Davao is a city of culture and an up and coming tourist destination that boasts beautiful landmarks. Its local cuisine is something that peaks the interests of travelers everywhere as well. Aside from it being the “Durian capital of the Philippines”, (Durian is a fruit coined as “King of the fruits” in Asia), it also prides itself with its variety of traditional and exotic dishes in many of its restaurants. Although Davao is known for the abundance of their lechon houses like some other cities in the Philippines, there are still a lot of restaurants in Davao that boasts an impressive and scrumptious set of dishes in their menu. A few of the best restaurants that serve traditional Filipino dishes, including famous dishes like Davao lechon kawali, are listed below.
1. Davao Dencia’s [General Luna St. Davao City ]
A kind of a staple for a lot of Davaoeños, Davao Dencia’s is a restaurant with a long history in Davao. They opened in the 1960s and became one of the go-to places to eat in the city. A lot of Davaoeños grew up with Dencia’s, having built itself up as a historic and traditional restaurant. Locals have made it a place to celebrate special occasions within the family like graduations. Its signature dish is their “Lugaw Goto” (porridge with innards and tripe, sometimes beef and pig) paired with “Tokwa’t baboy” (fried tofu and pork bits). It has become a place for all ages to eat their comfort food, even when on a budget.
2. Antonio’s Bar and Grill [SM City Ecoland and Abreeza Mall in Bajada, Davao City.]
It is famous for its range of dishes and especially their fusion dishes. Antonio’s Bar and Grill makes innovative and more palatable meals for their customers to enjoy. They incorporated ingredients that are especially known to Davao because Antonio’s is Davao-born. They are a pioneer to its kind of cuisine. They do still serve traditional Filipino foods like liempo and lechon kawali but other dishes like their crispy tuna and drinks like buko and durian shake are the main craze.
3. Vista View Restaurant [Diversion Road, Brgy. Langub, Davao City]
As the name suggests, the location of Vista View restaurant provides a pleasing scenery and soothing ambiance to the customers that choose to dine here. It is located in a hill where they have built cottages for privacy where customers can dine appreciate the view of Davao city. They serve a heartwarming “boodle bilao” (a collection of dishes served in a large flat round-shaped winnower), meant to be shared. It usually consists of grilled dishes like chicken, fish, squid, pork and steamed vegetables. “Kinilaw” (ceviche) is also put on top or around dried salted fish rice.
4. Balik Bukid [Quimpo Boulevard near Ecoland Drive, Davao City.]
A refreshing restaurant, Balik-Bukid (directly translated as “Back to the Jungle”) is all about going organic with their dishes. Going organic has never been tastier than in Balik-Bukid. Their ingredients are of the freshest quality like their herbs and vegetables. Their meat is farm-bred and their drinks are freshly squeezed. The restaurant brings in a lot of tourists and environmentalist that advocates the idea of environment-friendly establishments.
5. Penong’s Barbecue Seafoods and Grills [JP Laurel Avenue, Lanang, Davao City]
“The #1 Barbecue House in Davao”, Penong’s barbecue has established its name as one of the best barbecue places in Davao. For those craving a more savory kind of dishes, this is the place to be. They offer a great variety of grilled barbecues, their signature one being their “chicken inato”. It is a crispy and smoky grilled chicken that is still juicy and has a distinct sweet-salty barbecue taste. They are a budget-friendly restaurant that offers combo meals with unlimited rice that sells for P120 (US 2.00). Unlimited rice for 2 dollars? Yes, please. Delicious and cheap food is always the way to go. They have a few branches in Davao, so there won’t be any excuse to miss while in the area.
6. Marina Tuna [JP. Laurel Avenue, Davao City]
Although Davao is not necessarily known for their Tuna, this restaurant makes an exemption. Marina Tuna has become a culinary landmark favored by a lot of locals and visitors. They cook and incorporate their tuna in almost all dishes and all in a very different kind of way. Some example of their dishes is tuna lugaw, tuna spaghetti, and tuna eye sinigang.
They also serve other fish like salmon, lapu-lapu, and bangus. Adding on to that, they also have other seafood like shrimps, oysters, and crabs. It is truly a convenient place to dine in, having a different variety of food to choose from. Dishes are inspired with a little bit of Philippine, Japanese and Western cuisine. It is a popular food place, especially with younger customers.
7. Yellow Fin Seafood Restaurant [Quimpo Boulevard | Sandawa Plaza, Matina, Davao City]
Another seafood restaurant that is an authentic Davao masterpiece. It is a family-owned chain of restaurants that provides fresh dishes at an affordable price. Like other seafood restaurants, they have incorporated some innovative ideas with their dishes. Their bestseller is their tuna tail adobo.
8. Taklobo Restaurant, Jack’s Ridge [Shrine Hill, Matina, Davao City]
Another notable restaurant for its wonderful ambiance and scenery, Taklobo Restaurant in Jack’s Ridge overlooks the Davao Gulf. Also famous for its historic landscape, it stands at a former headquarters for retreating Japanese forces during World War II. Davaoeños usually come here for dinner as they also offer a variety of Filipino dishes from seafood to grilled foods.
9. Cafe Tavera [Tavera corner Avancena St., Davao City]
A place popular to high profile personalities that come to Davao, Café Tavera brings out a unique experience in presenting their food. Their fresh seafood is laid out in a counter among other ingredients for you to choose. Once you have decided what to eat and which ingredients to use, they will cook it for you. A kind of like an instant home-cooked meal, but with the company of lovable strangers.
10. Kaonanan sa Tribu K’Mindawan Davao [Davao Crocodile Park | Riverfront Corporate City, Davao City]
Although this place does not offer lechon, it does offer interesting Filipino dishes. It is a wonderful place to experience the cultural aspects of Davao. Dining here will take you back in time and bring back a taste of Davao culture. The meals they serve are tribal-inspired and dishes are plated in bamboo or wooden sungka plates
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