The Boracay Beach BodTM is a thing of the past, and it's just as well. The country's top tourist spot is as much a dining destination as it is a beach paradise these days. Not that Boracay has ever wanted for good eats, but thriving competition has meant that restaurateurs have stepped up their game, offering a crowded landscape full of choices for the hungry beachgoer.
Forty-eight hours isn't enough to get through the best that Boracay has to offer, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. Full disclosure: It's no coincidence that these establishments are mostly from the Sunny Side Café Group, a mom-and-pop operation that grew by leaps and bounds this year with the opening of almost a dozen new concepts at the Streetmarket food hall. Here's an update on a number of new notables they've opened, along with a couple of stalwarts that have been consistently at the top of diners' recommendation lists for years.
DAY 1 EATS
SUNNY SIDE CAFÉ
Best breakfast in the country, period.
Foie Gras Toast from Sunny Side Café
Indulgence is the name of the game at the Sunny Side Café group’s flagship restaurant. The broad menu means that you can keep coming back for breakfast every day of your stay without running out of options; the all-day breakfast concept means you can have breakfast for every meal. Start easy with the Sunny Side champorado (P250), made with Malagos chocolate; the shakshuka (P290), eggs poached in tomatoes and served in a skillet; or our new favorite, the Sunny Side roeschti (P350), served with crumbled chorizo, poached eggs, sour cream, and arugula. A few meals later, head on over to the even more indulgent side of the menu, and go for ube and cereal milk pancakes (P420) or the foie gras toast (P625). You deserve it.
Best in Asian Food
Streetmarket, Station X
Cha ca la vong from Fat Rice
You have to respect a place that dares use not one, but two words that are verboten to dieters: Fat Rice. The pan-Asian menu serves up a greatest-hits collection of the region’s dishes, staying away for the most part from the tourist clichés (no pad thai, for example), and instead goes for the hidden gems. Try their take on cha ca la vong from Vietnam (P290), fish cooked in turmeric-flavored oil and served with generous amounts of dill and a side of fish paste to season. The establishment’s name should also lead you to the best thing on the menu, the curry crab (for sharing, P590), cooked in a smoky wok and swimming in crab fat and egg sauce that just begs to be sopped up with DGAF-levels of white rice.
Best island dessert
D’Mall and Station X
Served thematically in a coconut half-shell, this coconut ice cream is topped with toasted rice puffs, coconut strips, and diced mangoes that tastes like it was genetically engineered to be the perfect beach dessert. That it’s dairy-free, gluten-free, low-GI, and entirely vegan should mean that you can have multiple servings with less guilt, but then we remembered that you forgot to pack the guilt on this vacation.
Best step up from the choriburger
Station X, Hue Hotel
We admit that a greasy, smoky, cheap choriburger has its late-night appeal, but after a certain point in your life, you just have to move on. Supermagic Burgers offers a big upgrade to the choriburger—or to any burger, for that matter. The grown-up soda fountain concept offers pure-beef burgers ground to order (this is important!) sprinkled with their secret “umami dust,” topped with smoked cheese, and a fluffy, freshly baked bun made on the premises (burgers start at P195). To pair, they’ve also upped the ante on the classics: craft beer, the most sinful shakes to be made on earth after the 1960s, and their signature frozen custard. The only down side to having the best burgers in town is that no one talks about the other stellar offerings here. Supermagic answers the lobster roll with a cool, fresh shrimp roll (P350) and welcomes vegetarians with the Supermagic shroom (P225), which replaces the burger with a mushroom patty crusted with an almond-cornflake mix.
DAY 2 EATS
These folks made their name on their breakfast menu at the Sunny Side Café, so they know how to set you up for the day. Their coffee is from specialty coffee outlet EDSA BDG, to start with, but then Little Wave goes the extra mile on every item. Pull out all the stops and go straight for the Death Cream, which is every bit as sinful and delicious as the name suggests. Pro tip: come back for dinner, because their pasta is handmade—have it and you'll see the difference right away. Their grilled tomato strozapretti with caperberries (P290) is simplicity embodied, but its rich, thick tomato sauce will make you cry as hard as you did when you first saw Cinema Paradiso.
Streetmarket, Station X
You can’t stay at the beach and not have seafood, right? Here’s a tip that should be obvious: Those sketchy seafood buffets offered beachside are not worth it. Head on over to Streetmarket—not least because the food hall is both open-air and airconditioned, thanks to the magic of air curtains—for fresh seafood served up in a variety of ways. The fresh Aklan oysters (P250/half dozen; P450/dozen) are sweet and redolent of pristine seas. Then go for their poke (P350) with fresh tuna and salmon and seasonal fruit, a cool, light respite from the sun and surf. You’re taking it easy because you want to leave room for…
Streetmarket, Station X
Melon bingsu with lychee cream
There are fresh fruit shakes and juice on the menu, but the menu item of choice here are the four flavors of bingsu: mango, watermelon, melon, and a seasonal avocado flavor, all served on fluffy mounds of shaved milky ice, and with a heavenly serving of lychee cream (P220).
New sauce alert: Spicebird Curry-Curry sauce. With a kiss of Japanese curry that will make you go "oh, senpai!" It goes well with absolutely everything on our menu. Available at our tables for a limited time only. Spicebird is at D'Mall Plaza, behind the Ferris wheel, Boracay Island, Philippines. #spicebird #thesunnysidegroup #boracay #boracayeats #boracayrestaurants #pepperph #yummyph #spotph
Spicebird has consistently topped the list of eats in the island these past few years, and it’s because of their hearty, boldly spiced grub and the way everything on the menu is made from scratch. Expect one of the best piri-piri to be had in the Philippines. Their hefty boards—start with the piri-piri chicken board—are loaded with their signature Spice Rice, side salad, homemade milky roll, veggie chips and a grilled chicken quarter marinated in their signature sauce. Save room for the Double Happiness Sundae, which has amassed a quiet, cult following: It’s two scoops of dark chocolate ice cream, with a drizzle of bergamot-infused olive oil, Malagos chocolate shards and flaky sea salt.
There’s no shortage of bars around here, but this one—built by the same team behind Makati’s ABV, currently ranked #45 among Asia's 50 Best Bars—stands head and shoulders above all the others. Clearly not for the San Mig Light crowd, Prisma’s cocktails range from well-made classics to some truly memorable originals. Their signature Frosé is a frozen wine concoction that seems popular with the ladies (especially on Frosé Fridays, when the cocktail goes for P150), while those feeling a bit under the weather can tell themselves that the Penicillin will cure what ails ‘em: It’s a single-malt scotch with lemongrass syrup, ginger, and lemon.