Searching where to eat in El Nido is not as difficult as it may seem. Flocked by thousands of tourists every year and in just one day, 1,000 people are signing up for the famous El Nido tours (A,B,C,D).
With this, El Nido’s restaurant scene thrived and some of the best restaurants in the Philippines are housed here.
As a touristic island, the minimum spending for one meal per person is 200Php ($4 USD approx), which in Philippine standards is a bit expensive. However, know that you will get the best quality of food in El Nido without compromising the value for money.
Despite the commendable hospitality and maximum amazing congeniality of the Filipino people, service in the Philippines is not also that excellent. It is very unlikely that service in these restaurants will meet your expectations (especially those who are used to the western standards).
Here are the top 20 restaurants you should try in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines!
Best lunch place with a view
The Nesting Table at the Birdhouse El Nido | To get there, go to Vanilla Beach and walk 10 minutes to the top! Trike from El Nido Town costs 150Php ($2.87 USD)
A walk down a beautiful white sand beach, a short trail through green foliage and you’ll find yourself in The Nesting Table. Secluded from the hustle and bustle of the El Nido town center, this well-designed restaurant perfectly blends with the inviting vibe of The Birdhouse. Take a nice breather from all the island hopping and fill yourself with comfort food and/or treat yourself to some coffee and dessert. Get yourself a spot in the hammock before and after you dine and spoil yourself with one of El Nido’s most spectacular views. The view will be indeed worth the walk.
Best place to eat and get drunk after
Mad Monkey Nacpan | Located at Nacpan Beach, you need to take a van from El Nido Town. Van transfer costs 600Php 2-way ($11 USD). The ride takes 45mins (one-way)
Twin white sand beaches, turquoise waters, coconut trees everywhere, a little ocean breeze, Nacpan Beach is exactly how you imagined a tropical destination would be. Lounge around with a fruit shake in hand and just bask in the sunshine. Get some ice cream to beat the heat after an intense volleyball game. Treat yourself to a luxurious full body massage right on the beach as you enjoy the sunset in one of El Nido’s best spots. Dinner and drinks would not be an issue since the hostel’s restaurant and grill and beach bar offers a great selection and a good portion of grub and booze. Stargaze while you are having your nightcap. Imagine all this while you’re surrounded by some good company. Mad Monkey Hostel Nacpan would definitely be one for the books.
Best pizza in town
Altrove | Barangay Buena Suerte, El Nido, Palawan
A walk down one of El Nido’s busiest streets at night and you’ll be witness to a long line of people waiting for a table at Trattoria Altrove. Famous for its brick oven pizzas and a fair selection of Italian food, this place does not disappoint. You’ll feel the heat and the intoxicating buzz of the crowd while you sip on a cold beverage in the restaurant. If you want to beat the crowd to get your fill of some delicious cheese, pizza, and bowls of pasta you can always opt to get some takeaway at Altrove Express not too far from the restaurant. It won’t be surprising if you come back for more. It’s simply just that good.
Best bagoong rice
Tuktuk | Barangay Buena Suerte, El Nido, Palawan (in front of Altrove)
After a perfect day under the sun exploring the islands and lagoons of El Nido it’s a definite that you would want to get dinner at an awesome place. Go to Tuktuk for a healthy dose of Thai food and get a table right at the beach. Treat yourself with a delicious glass of iced Thai milk tea and get a hearty plate of classic Thai noodles and curry. Despite being in a Thai restaurant, the classic Filipino hospitality offers a warm ambiance to the humble dining experience at Tuktuk.
Best for Filipino food virgins
Tambok’s El Nido | Taytay-El Nido National Highway, Brgy Villa Libertad, El Nido (trike from El Nido town)
If you love Filipino food and it’s your first time trying it, you’ll enjoy this place. If you’re not that into Filipino food you will still enjoy this place. Tambok’s offers a selection of palatable classic Filipino dishes that both Filipinos and foreigners will surely appreciate. There’s just a little something for everybody in their good variety of starters, mains and desserts. Classic Filipino techniques are incorporated into new and unique flavors leading to twists in familiar flavors. The place is bright and inviting. The whole dining experience is casual and fun. Need I say more?
Best place to eat with your hands, Filipino style
Boodle Fight | Corong corong, El Nido
There’s just something about eating with your hands that feels genuine and familiar. Filipinos are generally used to doing this at home or in more intimate settings but participating in a boodle fight is definitely an event that encourages people to be more relaxed and more comfortable with one another. Most of the island tours set up a boodle fight with a bed of rice and a wide array of grilled seafood, meat, and vegetables for lunch when you’re out exploring but if you haven’t had enough Boodle Fight offers the same experience for you. All the food is laid out evenly in front of you. You all share one “plate” (in this case banana leaf) while dining. All that is literally left to do is dig in. The place perfectly illustrates how food brings people together.
