What is travel to a destination without partaking of the place’s food? Cebu not only has its own cuisine but being a cosmopolitan city, it has lots of food on offer. The Crossroads at Banilad is notable for its many restaurants and nightlife. Vudu for drinks, Maya for authentic Mexican and other cuisines at the compound. But don’t forget the Tinder Box’s guava basil sorbet which is unusual but great.
In many turo-turo or local eateries, there are Cebuano dishes like bam-i, humba, lansiao (for men who need under the sheets prowess), larang, balbacua and a host of other cooking.
The Asiatown I.T. Park is not only a BPO enclave but there are lots of cafes and outstanding restos catering not only to the workforce but foodies alike. Ilaputi specializes in Asian fusion cuisine, Mooon Cafe for Tex-Mex, Casa Verde for cheap but really sumptuous baby back ribs.
For dampa style (you pick the fresh seafoods and have it cooked) food, AA’s Barbecue is the place to go with several branches scattered around the city. Balamban Liempo, another franchise with many branches is garnering loyal clients for its savory grilled pork filled with aromatic spices. It is even better than the original in Balamban.
But there are still the old reliables: Larsians is an institution near the Fuente Osmeña for no-fuss eating of barbecue, grilled fish and puso, rice wrapped in coconut leaves.
Siomai sa Tisa is another no fuss series of eateries in Labangon perfect for late night snacks. And, of course, eating pungko-pungko style is an adventure in itself. Found near JY Square in Lahug and some near universities, these are roadside eateries to clog your arteries with, kamayan style.
Who can forget lechon? In the Philippines, the best roasted pig is in Cebu. Thus, for tourists and travellers, it’s a popular pasalubong. There are many contenders. Zubuchon is a new player in the market that gained its popularity when the food guru Alain Bourdain declared it the best pig ever! Now with a few branches, it offers different dishes and unique drinks that had people curious and raving. But then, most Cebuanos would raise their eyebrows and saying it is not the original Cebuano lechon but prefer to call it, lechon kawali style.
For the real deal, there are only two places that one should visit: Talisay City (at the former 1950’s Yaro near Larawan Beach and several meters from the Graeco-Roman style church) and Carcar market. The former is where one can taste the best in the country but is only found on Sundays. The latter, at the public market, Carcaranons may protest, saying their’s is the best. But you be the judge.
If you’re traveling around Cebu province, from north to south, check out my 5 part series on Cebu food stops starting with this post.
Article originally written and published in Space Magazine.