THE post-holiday slump is real and returning to the daily grind after a couple of weeks of nothing but family time and binge-eating can be a considerable feat. Don’t lose heart just yet. There’s another multitude of festivities coming as the Sinulog is less than two weeks away. An influx of visitors and tourists is certain and we have just the list to help you give your guests a truly Cebuano cultural immersion. What better way to know a city better than by eating your way through it, right? These homegrown brands are not to be missed.
Isidra Comfort Cantina
Address: North Park, U.N. Ave. cor. Plaridel St., Mandaue City
Store hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday to Saturday
“Best Filipino comfort food forward” is this restaurant’s mantra and boy do they walk their talk. Chef Lor Torres’ interpretation of the familiar regional dishes from Luzon to Mindanao, served in heaping portions and at reasonable prices will definitely take you back to simpler, more laid-back times when everyone would gather at the table and share a hearty, home-cooked meal. Isidra has been around for over four years now and in this period, the eggplant chips, twice-cooked adobo, Pyanggang chicken, gising gising and poki poki have won customers’ hearts... and bellies.
Address: Le Village Hostel, Gorordo Ave., Cebu City
Store hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday to Saturday
Don’t we all just love good food in generous, not to mention Instagrammable servings? While others offer them by the bucket, BBQ Choy brings out the goods by the bilao. From all-meat and mixed boodle bilaos to kakanin bilaos, there’s something for everyone and these rice winnowers (what the bilaos are primarily used for) made of woven wood will make for an interesting topic among your guests. If you couldn’t tell from its name, barbecue and batchoy are its prized dishes, as are monggo soup, sizzling bangus belly and kinupusan which you can order a la carte.
Branches: Juana Osmeña (Hostel 7), Parkmall, Mactan Newtown
Store hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
Family dinner table favorites are what this local establishment takes pride in. Its bestsellers, Betsy’s garlic chicken (bite-size boneless chicken thigh pieces glazed with a soy-garlic sauce) and crispy tuna buntot (yellow-fin tuna tail fried to a crisp on the outside but still moist and tender on the inside) have earned SunStar’s Best of Cebu awards but that shouldn’t stop you from trying other items on its menu. The larang endong, larang tasik, tuna bihod and bagaybay, grilled meat and tuna panga are sure to wow your guests as well.
KKD STK + BBQ
Address: M.C. Briones St., Cebu City
Store hours: 11 a.m. to midnight daily
A classic Cebuano meal consists of the trinity of sutukil (sugba or grilled, tuwa or stew and kilaw or ceviche-style). Order KKD’s version of the sinuglaw (sinugba + kinilaw), tinola, pochero, grilled fish and meat with its homemade barbecue sauce, and you’re off to a good start. Enhance the experience by digging into other crowd-pleasers like the squid adobo, pork chicharon and rellenong talong. An added bonus of live acoustic entertainment every night (except on Sunday) will make you want to stay awhile and check out the dessert menu, the star of which is the chocolate leche flan.