Eating & Drinking Davao
In the Philippines, the province of Davao is always synonymous to one word: Durian. Durian, is a spiky-looking tropical fruit that is famous for its pungent smell. Although some are turned off by its smell, still the durian has a lot of supporters specially the Davaoenos. They even turned it into local delicacies like durian candies, durian coffee and even durian-flavored ice cream. Do not be put off by its smell because the durian's flesh is velvety soft and has that distinct aroma and taste that some compare it to wine. Durian has a lot of varieties though they say the ones that are harvested in Calinan are the best tasting ones. If you're traveling by plane and want to bring back a durian with you, better check with your airlines first because most of them don't allow this fruit to be carried inside the plane due to its smell.
Durian aside, Davao has many popular places to have a decent food and drinks depending on your budget. Restaurants abound everywhere whether its inside or outside the mall. Fresh seafood are a common here. Below is a list of restaurants and cafe that can help you decide where to eat and drink during your stay within the province.
1. Claude's Le Cafe de Ville 29 Rizal St.,Paseo de Habana,Davao City. Tel.Nos. (6382) 2224287 - A fine-dining french restaurant owned and managed by a french couple, Mr.and Mrs. Claude Le Neindre. Better dress appropriately if you're thinking of dining in this restaurant as the ambiance is formal. Must-try are their steaks and seafood specialties.
2. Barbeque Boss Torres St. Barangay Obrero, Davao City - An eatery in Davao which is famous for their beer and cheap but delicious barbeques. Here, their beer are served "iced cold' but if you find it too icy, you may return it and they will replace it with a fresh new beer without any extra charge. Barbeques are really cheap yet delicious, so cheap that most of the orders are by 20 pieces above and a perfect pair with your beer. Service is reasonably quick and the servers even wear a shirt with the restaurant's number printed at the back so guests can comment easily.
3. Hanoi Vietnamese Cuisine J.Camus St. Davao City - The name of the restaurant says it all. Hanoi, is a Vietnamese Restaurant located just right across People's Park which is a famous Davao tourist spot. Most people flock here during the 8th day of the month when there's lunch and dinner buffet.
There's a wide variety of menu in the restaurant but favorites includes fresh spring rolls (cha nuong), which is made up of rice paper roll, pork slices, lettuce, carrots,rice noodles and fresh basil leaves, Crab in Butter and Garlic and fried spring rolls (cha gio). There is also a combination platter with a selection of spring rolls and starter dishes. Hanoi Vietnamese Cuisine can also be found in the new Ayala Abreeza Mall. Recommended but not cheap.
4. Belito's Vine Yard Ferrazzini Compund, Palm Drive, Bajada, Davao City Tel.Nos. (6382) 2276726 - This restaurant has a secluded location so it's a bit hard to find but it's worth visiting. They have a wide variety of menu that specializes both in Spanish and Filipino cuisine and will not disappoint your tastebuds. For appetizer, a must-try is their Shrimp Gambas which is cooked in olive oil and different spices and perfect to pair with a french bread. For main course, their bestseller is the Paella Negra and for dessert try their Banana Flambe.
6. Picobello Ristorante Italiano 5th floor, Gaisano South Citimall, Davao City - Undoubtedly one of the best Italian restaurant in Davao. If you're craving for either a pizza or pasta, Picobello is definitely the place to go. Their pizzas are made fresh and they use real brick oven for that authentic pizza pie taste. Menu bestsellers include their Quattro Stagioni Pizza (260php), which mean Four Seasons in English, and made with artichokes, mushrooms, olives, tomatoes, ham and of course fresh mozzarella cheese. There's also Rustica Quattro Formagi (295+php) which means Four Cheeses and literally made with four types of cheese namely: Ricotta, Mozzarella, Gorgonzola and Parmesan. And for something simpler, try their Pizza Margherita (220php). For Pasta, must-try are their Fettuccine Al Salmone (250php) which is made with Salmon, and the classic but always favored Spaghetti Bolognese (185php).
8. Banok's Quimpo Road, Davao City - Filipinos definitely love grilled foods and Davao is definitely not an exception. Banok's is a shortened term for Barbeque Manok or in other words, grilled chicken. It is one of the most popular and always crowded eateries in Davao and has more than 10 branches within Davao. It has an informal ambiance with an open-air structure and with only electric fans to cool you. Their specialty here, is of course, marinated barbecued chicken, pork sisig and pork sinigang, which is served hot and fresh on a clay pot. Good news for rice lovers though as this restaurant serves unlimited rice.
9. Tsuru J. Camus St. Davao City - Tsuru, which opened last 1990, is the first and longest-running Japanese Restaurant in Davao. Before its location was in Legazpi St. but now moved to the same building in J.Camus St. together with its sister companies, Hanoi Vietnamese Restaurant and Casa Leticia Boutique Hotel. They offer the freshest dishes that is from the waters of Davao and Japan and has a wide variety of Japanese menu like shabu-shabu, teppanyaki and kaiseki. What made them popular is their eat-all-you-can buffet which is held every 15th and 30th of the month and offers 30 different kinds of dishes.
11. Ranchero Grill Metro Lifestyle Complex, F.Torres st., Davao City - A homey restaurant with a cowboy theme which specializes mostly in grilled dishes. This restaurant is originally from General Santos City, also in Mindanao, but later branched out in Davao and became successful. A definite must-try in their menu is their baby back ribs which is tender and tastes heavenly. Be prepared though as one serving is big enough for three people to share. Another must-try is their Sinugbang Panga or grilled tuna jaw.
12. Penong's Barbecue Seafood and Grill Santa Ana Ave., or almost anywhere within Davao City - With 8 branches in Davao (Ilustre, Matina, Sta. Ana, Matina Gallera, Quirino, Buhangin, Toril, Lanang) and still counting, it is undeniable that Penong's is the most popular grill restaurant within Davao City. Their bestseller is their chicken barbecue which only costs around 70-90php per order, depends on the set meal that you chose and already comes with an unlimited serving of rice. Aside from chicken, other grilled items such as pork barbecue, stuffed quid and vegetable dishes like chopsuey and kangkong are also available for reasonable portions and affordable prices. A set meal for 2 persons complete with drinks will probably only cost 200-300php.
13. Yellow Fin Restaurant Ecoland branch, Torres branch and Lanang branch - Formerly known as Karinderya, this family-owned seafood restaurant opened in 1992 and since then evolved and changed to its current name of Yellow Fin, which is derived from Yellow Fin Tuna, a fish which is also native to Davao as well as its neighboring city General Santos.
Bestselling dishes include the Tuna Tail Adobo, Greaseless Chicken, Tuna Laing and Sizzling Seafood Platter. Aside from their menu dishes, you can also choose from their selection of fresh seafood which can be cooked to your desire. Minimun weight for fresh fish is 300 grams.