Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Food Trip - Top Three Cebu Food Nooks to Visit

Jan, the kids and I celebrated Christmas in Cebu, the hometown I hadn’t visited in three years. As can be expected, we also took this as a chance to splurge on gastronomic delights. We only had three days to accomplish our mission. When you’re hard pressed for time and you’re looking for the best places to find good food in the Queen City of the South, there are three top Cebu food nooks to visit.

1. Ayala Mall and The Terraces

This tops my list because this is where you can find almost anything and everything you want to eat. It’s almost like dying and going to food heaven. Imagine finding yourself in a valley and looking up to four levels of restaurants on one side and another two levels on the other. If Pavlov were alive, he’d find the best samples of salivating humans for his conditioning experiments here.

Jan and I suffered from decision paralysis because there were too many restaurants to choose from. In the end, we settled for familiar fare that we recognized from six years ago, Sbarro (inside Ayala mall) for lunch and Kublai Khan for dinner.

You’ll have to excuse the photo my husband took. He is a cook, not a photographer. Where was I and why didn’t I take the picture? I was desperately trying to locate the control valve to my salivary glands.

Ayala Mall / The Terraces
Ayala Center Cebu
Cebu Business Park
Archbishop Reyes Avenue
Cebu City

2. SM City Cebu Northwing

The SM Northwing opened to the public first before the Ayala Terraces and was not really meant to be a food trip haven alone. From my perspective, it is intended to be a more upscale shopping section in SM City Cebu which is known to have a more welcoming atmosphere to people from all walks of life as opposed to the classy Ayala mall.

My high school classmates and I had a blast at Lai Garden, my only two complaints being the over enthusiastic seasoning of their fried rice and the smallness of their dinner plates. There is no more diplomatic way of telling patrons to stay slim.

The absolute winner for me though is Leona’s. Their pastries carry a touch of magic in them that’ll make you instantly forget life’s tribulations.

The Northwing
SM City Cebu
North Reclamation Area
Cebu City

3. Taboan Dried Fish Market

This is not the place to sit back, relax and chew. This is the place to shop for the best tasting dried fish to offer to friends and relatives back home yearning to have a taste of Cebu. It’s a visual treat to see rows of stalls all selling just dried fish.

My mother is from the island of Bantayan and she swears the dried fish from her home island is the best of the best. We spent some time searching for a stall that sold authentic, unsalted Bantayan dried fish. We bought danggit (P450/kilo) and pusit (P550/kilo).

If you don’t know anyone in Taboan, you run the risk of buying dried fish that isn’t really from Bantayan and that comes from old stock. It’s best to ask a knowledgeable friend to give you a hand shopping in this market.

I would’ve wanted to take pictures for posterity but Jan, the strongman, wasn’t around. I was born with a deadly strain of paranoia that I inherited from my mother who accompanied me. If I took my camera along, there’d have been no end to my gory imaginations and to her stories of gun-toting thieves who seem to have developed a growing immunity to daylight in the six years I’d been living in Cagayan de Oro.

Taboan Market
Tres de Abril
Cebu City

My friend Roky says, there are many small restaurants dotting the city. It seems we barely scratched the surface of excellent Cebu food nooks. In my honest opinion though, if you’re a food traveler on a rush, the Ayala Mall / The Terraces, SM City Cebu Northwing and Taboan Market are the top three places to visit.


  1. It was great to read over your website...
    Thanks for the great comment on our website...we hope the next time your in cebu you stop by for a chat, some live music and a cold beer...Merlenes Eatery Restaurant

  2. I've only ever been to the Ayala Center in Cebu -- I liked the vibe there, though! Hoping to go back there soon to pick up where I left off. hehe!

    Happy New Year! ^_^


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