My Top Dining Experiences of 2009

Now, let's get to business. 2009 was not a highlight year for dining. No new restaurant shook me. It's a good thing I was always in Cebu, so I had a lot of new places to experience. Here is my list for 2009:

1. Maya (The Crossroads, Banilad, Cebu)

I have seen new Mexican establishments sprout about in Manila, such as Jalapeno in Ortigas Home Depot. And with the growing popularity of Zapata's in Clark (which I also visited this year only), Mexican was on the up trend. Though among all the new Mexican hotspots, only one caught me on fire. That was Maya in Crossroads, Cebu. Probably the only high-end Mexican establishment in the country, it has been the place to be when it opened. The interiors will transform your mood instantly - exotic and modern. Owned by the Abaca proprietors, their food was top notch as well. And drinking here was an experience as well. I highly recommend a night out in Maya when in Cebu.

2. NY Buffalo Wings (The Food Strip, Ortigas Home Depot)

My comfort food of the year. Located on a bustling new nightspot in Ortigas Center called the Food Strip, NY Buffalo Wings is one of the first establishments to garner a following in the area. I love munching on their Garlic Parmesan Buffalo Wings. I also love their Fish and Chips. With affordable prices and a very bright and alive environment, NY Buffalo Wings will definitely go a long way.

3. Eat Well (Net Cube, Fort Bonifacio)

Everyone has been raving about Eat Well so I don't have much to say anymore. In fact, I just tried Eat Well later in the year, since it's always full. And yes, the buzz was valid. Great Chinese food at affordable prices at the Fort make up the blockbuster success of Eat Well.

4. Charlie's (West Drive, Kapitolyo, Pasig)

When I heard of Charlie's, I instantly rushed over to Kapitolyo and experience what they say are the best burgers in town. I am not an addict for burgers, but we all have that craving sometimes. Charlie's is located beside a car wash, so when the car wash is not full, I always have it washed there. And while waiting, I savor the juiciness of their Angus Beef burgers and gobble up on their Philly Cheesesteaks. They also serve some international beers that go well with burgers. Perfect hang out.

5. Adarna (Kalayaan Ave., QC)

This year marked the rise of Filipino boutique cuisine. Filipino food finally was more than just the fiesta fare. We saw a lot of dining establishments that served Filipino cuisine in a more modern setting that have started with Bistro Filipino at the Fort. Adarna Food and Culture is one of those nice and exotic places that served good Filipino dishes. The old house ambience weaved a showcase of antique memories, to match with dishes from different regions of the country. And some of them were still served family style, which I guess makes it a hit to those who frequent the place.

* Similarly, Pamana in Tagaytay has the same feel and menu. Though more modern looking than Adarna, Pamana is a good place to take foreign guests.

6. Lusso (Greenbelt 5)

I can swear by their Foie Gras Bruger. It is one of the tastiest I had. This small posh establishment in Greenbelt 5 also served some of the best brunches this year. I like the smallness of Lusso, it just makes the experience more exclusive and intimate. Though located near an entrance, it still manages to block the world off. With Margarita Fores at the helm, no wonder Lusso is a brilliant experiment in cuisine and dining.

7. Alexandre (Grand Hamptons, Fort Bonifaco)

This is a case of having great ambience with average food. Actually, I was ecstatic when I had a meeting in Alexandre as it looked like a modern parisian cafe indeed. I was just disappointed with the pastries, but the plain crepes were good.

8. Canvass (Ayala Center Cebu)

I looked up the Terraces at Ayala Center Cebu and pointed to every restaurant I could see. It seems that I have eaten in all except one. And the reason was that because it just opened. Canvass calls itself an art restaurant, cliche but I embraced their concept. The waiters in fact were dressed in handpainted uniforms. The dishes were presented like art indeed. The open kitchen made the ambience more passion-filled. Oh, and the food was good. I can particularly single out the Pesto Linguine (no the exact name). With small servings at lower prices, you will be tempted to order everything for a grand tasting session.

9. Terrace at the 5th (Greenbelt 5)

The other good restaurant in Greenbelt 5 is on the other end of the ground floor strip. It's called Terrace at 5th. It is a beautiful restaurant, designed like a garden terrace of course. It's just relaxing to eat here. The food is also excellent, especially the Roast Pork and the Beef Ribs. You're safe to have a good meal here, so bring your guests and entertain on a unique garden setting in Greenbelt in Terrace.

10. Thuk Thai (San Miguel Ave. Ortigas Center)

This hole-in-the-wall stall serves magic the same way SOMS did. Though significantly smaller (it's just a food stall), Thuk Thai can whip up tasty Thai dishes that can satisfy anyone's lunch craving. You could have the food delivered as well, so if you're working in the area, just call them at 215-2524 or 0917-800-8485. Try their Curry Rice Toppings and Flat Noodles.


And now for the infamous WORST RESTAURANT EXPERIENCE of 2009. Last year, I had to give it to Arama in Serendra at the Fort. Though may be an isolated case, I still thought nothing beat that experience, until another new restaurant in a more popular area gave me just that.

Johnny Rockets (Eastwood Mall)

Okay. It is one of the most popular restaurants in Eastwood now, and the diner feel really attracted a lot of curious diners. The wait staff danced to tunes every 30 minutes I think, and nostalgic rock music played on. There were huge glasses of frothy shakes on tables, and sumptuous looking burgers. I just had to try this joint.

However, it gave me my worst experience this year. As soon as I got out of the restaurant, I knew this would be one for the books. Let me enumerate my case: Their burgers didn't have any taste. They were bland. I wasn't alone, I had two colleagues dining with me, and I was hearing the other table comment on the blandness of the burger as well.
The burgers also came in 45 minutes after ordering. They told us they had a lot of customers that lunch time. Well, so did all the other restaurants. The waiter even looked at me as if I was being unreasonable for being impatient. Their soft drinks cost P100 for a bottomless. I don't know if Friday's cost it this way. The shakes, well, were priced at more than P250. The burgers, well, the cheapest was P300 - and it was plain and bland. The more expensive ones were also bland. Their fries came out soggy and unsalted. Who serves unsalted fries in a diner? And finally, I asked for some tissue 5x, from, guess who - the manager herself. It was a waiter who even attended to my tissue needs. The manager was just on the other table chatting with some other wait staff. Even though it was just tissue, I thought the place had the worst service. And the bill came out, after asking for it twice. To think I was already showing signs of frustration. I wanted to walk out.

This may have been an isolated incident again, but there were other diners who were being ignored. And to think they had the time to dance. And mind you, their burgers were forgetful. I didn't bother to order the shake for dessert. Johnny Rockets was a case of great marketing, to cover up the lousy food and service. My worst for 2009.


  1. I love foiegras. So when I heard about Lusso’s foiegras burger, I just had to try it. I was there with my fam and since we were a big group, we ordered their specialties according to marketman’s write up. We got their French fries with asiago cheese (call me ghetto, but it was just potato with cheese, it was nothing great.), their Foie gras Croque Monsieur (this was okay, but it was way too small to be an entrĂ©e…or even for appetizer), the lobster and prawn sandwich (it was nothing great and for the price and small serving, it screams shortchange), tuna sandwich (horror of all horrors, it was in a white bread…not even toasted) and ofcourse, their foie gras burger (the foiegras was terrine and not the real one which you could hardly taste and the burger wasn’t even juicy. You’re better off at charlie’s.) For dessert, we got the olive oil ice cream. It was okay, but nothing great. In other words, LUSSO- FAIL.

  2. nice... my top dining experiences only include snacks from street vendors LOL

  3. Oh my.. the food.. Just loveable, adorable.. YUMMY!


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