Travellers go to Bohol island to bury their feet into its white, sandy beaches, discover rich marine biodiversity and gaze upon picturesque landscapes. What most don’t know is that this top tourist destination in the Philippines is also home to some of the best local cuisine around. We’ve listed 10 restaurants worth visiting.
In the Visayan language, payag means ‘nipa hut’, which is how this humble restaurant first started, feeding just a few tables of hungry locals. Now its main branch is fashioned out of a renovated Spanish-era home, kitted out with numerous kitschy decorations. This restaurant specializes in grilled meats and is hailed as having the best Filipino-style barbecue in Bohol. Its signature sweet-salty marinade with your choice of grilled meat is served with java rice (fried rice cooked with annatto and turmeric, paired with a zesty papaya pickle). Save room for dessert and end the meal like the locals do with halo-halo (mix-mix) – a dessert made of crushed ice, evaporated milk, fruit preserves and purple yam ice cream. The idea is to mix everything up to create that one perfect spoon of sweetness.
Set in a historic ancestral home and adorned with elegant antiques, wooden floors and grand drapes, Gerarda’s serves classic Filipino food enjoyed through the ages. Don’t be intimidated by its lush interiors: the food is reasonably priced with substantial portions that make great value for money. A must try is the ubi-kinampay, a special purple yam indigenous to Bohol. In most parts of the country, it is prepared as a sweet jam or ice cream. However, at Gerarda’s it is treated as a savory vegetable. Pair the dish with their seafood kare-kare (peanut stew), which is a sure hit. Bohol holds an annual Ubi festival to celebrate the farmers who are dedicated to keeping this one-of-a-kind root alive.
Named after Bohol’s diminutive primate, the tarsier, this restaurant is located inside a botanical park resting along a cliff. It is hailed for its fabulous panoramic views of the ocean and scrumptious eats. If you’ve had your fill of local food, with budget to spare, it offers a subtle mix of European and Asian dishes. Order their Kingfish Carpaccio, which is smoked in-house and served with a topping of lemon cream sauce and fresh garden herbs.
Have lunch while cruising through the scenic mangroves of the Loboc River. The tasty buffet offers local fare that is great value for money. Travelers are serenaded by pleasant live music and folk dances during the trip. Don’t be surprised to catch local children climbing palm trees and jumping into the water next to your boat! And don’t worry – the river is very clean.
Located inside the Island City Mall in Tagbilaran, this restaurant is the place to go for seafood lovers. Highlights on their menu are the fresh spring rolls, steamed pomfret and sautéed prawns in coconut milk and chillies. A daily buffet is also available. If you have a bit more budget, ask for the fiery Singaporean crabs. The restaurant serves fresh seafood harvested live from local markets.
Looking for a change from local fare? This hidden culinary gem along Alona in Panglao island offers a fusion of great continental food. The casual restaurant serves French favorites such as chicken cordon blue and decadent crème brûlée, but they can also make a mean burger and grilled steak. It is owned and run by an enterprising Italian-French Chef Dario.
If you’re craving a savory pizza while on holiday in the Visayas, Guiseppe’s serves fresh pizza straight out of a real brick oven. The restaurant is named after Chef Guissepe Sgroi, who takes pride in his extensive choices of antipasti, pastas and Italian desserts. If you can’t decide, opt for the daily special, which won’t disappoint. Don’t leave before passing through his deli, which is stocked with the best Italian wines and cheeses that can come in handy if you’d like to set up a quick picnic by the beach.
Go on a small excursion to this nature-inspired resort in Panglao, which holds an organic farm and restaurant. It is the ideal place if you’re aiming for a healthy meal or a light lunch. Perched on a cliff with scenic ocean views, the restaurant is known for its farm-to-table salads, seafood and exotic carabao milk ice creams such as spicy ginger and durian flavors. If you have time to spare, take the tour around the garden to see where all their kitchen produce is grown.
This creatively decorated beachside restaurant in Anda offers delicious coconut burgers, chicken couscous and homemade ice cream. It is one of the few places in the area that is vegetarian-friendly. Coco Loco café is also known for its decent selection of local craft beers, which makes it an ideal choice to dine and relax by the beach after a long day of island tours.
Amihan, meaning ‘cool northeast winds’ in Tagalog, rests a few steps away from the turquoise waters of Anda. Casa Amihan is located inside a resort surrounded by lush Mediterranean-style cottages, offering breathtaking views and tasty Filipino-style dishes. Try the fresh fish ceviche called kinilaw and the special grilled chicken paired with Filipino stir-fried noodles called pancit bihon.