Locals admit there is not much to do or see in Bacolod. The place is laid-back, peaceful, plainly put, simple.
More than two years ago, I was based in the Negros Occidental capital and discovered a city that revealed itself through its food.
To experience Bacolod is to taste its cuisine. There are many restaurants I could recommend, and naming just a few would not do justice to the food trip that is Bacolod.
But if family and friends come for just a weekend, these are some of the places I would take them.
As a city known for inasal (roast dishes), the place to enjoy it is at Aida’s. It is one of the many stalls located on a strip called Manukan Country, where all they sell is chicken but cooked with different recipes.
Order Aida’s famous chicken inasal and garlic rice.
You can add isaw, isol or barbecue for sides, but prepare to feast on its flavorful chicken.
Tip: Drench your garlic rice in chicken oil. It will make your chicken experience even more unforgettable.
Spoon and fork can be requested but the food is best enjoyed kamayan style.
As a meat lover, I’m very picky about the texture of my beef, all the more with my salpicao.
Pepe’s is a restaurant along Lacson Street, in a compound called Sorrento, that not only has one of the best beef salpicao, but also comes with soft and creamy mashed potatoes to perfectly complement the taste of the salpicao sauce.
The first time I tasted this dish was a very pleasant surprise as I had no expectations. After that, Pepe’s has become one of my favorites in Bacolod.
Tip: Order garlic rice as well, you can’t go wrong.
Also get the lamb stew and the grilled pesto chicken to treat your stomach to a banquet!
I was introduced late to this hole in the wall that locals regard having the best fried chicken and spareribs in Bacolod.
There is a big possibility of missing its location if you don’t actually try to look for it along 6th Street. Once you know how to get there, you will remember it always because of the tasty family recipes. Extra rice, please!
Aboy’s is one of the more famous restaurants in Bacolod. It’s usually one of the go-to dining places that boasts authentic Filipino setting and interesting menu.
It is a place to satisfy seafood cravings. It is similar to the dampa style restaurants, where you choose a certain type of seafood and have it cooked the way you want it. It also has precooked dishes.
Order for cooking: scallops, manumbok (blue marlin), tuna belly, prawns and liempo
Precooked dishes: paksiw, pangat
It would be crazy not to include Calea on this list. Though it’s not really a restaurant but a place to have dessert, the café and its cakes define why Bacolod is the sugar capital of the Philippines.
Calea is one of the most visited restaurants in Bacolod for tourists and locals alike.
As you enter the one on Lacson, you’d understand why it is a sweet tooth’s haven.
Must order: Mud Pie and White Chocolate Cheesecake
Other favorites: Vanilla Ice Cream Cake, Frozen Tiramisu
Tip: Feel free to experiment on what cake you’d prefer. See how Calea can surprise you!
For merienda, it’s a must to have the famous batchoy at 21 along Lacson Street. You can never go wrong with its special batchoy, which includes egg, bone marrow soup, pork liver and of course, chicharon.
This place is a legend. It started out as a small restaurant at the end of 21st Street, and evolved into a fine dining place that has maintained the original recipe of the house specialty, which everyone keeps coming back to again and again.
Being a 24-hour restaurant, this is a post-drinking place to eat. Feeling hungry after a few rounds of beer or spirits? Order Business Inn’s sizzling bulalo/kansi. The tenderness of the meat mixed with the in-house gravy makes every bite worth it. Don’t forget to suck out the bone marrow!
The locals’ penchant for good food keeps these restaurants successful. Many are built on generations of family recipes and an understanding of the quality that it must have to maintain authenticity.
One thing for sure is that the Bacolodian really knows how to eat well. To top it all, the cost of a meal in Bacolod is almost half of what you’d usually pay for in Manila.
It’s best to enjoy the meals with locals you know. They will make you feel and know why Bacolod is also known as the City of Smiles.