Ever tried water buffalo jerky? No? How about crispy sardines with french fries? I enjoyed Esquina because they added a twist to everything I thought I was already familiar with. Practically everything served was produced in-house and their food had that unique home cooked taste. It was a very small place, serving a maximum of about 15 people at any one time, and the owners often came out to ask us how we were doing. Because of the rotational black outs in the region, their lights went out soon after we arrived. However, instead of this dampening our experience, I think we even benefitted from it. They brought out candles and we had a romantically lit dinner under a clear star filled sky. Definitely worth it.
Dipolog Sunset Boulevard
Yes, the sunset was beautiful, and yes, the weather was nice and cool, but the food, oh the food! My mother raised my sisters and me to enjoy street food. Something about eating things on flimsy paper plates just does it for us. Not to mention street food is a gateway to the culture of any one society. At night this boulevard teems with local street food vendors. You get things like fresh coconut juice and calamari all at prices less than Php20 (less than $ 0.50). Some people even sell fresh fruit straight from the trunks of their cars.
Tabléa Chocolate Café
This is a great place if you enjoy hot chocolate. They source their beans from all over the Philippines and serve it in several different ways. They have cocoa beans covered in dark chocolate (sinful, I know), chocolate mousse, and flavoured hot chocolates. I asked for a bit of mint in my hot chocolate and my sister asked for a sprinkle of cayenne pepper and a dash of cinnamon.
Cogon EcoTourism Park
I'm a nature lover by default. This place has trees that you know have been there for years, maybe centuries. I enjoyed walking through the densely populated forest (jungle?) and was delighted to have the chance to climb up to a tree house in the canopy. The view from up there was a breathtaking. They also had a small aviary with different sorts of birds (one even growled like a dog) and a traditional dance performed by the indigenous tribe, the Subanen, of the area. At the end of their performance one of the performance was sweet enough to thank us for coming. She spoke to us in their native language and our guide translated.
The food choices here had the run of the mill Filipino dishes like kinilaw (raw fish cooked in vinegar), but it also had interesting choices like crispy kangkong (water spinach breaded and deep fried like tempura) and roasted banana with ice cream and caramel. We ate so much, but spent comparatively less to what we would've spent for a similar meal in Metro Manila. I especially enjoyed the ambience of the restaurant. While we did miss the chance to dine on a barge, the less mobile part of the restaurant overlooked the point where a freshwater river meets the saltwater from the sea. If you looked into the water, you'd see schools of fish swimming close by.