William Ruscher recently asked me to write an article about eating at cheap Filipino eateries. I thought that was a great topic. My favorite place is in Bogo City so unless you’re coming to Bogo, I can’t really give you a review of specific locations.
He also asked me to give some tips on telling which eateries are safe and clean. Sorry, but I can’t do that. A kitchen can look great but behind the scenes you never know. Also, this is the Philippines. You are in a developing nation. If you watch any TV show on the Discovery Channel or National Geographic, you’re going to be sick at your stomach. Those shows usually focus on what happens in the USA!
I already knew the answer but I asked Jessie anyway. I asked if she had any hints or tips about spotting a bad place to eat in the Philippines, she said “You can’t, they are all dirty.” That is the same answer that I was going to give to that question. Of course, that’s not 100 percent accurate but its close enough for government work.
You’re kidding yourself if you think it is vastly different in the USA or other Western nations. I have seen expats living in
the Philippines proclaim that you need someone experienced with you. Look, some of the old timers want to puff up their importance. I think you can do as good of a job making that decision as anyone else.
In the USA though, at least the outwardly appearance are likely to be better than they are here. I’ve seen some pretty disgusting things at eateries in the Philippines. The worst was watching rats drinking from a large bowl at a BBQ. A few minutes later, I watched the staff clean the eating utensils in that same bowl. Yep, I saw this more than once.
Eating at Cheap Filipino Eateries can be Disturbing
To a lesser degree of disgust but still noteworthy, at a pizza joint I have visited many times, they use shared towels outside of the bathroom. So the employees use the comfort room then dry their hands on the same towel everyone else has used. That’s got to be healthy? Oh and by the way, rest rooms are politely called comfort rooms or CRs by most Filipinos. I think that’s a borrowed British term though. Does anyone know?
These disturbing things might scare you to death. I look at it this way. There are 90 million people living in the Philippines. They are all eating and they are doing just fine. If they can do it, I certainly can do it.
I have had a great time and had some good food at these places. It would be shame to visit the Philippines and not try some of this. If you’re adventurous there are some rather interesting foods to try. Things like blood on a stick, chicken legs and chicken heads or chicken guts on a stick. I’ve had tongue, probably from a cow but maybe from a water buffalo or carabao. I thought I would try the balot sometimes spelled balut. That as before I saw the picture shown here, it pretty much cured my desire to eat that.
That’s probably the most famous disgusting thing people eat in the Philippines. I want to try it but I can’t get up the nerve to do it. I just want to join among the others that have bragging rights for giving it a try. For those of you that don’t know what this is, its duck or chicken in the shell. They let it incubate for I think 7, 10 or 14 days usually. That way you get duck that has almost no development or nearly ready to hatch.
My greatest claim to fame is what I like to call cat pooh coffee. There is a critter that looks a bit like a cat but also looks a bit like a rat. It is usually called a Civet Cat. It eats the best coffee beans and then passes them through. Filipinos gather the beans on the forest floor and sell it to Westerners for $30 USD a cup or more. It cost about five bucks here in the Philippines. I’ve had it and it is very good.
The scenery at the BBQ by the bay is awesome. The ocean is nice too.
You know. every culture has its gross foods, even the USA where they suck the heads of crawdads or boil the guts of pigs.
That old trite saying comes to mind, when in the Philippines do as Filipinos do. In this case, maybe as much as your stomach can stand, for me it is what my eyes can tolerate. It can’t tolerate baby ducks with feathers.
The food at roadside eateries in the Philippines is usually extremely cheap. I have been to the Bayside Plaza BBQ many times. My long term followers know that I call it the BBQ by the Bay. It didn’t have a name forever so that is what I still call it.
Jessie and I can go there, eat until I’m going to explode and spend less than five bucks. Usually, I spend around four dollars. I get pork chops, Jessie get chicken usually along with her rice of course. She also liked to get the liver on a stick there. My pork chops are also on a stick.
If you go to a Western style fast food, you’ll pay close to the same thing for it as you do in the USA. There is Pizza Hut, KFC, Burger King, McDonald’s and all the rest. We even have Starbucks. Now we don’t have any of these in Bogo City. You’ll need to be in a large city to find that.
Pizza Hut still has the best pizza here but it is good because it so greasy. There is a good pizza place in Cebu City. The name of it is Da Vinci’s Pizza. Da Vinci’s serves a huge pizza at a very low cost. There meat lover’s pizza is sixteen inches and less than $10. I don’t think it is as good as Pizza Hut but it has to be a lot better for you.
I also like the Golden Courie in Cebu City. It isn’t a roadside eatery but a nice restaurant. The price is still quite low. I typically spend less than $15 dollars there. Pizza hut will run about $20 for me. My favorite thing to get at the Golden Courie is the baby back ribs. You can find it in SM Mall and there is another one near Osmena Circle. I prefer the SM Mall location but they are often packed and have a long waiting list.
I hope you’ll try some of the roadside eateries. You’ll get a first hand glimpse of what the Philippines is like. If you are observant, you’ll learn about Filipino culture too. It will likely be the cheapest food you’ll ever have. I don’t worry a bit about how it was prepared. Filipinos are good people. Though they are usually not as well versed in things like bacteria and virus, they do care about people so just enjoy yourself.
I have added included some pictures below. I hope they help tell the story of eating at cheap Filipino eateries and roadside BBQ.
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Filed under: Living In The Philippines
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