“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber
It was strange that I felt out of place in El Nido. Though it’s still part of the Philippines, though I speak the language, and though I look like everybody else, the town was seemingly created for foreigners. Walk along the streets and you’d never fail to cross paths with a foreigner. Head to the beaches and see these crazy white bodies getting their tan. Dine in a restaurant and find rocket-high prices (more like Manila prices, haha).
Most businesses here are owned or partly-owned by foreigners. They have traded their lives abroad for a simple life by the beach. Oh yes, how I envy them! Imagine switching careers, following what your heart truly desires and settling down near paradise. Amazing!
The good thing is that this place is emerging as a cultural melting pot. Restaurants were built catering to the owner’s palate, which translates to an authentic international dining experience right in this first-class municipality. From Italian pizza to French crepes, to Mexican burritos and Filipino adobo, you can’t miss the gastronomic fun after a day of island hopping. Here are the restaurants I’ve tried while I was there:
If you walked along the main street in town, you wouldn’t miss this place. Outside, a queue of people can be found waiting for their turn to dine, while watching the restaurant’s employees make pizza.
Open only at night, the restaurant offers Italian food. We tried the four seasons pizza and a shrimp pasta. I loved the atmosphere inside though, it was quiet and more refined compared to other restaurants we’ve dined in.
If you need a place to chill out, head to Lonesome Carabao. They serve a lot of cocktails and beers, and specializes in Mexican food.
I wasn’t in the mood to try their burrito, so I stuck with sweet and sour pork, and it was delicious! I never expected them to cook something so tasty. My brother equally liked his calamares.
I passed by this stand everyday, and I surely didn’t miss trying their crepes. I was fortunate to meet the shop owner, a French national who fell in love with El Nido and migrated to the Philippines. I had to assume that the crepes they serve resemble those in France. I’ve never been to France, but the crepes were yummy! Try the mango one.
If you want good food and a perfect view (without island hopping, that is), El Nido Corner is the place to be. Indulge in their fish sinigang (sour soup) and their stuffed squid, while overlooking the shore lined up with bancas set against the limestone hill.
It was the only restaurant serving seafood at a decent price. I can’t help looking at the other table who ordered lobsters! Nom, nom, nom.
The first restaurant we’ve ever eaten! I had a slice of fish, which was oh-so-big that I could hardly finish my plate. Food was good, and the serving size was big (at least in Filipino standards), while their prices were among the cheapest in town.
I was never hungry during this trip. How I loved to sleep with a very full stomach!
More about the Philippines next time! Happy travels!