Davao City, home to many Philippine Eagles and exotic Durian, is one of the largest cities in the world in terms of area. Located in the southern region of the Philippines, it’s a fast growing bustling metropolis that is ranked as one of the safest places in the world to live in (you can stay out until the wee hours of the morning and not worry about getting robbed or coming home in one piece).
Over the recent years, it has seen a growing influx of visitors (both the tourist variety and those looking-for-a-place-to-resettle kind). As a result, it has also seen a proportionate increase in the number of restaurants that offer a variety of delectable cuisines, both local and foreign. Let’s take a peek at the foreign ones, particularly the European kind.
Dotted around the metropolis are a select number of restaurants that serve authentic and delicious traditional European dishes. They’re good and their increasing clientele is a testament to their delicious food and top notch service. Plus, I should know because I’m a regular to all of them, lol.
Whether you’re up for some Italian, French, or Spanish cuisine, there’s sure some European fare to satisfy your appetite in Davao City.
1. La Toscana Italian Restaurant
Topping the list is Toscana Restaurant along Arellano St. It is clearly of Italian origins (the name is a big giveaway), the word Toscana of course being the Italian version of Tuscany, a famous region in Italy that’s known for good food and wine. This local namesake somewhat lives up to the original with its offerings of yummy Italian meals. It has been in Davao City for around 10 years now. What used to be just a small joint along Quirino Avenue has now grown into a bigger, cozier place in a larger compound near Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
Basic Italian dishes like pizza and pasta can be found in the menu as well as some really delicious specialty conconctions. Our personal favorites are Niçoise Salad (with tuna, eggs and capers—really good, and healthy, to boot), Scaloppine al Vino Bianco (pork in wine sauce), Carbonara (for me, the best in Davao City), and their Tiramisu. The complimentary slices of bread they serve before every meal are perfect during those times when I’m already hungry but still waiting for my order.
The new location is bigger, making way for some spacious parking space, while the new main dining hall is a much neater and more romantic setting, giving off a lovely ambience—perfect for those looking for a nice and quiet meal. For those who would want to swing it outdoors, dining spaces are also available outside.
2. Claude’s Le Café de Ville
Claude’s Le Café de Ville is in the heart of the downtown area of the city. Located along Rizal Street, it is now housed in an old imposing mansion that speaks of the bygone era. The building used to be some sort of a residence of some (most likely) well-to-do family but has since been converted into a commercial place probably because it sits in a commercially busy district. Hardwood floors, large veranda, sweeping staircase, windows with capiz shells—it’s a charming little place that gets as much as an 8 in ambience.
We had Carbonara (not impressive, sorry), and this meat thing with mushroom sauce (quite good). Many swear by their steaks, saying they must be tried, so that’s worth checking out.
One complaint: when we there some dishes and utensils on the table were dusty. We hope they would do better next time and clean them.
3. Tiny Kitchen
Tiny it is not. Well, at least it isn’t anymore these days.
Tiny Kitchen is that cheery resto along Torres Street (Davao’s food street or where many restaurants are clustered, to be exact) that’s teeming with die hard patrons enjoying their meal or otherwise waiting to be seated because the place is just packed, especially before it got expanded. Back in the day it was just a small number (presumably the origin of the word “tiny”) on the opposite side of the same street. It served Spanish cuisines (it still does) including a variety of really delicious Paella (a must-try) and an assortment of breads, and decadent cakes and pastries. These have obviously won the heart of many Davaoeños since Tiny Kitchen has since then grown and transferred to a bigger location. This current location was made even larger when it acquired the newly vacated space next door.
For first timers, make it a point to try the Paellas first. I believe they’re what distinguishes Tiny Kitchen from the rest. The Valenciana and the one with the black squid ink are our personal favorites, but the other varieties are just as good. I also recommend their Lengua (ox tongue) in Mushroom Sauce, which is really yummy. Finish off with their sweet cakes, particularly the Carrot one—the best in this side of town.
4. Bon appétit! La Boutique
Family-run, cute and cozy, Bon Appetit offers delicious French cuisine with a personal touch. Run by this French guy and his lovely Filipina wife, it’s a charming little affair tucked inside Plaza del Carmen in Obrero. The restaurant’s ambience is cozy and warm: dim lights, nice wall covering, comfy seats. Plus, you get this nifty little basket (for free, thank you) that’s overflowing with homemade French bread baked just right, along with a small plate of yummy olive tapenade.
Worthy of mention are their steaks (I forgot which one we ordered but it was flavourful), the Chicken Fricassee (in creamy goodness!), and baked potatoes (divine!).
The owner is welcoming, doing the table rounds chatting with diners, explaining the menu and all that. Plus, if you’re into polishing your French, getting a word with him may be a good way to go.
5. Swiss Deli
Last but not the least is Swiss Deli. I say definitely not the least because it actually is my husband’s favorite. It’s sort of our default restaurant, our go-to, such that if we can’t think of any place to eat out for the day, we’d then go to Swiss Deli.
The thing we like about Swiss Deli is that their dishes are not too salty. We get this feeling that we’re eating healthy so we’re willing to overlook the fact that they’re a bit on the expensive side.
Worth a try are their sausages (tastes just as good as the ones in Europe), steaks, and salad greens. They also have some of the best soups in town; personal favourites are the Seafood Bisque and Seafood Chowder. Their Pork Roast is good as well; not always on the menu, but a good choice whenever available. For dessert, try their Crème Brûlée.
So If you happen to find yourself in this lovely city of the south and is craving for some authentic taste of Europe, or maybe just a decent place to eat, then look no further than these top 5 European restaurants.