Five local restaurants you shouldn’t miss when in the Central Luzon province
The peninsular province of Bataan holds a significant place in Filipino history. It played a major role during World War II – the basis of the annual celebration known as the Day of Valor.
While its greatest pride is that heroes abound in its folds, and its natural landscapes of dramatic landforms and prime beaches aren’t to be taken lightly, Bataan is also not lacking in the culinary department. Throughout the years, the province’s contour had taken to include a wide array of homegrown restaurants. Well, they say you couldn’t really know a place well until you’ve eaten your way through it. What better way to acquaint yourself with Bataan than by doing just that?
Home-cooked favorites and comfort food
Miguel, Raphael, and Gabriel are all named after archangels. And they all love their home-cooked meals. So much so, that their parents decided to open a restaurant with an eclectic menu of dishes they enjoy. Christened “Angelitos,” the charming food joint in the town of Orani is fast becoming the go-to fix for locals craving home-style comfort food. And for good reason.
From nachos and fried chicken, to pizzas and pancit (noodles), Angelitos’ diverse choices are not just delicious, they provide bang-for-the-buck. A huge serving of crispy fried chicken only costs PhP300. An order of nachos is just PhP85. And for dessert, for a mere PhP25, you’ll get a delectable slice of fudgy brownies worthy of all the calories in the world.
Angelitos Pizza and Restaurant is located at M plus C Building, Tenejero, Orani, Bataan. For more information, contact (47) 237-0743.
A gathering of flavors
You can never go wrong at The Food Project. This open-air resto in Balanga whips up Western classics that are just unbelievably mouthwatering. The burgers, fries, chicken wings, and their best-selling ribs are simply delicious. Their version of Vietnamese spring rolls is also a hit – so popular it often runs out.
Considering the most expensive item on the menu is priced at less than PhP100, you’ll be quite surprised at how hefty the servings are. I’d tell you the food is worth splurging on, but that wouldn’t make sense since you’ll be getting them at a bargain.
The Food Project is located at Balagtas, Orion, Bataan, and is open Tuesday to Sunday, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, contact (47) 612-1647.
All the Pinoy goodness in one place
Ima’s Pamangan is a Bataan staple. You simply couldn’t leave the province without trying out their buffet. It’s one of those rarities that don’t make you feel like you’ve been ripped off.
Don’t take my word for it; you have its legion of regular patrons – including a number of local celebrities and some foreign dignitaries – to back that statement up.
The place is almost always full and once you manage to get inside, you’ll understand why. The buffet, as it should, doesn’t scrimp on the quantity: lechon, sweet-and-sour crab, fish fillet, tinola (chicken and giner stew) laing (dried taro leaves in coconut milk), sinigang (sour broth) – if you’ve a hankering for a particular Filipino dish, chances are it’s at Ima’s.
The quality’s excellent too, way beyond the PhP250 you need to shell out to enjoy the buffet spread. If that’s not getting your money’s worth, I don’t know what is.
Ima’s Pamangan is located at Gov. J.J. Linao Alauli, Pilar, Bataan, and is open from Monday to Sunday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, contact (0998) 564-0275.
An artisanal and traditional merienda
If you’re looking for a snack and want to make like a local, Choco-Late de Batirol is the perfect place to satisfy the craving.
This modest spot sticks to a tried and tested fanfare of local snacks like turon (banana fritter spring roll), suman (rice cake), and pancit. But its main hook is its signature hot chocolate.
Walking into its premises is like walking into an easy afternoon at your grandmother’s. The place perpetually smells of melting chocolate – bittersweet and nostalgic. This wafting aroma comes from the traditionally prepared cocoa drink. Just over the counter, cacao seeds are manually ground up and brewed on the spot over a pot of boiling water. A cup (PhP100) tastes just as wonderfully as it smells. Pair it with a suman and you’ll have the perfect merienda.
Choco-Late de Batirol is located at Total Gas Station, Roman Super Highway, Alauli, Pilar, Bataan, and is open daily 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. For more information, contact (47) 633-1445.
Beef like you’ve never known before
You wouldn’t believe how good the food is at Saverde. Located in a residential street in Abucay, this no-nonsense cafe has been drawing in crowds for two years now. It’s incredibly popular not just among teens looking to make the most of their allowance, but with thrifty adults wanting a decent meal that won’t leave a hole in the pocket.
For just under a hundred pesos, you get to enjoy a couple of Saverde’s bestsellers. There’s the buttermilk toast – a thick slice of creamy and buttery white bread toasted to utter perfection. An order of which is just PhP20. Then, there’s the tapsilog – a dish of tapa (beef jerky), sinangag (fried rice), and itlog (fried or scrambled egg). Saverde’s take on this classic Pinoy favorite will make you think you’ve been missing out on a delicious part of your life. Paired with fried rice wrapped omelet-style in scrambled egg, the tapa is arguably the best one this side of Luzon. It’s incredibly addictive, and the whole dish is cheaply priced at PhP75 to boot. Beach body? I say beef jerky!
Saverde Coffee Shop is located at Gabon St., Abucay, Bataan, and is open Monday to Saturday 3 p.m. to 12 a.m. For more information, contact (0906) 458-0230.
In a nutshell
Bataan’s gastronomic persona can be described in a few words: unbelievably inexpensive and extremely satisfying. “Serve only what you’d eat” seems to be its resounding battle cry, and its platoon of extraordinary restaurants stays remarkably true to the cause.
With a fascinating history, stunning landscapes, and budget eats, Bataan proves that, indeed, you can have it all.
Text by CELINE REYES
Photos by DENNIS MURILLO