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El Pueblo


RACKS

Racks has been a tradition in barbecued ribs since mid-1990s, but in recent years has served a menu that evokes images of a Southern American Sunday brunch. Generously cut steaks, baked beans, mac and cheese, and country-style fried chicken have been top-billing alongside the classic and baby-back ribs. Of course, no Sunday brunch is ever complete without dessert so dig into a Mississippi mud pie or an apple pie for a sweet finish.

CONGO GRILL

Although set to look like the wilds of Africa, Congo’s menu stays close to home. The grilled squid is tender and succulent, the tuna belly is divine and the paella negra (rice flavored with squid ink and spices) gratifying, though not quite what you would order on a date. Getting to the door requires a considerable climb, but think of it as their way of building up your appetite. You should have a big one to still accommodate a congo mango or a fresh fruit platter of refreshing watermelons, pineapples and others in season.

PASTO

Decidedly classic Italian, Pasto is like an acquaintance with Food Network chef, Mario Batali’s brand of Italian cuisine. The pasta selection is imaginative but not pretentious, the stone-baked thin-crust pizzas are heavenly, and the paninis are just scrumptious. The room is low-lit and comfortably furnished, and the tables are always set with a bottle of wine, lending an almost opulent feel that does not reflect on your tab at the end of the meal.

SONG DO

Decidedly classic Italian, Pasto is like an acquaintance with Food Network chef, Mario Batali’s brand of Italian cuisine. The pasta selection is imaginative but not pretentious, the stone-baked thin-crust pizzas are heavenly, and the paninis are just scrumptious. The room is low-lit and comfortably furnished, and the tables are always set with a bottle of wine, lending an almost opulent feel that does not reflect on your tab at the end of the meal.

Metrowalk


BACOLOD CHICKEN INASAL

This restaurant declares itself the domain of chicken inasal(Bacolod's chicken barbecue, marinated in native herbs and spices and grilled on a stick). Hold your appetite just a tad...try their pangpagana(appetizer) of chikynineeswhich are bits of crispy chicken skin served with a vinegar-and-garlic dip. Its hearty soup selection that includes batchoy (local noodle soup in tasty beef broth with slices of meat and chopped pork cracklings) more than justifies this humble home of comfort food.

BRAZIL! BRAZIL!

Their churrascos (Brazilian barbecue) will keep you yearning for their unique flavor. There are 15 kinds, all marinated in a secret recipe that blends sweet and spicy, left to cure for three days and cooked to sublime tenderness over lava rocks. Choose a beef hanging tender or a beef brisket, or the weekend special, leg of lamb, to go with a caipirinha(Brazilian drink of rhum, diced lemons and brown sugar), or a caipiroska, which is Brazil's version of rhum-coke.

DENCIO'S

It’s a perennial reunion of families and friends here as sizzling plates of garlic mushroom, bangus a la pobre (milkfish grilled and lavished with gravy), as well as crispy pata(deep-fried leg of pork) and lechonkawali (pork belly deep-fried to a crunchy bite) are laid down on tables. The sizzling sisig (minced pork jowl or cheek) is as much a show for the eyes as it is for the palate; the waiter brings in the sizzling plate, tosses in the poached egg in the hot dish and seasons it to your liking. The place fills up quickly on weekends, but try and give it a few more minutes… it’s definitely worth the wait.

ICEBERG'S

Iceberg’s has been popular with the young crowd for over a decade, being the place for sundaes, cobblers and parfaits, as well as local cooler, halu-halo (literally meaning “mix-mix” in Filipino), a concoction of sugar palm or coconut gel, purple yam preserve, sago, jackfruit, toasted rice crisps, egg yolk custard, ice cream, evaporated milk and sugar, topped with crushed ice. As if that were not enough treat, they have other items on their expanded menu, such as sandwiches, even tenderloin beef with mushroom and chicken cordon bleu.

MENU

Theirs is one that offers a myriad of flavors. Rice, alone, comes in exotic varieties such as turmeric, coconut, and beryani(a mix of garlic and chili). The friendly waitstaff are quick to suggest the mississippi fillet in spicy anchovy and pumpkin sauce, or the fillet mignon wrapped in bacon and complemented with either gravy or béchamel sauce. There’s also an extensive selection of coffees and cocktails to cap off the evening with.

MISATO

“ Irrashaimase” (“welcome” in Japanese) signals your exciting journey through Japanese cuisine, quite unlike many. There are all the usual fare such as sashimi and tempura, but rather than aspire for Japanese authenticity, their menu entices with a flavor that is more local. The crazy maki packs a multitude of flavors and textures with its crispy tempura batter flakes, crab meat and ebiko(shrimp eggs), thus appealing to the Filipinos’ love for salty-sweet combinations.

Misato prides itself in its philosophy that every diner is a VIP, so even before you raise a hand to order dessert, more likely a waitstaff has a suggestion ready.

