6 fun, beautiful Davao restaurants to try
Restaurant choices are crucial to the success of every dinner date – especially if it’s the first! The food selections should be good enough to satisfy appetites, and dining environments should be conducive to stimulating interesting conversations. (READ: Davao City: Your complete weekend itinerary)
You may want to plan your Valentine's Day dinner (or any sweet date, really) around this list, enjoy Davao's food specialties, and make your February 14 a night that's less awkward to remember (don't forget to floss after). (READ: From Davao City, make the trip to these 8 beautiful beaches)
From its humble beginnings as a tiny coffee shop in Rizal Street, Zabadani grew to become a restaurant loved by locals and visitors alike. (READ: 9 spectacular places to visit in Mindanao)
You can look forward to Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Filipino fare a la carte: from Syrian beef ribs, chicken biryani, and kebabs.
Or you can sit back and let their love month special menu do all the magic for you. For P2500, you can enjoy a dinner set with gift options that include bears in baskets or roses and chocolates.
Nevertheless, each plate of beef rib, roasted chicken, fish falafel, or lamb kabsa makes every visit a food experience to always look forward to.
This halal-certified restaruant's baked chicken rosemary is growing to become a favorite among their clientele. The dish gives the Pinoy favorite lechon manok a twist with generous spices and herbs.
Couples will enjoy dining in Zabadani's unconventional setup. Other than wooden furniture with earthy details and decorated with Moroccan lamps, customers can also choose to dine on carpets on the floor.
A generous selection of teas and layered coffee in Zabadani seals the deal.
Zabadani is located in Circumferential Road, Marfori, across Bioessence Spa.
Pastilan sa Ponce
There isn't anything that quite expresses true love than a bouquet of isaw. A cup of rice with pastil makes this street food favorite into a meal.
Pastil (or patil) is a Muslim delicacy commonly enjoyed by Maguindanaons. Traditionally, pastil is rice that is topped with chicken flakes (or in some versions, saucy innards) and wrapped in banana leaf, and often eaten like a suman or a banana.
But in Pastilan sa Ponce, pastil is served as a topping that adds savory kick to rice. Aside from isaw, customers can choose from a wide selection of barbecue: pork, catfish, hotdogs, gizzard, and chicken.
Owner Ramil Garcia said that, in a day, his kitchen crew would cook up almost one sack of rice; and numerous large pots of pastil.
If you like the idea of dates by the street, Pastilan sa Ponce is the place to go.
Check out this Instagram photo of user @songpoukliu:
If you like to bring your date to dinner with cultural experiences on the side, Kaonanan should fit the bill.
Tribal inspired meals – served in bamboo or in wooden sungka plates – literally makes you feel like you're tasting Mindanao culture that you only get to read in history books.
Chef Bianca Dizon designed the menu to give foodies a bright fusion of flavors. The restaurant's specialties (starting at P225) include maalas na baboy (a dish similar to pork binagoongan), binayong ajos, luy-a, tanglad na manok (literally garlic, ginger, and lemongrass chicken), and tinalumbong manok na curry sa gata (a local variation of chicken curry).
There are also regular dance performances by the restaurant – from fire stunts to tribal dances inspired by rituals.
Spanish dishes and toothsome desserts make Tiny Kitchen a good place to dine – whether you're with a lover or by yourself. The restaurant's brightly lit dining area sets a light and casual mood that's perfect for a first date.
Tiny Kitchen's paella variations – from yellow Valencianas to Negras—are easy to love. Paella for two starts at 485. Try the Al a Cazador (hunter's style) paella with beef, chicken, duck and pancetta (Italian bacon). Opt for Paella Fideua – angel hair pasta with seafood, chorizo and paella sauce--as a lighter option (P295).
Dulce Vida, Tiny Kitchen’s dessert line, makes dinners and dates sweeter. This corner of the restaurant serves an array of desserts worth binging on—whether you're blissfully melting with romance or stone cold from a breakup (yikes, we hope not).
Frozen brazo cakes come in chocolate and mango (starts at 110 per slice). Best sellers Martha’s Fave (dulce de leche mousse cake) and Major Major Cake (rocky road) make the perfect dessert at 120 per slice.
Tiny Kitchen and Dulce Vida are both located in F. Torres Street
Food in Rekado makes dining easy and uncomplicated. The restaurant highlights "comfort food" by putting a premium on dishes that many Filipinos are already familiar with.
What does this mean to couples who dine there? It makes answering the question “what would you like to have?” easier. Varied food choices make it easy (and less awkward) for you to get along with your first date.
Can't decide whether to have adobo or kaldereta?
Rekado's Kalderobo (starts at P300) melds the flavors of both. Each bite (with a spoonful of steamy, hot white rice please) titillates the palate with zesty and savory hints of meats of beef.
Lovers who want to gorge on more good stuff, can have a generous serving of crispy beef tadyang (at P325). If you're already feeling comfortable with your date, don't be shy to order boneless crispy pata (at P395).
There’s also their bagnet salad (P335) made with pork belly (braised in the oven until tender then fried to crisp), and paired “tuyo”-infused dressing and tossed with fresh arugula.
Churros con chocolate (P175) or durian-langka turon (P170) make close dinners with high sweet notes. Chef Pauline puts novelty in these fried desserts by serving them in traditional Filipino live coal irons.
Rekado is located in Jacinto Extension Street.
If you're feeling adventurous for a dinner date, explore the contemporary taste of the American South in Huckleberry, which offers “time-honored recipes” from the Carolinas to the Creoles, with a little bit of Mexican and soul food.
There is a range of starters that can get your dinner date to a good start. You can choose from deviled duck eggs with bacon (P120), jerk chicken quesadillas (P265), or grilled chicken wings (P245).
Huck's specialties include slow roasted beef belly (P435). This is served with sautéed string beans and red cabbage, mashed potatoes and horseradish cream sauce, creating a medley of texture and flavors in your mouth.
The restaurant’s version of fried chicken makes it simple and on point by using only spices that don’t take away the actual flavor of the chicken meat. Southern fried chicken is served with corn muffins at (P330).
Huckleberry prides itself in serving hand-crafted cocktails (starting at P150), with in-house made syrups that range from ginger, demerara, grenadine, honey and cinnamon syrups.
Infused rum is also available – each is from locally sourced Davao fruits and ingredients. A selection from mangosteen, pineapple, mango, ginger, sili, and cacao are available at P80 each.
This Valentine's Day, Huck will be serving oysters and a special selection of wine. That should be enough reason to make your heart beat.
This Valentine's weekend join us at Huckleberry to celebrate good food and good drinks without the daisies or doily hearts anywhere in sight. We'll be serving the sweetest and freshest oysters for only P225 for a half dozen shells plus a variety of food and drink specials this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Come early to snag a table in our outdoor garden or the best seats in the bar. Couples and singles welcome! #Davao #HuckleberryDavao #FineFareStrongDrink
Huckleberry Southern Kitchen and Bar is located in the Oboza Compound in Rizal Street corner Bangoy Street.
What are your favorite Davao eats? Let us know in the comments below. – Rappler.com
Jesse Pizarro Boga is a journalist and a lifestyle writer from Davao City. He enjoys video games, yoga, and aerial silk. Follow him on Instagram @jesiramoun