The largest province in the Philippines, Palawan, is most known for its untouched natural beauty, and Puerto Princesa serves as its capital. Beautiful limestone islands El Nido and Coron, as well as the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, are some of its most well-known features.
It’s no surprise that Palawan often ranks first on “World’s Best Island” rankings! The Neo-Gothic cathedral, colonial-era barracks, history museums, and baywalk park in the downtown area make it worthwhile to spend a day exploring even though the finest places to go are outside the city limits.
Additionally, foodies will particularly love spending more time in the city center and tasting out unique cuisine options like pastillas hopia, tamilok, and chao long, a localized version of pho introduced by Vietnamese refugees.
Traditional eateries like Kinabuch’s and Badjao Seafront are still functioning, but a number of new eateries have lately opened in the city to energize the local dining scene. When you return to Palawan’s entrance, check out these new restaurants and bars!
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100% Cafe Moto
Asian and Western comfort food with attitude is served at 100% Cafe Moto, a motorcycle-themed restaurant and bar with large bikes on show and decals on the walls. Their specialties include Sriracha Chicken Wings ($350), Seafood Pasta Negra ($345), and Beef Rendang ($380).
Their banh mi (185-220), a substantial Vietnamese sandwich that comes in beef, smoked chorizo de Negros, chicken lemongrass, pork hoisin, and tofu & egg, is another highlight of their menu. They provide soju cocktails, shooters, and local beers as drinks.
Mayi’s Delight Smoothie ($200) is a delicious non-alcoholic specialty that combines raspberry, grape, mango, banana, dragon fruit, and Palawan yoghurt. That shakes your strength, man! There are both air-conditioned and outdoor dining options.
Haim Chicken Inato Restaurant
There’s more to Haim Chicken Inato Restaurant than just chicken! It boasts a sizable menu to satiate all other cravings. Of course, perfectly grilled chicken is the top seller. Those who have eaten it will attest that it is unlike any other grilled chicken, especially when served with rice, an essential component of a typical Filipino dinner.
For its fresh and inexpensive fish, KaLui is a native-style restaurant that attracts both tourists and residents. The most well-known eatery in Puerto Princesa is this one. The menu at KaLui is based on the day’s fresh catch and features sashimi, tempura, shellfish soup, sinigang, baked mussels, and more.
Cutting Board Bistro
Cutting Board Bistro, which is situated on the tranquil western side of Barangay San Pedro, offers bar grub, sandwiches, salads, and pasta dishes, but its meaty main meals, including the Wagyu Steak ($2,200), Beef Stroganoff ($350), and Pepper Steak ($285), are its real draw.
Local beers, bottle wine, shooters, and cocktails are available at the bar (by the glass or pitcher). This unassuming institution, housed in a former home, provides a cozy environment that makes you feel as though you’re visiting a friend’s home.
Balay Bukid is a hidden gem for those seeking an affordable eating experience. It is located in what was originally an inn and is tucked behind one of the city’s most well-known restaurants, Kinabuch’s. They provide daily Filipino lunch and dinner buffets for just $299 per person throughout the week and $350 per person on the weekends.
They also provide a short-order menu with specialities like crispy pata (750), lechon kawali (350), and sisig (300) if you want to upgrade your meals. Yamang Bukid, a social enterprise that produces organic farm goods and manages the city’s first agritourism farm destination in Barangay Bacungan, runs this all-you-can-eat establishment.
Puerto Vista Restaurant
The only restaurant in Puerto Princesa serving Wagyu beef is Puerto Vista. Wagyu cattle are renowned throughout the world for their distinctive marbling and naturally heightened flavor, tenderness, and juiciness. Additionally, Puerto Vista offers delectable Moroccan and French-Spanish cuisines. There are several alcoholic beverages and cocktails on offer in the bar.
Golden Hour Cafe
Golden Hour Cafe, located 20 kilometers north of the city center in Barangay Bacungan, is a pleasant stopover that is a must-see on any northern tour of the city. On my scooter day trips to popular destinations along the western beaches, like Nagtabon Beach, Talaudyong Beach, and Tagkuriring Falls, I eagerly anticipated stopping by this roadside eatery.
This reasonably priced cafe next to Mt. Magarwak is the ideal place to have breakfast following a dawn climb over the picturesque ridge. In an outdoor garden environment, they provide silog breakfast plates, noodle dishes, soups, and finger foods.
Their chicken quesadilla ($80), arroz caldo ($50), and chicken alfredo pasta ($150) are all bestsellers. They focus on drip coffee (around 50), hot and iced coffee-based drinks, and shakes for beverages.
Guni Guni, whose name in Filipino means “hallucination,” will blow your mind — and taste buds — away with its delectable array of Italian, Tex-Mex, and American cuisine. This abandoned Brgy. hostel survived the COVID-19 lockdowns. Bancao-Bancao changed into a full-fledged restaurant and bar selling, among other things, steaks, pizza, burger meals, and charcoal-grilled fish.
The Caesar Salad ($220), Soft Shell Street Tacos ($200), Spicy Chicken Burger ($300), and Truffle & Three Cheese Pizza ($450) are just a few of the popular items on their extensive menu. In addition to comfort foods, they offer alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks to complement your meal, such as fruit smoothies, domestic and foreign beers, and cocktails. There are both air-conditioned and outside dining areas.
There are countless “chaolongans” in Puerto Princesa, the local term for restaurants serving Vietnamese beef stew. However, as a clear case of lost in translation, an authentic chao long is more like goto than the beef and noodles in a sweet-savory, achuete-infused broth that Palawenos are accustomed to.
But returning to Rene’s Saigon, this modest kubo-style eatery is unquestionably one of the best places to get a steaming hot bowl of chaolong, also known as beef stew (P90), which is typically served with sprigs of mint and fresh mung bean sprouts along with a variety of sauces.
The Rene in question is a relative of a Vietnamese who, during the Vietnam War, provided asylum to people fleeing their country. For more than a decade, those in the know have frequented his restaurant, which offers a straightforward cuisine with recognizable Vietnamese flavors.
Another must-try and essential accompaniment to the beef stew is the French Bread, which is widely available in the city and resembles a much shorter, fluffier form of a baguette. The garlic bread at Rene’s, which costs only P45 for a substantial piece, should be enough to erase any previous memories of garlic bread and replace them with a slice that is melt-in-your-mouth warm and crunchy at the same time.
Palawan is much more than just its blissful white-sand beaches and incredible natural resources, with a history that dates back to prehistoric settlement (as evidenced by the ancient tribal artworks of the Tabon Caves) and continues through Malaysian migration, Spanish colonization, American rule, and Japanese invasion.
However, it does not confine its reach to the local areas but also includes Palawan’s culture and cuisine. If this is your first visit, it is essential to sample the local cuisine firsthand. It is also worthwhile to purchase.
To construct a safety net for your trip to Palawan, you must also complete a travel insurance. Be worry-free and enjoy your visit to the fullest.