I had only 50 hours in Boracay. Mrs. MM and The Kid got there a day earlier than I did. And we had way too many restaurants or snack shops to try in such a short period of time. So we decided to walk from one end of the beach to the other and in the process eat as much as our stomachs would allowâ€¦ Overall, Boracay has some pretty good eating going on. Considering it is in such a remote location and not much seems to grow there, I was impressed with the variety of food on offer. I suspect foreigners who have settled there have something to do with the wonderful mix of cuisines, but it is also the critical mass of local and foreign tourists with money to burn that has resulted in such an interesting dining scene. I did, however, generally find the food to be somewhat overpriced, and thus our ratings are heavily influenced by the value for money trade-off. I admit that we didnâ€™t really have enough time to try a lot of dishes but here are our personal views of many of the restaurants that Marketmanila readers wrote in to say we just HAD to tryâ€¦
Fridayâ€™s Hotel Restaurant â€“ MM Rating 9.0/10.0
We started our marathon eating adventure with a wonderful breakfast at Fridayâ€™s, which rated a solid 9.0/10.0 on the MM Scale. I will do a separate post on Fridayâ€™s food but suffice it to say, this was a very well executed breakfast of Filipino and Western favorites and the only thing they could have done better was to serve fresh rather than bottled or canned orange juice. The setting was gorgeous (best of all meals in Boracay), staff superb, food delicious and surprisingly rather reasonably priced. We ate there two mornings in a row. Nice tapa, very good Daing na Bangus, competent but slightly soggy pancakes and waffles and a nice Eggs Benedict.
Jonahâ€™s Shakes â€“ MM Rating 6.5/10.0
We then strolled towards Station 2 and stopped in at Jonahâ€™s Shakes, which several readers mentioned and frankly, we had high expectations. The first two shakes I asked for were â€œout of stock,â€ and we ended up ordering an avocado and milk shake and a papaya and mango shake. The fruit shakes definitely have some sort of milk in them (Wysgal thinks powdered milk) whether powdered or evaporated and they do not use fresh fruit for the most partâ€¦I think it is mostly frozen. I can see why some folks would like these shakes but I thought they were just so-so. Not as fruity as I would like and muddled by the addition of milk or other fillers. However, I must say ours were appropriately sweet, not overdone as is the tendency at many places that serve shakes. We didnâ€™t try the food and its tough to rate based on two small shakes but they didnâ€™t impress.
Real Coffeeâ€™s Kalamansi Muffins â€“ MM Rating 8.0/10.0
This isnâ€™t a rating of Real Coffee as much as of their much ballyhooed Kalamansi muffins. We stopped in to buy a couple and also added a brownie into our bag. We didnâ€™t stay to have coffee or tea and we sampled the muffin while walking down the beach. Based on this one sample, we really DID like the muffin. It had an intense kalamansi flavor hit and it was dense but not heavy. I liked this and kudos to them for tweaking a classic lemon muffin/cupcake by adding kalamansi instead. Our cupcakes had bizarre creamy white dots on the surface that make me wonder if they use freshly squeezed kalamansi or bottled stuff but at any rate, the end product was delicious. The brownie was not terrific and I wouldnâ€™t go out of my way to get another one. We asked for the carrot muffin and other baked goodies but they didnâ€™t have any in stock. At about PHP40 or 45, this was also a reasonable price to ask for the muffin.
Zuzuni â€“ MM Rating 8.5/10.0
As you might imagine, we were a bit stuffed by lunch time, but we were determined to continue with our eating marathon. We stopped in at Zuzuni for some very good Greek food. We had a lamb gyro, melitzanes tiganites with tzatsiki (fried eggplant with yogurt sauce) and a horiatiki salad that were nicely done. The setting was interesting (albeit shoebox small) and the waitstaff attentive. I wish we had more room to put the menu through its paces but based on the little that we ordered, we would definitely go back for more. The gyro was one of the better ones we have had anywhere in the Philippines (though there was no hot sauce provided) and the fried eggplant was superb. The salad featured some pretty lame over-the-hill cucumber but otherwise we were thrilled with this samplingâ€¦
Streetside Doughnuts, Dâ€™Mall â€“ MM Rating 8.5/10.0
What can I say? Fried fresh in front of your eyes and at only PHP3, these are terrific value. Eat 6 of these for the same price of a tonier doughnut in Manila. Just make sure they are fresh from the lardâ€¦that makes all the difference. Rates high primarily due to pleasure/cost trade-off.
CafÃ© del Sol â€“ MM Rating 5.5-6.0/10.0
This place looked promising. Across the walkway from Aria, we stopped here for an afternoon merienda and ordered a cassava cake that was rather disappointing. An unusual thickness at say 2-3 inches, the pieces of grated cassava were huge and frankly, almost tasteless. The mixture lacked cream, eggs and sugar and what you got was sort of a bland cassava cake rather than the denser, richer confection one hopes for. We also ordered a mango cheesecake that was incredibly dependent on gelatin and this dessert was downright awful. Their tiramisu was a bit stylized but tasted better than the other sweets we ordered. Drinks were competently prepared including several cappuccinos, coffees and teas. Eating here was like snacking in the middle of Grand Central Station and folks seated at tables nearby puffing away on cigarettes did not help. Mediocre food, priced richly.
Banza â€“ MM Rating 8.0/10.0
I wish we found this restaurant earlier in the evening. We just had to keep walking and walking and walking to get there. They got great points for uniqueness and quality of dishes served. But they fell flat on SLOW service, staff who turned off the music and lights at about 10p.m. clearly wanting us to leave before we were ready. We had seafood kebabs, seafood rice (I liked this a lot except for broken crab shells that could break teeth), steaks, bacalao soup and were thrilled with most of the food. Portions were small and we found this restaurant extremely pricey (plus they wanted to tack on 6.5% for a credit card, ridiculous…). For a really good meal, count on PHP1,000 per person! With bigger portions or lower prices and more service conscious staff, this could have easily rated a 9.0. I wish there were a Portuguese restaurant in Manila that served similar foodâ€¦
Not bad for a dayâ€™s walk down the beach, huh? While we didnâ€™t do the following restaurants on the same day, I add them here so you can compare and contrast most of our meals in Boracay on the whirlwind tripâ€¦
Aria â€“ Mrs. MM and The Kid Rating 8.0/10.0
Mrs. MM and The Kid arrived for dinner at this busy location early at 6pm and ordered a Spaghetti Bolognese and a Pasta Putanesca. The pastas arrived hot and freshly cooked, al dente, not overly salted. But The Kid felt her Bolognese lacked flavor. The dishes were moderately priced and the dinner for two with drinks was roughly PHP900. Service was good but there was no one else in the restaurant at the time. They sat outdoors by the beach to try and catch a bit of a breeze. They would go back for more.
Sands Restaurant, Discovery Shores â€“ Mrs. MM and The Kid Rating 6.5-7.0/10.0
Mrs. MM and The Kid had lunch at this new restaurant (hotel review in a separate post) in the partially completed Discovery Shores Hotel. Service was good and attentive in a near empty restaurant but the food was left seriously wanting. They ordered a pizza and a salad and the portions were somewhat small and taste unremarkable. They felt the need to add Tabasco on the pizza to give it a little flavor. The Kid had a mango shake that said was incredibly watery and devoid of mango flavor. Overall, the bill was quite expensive. It didnâ€™t help that construction workers were still around working on a nearby water feature and thus unappetizing sweaty smells were a distraction at best. Food at this much touted hotel needs to go up a few notches before you can really consider it to be a serious contender on an island with a lot of alternative food choices.
MANY, MANY THANKS to all of Marketmanila’s readers who sent suggestions of where to eat. We were thrilled to have such a comprehensive list to cover in such a brief visit. We could never have done this without your help! I completely agree that it is a bit dangerous to give “ratings” when we have only had a chance to sample a few dishes at each of the places, so take these personal views with some skepticism and realize they are mostly our first and only impressions…