MANILA, Philippines – Some people travel to find themselves, and it makes perfect sense if you go to Negros.
Negros Occidental has long been regarded as the “sugar bowl of the Philippines” for its vast sugarcane plantations. Here, laid-back lifestyles give way to a culture of indulgence in food. The late Doreen Gamboa-Fernandez, a beloved food writer and teacher, would no doubt attest to this: she hailed from Silay in the north, after all.
This place takes its food seriously. Here are some spots to visit when you’re in town. This list is not exhaustive; new restaurants crop up a lot.
1st stop: Silay
Silay is the first city to greet you after coming in from the airport.
It is about 15 minutes away to the north of Bacolod city, and a quick tricycle ride from the airport gives you a scenic view and a breath of fresh air.
After getting dropped off in Rizal Street at Silay City, just cross the street and gather your thoughts at El Ideal Bakery with a cup of coffee and their signature guapple pie. Make a mental note to drop by again for pasalubong before your return flight.
With sunlight streaming in through the windows, savor the city’s peaceful, slower pace.
When you’re done, walk a little bit further to the late Emma Lacson’s house across the street from BPI bank. She’s known for her lumpiang ubod — hearts of palm rolled in paper-thin wrappers.
Emma Lacson’s 5 children keep the family tradition alive. Her youngest, Nora Lacson, now runs the kitchen.
Empanada is also a must-try — but it’s best to order ahead.
After coffee, lumpiang ubod and empanadas, it’s time for a leisurely neighborhood stroll. Silay is known for its well-preserved ancestral homes.
Balay Negrense on Cinco de Noviembre street is a museum that showcases the life of a late 19th-century sugar baron.
On your way back to the terminal (near El Ideal) where you can catch a jeepney to Bacolod city, you’ll come across quaint Café 1925. Drop by for their Osso Bucco.
2nd stop: The Ruins, Talisay
You’re already in Negros; it’s best not to miss the Ruins.
Take a trike across the street (before the flyover in Bata) and pay about PHP 50 per way.
The sight of the Ruins as you make the corner turn is unforgettable against a setting sun.
The Ruins are a welcome respite from foodie adventures; but if you must eat, there’s a café nearby.
You can also drop by Tana Dicang’s house and purchase Talisay delicacies such as bitso-bitso (Fried dough) and bucayo (candied coconut).
3rd stop: Inasal in Manukan Country
For Bacolod’s most popular dish, inasal, Aida’s reigns.
You can ask a cab to drop you off in front of a row of hole-in-the-wall eateries in Manukan Country, and you won’t miss Aida’s.
Order a stick of pechopak — chicken breast and wing seasoned with annatto oil, grilled upon order — and pair it with garlic rice and a plate of fresh oysters.
4th stop: Feast like a king
When dining out with family and friends, Aboy’s is a popular go-to restaurant.
Filipino fare is ordered turo-turo style, and you can’t go wrong with the seafood.
The restaurant is relatively far from the city center, so if you prefer to be nearer Bacolod’s main artery (Lacson Street), Imay’s on Sixth Street is a good second choice.
5th and last stop: Finally, dessert!
Next comes the sugar high.
A personal recommendation is Robinsons Place Bacolod — only because it has 3 of Bacolod’s most popular pastry shops in one place: Café Bob’s, Calea and Felicia’s
Whether you eat a frozen Brazo de Mercedes in Café Bob’s, an Oreo cheesecake in Calea or sample a macaroon in Felicia’s, you’ll know without a doubt why Negros is the country’s sugar capital.
Along the way, make friends; soak in the culture, the architecture, the people—and you’ll return from your trip with a happy stomach and a nourished soul. – Rappler.com
It’s easy to get around Negros on your own, but if you prefer a guided tour, Bambi Borromeo can show you all the ins and outs. Get in touch with him via mobile (0918 909 0916) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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