Being by the beach sure works up an appetite. There’s really something about the sea air, the laid-back vibe, and all those energy-sapping water activities that get you craving for fresh and grilled seafood, hearty servings of Filipino favorites, and extra rice, please. Thanks to a weekend trip to check out The Circle Hostel in La Union, I got to try three places that fit the bill. If you’re going on a trip to La Union anytime soon, here are a few restaurants where you can have your fill of great food.
URBIZTONDO GRILL HOUSE
Urbiztondo Grill House is a native style eatery that serves great home-cooked Pinoy comfort food. Located just along the National Highway in San Juan, this long-running establishment is just walking distance from The Circle Hostel. Large groups can enjoy affordable family-style dining on native Filipino favorites and grilled seafood.
We were starving by the time we got to La Union after the drive from Manila, but were overwhelmed with the generous servings prepared for lunch – grilled pusit (P240), chicken cordon bleu (P150), kare-kare (P240), sinigang (P190), pinakbet (P85) and buko fruit salad for dessert. Other specialties include crispy pata, patatim, inihaw na panga, grilled boneless bangus w/ filling and inihaw na tuna. Urbiztondo Grill House also serves all-day silog meals and combo meals for those on a budget.
Urbiztondo Grill House, National Highway, San Juan, La Union. 242-2579/242-2580/0905-6038023/ Email: Urbiztondogrillhouse@gmail.com
OLIVES RESTAURANT, THUNDERBIRD RESORT
The Mediterranean-inspired Thunderbird Resort in Poro Point is the only five-star hotel-resort in Northern Luzon. Its in-house fine-dining restaurant, Olives, serves sumptuous weekend buffet meals from 6:30 pm – 10:00 pm. The restaurant specializes in wood-burned oven pizzas, fresh Greek salads, and a variety of Mediterranean classics (which I got to try during previous visits to Thunderbird). This time, we got to sample Japanese favorites like salmon sashimi, sushi, ebi tempura and hot pot, aside from chicken and mushroom pasta, fried rice and other meat dishes. There’s also a separate table of fresh fruits and desserts like mochi balls and mini-brownies and cakes.
Considering the range and quality of of food served, the weekend buffet price of P770/head is not bad compared to buffets in Metro Manila. Thunderbird Resort also has a Patio Santorini Bar, the hotel’s lobby lounge and bar where guest can order a wide array of wines, cocktails, and spirits. The Vegas Cafe, located in the hotel’s casino, serves a variety of cuisine, including American, Japanese, Italian, Filipino, and continental fare.
Thunderbird Resorts La Union, Poro Point Freeport Zone, San Fernando City, La Union. Tel: (072) 888-7777. Website: www.thunderbirdresortslaunion.com
THE BIG KAHUNA RESTAURANT AND CLUBHOUSE
One of the more popular beachfront resorts in San Juan is the Balinese-inspired Kahuna Beach Resort and Spa. Kahuna’s has its own restaurant called The Big Kahuna Restaurant and Clubhouse, from where guests can get a great view of the West Philippine Sea and surfing activities, while enjoying their meals. The resto serves both international cuisine and local La Union favorites. For an appetizer, we tried the restaurant’s kinilaw and ensaladang talong (eggplant salad topped with bagoong).
The restaurant specializes in grilled seafood platters, refreshing fruit shakes, cocktail drinks, and a range of foreign beers. There’s also small bar with a television showing sports shows, and a pool table where guests can play billiards. Acoustic bands sometimes play here at night.