Araw ng Davao is one of the best times to visit Davao City. With all the activities lined up by the local government as well as the private sector; the city’s Charter Day is bound to fill a tourist’s itinerary. When one wants to recharge or simply experience the best of Davao cuisine, it is easy to get lost in the flurry of Davao food stops. For that purpose we have come up with a food guide for the visiting foodie.
1.) Paella: This traditional Spanish rice dish is given Davaoeno flair at Tiny Kitchen with their Paella Negra. Served in a traditional paellera (the pan used to make paella which allows even cooking for the rice and other ingredients), this heaping helping of perfectly-cooked rice blackened with Squid Ink topped with Spanish Sausages, Vegetables, Fish, Squid, Shrimp, and Shells fresh from Davao seas makes for a complete meal that excites the palate and leaves you craving for more. Tiny Kitchen is located at F. Torres St corner Mabini St.
2.) Siopao: Davao serves some of the best Siopao in the country. As an on-the-go snack or as pasalubong, these meat-filled buns give comfort to a hungry tummy. Kuilans and Tevanj offer some of the best Siopao in Davao that is small in size, big in flavour, and oh-so-addictive. For a baked (instead of steamed) take on Siopao, try Bontee Toasted Siopao. Kuilans is located at #36 Lacson St Barrio Obrero Davao City, #55 r. Castillo St Agdao Davao City, #24 Acacia St Juna Subdivision Matina Davao City, and KM 18 48-A Barangay Tibungco Davao City. You may also call them at (082) 2214105. Tevanj is located at Door #3 Tan Building R. Castillo St Agdao Davao City. There are several branches of Bontee, some of the most accessible ones may be found along Legaspi St and along SIR.
3.) Pizza: When craving for a slice of this savoury pie, the must-go pizzeria for the local pizza lover is (and will probably always be) Picobbello Ristorante Italiano. Located at the topmost floor of Gaisano South Citimall along Illustre St, this warm resto provides great ambience. The wafting smell of freshly-baked pizzas draws any passerby in. Picobello serves the classic Pepperoni Pizza, Marinara, Quattro Formaggio, Quattro Stagioni, and the folded pizzas—Calzone. Make sure to drop by Picobello between 2 to 5 in the afternoon where they offer a free pizza for every purchased pie.
4.) Dimsum Diner: If you are craving for fast and fresh Chinese food, you might want to check out the Davaoeno take on delicious dim sum. This local fastfood chain is open 24 hours and serves filling Chinese-inspired dishes with Filipino flair. With an expansive menu of Rice Toppings, Breakfast Sets, Congee Creations, Noodle Offerings, other Chinese-style meat dishes and Dim Sum, and their addictive Bulad (Salted Fish) Fried Rice; this chain is a definite must-try. Dimsum Diner is located at Bajada, Market Basket Damosa, 3rd Floor Gaisano Mall, Shoppesville Arcade Guerrero St, Quirino St, Fairlanes Bowling Center F.Torres St, and along McArthur Hi-way.
5.) Aling Foping’s Halo-halo: When craving for a cool treat to beat the heat, Filipinos instinctively think of the Halo-halo. This mixture of crushed ice, milk, preserved fruits and beans, leche flan (custard), ube (purple yam) jam, tapioca balls, gelatine, and a scoop, or two, of ice cream is served best at Aling Foping’s inside Matina Town Square (MTS) along MacArthur Hi-way in Matina. What makes their Halo-halo so special? They use purified water for the ice and shave it twice to create superfine ice shavings. When mixed with milk and other ingredients, it congeals to a consistency not unlike ice cream.
6.) Dinakdakan: If you are looking for some exotic fare, Goat’s Eye (located at Matina Town Square along MacArthur Hiway in Matina) must be your destination. They serve the popular Dinakdakan—an Ilocano dish of pig ears and cheeks, onions, pig’s brain, and some citrus—with a Davaoeno twist. This dish goes well with some beer or as a main dish with rice. Its citrusy kick offset by the creaminess of the sauce and crunch of the pork makes this dish explode in the palate.
7.) Osvaldo’s Cakes: This quaint shop is located inside the Legaspi Suites Compound along Pelayo (formerly Legaspi) St in downtown Davao. Osvaldo’s offers many different cakes, pies, and pastries but their Lemon Pomelo Pie truly stands out. Although Davao City is popular for growing the best Pomelos in the country, the fruit is rarely seen in pastries such as this. With a smooth consistency and a tangy kick, this is definitely the most exciting way to enjoy the Pomelo in Davao.
8.) Maja Blanca: Alright. So Maja Blanca isn’t exactly the most exciting dessert (or snack?) in the Philippines. But Cellar de Oboza, a Neo-Filipino resto at Rizal St corner Ponciano St has made it one of their bestsellers by fusing it with a popular Western dessert: the cheesecake. Their Maja Blanca Cheesecake provides a sensory overload as the creamy smoothness of the cheesecake is contrasted by the grainy texture of the corn. The sweet and salty taste of the whole dessert melds in your mouth. This makes for unforgettable treat that is truly worth the trip. As a bonus, you could also try many of Cellar’s different Neo-Filipino food offerings.
9.) Burgers: It may seem odd for tourists, but Davao City is slowly becoming a hub for local burger brands that are big in size and bigger in flavour. One of the favorites is Al’s & Robz Diner located along Ponciano St near the City Hall that serves American-style burgers that come in huge servings. They also serve really good strawberry milkshakes and a burger that ca feed twelve. For a more European take on the classic burger, De Boerderij may be your best bet. Located along MacArthur Hi-way in Matina, De Boerderij serves up unique burger creations and ups the fun ante with quirky dishes, hilarious menu humour, and a kitschy barnyard interior. Outkaz is the best choice for affordable burgers that come in huge servings. Located along Uyanguren St, this simple canteen is starting to make a name for itself as the new player in the local burger scene. Gino’s Burger is the latest toast-of-the-burger-town in Davao City. They offer crazy variations to the traditional burger which include Taco Burgers, Giant Burgers, Baconmush Burgers, Inferno Burgers, and Stuffed Burgers, all char-broiled to get juicy patties that are perfectly-seasoned. Visit Gno’s Burger at Sobrecarey St Barrio Obrero.
10.) E.Y.’s Tuna Davao: Located at #49 Lacson St Barrio Obrero, this simple joint boasts of the freshest and most budget-friendly seafood fare in Davao City. Only two years old, E.Y.’s has already made a name for one of the best seafood restos in the city. Try their Deep-Fried Crablets, Bihod (Tuna Roe), Sizzling Bagaybay (Tuna Testicles), or grilled Panga (Tuna Jowls). You could also buy Tuna Belly by the gram and have it cooked two ways: grilled, and as a soup.