Let’s steer away from Durian for a bit and explore what else Davao City has to offer. Davao City has been so controversial as of late most especially because of our current President Digong, but this didn’t stop us from visiting this wonderful city during Kadayawan Festival at the height of Martial Law. If you’re wondering how the province is doing during Martial Law, it’s business as usual for everyone. While we were initially anxious about the military presence and constant helicopter rounds, eventually we felt safe and enjoyed the festivities.

Kadayawan is a Bagobo word that means happiness, and this annual festival celebrates Davao’s bountiful harvest through songs, dances, local tribal games, and lots of eating. Here are couple of my favorite eats that you should definitely check out when you visit:

Kaondayawan Food Festival

A new addition to the roster of Kadayawan activities, Kaondayawan (kaon in Visayan means “eat”) features hawker food stalls and unique drink concoctions. Think of it as a food park of sorts, installed at Palma Gil Street specifically for the festival.

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I zeroed in on the lechon and wagyu stalls while my fellow tourists/traveling companions, Phil and Princess, ordered Lechon Shawarma and the evergreen isaw (chicken intestines).

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Another thing Davao is proud of: everything was cheap! Only P100 for lechon, rice, and juice (steal!). The most expensive thing I bought were the wagyu skewers at Php 95/stick (very similar to Manila prices).

Claude’s Le Cafe De Ville – 143 Rizal St, Poblacion District, Davao City, Davao del Sur

If there was a perfect date place for me, it would be Claude’s. I delight in proper sit down dinners in very stylish ancestral houses, it’s my guilty pleasure. The original Obozo Heritage House, where Claude’s is now located, was erected in the 1920s and later converted into this popular fine dining restaurant.

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Food may take a while to prepare which gives ample time for pleasantries and light conversation.

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My Rib-Eye Steak was cooked medium rare, served with buttered vegetables, and steamed rice (my choice of starch) on the side. We waited almost 20 minutes for our dinner to be served — and it was delicious. Aren’t all good things worth waiting for anyway?

Malagos Farmhouse Cheeses – Bolcan Street, Agdao, Davao City, 8000, Davao del Sur

We all know Malagos makes dark chocolate, but did you know that their cheeses are exceptional as well? Proudly made by artisan Filipina cheesemaker, Olive Puentespina, her Goat Cheese is so fresh they process the cheese on the same milking day. For the sodium-conscious, their cheeses contain only 3% salt.

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Drop by the Malagos Farmhouse or at their serene Malagos Garden Resort and grab their Mango Sublime (creamy goat’s milk cheese with sweet mango bits), Pesto Sublime (creamy goat’s milk cheese with pesto), and Blue Goat Cheese.

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Perfect with salads, cold cuts, or spread over a warm toasted bread bun, there are a variety of cheeses to choose from so make sure to bring some home with you!

MarinaTuna – Km. 8 Bo. Pampanga, Sasa, 8000 Davao City, Philippines

MarinaTuna prides itself in their original 10-way tuna menu that includes: Tuna Tendon, Cripsy Tuna Tail, Tuna Sashimi, Tuna Kinilaw, Tuna Kare-Kare, Tuna Belly, Tuna Eye Soup, Tuna Bihod, Tuna Jaw Grilled, Tuna Bagaybay.

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Each meal is perfect for sharing, bring your family and feast on fresh catch every day.

Balik Bukid Farm & Kitchen – Quimpo Blvd. 

Farm fresh cuisine in a bahay kubo setting seems to be the perfect respite from the big city. Balik Bukid makes all their offerings fresh upon order, proudly homemade, locally grown, and organic.

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Their standout dessert is called Tsokolate Island, a trio of tablea ice cream sandwiched between 2 choux pastries, drizzled with more chocolate ice cream (yum!), with a final sprinkling of crushed peanuts.

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Balik Bukid is also an eco-conscious restaurant and makes use of natural/sustainable or recycled materials such as these empty plastic soda bottles. Lined up along a makeshift wall, these let ample sunlight in lessening the need to install more electric bulbs.

Aling Foping’s Halo Halo – Matina Town Square, Davao City

While Halo-Halo desserts are a dime a dozen with restos/pop-ups sprawled around the Philippines, Aling Foping’s version gives us what we seek the most: options. I do relish the occasional Halo-Halo, but don’t like all the ingredients. Aling Foping ensures you get what you want with the ingredients you choose.

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Sanas Original Kabawan – Juan Luna Extension, Barangay 26-C, Davao City, 8000 Davao del Sur

Step into this unassuming and humble carenderia (eatery) operated by Proferia Sagosoy ‘Sana’ Valles, a proud friend of our President Duterte. The President is a huge fan of Sanas and has been dining here since he was Davao City Mayor.

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Hailing from Bohol, Ms. Valles has been fondly called “sana” by the locals which means “lady” in the local dialect. In the Moro language, Sana‘ also means resplendence and brilliance.

Sana regales us with her stories of a young Mayor Duterte bringing his kids to dine here back in the 90s.

Sana regales us with her stories of a young Mayor Duterte bringing his kids to dine here back in the 90s.

It’s been said that Pres. Duterte and his daughter, Mayor Sara, enjoys the Carabao Tapa (and purportedly can finish one whole platter each) and the Humba (ox tail soup).

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Neon Pigeon Coffee

Get your cold brew fix from indie coffee enthusiast, TJ Pamintuan, of Neon Pigeon. Why choose cold brew over your usual cup of joe? It’s a lot less acidic, smoother to the palate, and has a notch more caffeine than your regular brew.

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There are several variants to choose from, my picks are Rustic Mary and Discreet Fuego (with a kick of chili). Stay tuned for their pop-ups by following them on Instagram.

Whew that was a lot! What other food places can you recommend in Davao? I’ll be back on October so I hope to try them out then.

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My Davao City media trip was sponsored by Tourism Promotions Board of the Phils. with the Department of Tourism and Philippine Airlines