Namit gid ah!
When we talk about Negros Occidental, the usual things that come to mind are its historical sites, Bacolod’s Massakara Festival, and, of course, the sugar cane. Dubbed Sugarlandia, this humble province located in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines is blessed to have vast fields of sugar cane. A few minutes out of Bacolod–Silay International Airport and you’ll be welcomed by tall green plants dancing as the wind blows. Tucked in between those agricultural areas are local restaurants spotlighting Negros Occidental’s vibrant food scene.
While there are many ways to learn about the province’s heritage, nothing beats a cultural lesson served on a plate. In this feature, we are listing down must-visit food spots that make Negros Occidental a true foodies’ paradise. Take note, Negreneses love to feed people. And believe us when we say that nobody leaves the province with an empty stomach.
The Ruins Piazza
Just 15 minutes away from the airport is The Ruins. Designed by local engineer Luis Puentevella, The Ruins features a mansion of Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson as a dedication to his wife Maria Braga. But after World War II, what remained on the site is the mansion’s majestic skeletal frame, hence its name. While visitors can explore and marvel at the interior of the mansion, the best way to enjoy its facade is at the Piazza, a restaurant beside The Ruins, which serves a variety of coffee blends and eats. If you’re visiting on an afternoon, we recommend ordering its Spanish latte and pairing it with the restaurant’s tasty cheese sticks.
The Ruins Piazza is located at Talisay City | theruins.com.ph/
Gina’s Seafoods Restaurant
While Negros Occidental is greatly remembered for its sugar production, it is also home to a variety of seafood dishes. If that’s what you’re craving, the best place to satisfy your hunger is at Gina’s Seafoods Restaurant. An array of the freshest seafood up for grilling at its storefront lures diners to come in and try its dishes—and they will not be disappointed. What you shouldn’t miss tasting 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 look because inside it is moist flaky fish meat that melts in your mouth. Apart from its seafood plates, Gina’s is also known for serving the best chicken inasal in town.
Elgon’s Secret Garden
As its name suggests, you can expect a charming alfresco dining experience at Elgon’s Secret Garden. During our visit, we are treated to a special feast crafted by chefs Don Colmenares and Nico Millanes, featuring modern takes on classic Visayan dishes such as the laswa, batchoy, chicken inasal KBL (kadios, baboy, at langka), and pancit molo. The restaurant is also the home of ELG Gourmet Foods, a brand that produces a variety of bread and desserts. A definite must-try is its famous avocado mousse.
Lanai by Fresh Start Organic
A delicious feast made from the freshest ingredients awaits in Lanai by Fresh Start Organic. This farm-to-table restaurant puts the spotlight on the produce from organic farmers and Ark of Taste ingredients from Negros. Some of the special dishes are its labuyo blue crab wrap, chicken adobo flakes, and powerbowl beef Texmex. While its adlai tinigib caldo, its organic take on the famous local soup arroz caldo, is just comforting. Its bar also serves unique drinks crafted with foraged ingredients. A unique coffee experience is courtesy of kadios and cream—an espresso made with toasted pigeon peas and carabao’s milk topped with pandan whip. Something good for the tummy 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
Led by couple Ina and Joey Gaston, Cafe Uma serves modern “cafe cuisines” where Asian flavors meet Western accents. It is hard not to pick up your phone and snap a photo of everything-–the food, ambiance, and more—as everything in the restaurant is well curated. Its Cantina bar serves the best cocktail creations using spirits courtesy of Don Papa Rum. The dishes that come out of its kitchen are simply mouthwatering and true reflections of its mastery of Asian and Western food fusion. Its dishes like the limoncello shrimp with pancetta, and spaghetti marinara, and pizza Negrense will instantly take you on a wonderful Italian flavor journey. Our carb-loading continued with its modern take on the adobo and diners’ favorite paella tostada. Its cansi, the Visayan beef shank soup, is just *chef’s kiss.* While The perfect end to our feast is a buko cheese ice cream that is a literal definition of heaven in a bowl.
El Ideal Bakery
The best place to get your pasalubongs, El Ideal Bakery has been one of the province’s legacy food spots with its history that started way back in the 1920s. Established by Cesar Lacson Locsin, the bakery is where you can find Negros Occidental’s unique bakes such as the senorita (a crumbly caramel-filled dessert), piyaya, and pan gasiosa (a localized version of French bread). One of its signature bakes is the guapple pie, an heirloom recipe by its second-generation owner Alice Locsin Villanueva. It is the bakery’s version of the apple pie, only that it is made from guava fruit and cinnamon. Other must-tries at the bakery are its savory offerings like the batchoy and lumpiang ubod.