Sea Slugs: It's better than it sounds...
Sea Slugs has torch-lit al fresco dining on the beach and is a nice place to while your time. The service is good and the food is tasty enough, although completely typical and nothing particularly special. This is a good place if you like your sea view, though you will pay a small premium to get it.
Squido's: Avoid this place
Squidos is right on the main drag and visually presents itself nicely. But once inside, the food is uninspiring and the service is worse than indifferent; unfriendly is probably the better word. It’s also right across the street from a videoke parlor and the squeaks and moans of those who have more guts than talent just makes the already sour atmosphere worse.
Sea Slugs Beach Bar & Restaurant: Great food on the beach!
We ate all our meals here (except for our first lunch when we just arrived) and we're sure glad we discovered it. It's actually a house (Og's Inn) away from Marina. On the 2nd day, we already have a 'reserved' table on the beach. All of the staff are so nice and really provided great service. Special mention are Suy and Teng who really took care of all our orders. They even cook food upon specification even when it's not on the menu. In short, they did all they can to accommodate the request of the guest.
Favorite Dish: Their chili crab is great. The pizza is great. Cheeze sticks. Grilled squid. Garlic shrimp....Almost everything!
Their food is actually a little more expensive than average because of the location. But I think it's reasonable since average for a hearty meal is just P200+ or less depending on what you order. If you want to save money, you can actually find something on the menu that's more affordable.
The owners are quite nice (Rey and Grace). They also provide tours which are actually cheaper than Arts Cafe. But the minimum is about 8 pax per trip (boats are bigger). We took tours B & C with them on an exclusive arrangement and we never regretted it. We did pay more, but the enjoyment and service is quite worth it!
El Nido Boutique & Arts Cafe: Great ambiance
The place and the staff are quite nice. But the food is a bit more expensive than average and the taste is blander than what I'm used to. But I guess it's just perfect for foreign tourists. The good thing here also is that it has everything, restaurant, shop, books... My friends even bought here their mojos and aqua shoes :)
Ralf's Resto: Excellent Local Cuisine
Ralf's (named after the local Philippine owner's son), is a quality eatery, but might not look like one. There are four pensions upstairs too, but the dining area is always more packed than the guest rooms!
The owner has brought this little place up from nothing and is in the process of making a landmark for El Nido. There is a small seating area inside, but they put a few tables out on the narrow street. There is nothing on the other side of the street, other than the beach. So if the tide is low and you ask politely, they will set a table on the beach for you!!
Favorite Dish: The food was always top notch and if you make any special requests, they will go to the market for the fresh catch and prepare the next night for you!! We had lobsters and crabs upon request!
All of the dishes that we had were excellent, and you definitely cannot go wrong with the seafood or local Philippine cuisine.
Squido's: Thumbs and big toes down!
Ahhh... Squido's. What can I say? I'm sorry to say that I was very disappointed with this place. I've never felt so neglected and discriminated against, in a place I never expected... and this is the country I was born in! I've gotten better service and treatments in restaurants in Austria where Hitler was born in.
I came into this so-called restaurant/diver's shop... The place was half full of foreigners. I was the only Filipino in this place. I came through the door, no smile from any of the busy waitresses watching a local game show on TV. I had to find a table for myself.
I asked for the menu. Still no smile from the waitress/owner (supposedly the wife of a French smoker/owner). She just throws (literally) the menu on my table. That was fine. I don't really complain much. So, I ordered a San Mig Lite. Man! It's so hard to get a smile from these people.
I ordered a Thai curry beef with rice (which tasted like sh*t and too rubbery) and another San Mig Lite. Still no smile!
I told myself, I've had enough of this! I couldn't finish my plate of rubber. I paid my bill... No "thank you or salamat" from any of them.
The thing that bothers me is that everyone else of different race other than Filipinos get a smile and "how are you?" at the door as soon as they come in... Isn't that weird?
All in all... Very bad customer relations, very bad food, and very bad service. I wouldn't recommend this place to my dog. Wait a minute! My dog is a German shepherd. He might get better service in this place than me. Big thumbs and big toes down for this place.
