Seaside Mall, North Reclamation Area and in V. Rama Street, Guadalupe. It also has a booth in Ayala Center Cebu’s Food Choices but has very limited choices.
Roughly translating to “having fun” from the Chinese dialect Fookien, this Filipino food restaurant has a slight Chinese twist. Despite the slight fusion, the food is still delicious and Filipino because a bit of Chinese culture has always been integrated into the Filipino culture.
Their best deal is their shrimps in a bag. For a reasonable price, you can get a lot of shrimps at any flavor of your choice (butter garlic shrimps and Stan’s black pepper shrimps are the best choices). Another is their kai lan, a unique Chinese vegetable you should try.
Branches are available in F. Cabahug Street, Mabolo, and Parkmall.
A home-grown Cebu based restaurant, this place offers American cuisine with big servings and cheap prices (given the size of the serving which can feed 4-6 people). Some recommendations include Baby Back Ribs (a definite must! It’s also available by the bucket), Fish and Chips, and Caryl’s Country Salad. You can also avail of the platter that includes the ribs, fish, chicken and two pitchers of iced tea.
Casa Verde also offers steaks, burgers, and desserts. Note that this place is often jam-packed with people, but once you eat here, you’ll understand why. This is located in Ayala Center Cebu and at 69 Lim Tian Teng Street near Jones Avenue.
For Night Food Market Feels
If you have been to Singapore, Korea or other Asian countries, there are many night food markets that give you multiple options of food to choose from and after, you can sit down to eat. Cebu has just stepped in the outdoor food market game to make your weekends more colorful. These weekend food markets give aspiring Cebuano entrepreneurs and cooks to try out new business ventures to also enable them to earn and gain customer feedback.
Sugbu Mercado opened in IT Park a few years back, but the amount of attention it got before is still the same hype it still receives today. This is because it introduces new food stands almost every week so you can always try new food. You can try different food, drinks, and snacks for a very reasonable price.
To add to the good weekend vibes, a fresh singer or band performs live to provide a more relaxed and fun time. Note that Sugbu Mercado is usually crowded, so finding a seat may be difficult and never forget to throw your trash and clean as you go.
Sugbu Mercado is open from 5 pm – 2 am every Friday to Sunday at Garden Bloc, IT Park.
Mango Square’s New Food Market
Currently, without an Internet presence, this brand-new outdoor food market just opened in 2018 within the Mango Square lot (but not inside the mall itself). Similar to Sugbu Mercado’s style with various novel food stands to choose from, a place to sit and live artist, this provides hungry people with more options and a new place to chill in.
This food market is open from 4 pm – 12 am every Thursday to Sunday.
For A Quick Cool Off
It is no secret that the Philippines can get very hot, but Cebu is not just hot; it is also humid which greatly intensifies the heat. Of course, halo-halo is a remedy for all ages to beat the heat. In Cebu, many halo-halo businesses have opened to help cool you off for under a hundred pesos.
A growing, rising halo-halo franchise, Sol’s is getting more popular around Cebu. Sol’s servings appear small and simple, but when eaten, you will realize that it is not actually as small as it looks and it tastes really good, too. What makes it unique from others is its creamy shaved ice base.
A regular halo-halo with the shaved ice base and toppings costs 55 pesos while the special one with a small scoop of ube ice cream on top is for 65. It has various branches like in MJ Cuenco, Paknaan and Lahug and more coming on the way but its first original branch is found in Tisa.
Yolo’s is a relatively new business in the halo-halo game. Located at V. RamaAvenue, they offer not only the standard halo-halo but also Mais Con Yielo. If that wasn’t enough good news, they have different sizes for their halo-halo, too!
They also accept deliveries, and they serve at parties too.
Unknown to many, Cebu is an oyster full of pearls not only in the view department but also in the food department. The places listed above are most, if not all, Cebu-based businesses which show that Cebu is also world class and diverse in cuisine.
These varieties under this Food Guide will make you appreciate Cebu even more than before.
Are you now ready to book your hotel when you visit cebu city? Book here now!
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