(SPOT.ph) There’s always a good reason to visit—or revisit—Boracay. The sight of the sun and sea does wonders for soothing the stressed-out folk; the adventurous can try their hands at riding banana boats or paraw sailing. And for the food lover, there’s an abundance of dining spots spanning a range of cuisines and genres.
You’ll find numerous restaurants dotting Boracay’s shores. But The Sunny Side Café and Spicebird, brought to us by Nowie and Odette Potenciano of The Sunny Side Group of Restaurants, remain faves among locals and tourists alike. Since opening in 2014 and 2015 respectively, they continue to serve leveled-up brunch fare and grilled gems albeit in new locations. And they’re still well worth the trip back, whether to reunite with your old go-to’s or to find your new faves from the newcomers on their menu. The Sunny Side Group’s two relative newcomers, Percy Seafood and Hello Sailor, similarly satisfy—the former with seafood dishes given global interpretations, the latter with some of the best cocktails on the island. Don’t miss these new and old eats on your next visit.
Planning your Bora trip? Definitely make your way back to The Sunny Side Café, Spicebird + other Boracay restaurants and try these new dishes:
The Sunny Side Café
You can’t beat Boracay in the morning; think sunlight peeking from the horizon, the fresh beach breeze, and the sound of the waves annihilating any lingering anxieties (what deadlines?). It’s a sensation best savored in the company of a hearty breakfast or brunch spread, and The Sunny Side Café—which recently also opened a branch in Station 1 apart from its original Station 3 outpost—is the place to go. All-day breakfast eats are aplenty here, employing their own house-made ingredients and components where possible. Tried-and-tested faves include the decadent Bacon and Mango Grilled Cheese (P590) with their own brioche (in thick slices), bacon, and mango jam, and the Kitayama Beef Tapsilog (P650) starring their tender, saucy tapa using beef from local purveyor Kitayama Farms.
For those on team #SweetBreakfast, Sunny Side Café is also well-loved for their thick, fluffy Giant Pancakes that live up to their name, being about some eight or so inches in diameter per piece—owners Nowie and Odette are all about going big or going home after all. Try the Malagos Chocolate (P590/two pieces), which deliver a robust cacao-y punch, thanks to Sunny Side’s use of local tree-to-bar brand Malagos Chocolate. Apart from these flapjacks you’ll also find French toast also using their homemade brioche; the Ube-Stuffed variant (P450), for one, goes the unexpected route with a purple-yam filling and cured-egg topping for that can’t-be-beat combo of savory and sweet.
Beyond breakfast eats you’ll also find savory meals similarly in satisfying portions. The Potencianos, along with Chef Natalia Moran, employ local ingredients wherever possible—including botelus mushrooms from Sagada that lend their porcini-esque earthiness to the Sagada Mushroom and Cream Pasta (P450). Also new on the lineup are vegan options no less flavorful than their regular counterparts; the Vegan Chorizo Burger (P390) delivers punchy bites with a plant-based patty that’s part-nutty, part-spicy, and all parts explosive.
The Sunny Side Café also recently debuted The Sunny Side Pizza, a new leg of the brand delving into the craft of great-quality, scratch-made pies. Find them at the roof deck of The Sunny Side Café’s Station 1 outpost, and chill out to slices of Bacon Hot Honey Pizza (P490) with their own house-made bacon; Merguez Sausage Pizza (P490) using merguez from Spicebird for a spunky bite; the Vegan Three-“Cheese” Pizza (P690) that’s gooey and decadent in its own right; and more.
The Sunny Side Café is at Station 1 Beachfront and Station 3 Beachfront, Boracay Sands Hotel, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan.
Established in 2015, Spicebird recently moved to a bigger space at Boracay’s D’Mall and is a go-to for grilled meats, seafood, and other eats lent feistiness by their punchy piri-piri sauce. Their flagship Grilled Piri-Piri Chicken (P390/quarter, P650/half) and its porcine cousin Grilled Piri-Piri Pork (P450/chop, P590/belly) deliver piquant, succulent bites, with the piri-piri sauce seeping into through the skin and into their juicy flesh. (Pro tip: for the best of both worlds, get the Grilled Piri-Piri Combination plate, P790, as it’s got both the chicken and the pork.) An underrated fave is the Chicken Livers & Bacon (P250), where its namesake ingredients—the former, cooked just until soft but not grainy or mushy—are cooked with red wine and onions, drizzled with their piri-piri sauce, and served with sweet rolls for mopping up the buttery sauce underneath.
