Restaurants in the Philippines – American and Filipino Style

If you’ve never been to the Philippines, you’re probably unaware of how many places to eat out there really are in any of the cities. You have more than enough choices, even in smaller cities like Olongapo.

Between cities, well, I can’t tell you about anything other than what’s found on the Northern Luzon Expressway, which begins near EDSA at the north end of metro Manila.

American Food and Filipino Food

Xtremely Xpresso Cafe Americans have influenced food choices directly or indirectly in the Philippines for many years. It’s safe to assume American food places exist and indeed they do. It used to be easy to tell the difference between a Filipino style restaurant and an American style restaurant. It’s not so easy anymore.

Many Filipinos eat with their hands (without any eating utensils) at home — the word for this is kamayan — but not so much when eating out at restaurants. Kamayan style restaurants do exist, however, even a chain called “Kamayan”. The concept has even spread to the US, according to ABS-CBN.

Fast Food Restaurants

The fast food restaurant I see the most in the Philippines is Jollibee. Founded in 1978, it’s a Filipino corporation that also owns the Chowking and Greenwich Pizza, Red Ribbon and Burger King Philippines franchises. Today, there are hundreds of Jollibee restaurants in the Philippines and more than 25 in the US. These are all American style restaurants.

There are various American restaurant franchises in the Philippines including Dairy Queen, KFC, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Subway and Wendy’s. I’m sure there are more, but I don’t feel like digging into the recesses of my brain to remember them all. I don’t think Pizza Hut qualifies as fast food, at least not where I ate. The last time I was at one, it took over an hour to get served. One I’ve noticed missing is Jack in the Box.

Some of the fast food restaurants don’t exist in downtown Olongapo or even at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. Some I’ve seen at one of the SM City malls and some I’ve seen at the “rest areas” on the Northern Luzon Expressway.

Other Restaurants

Many non-franchised restaurants exist in the Philippines, including a few at the food courts in the various malls. Speaking of malls, The Harbor Point Mall at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone sports a few fast food places as well as a TGI Fridays and a Starbucks.

I rarely eat out in downtown Olongapo or at the freeport zone. When I do, it’s usually for good pizza. I’m partial to two places that serve pizza out of the many places available. I like the pizza and the Tex-Mex Nachos at the Xtremely Xpresso Cafe on Dewey Avenue, Subic Bay Freeport Zone. This is where me and my wife celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in 2010. If I just want pizza, I like the S&R New York Style Pizza at the Pure Gold building near the intersection that heads to Cubi Point in one direction and Manila in another.