When it comes to knowing where to eat in Dumaguete, we like to think we know a thing or two. We were only supposed to be in Dumaguete for a few days, but then the pandemic happened so we ended up staying for 10 months. During that time we visited just about every restaurant, so you can rest assured every place we recommend has been tried and tested by yours truly.
Before visiting Dumaguete, we’d been told that it was the city of cheap food (and gentle people… but mostly cheap food), but we thought “Sure, but isn’t everywhere in the Philippines cheap?” After one day in Dumaguete, we found out people weren’t wrong! It really was cheap. It wasn’t just cheap though, it was good. Really good. Exceptional value for money. So, we hope you enjoy our hand-selected guide to where to eat in Dumaguete, which in all truthfulness is more like Dumaguete and surrounding towns.
WHERE TO EAT IN DUMAGUETE
Sans Rival is without a doubt the most iconic restaurant in the city and a must-visit if you’re wondering where to eat in Dumaguete. What started as a tiny bakery has since become an integral part of Dumaguete history, with branches now in Cebu and Manila. Whilst most people rave about the signature silvanas (they are good) we kept coming back time and time again for the Bistro Salad and their selection of pasta. The best part is, we never spent more than USD $10 for both of us.
Cliff House Valencia has a special place in our hearts. Not only does it have one of the best views in Valencia, but it also has the best burgers we’ve ever had in the Philippines. Both the beef and chicken burgers are out of this world, and we lost count of the number of times we came back for more. The spaghetti is also bomb, but really you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. While you’re at Cliff House, make sure you say hello to the crew (aka the dogs) Ginger, Coco, Lily and Maddie and Jenny the owner. That place is like home for us.
What a gem Beth’s Kitchen is! It can be hard finding good Mexican food in the Philippines, and whilst it isn’t authentic street taco style, it’s damn tasty nonetheless. We’ve tried just about everything on the menu but kept coming back for the giant tacos and enchiladas. They also deliver to the Bacong, Dauin and Dumaguete areas which is a big plus if you’re wondering where to eat in Dumaguete without leaving the house or hotel.
The best thing about Shimmerspill Cafe is hands down their coffee, but their food comes in a close second place. Our go-to dish is their grilled chicken salad, but they have an extensive menu of both international and Filipino food. It’s a very versatile space, a cosy cafe by day and a bustling bar with a live DJ by night, so keep that in mind when deciding to visit.
We truly lost count of how many times we visited Forest Camp Valencia specifically for their Pinaupong Chicken. This signature dish is fall off the bone tender, juicy and full of herbs and spices, and you absolutely must try it if you’re in Dumaguete. If you’re craving something sweet, their banana pancakes are also incredible.
Alimyon Kapehan gets a spot on our list of best restaurants in Dumaguete (even if it’s technically in San Jose) because of the view. The food is also very delicious – think traditional Filipino snacks like turon and budbud (suman) – but their view literally can’t be beat. It overlooks the tropical forest, the Tañon Strait and all the way out to the neighbouring island of Cebu.
For the best fish and chips in Dumaguete, it makes sense that you’d have to go somewhere British owned and managed (as much as that pains Zowie’s Australian pride to admit). Aside from that, Atmosphere Resort has some of the best international dishes we’ve had, like their salmon and mash. With two restaurants, a poolside bar and a private dining treehouse, Atmosphere is where you want to celebrate a special occasion, but you should expect resort prices.
In fairness, the street food at the Dumaguete Boulevard isn’t a restaurant (not even close) but it is iconic to Dumaguete and something you absolutely must try. Every day these vendors set up along the boulevard selling tempura fish balls and squid sticks with fiery hot dipping sauce (but also mild for babies like Zowie). Make a trip in the late afternoon to early evening for an authentic Dumaguete experience.
We’re not in the habit of taking photos of everywhere we eat, but we have been to a few more restaurants worth mentioning, especially if you find yourself with plenty of time in Dumaguete. If you’ve tried all the above and you’re still wondering where to eat in Dumaguete, give these a go:
Finbar, Dauin – British owned, excellent burgers, chips (or fries for any Americans reading this) and Taco Tuesday
Silver Reef Dive Resort, Dauin – Sustainable food, insanely good vegetarian/vegan selection
Nevas Pizza, Valencia and Dumaguete – Cheap brick-oven pizzas! The Valencia branch has a cute dine-in area
Limottakna, Valencia – Really cheap Filipino food at the trailhead to Casaroro Falls
Ton Up Moto Café, Dumaguete – Smaller servings but good American style food
PIN IT FOR LATER: WHERE TO EAT IN DUMAGUETE
WHERE TO STAY NEAR DUMAGUETE
Most people who visit Negros Oriental are told to stay in Dumaguete, but what they really mean by that is stay around Dumaguete. True, Dumaguete City has plenty of tourist inns and budget hotels, but it’s the surrounding towns of Dauin and Zamboanguita that offer the best spots to stay. There’s not a whole lot to do in the city itself, so when you stay in the nearby municipalities there’s plenty of nature to explore whilst still being nice and close to Dumaguete City. Check out our top picks for accommodation near Dumaguete City.
LUXURY: Atmosphere Resorts & Spa, Dauin
Atmosphere Resorts & Spa in Dauin is the resort to stay at if you’ve got a big budget and fancy the finer things in life. Atmosphere has hosted its fair share of local celebrities and deep pocketed divers looking for the best beachfront luxury in Dauin. Read our full review of Atmosphere Resorts & Spa here.
MIDSCALE: Mike’s Dauin Dive Resort, Dauin
If you want to stay by the ocean without breaking the bank, Mike’s Dauin Dive Resort in Dauin is a comfortable midscale accommodation option perfect for diving enthusiasts. If you’ve never dived before, you can get your certification at Mike’s, and divers of all skill sets can enjoy the abundance of macro diving opportunities in and around Dauin.
BUDGET: Bongo Bongo Divers, Dauin
Bongo Bongo Divers is one of the most popular hostels in Dauin for backpackers looking for cheap accommodation in a convenient location. The rooms are simple, without any glitz and glam, but the vibe is fun and welcoming. They have a variety of room styles to choose from, ranging from couples rooms to AC or fan only dorms.
AIRBNB: Villa Amani, Zamboanguita
Villa Amani in Zamboanguita is the perfect holiday home for small families or groups of friends looking for privacy that a traditional resort or hotel can’t offer. The main house sleeps 4 with additional space for 2 in the guest house, or you can book the guest house separately if it’s just the 2 of you and you’re on a budget. The property has a swimming pool, an unbeatable view of Apo Island and kayaks to use whenever you want. Read our full review of Villa Amani here.