Davao City does not get a frequent citation as Most Livable City in the Philippines for nothing and its Filipino food choices is definitely one of the reasons.
Whether you’re a bourgeois eater or the exact opposite, a whole gastronomic universe waits for you out there.
Of course, part of the local foodscape’s magic has something to do with its cost which is considered moderate compared to other Philippine destinations, and cheap by world standards, especially you’re spending a first-world currency (converted to Philippine pesos, of course.)
As in any other part of the world, where you buy your food will dictate how much you’ll be paying for it. In Davao, you have four main options- your hotel/inn, malls, restaurants and fastfoods, carinderias and the streets.
If you’re staying with friends and would like to cook your own food, you can buy your ingredients from any of the malls or the wet markets where prices are dirt-cheap.Most tourists would rather have their food cooked and ready, but if haggling with Davao market vendors is one of your ideas of a complete Davao experience, that can be a very practical option.
First off, let’s tackle the prices of standard meals you can order at Davao City hotels or inns where you might be staying on your visit to the city:
High- Waterfront-Insular Hotel (Lanang), Marco Polo Hotel (CM Recto Street), Apo View Hotel (Camus)
Price : Php 500 +
Middle- Casa Leticia Business Inn (Ecoland), Hotel Galleria (Gov. Duterte St.), Villa Margarita Inn (JP Laurel Avenue)
Price : Php 200 +
Budget- Sampaguita Inn (Quirino Avenue), Las Casitas (Rizal Street), Casa de Habana (Rizal Street)
Price : Php 75 +
Philippine Malls / Filipino Food Chains
As of April 2012, there are four major malls in Davao City, namely, SM City at Ecoland Drive, NCCC Mall at McArthur Highway, Gaisano Mall at JP Laurel Avenue and Abreeza, also at JP Laurel. Inside are various food chain outlets, including McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Sbarro, Shakey’s, Bigby’s and Jollibee, to name a few.
The cheapest fastfood meal (inside or outside a mall) has got to be the Php 50 McDonald’s crispy chicken meal with drinks, while in the more expensive food chains, a meal could run up to Php 500 per person.In the mall’s food courts are wide varieties of Filipino food usually served in combinations. For example, a typical Filipino combo meal would consist of one cup of rice, a meat dish such as adobo (meat stew) and kare-kare (oxtail cooked in peanut sauce), plus a serving of vegetables such as zucchini or the classic pinakbet (slices of bittermelon, squash, egglants, okra, and string beans cooked in shrimp paste or fish sauce) or zucchini and a cup of iced tea.
A combo meal could get as cheap as P45, while a non-combo would go around Php 85-100, including drinks. Prices at Abreeza are significantly higher though, as it is considered the most elite of all other malls in the city of Davao.
When dining at the more expensive restaurants in Davao such as Jack’s Ridge and Ranchero’s Grill, expect to pay around P400 per person, although combo meals may be offered as well for a price below P150. Buffets or eat-all-you-can’s are also popular and range from Php 99 to 800 per head, the more expensive ones being served at hotels (available to both guests and walk-in diners.)
As the Philippines’ “unli rice” capital, the city is popular for those extra filling meals served at such restaurants as Penong’s and Mang Inasal, where you can enjoy grilled pork or favorite chicken with as much rice as as you want for a minimum of Php 60.
Then again, your Davao experience wouldn’t be as appetizing without a taste of its signature food, including among others, bulcachong or carabao meat cooked in ginger and some unique spices (costs around Php 70.00 per serving without rice,) grilled panga or tuna jawbone (most popularly served at Luz Kinilaw for a minimum of Php 300) and of course, the heavenly durian, which you can have for around Php 50-60 per kilo.
Carinderias are small eateries where you are offered a range of native food lined up at a counter turo-turo style. “Turo” is a Filipino term which means, “to point at” something, and in a turo-turo eatery, you literally point at the food that you would like to order.
Prices can be dirt cheap, where you can have a vegetable-based viand at Php 10 and a meat-based main dish for Php 30. With rice served per cup at around Php 8, you can have a full meal for well below Php 50. Some carinderias are more expensive than others, but it is untypical to spend more than P60 for a good meal.
Filipino Street Foods
Davao’s streets come alive to the array of food stalls you’ll find from one downtown corner to the next, selling mouth-watering Filpino street foods that are perfect for mid-morning or afternoon snacks, or even quick meals for those who’d like to stretch their budgets wider.
Some of your more popular options include:
Kwek-kwek or duck fetus covered in an orange marinade, fried and served with vinegar and a side dish, usually chopped cucumbers or edible seaweeds such as lato, sells for Php apiece ;
Isaw or chicken intestines, either fried or barbecued, sells for Php 5 per stick ;
Fried proben or chicken proventriculus, sells for Php 5 per stick;
Super cheap Filipino pork barbecues at Php 7 per stick, and chicken barbecues for Php 15-25, depending on the cut (usually served with rice at Php 5-7 per serving;) and
Takoyaki Filipino style, sells for Php 5 apiece (usually served in three’s).
Filipino Mall Grocers / Philippines Wet Markets
Here’s a rundown of common items and how much they sell for at the malls :
(Note: Mall prices are expectedly more expensive than those at wet markets, sometimes with a price difference of up to 70%.)
|Apples, 1kg||Php 82|
|Oranges, 1 kg||Php 76|
|Cheese, 1 kg||Php 260|
|Milk, 1 liter||Php 66|
|White bread, 1 loaf||Php 35|
|Eggs, 1 dozen||Php 70|
|Potatoes, 1 kg||Php 56|
|Lettuce, 1 head||Php 65|
Davao city is a fantastic place to visit – whether you’re coming to conquer the slopes of Mt. Apo, the depths of Punta del Sol or the heart of a Davaoena. Whatever your reasons for visiting Davao, your tummy will indeed be the last thing you’ll have to worry about when finding your way down this memorably animated capital of Southern Philippines.
Davao City, Philippines website: http://www.davaocity.gov.ph/
Cheryl Ann is a contributing writer at living like a local in the Philippines. She is a local resident of Davao City and love to write about how to enjoy your visit to Davao. She also intends to let readers learn more about living like a local in that beautiful Southern city for those planning to move to the Philippines, specially in Davao.