Native Kitchen Home Cooking: Local Fresh Cooking Delivered to Your Cottages
We came across a little leaflet in my cottage in El nido about a home cooking, it says cooked by local families and housewives- using fresh local produce and the prices are quite reasonable. So we got in contact and ordered a dinner for 4. Its a set meal with whatever the catch of the day- and vegetables and rice. But we were amazed when it came- its in a weaved bamboo platter - we got grilled tuna with spicy coconut sauce and some native vegetable wrapped in banana leaves, arranged around a steamed rice with tomato and cucumber salad with soy vinegar dressing- pineapple and bananas- the food is well presented with flowers and aromatic leaves. Very impressive. I didn't know what to expect- i thought that it would be in take away styroboxes but we got an amazing platter and real plates and complete with cutlery and napkins. The food was so delicious and you can taste the authentic home made cooking, the portions are big and the service is first class with infectious smiles of the ladies that delivers it. The rest of our stay, we ordered lunch and dinner with them and they cooked us Sushi, grilled chicken, pork, squids and even lobster, and amazing filipino noodles. they tell you what they have and you can request. It only cost us 650pesos for 4 persons, it is very reasonable. I was fascinated with this service so i asked if they worked in restaurant before but apparently an organization trained them with cooking , presentation and economy of home cooking business and helped them out to advertise and get costumers. I salute this organization that brings out the talent of the locals, who then gets a share of the money tourism gives to this region.
Favorite Dish: My favorite is the 1st night dish we had -grilled tuna with spicy coconut and native vegetable, although they served us lobster on my brother's birthday which was quite special and the sushi platter- yum. The fruits that comes with it- mini bananas that taste like apples, the melons and pineapples are glorious.
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balay tubay: artsy!
this is as local as it gets. "balay tubay," when translated from cuyunin, means "my father's house." and what the owner, bong, did. he took bits from his father's house and turned them into art pieces. bottles are woven into dreamweavers. portraits of bob marley and similarly revered artists decorate the walls. his father's shoerack was converted into a clock. there's live music -- usually acoustic. that, or dvd's of rock greats are played. liquor shots are fairly cheap, at 50 a shot (ok, admittedly, the shots are kind of small). but there's a terrific, laid-back vibe you won't find elsewhere in el nido.
Favorite Dish: i'm afraid i didn't get to eat anything! :)
Squidos is another nice restaurant in El Nido. I ate dinner here once and primarily used them to get packed lunches for my picnic. They were able to accommodate my request for vegetarian dishes and packed it very nicely for island hopping tours. One of the days while I was waiting, I met the French owner of the restaurant who also operates the dive shop next door.
Favorite Dish: Veg Fried rice (They can make this as spicy as you want)
Art Cafe: Art Cafe
One of the main reasons I enjoyed my visit to El Nido was Art Cafe. Except the first and the last day, I ate at least 1 meal here every day. I eat a restricted diet (Vegetarian with egg & Milk) and not a fan of filipino food at all. Art cafe is an eclectic place with a nice store in the ground floor and a restaurant in the upper floor. The menu is American/ Filipino & some european dishes thrown in. I enjoyed the omelette with the whole wheat bread & pizza. One of the very few places in the Philippines where you can get fresh unsweetened plain yogurt!!!! My daughter loved the crepes filled with Jam and ham & cheese sandwiches. My wife loved the pizza and my in law's loved the Filipino dishes (Garlic rice with dried fish) and pancakes. I bought all the souvenirs at the store. They are probably the only place that accepts credit card. Be prepared to wait for about 10 - 20 mins for the credit card transaction to go through. Unfortunately , while we were there, Judith (The Owner and VTer) was on vacation outside the Philippines. The only downside is the restaurant is located far from where we stayed and it was hard to get a tricycle to go back at night. It is not that big of an issue except for the street dogs at night. Most of the time, they are all right, but once in a while fights break out and it is not a pleasant experience walking through.
Favorite Dish: Omelette & Pizza
If you're joining a whole day island hopping tour,your tour guide will bring some food for your picnic.You can also request or bring your own food.Make sure to bring your own drinks, so that you don't have to buy them from your tour guide.
Sea Slugs: Nice Place to Start the Day
We discovered the place as we were walking along the beach to look for a place to have breakfast. Not a lot of restaurants open early. The brewed coffee is the best you will find in El Nido town but is still just passable. However, the place is facing the beach and you can also see the limestone cliffs so it's a nice place to start your day.
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Ric-son's: Nice Dinner Place
The restaurant is more accessible if you pass along the beach. The sign they have posted along the street (behind it) is not that noticeable. It's two building from Og's Pension House. They have live music beginning 830pm and the food is decent. Beer was colder the second night.
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One of the locals recommended this place so we went for lunch. The restaurant is two stories and we decided to eat upstairs. The place was dirty because there was a function the night before but it wasn't cleaned up. We ordered lechon kawali (sort of roasted pig) but they served pork chop and made it look like it. However, it was hard and the taste wasn't there. I complained and they agreed to charge it at price of pork chop (which was cheaper).
Mine's Noodle House: Best Noodle House
This place just serves local noodle dishes but has the best Lomi I have ever tasted (and I normally do not eat this type of noodle dish). The amenities are very bare but the food is also very cheap! Expect to spend at most PhP 120 for a plate or bowl of noodles that can serve three adults.
It's located on the side of the municipal building.
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