Gid name, ah!
When we talk about Negros Occidental, what usually comes to mind are its historical sites, Bacolod’s Massakara Festival, and of course, sugarcane. Nicknamed Sugarlandia, this humble province located in the western Visayas region of the Philippines is lucky to have vast fields of sugarcane. Just minutes from the Bacolod-Silay International Airport, you’ll be greeted by tall green plants that dance in the wind. Hidden among those agricultural areas are local restaurants that highlight Negros Occidental’s vibrant food scene.
While there are many ways to learn about the province’s heritage, nothing beats a plated cultural lesson. In this feature, we list the must-visit food spots that make Negros Occidental a true foodie’s paradise. Take note, the Negrenese love to feed people. And believe us when we say that nobody leaves the province with an empty stomach.
The square of the ruins
Just 15 minutes from the airport are Las Ruinas. Designed by local engineer Luis Puentevella, The Ruins features a mansion by Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson as a dedication to his wife María Braga. But after World War II, what was left on the site is the mansion’s majestic skeletal framework, hence its name. While visitors can explore and marvel at the mansion’s interior, the best way to enjoy its façade is at Piazza, a restaurant next door to The Ruins, serving a variety of coffee and food mixes. If you’re visiting one afternoon, we recommend ordering their Spanish latte and accompanying it with the restaurant’s tasty cheese sticks.
The Ruins Piazza is located in Talisay City | theruins.com.ph/
Gina’s Seafood Restaurant
While Negros Occidental is well remembered for its sugar production, it is also home to a variety of seafood dishes. If that’s what you crave, the best place to satisfy your hunger is Gina’s Seafoods Restaurant. A variety of the freshest seafood to be grilled in his shop entices diners to come in and try his dishes, and they won’t be disappointed. What you should not miss trying are the adobong pusit, steamed crab with garlic butter, and the sinigang na tanigue. But our top pick is the grilled blue marlin. Don’t be fooled by its charred appearance because inside is moist, flaky fish meat that melts in your mouth. Aside from its seafood dishes, Gina’s is also known for serving the best inasal chicken in town.
Gina’s Seafood Restaurant is located at Gatuslao St., Bacolod City | Facebook: @ginasmariscos | Instagram: @ginasseafoods
Elgon’s Secret Garden
As the name suggests, you can expect a lovely al fresco dining experience at Elgon’s Secret Garden. During our visit, we are treated to a special feast put together by chefs Don Colmenares and Nico Millanes, featuring modern takes on classic Visayan dishes like laswa, batchoy, chicken inasal KBL (kadios, baboy, at langka), and pancit molo. The restaurant is also home to ELG Gourmet Foods, a brand that produces a variety of breads and desserts. A must is their famous avocado mousse.
Elgon’s Secret Garden is located at 149 San Sebastian Ext/Lopez Jaena St., Barangay 31, Bacolod City | Facebook: @ELGONSGardenSecret Y @ELGgourmetfoods
Fresh Start Organic Lanai
A delicious feast made with the freshest ingredients awaits you at Lanai by Fresh Start Organic. This farm-to-table restaurant highlights produce from organic farmers and ingredients from Negros’ Ark of Taste. Some of the specialty dishes are their Labuyo blue crab wrap, marinated chicken flakes, and Texmex beef powerbowl. While their adlai tinigib caldo, their organic version of the famous local soup arroz caldo, is simply comforting. Its bar also serves unique drinks made with foraged ingredients. A unique coffee experience comes courtesy of kadios and crema, an espresso made with roasted pigeon peas and carabao milk topped with pandan whip. Something good for the stomach is the wild honey kombucha made with Sagay wild honey, hibiscus and turbinado sugar.
Lanai by Fresh Start Organic is located at Araneta Ave., Pahanocoy, Bacolod City | Instagram: @lanaibyfreshstart
Run by couple Ina and Joey Gaston, Cafe Uma serves up modern “café kitchens” where Asian flavors meet Western accents. It’s hard not to pick up your phone and take a photo of everything, the food, the atmosphere and more, as everything in the restaurant is well curated. Its Cantina bar serves the best liquor-based cocktail creations courtesy of Don Papa Rum. The dishes that come out of his kitchen are simply delicious and a true reflection of his mastery in the fusion of Asian and Western food. Dishes like Shrimp Al Limoncello with Pancetta, Spaghetti Marinara, and Pizza Negrense will instantly take you on a wonderful journey of Italian flavor. Our carb load continued with his modern take on adobo and diner-favorite toasted paella. Their cansi, the Visayan beef shank soup, is just *kiss from the chef.* While the perfect ending to our feast is a buko cheese ice cream that is a literal definition of heaven in a bowl.
Cafe Uma is located at Paseo Verde, Lacson Street, Bacolod City | Facebook: @Coffee-Uma | Instagram: @cafe.uma
The Ideal Bakery
The best place to get your pasalubongs, El Ideal Bakery has been one of the province’s legacy food spots with a history that began in the 1920s. Established by Cesar Lacson Locsin, the bakery is where you can find the unique bakes of Western Negros, such as senorita (a caramel-filled crumbly dessert), piyaya, and pan gasiosa (a localized version of French bread). One of their signature bakes is guapple cake, a traditional recipe from their second-generation owner, Alice Locsin Villanueva. It’s the bakery version of apple pie, only it’s made with guava and cinnamon. Other must-try dishes at the bakery include savory offerings like ubud batchoy and lumpiang.
The Ideal Bakery is located at 118 Rizal St., Silay City | Facebook: @THE-IDEAL-Bawhatvery | Instagram: @bakeryelideal
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