But it’s not just meat and poultry that Spicebird gives the piri-piri treatment. With recent additions to the menu like the Piri-Piri Scallops (P375) with scallops from Roxas, and Piri-Piri Crab (P1,395) with a generous—and glorious—helping of crab fat, the establishment makes a case for the sheer versatility of the sauce of African origins. Don’t forget their more plant-forward options either; the vegan-friendly Eggplant & Squash Board (P350) highlights the natural earthiness of the said veggies with a hint of smokiness from the grill in the mix. Throw on any and all of their sauces—choose from the Piri-Piri, Garlic & Lime, Hotbird, and/or the Curry Curry—before digging in, for good measure.
Spicebird is at Station 2, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan.
Seaworthy Boracay’s resident all-day dining spot opened just last April, but they’ve made a name for serving some of the best seafood in town—it’s all in the name, after all. And sure, Bora’s got no shortage of seafood restos. But Percy stands out for the way they take local seafood and give them a bit of a global tour, taking a page from cuisines around the world inspired by the Potencianos’ own travels.
Aklan oysters—all served on the shell and by the dozen—are presented in differing personalities; take your pick from the less-is-more Fresh Oysters (P590) with a mignonette of apple, mint, and onions, or the zingy Chipotle & Lime (P690) that’s a touch smoky from being lightly grilled. The Royal Seafood Tagine (P1,950/serves three to four) makes for a show-stopping main, with fish, prawns, squid, and mussels given the Morrocan flavor treatment and ladled atop couscous, then served from a tagine that’s uncovered as the dish is served.
For a sprightly starter, go for one of their ceviches; the Percy Ceviche (P390) delivers A+ balance between bright, crisp, juicy, and sweet, with fresh tanigue slices outlined by watermelon and cucumber. The Island Mahi-Mahi (P590) goes for a Hawaiian-style flavor motif that fits beautifully into the Boracay setting; here, the fish is grilled and brushed with a savory-sweet pineapple glaze tinged with cardamom.
How’s about exploring Asia, all from your seat? From the Korean Campfire Scallops (P590) inspired by a Crash Landing on You scene, to the Thai-esque Grilled Prawns in Thai Nam Jim Sauce (P890), to the Cha Ca La Vong (P1,350/serves two to three) taking after the Hanoi classic, there’s no shortage of umami entries from their lineup. Meanwhile, a continental option for the purist is the Moules Frites (P490), with mussels in a white-wine cream sauce and perfectly crisp-fluffy hand-cut fries to match. The Crab and Charred Corn Tortellini (P490), featuring their own house-made tortellini, demonstrates the team’s penchant for making as many components as possible from scratch.
Local shellfish are likewise given their time to shine here at Percy, with standouts that include the Grilled Palawan Lobster (P4,950) with your choice between garlic-butter or Thai nam jim sauces. Also not to be missed is what they dub The Best Crab in Boracay (P1,490), local crab done your way—choices include the Thai Curry Crab in a rich curry sauce stir-fried with egg, and the sweet-crisp Typhoon Shelter Crab inspired by the Hong Kong icon of the same name.
Percy Seafood is at Seaworthy Boracay, Station 1 Beachfront, Barangay Balabag, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan.
What’s a beach trip without booze? Definitely drop by Hello Sailor, also located at Seaworthy, for an afternoon sip or nightcap you won’t forget. Boasting a shelf of topnotch bottles, the cocktail spot’s got signature libations crafted by no less than David Ong of The Curator and OTO fame. The Sunseeker (P350) perfectly compliments the Boracay setting with Jim Bean Bourbon brightened by mango, elderflower, pineapple, and lemon; similarly, the fruity All Is Swell (P350)—with lychee, burnt coconut, pineapple, and orange along with Tanqueray Gin—makes for a revitalizing sipper on a hot day.
Worth noting is their use of local ingredients where applicable, consistent with the rest of the Sunny Side Group’s establishments. Batwan, for example, makes for grassy, tangy sips in the margarita-esque High Tide (P350). Mangosteen, coconut, and panutsa likewise breathe distinctly Southeast-Asian flair into the nutty-tasting Sink or Swim (P350) with ARC Lava Rock Vodka and roasted barley. Should you be after a more tried-and-tested tipple, they’ve got classic cocktails too; don’t miss the Junglebird (P350) with dark rum, pineapple, Campari, and lime.
Hello Sailor is at Seaworthy Boracay, Station 1 Beachfront, Barangay Balabag, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan.