Check out the newest hawker center in Cebu City!
There was a satirical post on social media questioning if Cebuanos are always hungry because of all the food parks in the city. It’s like no matter where you go, you will find an outdoor dining complex with a dozen stalls right around the corner.
Whether you’re roaming around the city or exploring a rural area, you can try some of the best dishes on the island at a small or large-scale food park.
The Barracks is located near the famed Carbon Market in Barangay Ermita.
Just when you think you’ve seen enough of these food parks, new ones continue to emerge like The Barracks at Freedom Park. The once bustling budget-shopping center has now become an exciting hawker center for Cebuano cuisine.
WHY IS IT CALLED A HAWKER CENTER?
The Cebu City government plans to create a “Singapore-like” experience in Cebu by improving many of its historical landmarks like the Carbon Market.
The city’s biggest public market already has a dozen food stalls selling homemade delicacies, but there was clearly a need for better amenities and services.
The Barracks has been transformed into a hawker center, similar to the building complexes housing dozens of food stalls commonly found in Southeast Asian countries like Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore.
“Hawker” refers to peddlers who sell items on the streets or in bustling public centers. The term originated from businessmen who move from one place to another, carrying their products to sell to customers.
They are a popular source for generating income as lots of people visit these places on a daily basis. But the problem for many of these small-scale businesses is that they don’t have an official place of business. Customers and authorities were concerned about their cleanliness and safety as well.
As a result, local government units built structures housing hawkers in designated areas and provided better services and amenities for a more convenient experience.
These complexes have restrooms, tables, and stalls for vendors to set up their businesses. They quickly served as social areas where customers could bond over their love for food, and peddlers could form a community with fellow businessmen.
Before it became a bustling hawker center, Warwick Barracks was already popular among university students and cost-conscious workers looking for budget-friendly meals.
The area even had small businesses selling cheap Cebu products like home accessories and flowers at extremely low prices.
Now, The Barracks has adapted to its new look, and Freedom Park has reverted to its original design. Nonetheless, this area of the Carbon Market is going to be a popular hangout spot that you will want to experience yourself.
BEST FOOD OFFERINGS
The hawker center already houses many famous Cebuano foods such as Lechon, Tuslob Buwa, and grilled Tuna Panga. Even Filipino barbecue favorites like skewers and baked scallops can be seen in a ton of different stalls.
Each stall has unique offerings, some you may not have even tried before. This makes each visit and dining experience memorable.
For seafood lovers, Sugbo Cocina offers a seafood platter consisting of crabs, shrimps, clams, and baked scallops made with special spices. You can share this with a partner or friend for a delectable seafood feast.
They also offer lutong bahay meals like Tinola and Pork Humba.
You can also try Boss Omelette, which specializes in unique omelette meals. Their scrambled eggs are mixed with spices, vegetables, and shrimp to give it more flavor.
For 99 Php, you can try their original egg dishes with their signature sauce and fried rice.
If you want something lighter you can carry around, visit The Crunch and try out their crispy boneless chicken. Each serving is paired with a dipping sauce of your choice.
You can also try the famous 39 Php Caramel Macchiato coffee drinks at Don Macchiatos, an establishment that has recently become present all around Cebu. You can also try their famous Matcha Latte.
For non-caffeinated drinks, dig into the delicious refreshments from Tsoko. These milk-based beverages are famous for their vibrant colors and unique flavors.
The hawker center also has several fruit stalls around the park. You can enjoy the fruits as is or have them blended into a shake.
Other than getting to try various Filipino dishes, you can also explore several boutiques that sell t-shirts, phone accessories, beauty products, and bicycles.
Cebu already has a ton of food parks, but not all of them have a significant place in history like The Barracks. Aside from being the first official hawker center in the city, it reinstates its original reputation as a place for commerce among locals.
It gives both foreigners and locals a quick food crawl of the best things to try in Cebu, all in a location that is accessible to many.
Whether you’re digging into your favorite Filipino dishes or taking a risk at something new, The Barracks is a great place to make your meals extra meaningful and memorable.
HOW TO GET THERE
Freedom Park, Magallanes Street, Cebu City
Monday to Thursday: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Friday to Sunday: 10:00 AM – 1:00 AM
You can ride any jeepney en route to the Carbon Public Market to get to Freedom Park. You can get off at Freedom Park and walk to the hawker center from there.