So how about that tempura ice cream?

SOUTH SEA GRILL

This is a place that has become exceedingly popular for seafood that is utterly fresh, and for a gustatory adventure into General Santos City’s cuisine. The seafood platter comes highly recommended as a sampler of the city’s famed fresh harvests of prawns, squid, white marlin and mussels. You can also opt for the grilled diana which is a delectable cross between the salmon and the tuna.

South Sea Grill gathers an enthusiastic crowd during lunch and dinner, and you just might catch world boxing champ, Manny Pacquiao in off-training season.

OPUS

This intimate restaurant and bar belies the massive flavors bursting from their unique menu. The appetizer balut (duck eggs) and prawns in oyster sauce and chili butter reduction is delectable, but who’s to blame you for delving into their ultra-tender corned beef steak, or their kare-kare (ox tail stewed in peanut sauce), the recipe for which has been handed down through generations?

The casual dinner ambience breaks into a spirited party mood when the music starts picking up around 10 P.M. That is just about the perfect time to grab a “mood swing, “ a stealthy drink that matches every mood – depressed, in love, ecstatic and cool. “Seven shots” is not for the callow ones.

THE GOOD EARTH TEA ROOM

This is a place that has become exceedingly popular for seafood that is utterly fresh, and for a gustatory adventure into General Santos City’s cuisine. The seafood platter comes highly recommended as a sampler of the city’s famed fresh harvests of prawns, squid, white marlin and mussels. You can also opt for the grilled diana which is a delectable cross between the salmon and the tuna.

South Sea Grill gathers an enthusiastic crowd during lunch and dinner, and you just might catch world boxing champ, Manny Pacquiao in off-training season.

Depot Area


NEXT DOOR

The food is just as good as on the menu of its mother restaurant, North Park, but if you seek a distinctive experience in this less expensive spin-off, try the amoylumpia (spring roll of vegetables, ground pork, dried seaweed and peanuts, or the curried beef tendon served with rice or canton noodles. Lychee panna cotta is a popular choice for a sweet ending to a full, filling meal.

SEASIDE SEAFOOD MARKET

Here is a bustling scene of fresh oysters, prawns, lobsters, crabs, even fish you cannot think of names for. All you have to do is make your choice as to which particularly beckons to your craving, and have it cooked by one of several stalls offering the Ituromo, Ilutoko(“You point, I cook”, in Filipino) service. This is one gastronomical excursion not to miss.

Pearl Drive


HOTSHOTS

One can simply park, grab a burger and drink, and drive off after a few minutes…or stay and take in the scene of students streaming from the University of Asia and the Pacific right across. Either way, the experience of another flavorful, albeit a bit playful, innovation on the beloved sandwich is incomparable.

MARINA

This place easily transports you to the all-too-captivating marina of Iloilo City with its selection of fresh seafood and grilled specialties. This particular branch of the restaurant is a little inauspiciously located, but the luscious and affordable offerings more than compensate for this deficiency.

Frontera Verde


GERRY'S GRILL

A phenomenal hit when it opened in the late ‘90s, Dencio’s has since shown no restraint pleasing its loyal clientele. The sisigis just as excellent, the bulalo(beef marrow soup) wonderfully rich, and the crispy tadyang (ribs) addictive. This bilevel place has become as much an after-work hangout for a round of ice-cold beer, or two (Bucket promos are always available for groups!), to go with their appetizers, as much as a family destination for lunch or dinner.

RED KIMONO

Red Kimono eschews traditional Japanese for a more contemporary décor, a preference that is also reflected on their menu. The crabstick rolls with wasabi mayo are a perfect indication of a pleasantly unconventional meal ahead. The layered spinach and tofu woos the palate with its tender texture and wins you over with its sweet miso sauce. It’s only one of delightful choices on its vegetarian menu; the tofu steak laced with apple sauce is yet another. For those who are not on a stringent diet, try the kamameshi rice which is cooked tender and flavorful with chicken or beef. Or you can sample a whole range of appetizers, entrees and desserts for only P485 (plus 10% service charge). The choices can be giddying, with sushi, teriyaki grilled chicken, beef or pork tonkatsu, among others. Desserts are not disappointing either; try the chocolate balls, rich chocolate-and-coconut with a gooey strawberry core.

LIFE COFFEE AND TEA

It’s not the lone restaurant inside SM Hypermarket, but this franchise from Taiwan is a great place to get a snack after searching the aisles at the supermarket and working up an appetite. Have a plate of nachos which are light and crispy, or a garlic shrimp pizza. The teas are wonderfully refreshing – you can choose green pr red – all with extracts from fruits such as mango, lychee, peach and strawberry. You can also order a full meal if their selection of salads, pastas and entrees dictate that you do so. Surely your satiated selves cannot handle a quick departure, so linger a while with a nice cup of latte, a bold espresso or a luscious frappe.