Best Meals in Dumaguete City Under PHP200 and Where to Find Them

One Saturday night, Beep and I found ourselves on a ferry ride to Dumaguete from Cebu. Trust me, reflections on the water at 10:00pm are not ingredients for a good sleep. But I was far from drowsy. I was as awake as my cup of instant coffee can get me. Beep had to choose that particularly time to take a short nap, so it’s just me and the monster-ish little waves, wondering for the nth time why I am not in a plane heading somewhere else instead. But the hobo scored free George and Peter Lines tickets, and who can ever say no to him when he’s being his usual supercalifragilisticexpialidocious self?

A little after 2 am we docked at Dumaguete wharf. I was famished and sleepy (caffeine effects now starting to wear off) so we headed to the nearest inn and flaked out, but not before I extracted a promise from Beep to feed me with the best meals come morning.

And that he did. With barely enough money for a week’s respite, the Hobo succeeded in finding me affordable meals that cost less than P200. I swear, he is getting good at this. In the remotest chance that your boyfriend is as frugal as mine, I’d like to share these cheapsake places that do not sacrifice their quality for affordability:

1. Tres Bistro

A newly-opened charming place to dine in, we couldn’t help but join the hype as Filipinos and foreigners alike stand in line to get a taste of Tres Bistro’s bestsellers. A friend of mine can’t stop raving about their Bacon Wrapped Shrimp (P160), so I ordered this for myself to give my own verdict. The bacon was crispy (just the way I like it) and surprisingly, the shrimp inside kind of melted in the mouth. Beep was feeling unadventurous, so he went for the Classic Chicken Wings (P190). From the way he cleaned up his plate, I’d say he didn’t regret his choice. We shared an order of Bacon and Cheese Potato Wedges (P110) that does not hold back on sass and flavor. Overall, Tres Bistro was a helluva no-fuss gastronomical experience.

2. Adamo Restaurant

The options listed in their menu were limited at the very least, but it took us quite some time to decide what to get for dinner. For starters, we went for smoked fish and adobo flakes (P150). Some ingredients were tossed in to add a zest of perfection, so much so that the whole affair ebbed between an Italian masterpiece and a run-of-the-mill crusty French bread. Which is a compliment really–this starter put on enough show to confuse us. Still watching my diet (which is a sin actually when one is in Dumaguete, so please remind me not to next time), I skipped the main course and had a bottle of distilled water instead. The boho went for Adamo Pork Belly (P180) and was not disappointed. He said it rang true of its ancestral origins, and had a kick he couldn’t quite name.

3. Pasta King

This nippy choice we tried on a whim, with previous and regular customers calling their pastas and pizzas the best in town. I was trying to outdo myself by ordering Pasta Bicol Express (P150). Imagine freshly squeezed coconut milk downplaying the fieriness and feistiness of locally-grown peppers. Some would think the game is a draw between the two, but for my round at least the cream won fair and square. Beep’s Shrimp Pasta (P150) is a wonderful surprise. Spaghetti was al dente, the shrimp perfectly cooked (they tactfully removed those black lines along the spine, as they should), and the sauce equal parts salty, sweet, and tangy). We would definitely eat here again next time.

Unfortunately, the weekend was over sooner than we wanted it to, so we headed back home only after two days of stay. It was too tempting to get a salary loan just so I could take a leave off for the entire month. But you know the Hobo, he said we got bills to pay like ordinary adults.

Dumaguete should be the culinary capital of the Philippines, if it isn’t it yet. Packed with so many restaurants to choose from, prepare to overwhelm your taste buds without hurting your wallet.

Gem is the co-founder and author of Travels with a Hobo, a budget travel blog inspired by her travels with her cheapskate travel buddy and boyfriend, Beep who likes to call himself a “hobo”. Their first date was a solo backpacking trip together in early 2012. Instead of splurging on romantic dates, they go on budget trips in the Philippines and Asia. She works full-time and makes the most of her vacation leaves and holidays to travel the cheapest way possible.