The Philippines has one of the most diverse food cultures in Asia. Filipino cuisine is famous for having specialty dishes with Spanish, American, and Chinese influences, creating distinctive but recognizable flavors.
It’s no wonder Filipino restaurants are all the rage nowadays for offering delectable and satisfying meals at reasonable prices. Some restaurants may offer similar recipes, but they all have distinguishing flavors and an ambiance that makes them stand out from the rest.
This article is a short list of the best Filipino restaurants in Cebu that you should try.
These restaurants all have distinguishing traits, and knowing your preference will make it easier to decide where to go.
Do you prefer one that is new in town? One that is lesser-known? Or one that is well established?
Someplace cheap or someplace luxurious?
Let’s take a look at what Cebu food culture has to offer.
A good ambiance can make or break your dining experience. You want to eat somewhere that is aesthetically pleasing or at least comfortable enough for you to enjoy your delicious meal.
While many restaurants in Cebu offer a relaxing time at the dinner table, some go far and beyond to make the place photogenic and artistic. You find yourself wanting to visit the place to eat their food and appreciate the mood it gives off.
Paintings, sculptures, and murals add chic sophistication to a fine dining experience.
- Paolito’s STK Ta Bay!
One popular Filipino restaurant that offers sutukil in Cebu City is Paolito’s. Though the restaurant has established branches in SM City Cebu and SM Seaside, the original establishment on Climaco Street near the Cebu Provincial Capitol is the most aesthetically pleasing.
It started as a small eatery in the garage of the Alcover family home. It was originally intended to cater to taxi drivers and workers in the Capitol area with specialty seafood dishes. In a matter of time, the eatery grew to have more customers and became a popular dining establishment among Cebuanos.
The original branch has an old-school ancestral house vibe. The Alcovers have maintained a vintage look by keeping the wooden walls and stashing precious memorabilia around the restaurant.
They are also famous for their Tuna Panga – the jawline of a tuna fish – which they grill up front near the entrance. The popularity of this dish has made it a staple in grilled food eateries all around the city.
For some food variety, you can also try their pork, chicken, and other seafood dishes inspired by traditional Filipino cooking.
Climaco Street, Cebu City
11:00 AM – 3:00 PM
5:00 PM – 10:00 PM
- Lantaw Floating Restaurant in Cordova
- Dungawan Bistro + Grill in Tisa
- Parola Seaview Restaurant in Cordova
Many Cebuanos will recommend that you try out their famous Lechon. This world-class dish has been a sought-after meal among many travelers visiting Cebu.
The best places to try this dish are in Talisay and Carcar, whose local recipes and cooking methods have been adapted by premier dining establishments around the country.
Travelers make it a point to stop by any restaurant that offers this iconic dish. Being able to know what it tastes like is like checking off an item on their bucket list, and a trip to Cebu is almost incomplete without it.
The massive restaurant has two floors filled with colorful chairs and tables that give the place some color and personality. The vast open area is perfect for a banquet with your friends and family.
Make sure to order their famous Spicy Lechon, which has chilis placed inside the meat before being cooked to give it its spicy flavor.
Try out their sisig too! This sizzling dish consists of thinly sliced parts of a pig’s face, like the forehead, snout, and ears. It is usually topped with a raw egg and shared with others.
Mantawe Avenue, Tipolo, Mandaue City
11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
- House of Lechon
- CNT Lechon
- Ayers Lechon
What if you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford a traditional fine dining restaurant? Luckily for you, there are many eateries for those looking to save money while eating out.
These are far from the poshest places, but they make up for it by offering reasonably priced meals. These eateries are your best friends if you’re looking to satisfy your hunger without breaking the bank.
Many budget-friendly establishments provide a relaxing al fresco dining experience. Some of these are lesser-known since they serve as alternatives for the more popular and expensive restaurants in town.
Nevertheless, they offer a wide variety of dishes that will fill your appetite.
- Smiley Larsian by the Sea
Larsian has always been one of the most popular budget-friendly places to get a hefty meal. This establishment is arguably the first food park in Cebu, with numerous stalls selling a variety of contemporary Filipino dishes.
Since the original establishment was closed, other smaller restaurants wanted to revive the Larsian brand of cheap grilled food. One of these is Smiley’s Larsian by the Sea, located at the IL Corso food park.
Smiley’s sells a variety of barbecue dishes, typically grilled over a charcoal fire and served with several pieces of puso.
They have barbecue skewers, chorizo, pork belly, lechon manok, scallops, and tuna panga.
North Parking Area, IL Corso Lifestyle Malls, Cebu South Coastal Road
3:00 PM – 10:00 PM
- Pungko-Pungko sa Fuente
- Carbon Sunday Market
- Sugbo Mercado
There are a lot of places in Cebu that make for a great dining experience. Whether you know about them or not, or whether they are popular among travelers or locals, you can look forward to a worthwhile food trip any time of day.
Some Filipino restaurants are easier to find than others, but most Cebuanos will know about them. If you need to jumpstart your Filipino food journey, these are all perfect places to check out.