Cebu does not have any blatantly American restaurants (such as a Hard Rock Cafe). The Dessert Factory, with decor and menu modelled after an American-style family restaurant and offering things like lasagna, BLT's and mudslides, is the closest thing Cebu has to an American restaurant. Originally only at Mahogany Court, the Dessert Factory snapped up a prime rental space in the Ayala Entertainment Center, and now there are two.

We've also heard rumors of a place called Sweet Retreat, supposedly a tiny authentic diner run by an American expat. But thus far Wa'y Blima! has failed to locate this mythical establishment.

In addition, there are a couple of steakhouses which serve US beef. David's Steak and Seafood Restaurant, located across the Sarrosa on F Cabahug, has been around for years; predictably, it's old-school in terms of decor and menu. A lower profile place well-known amongst local steak aficionados is Eddie's Hotel, near the Redemptorist. Given the origin of the ingredients, it's not suprising that neither place is cheap.

Cebu does have a chain of Thai restaurants, and the food is excellent and authentic enough - considering that Krua Thai is owned by a some Filipino-Austrians. Apart from the fact that the hearty Thai rice dishes - such as Khao Pag Ghen Kyo Wan - have been relegated to side dishes, Cebuano style, I have no complaints. Krua Thai has been embraced whole-heartedly by the Cebuano public and are now at Crossroads, SM and the Marina Mall in Mactan. There's also a small Thai eatery in the Mango Square mall, called Sawasdee; prices are far lower than at Krua but so is the quality.

Singapore is another ASEAN neighbor that has finally found culinary representation in Cebu, in the form of the Rasa Marina Food Center in Mactan, in the Marina Mall. While those familair with Malay dishes will be delighted, it must be said that Cebuanos have yet to discover the delights of laksa in a big way.

In March, 2005, Cebu finally got it first authentic Indian restaurant. Having been deprived of Indian cuisine for years, we Cebuanos would have been delighted with just an imitation Indian place run by a Cebuano who happened to eat a lot of curries in London. But it just so happens that Maharaja happens to adhere to world-class standards. The owner and chef are both Indian nationals, and the latter used to work for a five-star hotel in India. Wow! Not surprising, then that the fare at Maharaja is delectable. Not only that, Maharaja happens to be the only restaurant in Cebu serving pure vegetarian cuisine - utensils for the vegetarian dishes are kept separate from those used for non-vegetarian dishes. Maharaja is located in the Century Plaza complex. If you're visiting Cebu, just tell the taxi driver to head for Chika-an sa Cebu, which is 10 feet away from Maharaja. [A detailed review of Maharaja review can be found in our Resto Quest.]

Back to Persian Palate. While not as strict as Maharaja, this remains a good place for vegetarians, and prior to the arrival of Maharaja, Persian Palate is what kept the vegetarians alive. There is actually more than one veggie dish on the Persian Palate menu - about a dozen, in fact - and prices are wonderfully affordable. A good-sized biryani will set you back less than a 100 pesos. The quality of the food is fantastic, considering the price. It gets better: Persian Palate's offerings are available at two locations: Ayala and Mango Square.

If you're not vegetarian but a full-blooded carnivore, you'll appreciate meat-based German cuisine. Ever since the proprietors of Borussia retired to their cottage by the sea, authentic German fare is primarily available via any one of the many Vienna Kaffeehaus aka Cafe Wien establishments around the city. Hearty German sausages and schnitzels are done well and reasonably priced. Another German joint, Paulaner in the Gaisano Country Mall, is named after the German beers available there. Both Vienna and Paulaner serve a wide variety of German-style cold cuts.

Now, you may wonder why, if the Philippines was under the dominion of the Spanish crown for three centuries, there are hardly any Spanish restaurants in Cebu. I haven't quite figured this out yet, either, but it seems that the wealthy Spanish families - and there aren't that many of them in the first place - have their own cooks at home, who have been well trained in the art of Spanish cuisine. Therefore, when the Filipino-Spanish go out, they'll go to an Italian or Japanese restaurant (anything except Chinese).

There are three Spanish restaurants in Cebu that I know of. All serve food that is as good as you can expect Spanish cuisine to get. One is easy to find; it's called Sol y Luna and is located in the Ayala Entertainment Center. The second is called Jerez and hidden within the premises of Ralph's liquor shop behind the corner of Escario and Gorordo. The third is terribly hard to find; it's called Araos, and is owned and operated by a Spanish gentleman in a private house in a quiet neighborhood in Guadalupe. Heading in the direction towards Guadalupe church, look for a sign saying Fairlane on the left. Enter the narrow alley and turn right. You'll see a bunch of parked cars; knock on the big wooden door, and be surprised to discover a restaurant.

Similarly, although commerce between Cebu and Mexico flourished for centuries, there are only two Mexican restaurants worth mentioning. One is the cheesy and tacky Tequilla Joe's, in the Ayala Entertainment Center. The food is quite good, to be fair, but everything is horrendously overpriced. A better place is the Mooon Cafe [sic], located in a side street in Guadalupe. The owner is an art lover and you'll often find mini exhibitions by local painters. A nice place popular with expats and artsy liberal locals alike.


THE DESSERT FACTORY [Arch Reyes] 233-9977 Mahogany Court, Arch Reyes
THE DESSERT FACTORY [Ayala] 233-2351 Ayala Entertainment Center
DAVID'S 231-0157 F Cabahug St.
EDDIE'S 254-8570 Mango, near Redemptorist
KRUA THAI 233-9388 Crossroads, Banilad
RASA MARINA 341-3096 Mactan Marina Mall, Lapu-Lapu
MAHARAJA RESTAURANT 255-7278 Century Plaza, Lapu-Lapu
PERSIAN PALATE [Ayala] 232-5898 3F, Ayala
PERSIAN PALATE [Mango Square] 253-6745 Mango Square

These pages in the Cebu Visitors Guide provide but a general overview of the wining and dining scene. For detailed reviews of individual establishments, see the Resto Quest.

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