Okay, this is a little bit of an exception. While Jollibee is not unique to Cebu, it is a must-try fast food restaurant in the Philippines. Forget McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s – Jollibee is a homegrown and purely Filipino fast food chain that is well worth the meal. You will most likely notice that Jollibee pairs their chicken with either rice or spaghetti (or both). As odd as that sounds, it is actually an explosive combination. A must try is Jollibee’s Chickenjoy paired with their Jolly Spaghetti. The crispy and juicy golden fried chicken complements the sweet Filipino-style sauce of their spaghetti; it’s like no other. Other menu items worth trying are palabok, peach mango pie, and tuna pie (seasonal). If you’re up for something unique and enjoy pineapples in your meals, get an Amazing Aloha. Most meals start at US$1.30.
2. Muvanz Pocherohan and Seafoods
What started as a family recipe on Bantayan Island in 2011 has become one of Cebu City’s most favourite pork stewpot. Muvanz Pocherohan and Seafoods has been serving pochero, a timeless viand and household favourite, for over 8 years now. Located in a quiet neighbourhood in the heart of the city, you won’t exactly think highly of Muvanz based on its location and overall restaurant feel.
However, its being basic is what brings joy, on top of food quality. The outdoor and homey ambiance adds value to their food, making it an ideal budget restaurant to dine at. Muvanz has a wide array of menu items suitable for even the most picky eater. Remember to get a side order of scallops to pair with your pochero, and maybe some sticks of pork barbecue to complete your meal. Meals start at US$1.30, with solo meals giving you an option to get a glass of iced tea or an unlimited order of cups of rice. An order of pochero starts at US$2.80 while the sizzling version is US$3.20.
3. Jonie’s Sizzlers and Roast
Sizzling plate lovers will rejoice at Jonie’s Sizzlers and Roast. With its budget friendly and always-sizzling promise, they are a go-to Cebu restaurant for quick local food. With 9 locations in major malls and business centres, Jonie’s is a budget restaurant you can’t miss. Enjoy their sizzling house steak, spicy chorizo, and chicken or pork sisig over an ice cold beer. If you’re coming with friends, their flaming belly buster is a sure fire way to treat yourself in between shopping and sightseeing. Meals start at US$1.70, with flaming belly bundle deals good for 4 people starting at US$11.
4. Dimsum Break
If you need a break (pun intended!) from Filipino food, Dimsum Break is an alternative. Although they’re serving non-local dishes, Dimsum Break is a homegrown Chinese fast food restaurant that has been serving quality dim sum since 1996. They are one of the pioneers in fast and interactive food service, making them standout in the industry. The setup is simple – customers lineup and choose from the array of dim sum dishes displayed on the counter. After which, they immediately get their food and proceed to the counter for payment. In this way, people from all walks of life who live a fast-paced life and don’t have much time to spare can enjoy quick, hot, and delicious dim sum meals. The signature setup is combined with modern equipment and and world-class food safety so quality and freshness are ensured. Dim sum dishes start at US$1.50 each.
5. Sunburst Fried Chicken
Yet another local and homegrown fried chicken house is Sunburst Fried Chicken. With its undying presence since 1971, it has been a timeless classic for locals and a must-try for visitors. Sunburst is more than just a casual dining restaurant that sells golden fried chicken. They are also very famous for their Filipino food classics such as sizzling bangus (milkfish), crispy pata (deep fried pig trotters), and sinigang. Never leave without trying their specials. Highly recommended is their classic special plate with three pieces of golden fried signature chicken with rice, fries, and coleslaw. Specific parts of the chicken are also available, so those with preferred cuts can enjoy their plate to its fullest potential. As an appetiser, their fried chicken skin and fried liver are top choices. In any order, however, be sure to dip your fried dishes in a mix of ketchup and Worcestershire sauce (you won’t miss these on your table) as this is how locals do it – and it’s the best complement to their classic fried chicken. Signature specialty plates start at USD1.80 each, while side orders and ala carte menu start at USD1.30.
Location: Ground Floor, One Mango, General Arcadio M, General Maxilom Ave, Cebu City, 6000 Cebu, Philippines – VIEW MAP
Contact: +63 32 254 9400
Hours: Daily from 7AM to 12AM
6. Yakski Barbecue
Arguably the best grill house in Cebu, Yakski has been serving freshly grilled chicken and pork barbecue since 2009. All grilled items are sold per stick and have a fixed price, except their fresh tuna belly that is priced by weight. House favourites include chorizo, pork barbecue, and chicken breast. Aside from being marinated and grilled to perfection, Yakski is known for their special “sauce” that perfectly complements the grilled meat with its garlicky and spicy flavour profiles. With its clean, fast, and quality service, Yakski has changed the definition of “meat on sticks” and is slowly taking over the grilled meat industry in Cebu. Ambiance-wise, expect an open air restaurant and grill that somehow resembles home. Yakski is no secret to everyone, even tourists, so expect to wait for a table during peak hours. Don’t let the crowds put you off, though – it is famous for a reason, and if you ever have to wait, it will be worth it. Pork barbecue sticks start at US$0.20, while chicken leg sticks start at US$1.20.