La Plage | La plage street, Corong-Corong, El Nido, Palawan
Situated right on the beach La Plage offers a great ambiance and a good variety of European food options. If you’re looking for a place that’ll make the day to night transition easier this place is a great choice. You can take a dip in the ocean and in the pool, get yourself a tan, watch the sunset, and then finish the day off with a great seafood dinner, dessert, and a delicious cocktail. Things might sound too good to be true but how can you go wrong with a beachside restaurant and bar in El Nido?
Best Mexican food in El Nido
Pinche’s | Lisang Street Level 1, Residencia Katrina Bed and Breakfast
Ever heard a story of getting drunk on margaritas and taking shots of tequila on the beach? You’ll probably get drawn to that if you go to Pinche’s at sundown. If you’re craving for some Mexican flavors to go with your drinks, this is a place worth checking out. From tacos to fajitas to nachos and burritos, they offer a little bit of everything here to satisfy your appetite. Along with the nice view, the easygoing vibe of the place makes people take their time at Pinche’s. There’s no need to rush here. Just go easy on the tasty mangorita and the quesadillas.
Best pad thai
Big Bad Thai | Calle Hama, Barangay Masagana, El Nido
Isn’t it great if a restaurant gets known not just for its stunning balcony views but also for the great food and friendly staff? Big Bad Thai is situated beachfront and offers authentic Thai food. You’ll see all the Thai restaurant menu regulars and the food won’t disappoint. Make sure to try some cocktails after dinner. Look out for the cool parties Big Bad Thai has every once in a while. The place can get full for good reason but that shouldn’t stop you from taking in the awesome vibe of the place.
Cafe Athena | Serena Street, El Nido
Cafe Athena is a great place to start your day. It’s right by the beach. They serve a good variety of healthy and light Mediterranean fare and fresh fruit juices. The place is airy and bright and you get a great view of the bay and El Nido’s massive limestone cliffs. The welcoming decor invites you to lounge around while waiting for your boat ride to different islands. Friendly staff members are eager to accommodate your needs. Its location also makes for a great sunset spot. Grab a cocktail while you fill yourself with a hefty portion of gyros to end your day.
Best reasonably priced Greek food
Taverna Agape | El Nido Beach
If you’re craving for some really good and reasonably priced Greek food in El Nido, Taverna Agape is the place to go. Situated right on the beach and inspired by the blues of Santorini, this place is a remarkable spot any time of the day. Their selection of food is authentic and delightful; light and healthy but filling. For all the veggie lovers out there, this place even offers Greek vegetarian options as well. Couples looking for a romantic dinner spot will enjoy the candlelit setting with great food and wine. Don’t miss out on their delicious souvlaki wraps and scrumptious baklava for dessert!
Best Mediterranean food
Happiness Beach Bar | Serena St., El Nido
You walk down one of El Nido’s busy alleys and you will find the gem that is Happiness Beach Bar. The trendy and hip decor attracts foreigners and locals alike. Opt for a swing chair or a seat at the balcony to just add a little more spice in your dining experience. Offering healthy and fresh food, the place is perfect for dining at any time of the day. Whether you’re in the mood for a snack or a meal, their light offerings of mainly Mediterranean fare will leave you feeling light and energized. It’s a feel-good place with a feel-good vibe.
Best for vegetarians
Glow Juice Box | Hama St., El Nido
Being one of El Nido’s most vegetarian-friendly spots, Glow Juice Box is definitely worth the pitstop. Located at one of El Nido’s busiest streets, it offers a selection of fresh juices and healthy bowls filled to the brim with fresh fruits and superfood. If you’re looking for a light but energy-packed breakfast or snack before a busy day of island hopping, Glow Juice Box is the perfect place to get something on the go. It puts a much-needed value on ethically and locally sourced ingredients and boasts about being dairy free. Glow Juice Box also maintains a reputation of being environmentally conscious in its operation. It’s a guilt-free place for everyone.
Best tasting coffee and digital nomad space
The Cavern Specialty Cafe | Corong-corong, El Nido
Don’t we all look for the perfect cup of coffee when we’re traveling? If you ever go to El Nido, The Cavern Specialty Cafe offers one of the best cups in town for that much-needed caffeine kick. Looking for a flat white? The Cavern is one of the few places in El Nido that can serve you a cup. A wide array of tea options are also available at the counter for non-coffee drinkers. The sandwiches and desserts are simple and straightforward but not to be looked over. Besides the good coffee and comfortable interior, what brings people back to The Cavern is the staff. They’re one of El Nido’s best.
Best Chinese food in El Nido
Fat Choy | Lio Beach, El Nido
Lio Beach offers an array of shopping and dining options for its visitors. Getting there is relatively easy since free shuttles are offered in El Nido town center. In choosing where to dine, Fat Choy is a safe bet. It offers a wide variety of Chinese specials and also twists to Filipino classics. It’s authentic Asian fare crafted by a renowned Taiwanese chef. Fat Choy is simply food done right. After helping yourself to a huge serving of kung pao Chicken, salted egg squid, and mapo tofu, lounge chairs by the beach is just a couple of steps away.