Bicol Legazpi

Solo Food Trip in Legazpi

Sunday, August 05, 2012Ryan Mach

Dinner for one

When I embarked on my first solo travel last January of this year, I admit that there was hesitation due to a gnawing fear that the trip might go awry. But I was adamant and there was a strong resolve to just go out of my comfort zone so I took off. I was able to go back home safe and sound with great experiences in tow. It made me more confident and I learnt a few things about myself that I wouldn't have known had I backed out from the trip. On the flip side, it somehow made me a little arrogant. But it's the type of arrogance that bolstered my self-esteem. You know, the sort that drove me to be a tad adventurous.
They say Mt. Mayon is too moody you can hardly see her full glory

Six months later, I challenged myself again to do another solo travel. This time at a destination much closer to Manila: Legazpi City in Albay. Storm was brewing in the east which would potentially mean a rainy weekend. Things like this can easily give me the heebie-jeebies. I wasn't too sure if I wanted to push through with my trip but I was left without much choice - I couldn't afford to not use my round trip ticket, so on a rainy dawn, I took a cab to NAIA Terminal 3, apprehensively looking at the horizon, hoping the storm would change course. I didn't trust the weather reports I read online. Despite obvious signs of bad weather, I still wished for a sunny weekend.

Cebu Pacific flies to Legazpi

 I arrived in Legazpi beneath a cold grey sky that promised rain. Mt. Mayon was covered in fog from head to toe, too shy to show off her beauty but not for long. As I was having my breakfast at Embarcadero, the clouds hovering above her cleared off. She was now visible. The treat was short and sweet. But it was the last time I saw her in her full glory. She had gone back into hiding again, shrouded in thick clouds and fogs, for the rest of my stay in Legazpi. 

The rain began to patter, which stalled my plan of wandering around the city. Upstairs, the cold temperature of the room and the soft queen size bed beckoned me to retire. After setting my alarm to 3pm I dozed off with a fervent hope that by afternoon, the sky would be cloudless again. It was all I could do - just hope for a sunny weather that didn't happen.

Suffice it is to say that the weather played a major role in my weekend getaway. With my Plan A shattered, I had to devise a new itinerary which wouldn't involve outdoor activities. I could be a little adventurous and brave the rain but I was tired so I psyched myself to be just content with the safest escapade available - food tripping. Legazpi is famous for restaurants that serve authentic Bicol cuisines and I have been longing to do a food trip in this region known for its hot delicacies. The weather was simply perfect for some hot gourmet.

1. Gilian's Wharf Chef
A rather bland shrimp

A little past 3, I went down to have late lunch at Gilian's, one of the few restaurants that line beside the seawall fronting the gulf. Eating alone is an affair I have gotten used to but when the food is bland and unexciting, the appetite does quickly vanish. I felt bad leaving a portion (maraming bata ang nagugutom) although I tried hard shoving it down - the shrimp lacked the familiar flavor I was craving for.

2. Small Talk Cafe
I had a hard time looking for this cafe because I got its name incorrect. The tricycle driver I approached outside Pacific Mall got confused when I asked him if he knew 'Sweet Cafe'. Is it a new restaurant, sir? He asked help from his colleagues and after jumbling some words they were able to guess what the stupid tourist (that's me) was referring to. Ah, Small Talk Cafe, sir! 
Small Talk Cafe is indeed a small restaurant located at Dona Aurora St along Rizal. Without the logo at the gate, you could easily mistake it as an ordinary residential house. Such is the charm of this cafe - an old house converted into a restaurant serving Bicol dishes. Its original fusion dish known as Pasta Pinangat has easily become a local favorite. I wasn't in the mood for pasta or pizza so I ordered spicy manok sa gata. 
Spicy chicken in coconut milk

3. Bigg's Diner
It's supposedly my last day in Legazpi and I wanted to make my lunch memorable so I looked for Cena Una. Unfortunately no one in Embarcadero knew its location so I decided to have my lunch at Bigg's Diner instead. Besides, it's getting late and I had a flight to catch. 

Bigg's Diner is arguably the biggest food chain in Bicon region. It offers locals a taste of American fare, which is apparent in its food and design. Perhaps the infusion of local dishes in their servings such as laing and the fact that the chain originated in Bicol are few of the things that make it local. Both locals and travelers will enjoy the generous servings and its affordability.
Pinoy beef steak

4. Cisyd Bar and Resto
Cisyd (pronounced as 'seaside') is literally inches away from Gilian's. I even noticed a few waiters looking at me while I was waiting for my order at Cisyd. This resto, just like its neighbors, turns into a bar/watering hole come night time when people, both locals and tourists, looking for fun and respite flock at Embarcadero. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as drinks and cocktails. For my early dinner, I ordered Bicol Express.
5. La Mia Tazza Coffee
A coffee shop located at the second level of Embarcadero, La Mia Tazza Coffee seems to get its inspiration from Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and, well, Starbucks - from the cozy interior to the array of drink and pastries.
Since I'm not a coffee guy, I decided to try out their tea and bought tuna sandwich for lunch. I could have sipped my frap while watching Mt. Mayon in the distance, but the hotel van was waiting downstairs. 

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