7. Chika-an sa Cebu
The name “Chika-an” takes off from the Cebuano word for “a place for conversations” and Chika-an lives up to this promise. With its casual dining and family-friendly setup, they continue to promise an experience that is both homey and of top quality. Their best sellers include freshly baked scallops, spicy shrimp in coco cream, monggo soup, and crispy pata. Other house specialties to try include crab relleno and pinakbet. Because of Chika-an’s popularity, expect a queue during peak meal times. Just the same, however, don’t let this put you off as it’s worth the wait. Main dishes start at US$1.80, while salads start at US$1.30. The restaurant also offers an unlimited rice option for an extra fee.
8. Boy Zugba
It can be argued that millennials are big spenders, and from a business perspective, this budget restaurant in Cebu isn’t wrong for targeting the right market. Boy Zugba is a homegrown Filipino restaurant that originated in Cagayan De Oro City in Mindanao. They serve native grilled food and other home-style favourites that both locals and tourists enjoy. Their best sellers include kinilaw (local ceviche) with green mangoes, grilled chicken barbecue, tuna belly, and bandehadong karne (a plate of various frilled meat). With classic food items that are tastefully given a twist, like their local chorizo with cheese, Boy Zugba prides itself with a young, tasty, and culinarily creative menu. Its ambiance boasts a casual and homey dining experience, surrounded with cheesy (and cheeky) pick-up lines written in Bisaya / Cebuano, plus some other quirks that are traditionally Filipino. Chicken and pork barbecue orders start at US$1.90, while other mains range from US$1.50-3.50. Meal sets start at US$2.10.
9. Casa Verde
No one really gets tired of Filipino food, but just in case you do, Casa Verde is a top alternative for your western food cravings. A family-owned American-style diner that serves fall-off-the-bone ribs, juicy burgers, and freshly made pastas, Casa Verde prides themselves in “bringing home style comfort food to the next level.” From a small canteen on Ramos Street, Casa Verde has grown to multiple branches nationwide, including Manila, and for good reason – quality, value-for-money food. Their main best seller is Brian’s ribs and it is best paired with mashed potatoes or fries. For the hungry, the juicy slabs of ribs blend really well with their Southwest Pasta. Brian’s Ribs are priced at US$4.70, with each plate big enough to share.
10. Sugbo Mercado
Weekend markets are an easy favourite, and if we’re talking budget restaurants in Cebu with affordable meals, Sugbo Mercado is a one-stop shop for all things local. Taking the old name of Cebu, Sugbu, Sugbo Mercado is a weekend night market open from Wednesdays to Sundays. It features a wide array of food choices randing from the classic grills to unique mango desserts. With over a hundred stalls, Sugbo Mercado is a perfect weekend dinner spot for budget friendly and affordable meals. Stalls might change from time to time, but food worth trying include special pad thai from Banana Pancake Trail, baked scallops from SEAbu, coconut shrimp from Nono’s, and the burgers from O.G Burgers and Ribs. For desserts, a must-try is Yelo Mango’s mango shake + mango float + mango ice cream in a cup. Food items from various stores at Sugbo Mercado start at US$1.50.
11. Ayer’s Lechon
Cebu is famous for lechon, and with one too many suckling pig restaurants, it’s hard to identify which one is actually the best. Arguably, however, Ayer’s Lechon is the best choice for value for money and overall quality. With many branches spread around key locations in the city, Ayer’s Lechon is an easy choice to satisfy your desire to taste Cebu’s pride and joy. Ayer’s Lechon has been serving the city since 2009, and they have been existing for a reason. Quality and freshness has been consistent since a decade ago – and this is the main reason why patrons continue to enjoy their lechon. Other Filipino dishes are sold at Ayer’s Lechon, so variety is guaranteed. Lechon meals start at US$1.60, while whole lechon orders (for the big parties!) start at US$85.
More information about the best budget restaurants in Cebu City, Philippines
Did you find this article helpful? While we’re confident about your opinions, here are some other equally helpful articles in case you want to read more on the best budget restaurants in Cebu:
- The Hungry Wanderer: 7 Must-Try Eats in Cebu from Pepper.ph
- Top 10 Eats in Cebu that Won’t Hurt Your Wallet from Out of Town Blog
- Where & What to Eat in Cebu City: Best Restaurants & Must-Try Food by Gem Muzones from Guide to The Philippines
- Top 10 Local Foods To Eat In Cebu, Philippines (& The Stalls To Try Them At) from sethlui.com
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