Restaurants in El Nido are not widely heard online as people visiting the town talk about the lavish lunch that is included on their island hopping tours. But eventually, when they get back in town, they search the dusty streets of El Nido to have that rewarding meal before calling it a day.
On my short stay in town, I was able to try some food places and sample food from their menu. The list below is a combination of budget cafés to fancy restaurants to try when in El Nido.
Sea Slugs Beach Bar and Restaurant
Dinner by the beach is exactly what’s in your mind before leaving your accommodation to search for a place to eat. Sea Slugs’ location perfectly fits your desire as they usually set up dining tables by the beach. Place easily gets crowded during dinner so it’s advised to be there early. Seafood section on their menu was subdivided into squid, shrimp, crab, and fish and each have at least 3 options to choose from.
Breaded Shrimp with Rice (Php250) wasn’t that surprising, shrimps were soft but the breading was a bit firm. What made my dinner special was the Tomato Pasta (Php130). I already ordered the shrimp when I craved for pasta and since I was alone, and the cost is a bit high, I ordered the cheapest pasta on the menu.
The pasta was served plainly like it was just tossed in oil with the slices of tomatoes added. My expectation went down and considered that my money wasn’t worth it. Parmesan cheese was available on the condiments and I immediately drizzled some on the pasta, and voila, it became one of the best meals I had in El Nido.
Marber’s Beach Bar
On a fine day when you’re walking by the beach and suddenly your stomach crumbles, Marber’s will be a friend. They have varieties of breakfast meals, sandwiches and burgers, pasta, beef, pork, seafood, and German dishes.
I want to continue my seafood diet in El Nido so I got an order of Stuffed Squid (Php230). The squid wasn’t tough which means that it was cooked perfectly. If you’re a bit picky when it comes to cooking a squid, especially grilled, the meal won’t disappoint.
For budget breakfast meals, most travelers, local and foreign, converge in Silog Republic for satisfying and cheap rice meals. The silogs (fried rice + egg) are priced at Php65 while sizzling meals for Php75. For short orders, they offer pancit canton, pancit bihon, lomi, spaghetti, and burger still at an affordable price.
If you depend on rice, the unlimited rice meals are appropriate for you. For Php99 pesos, you can have your chosen silog with unlimited rice and a free glass of iced tea. What’s nice in Silog Republic is that they also deliver food in town.
You’ll be intrigued as to why guests leave their footwear before entering the restaurant, same concept to that of Ka Lui in Puerto Princesa City. Mezzanine has two levels of the dining hall, a super cozy place to catch up with friends and to have a recap of the things your group has done for the day. The sound of the crashing waves is a pleasant noise in the background while appreciating the food they serve.
Mezzanine is more of an Italian restaurant with the pizza, pasta, risotto, and bread, but they also offer steaks and some Thai food. Two pizza flavors and two kinds of pasta for a hungry group: Quattro Stagioni (Php450), Salame (Php450), Carbonara (Php350), and Frutti di Mare (Php340).
Most of the pizzas are tomato based with mozzarella as the main cheese. Toppings for the Quattro Stagioni are olives, mushroom, artichokes, and Parma while salami and bell peppers for the Salame pizza. The Carbonara was creamy with hints of bacon and parmesan cheese. The Frutti di Mare, on the other hand, is a mix of squid, shrimp, mussels, and clams in tomato sauce.
Big Mama’s Hot Pot and Grill
Another beachfront restaurant, just beside Rainforest Beach Hotel, serves hotpots and grills. My first encounter with Big Mama’s was in Coron way back in 2013 and I didn’t know that they also have a branch in El Nido. It was raining that evening and the idea of having some hot soup for dinner received an applauding yes from everyone.
Dining in Big Mama’s has this ‘lutong-bahay’ concept that made me miss the food being prepared by my mom when I’m with the family in the province. We got bowls of sinigang, pork barbecue, pork adobo, beef steak, and stir-fry water spinach (kangkong).
All Natural Fresh Fruit Shake
From the tiring island hopping activities, there are stalls along the road that offer fruit shakes and some crepes for snack. One of them is All Natural Fresh Fruit Shake, along Hama Street near the police station that has around two dozens of fruit shake flavors of different fruit combinations. The shakes can be availed on three different sizes, 12oz, 16oz, and 22oz. Crepes are also added to their snack options.
Midtown New El Nido Bakery
For baked goodies all day, Midtown Bakery sells hot pandesal and bread for your tummy. Bread and pastries are being sold at affordable prices. As per a local blog I read, it’s best to visit the bakery at 3 in the afternoon for freshly baked bread and pastries.
Before my trip to El Nido, I created a list of food places to try and there were a couple of restaurants left on my list as I wasn’t able to accommodate them on my stay. Other places to consider are Lonesome Carabao Lounge for their Mexican food, Og’s Restaurant that serves fresh seafood, El Nido Art Café, Squidos, and Trattoria Altrove.