There are cities that are inherently expensive, even when you’re talking about the most basic necessities of life such as food. Tokyo, New York and Paris are some of the most well-known examples.
However, In Davao City, expensive is not in most food businesses’ vocabularies.
There even seems to be an ongoing trend among restaurants, eateries and food vendors to go cheap on their prices, if only to attract more customers and beat their competitors.
Of course, there are few that cater to the city’s elite, but in general, cheap eats are what define the local gastronomic landscape.
Carenderia ala Davao
If you’re talking about good food that’s right within the budget, carenderias or small eateries have it. These eateries offer a whole range of Filipino dishes or viands, from the classic adobo or pork stew to paksiw or meat cooked in vinegar to kare-kare or oxtail in peanut sauce (though pork and beef are good alternatives) to practically any local dish you can think of.
A meat-based viand plus a serving of vegetables plus rice and a nice fresh fruit such as a banana or a slice or two of watermelons make a tasty, satiating meal for well under Php 50. In some carenderias, the minimum cost of a good meal can be as low as Php 45 which is just right for most locals.Specialty Carenderia of Davao
A specialty carenderia is a larger version of a carenderia that has become successful in establishing a food brand and has expanded to serve a larger market.
An example of this is Blue Carabao which is known for its carabao meat-based soups such as pochero and hinalang (a spicier version) and other well-loved dishes served in quantities larger than usual.
Blue Carabao used to be a small eatery but has now moved to Quimpo Magsaysay Park where there is a large parking area to accommodate diners. Of course, specialty carenderias are still cheap, though they are often slightly more expensive regualr eateries.
Davao Street FoodDavao’s streets can be your entire restaurant where a variety of cheap eats abound. Whether you’re craving for pork or chicken barbecue, chicken pastil (chicken adobo wrapped in banana leaf), kwek-kwek or duck fetus in orange marinade served with seaweeds, or any other quick but filling eat, Davao’s street food vendors have them all for well under Php 35 per meal.
Due to the rising cost of ingredients, however, some vendors have raised their prices. For example, pito-beinte, or 7 sticks of pork barbecue plus rice for Php 20, is now lima-beinte or 5 sticks with rice for the same price and filling as ever.
Mall Food Courts in Davao
Mall food courts are another cheap food alternative for those who want to enjoy their meals in a more comfortable setting. What’s great is that food courts sell food with a small price difference from carenderias, although sanitation is often better in malls.
They offer a complete variety of choices for about Php 70 per meal, but there are so-called combo meals which cost around Php 50, complete with soup, as a meat-based viand, a vegetable serving, one cup of rice and a cup of iced tea. There are also cheap buffet restaurants that can have your tummy smiling ear-to-ear for well below Php 100.
This article is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg as there is more to explore in Davao. Of course, food is just one of the many things that make it worth the effort, not to mention that it is one of the most practical expenses you can plan for as you contemplate moving to this part of the globe.
Cheryl Ann is a resident of Davao. She is sharing on this site her experiences, as well as give tips on how to enjoy living in Davao as a local.