Long considered a popular weekend getaway spot for its proximity to the city, Subic does not just offer beautiful beaches, fun theme parks, and duty-free shopping—it has good food too!
Written by Janelle Año
Photography by Zac Moran of Studio 100
It might seem counter intuitive to some, since Subic is bordered by Pampanga and is but a small part of Zambales, which both have vibrant food cultures. Indeed, Subic does not really have a “native” cuisine to speak of, since it has been under foreign influence for so long. It was first used as a naval base by the Spanish in 1776, and from 1902, the Americans. Now, there is a thriving Korean and Japanese expat community in Subic as well. But that’s what makes the food at Subic so interesting—it is now a veritable melting pot of cultures and cuisines, with Spanish, American, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese influences, all tempered and reinterpreted by the Filipino palate. In Country Cooking, Mickey Fenix writes that the reason for the proliferation of restaurants in Subic was because American sailors preferred the food served in local restaurants over the food served in their base. We go on a tour of some of the most popular local joints to show you the many gustatory delights that Subic has to offer.
Magic Lagoon is an unassuming bar and grill in Subic. The entrance—easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for—looks plain enough to make you question the bevy of cars parked outside, but the inquisitive diner is rewarded with lush greenery upon entering. There are man-made falls, a creek, trees everywhere, and even a freshwater lake.
Farm-to-table dining was one of 2013’s biggest trends, but Magic Lagoon takes it a step further: here, it’s literally line-to-plate! You can rent a fishing rod and have the restaurant cook your catch for you, for a small fee.
If fishing is not your thing, the à la carte menu of Filipino specialties does not disappoint. I recommend the Sinigang na Kambing, which is mouth meltingly tender, without a hint of gaminess. The soup has just the right degree of sourness and tang; drizzled over garlic rice, it is perfection.
Magic Lagoon is located at 716 Bicentennial Park, Rizal Highway, Subic, Zambales Tel. No. (047) 252 1475
A stone’s throw away from Harbor Point, Coco Lime serves Asian-inspired dishes with flair. For an appetizer that’s hard to beat, order the Fried Spring Rolls that are stuffed with meat, vegetables, and vermicelli noodles. Try the Seafood Rice Noodles, with an assortment of fresh and plump seafood resting on a bed of savory noodles. The Crispy Binagoongan, with sinful slabs of pork, is also a must-try. Beside Coco Lime is a small bakery called Bread Time, with not-your-usual bakery offerings like Sisig Pizza.
Coco Lime is located At Harbor Point, Rizal Highway, Subic, Zambales
Tel. No. (047) 252 2412
The Coffee Shop
This is a little out of the way—it took us a while to find this little hole-in-the-wall joint from the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority all the way in Olongapo City. But if you’re ever in the area, drop by for their famous Jumbo Tacos which are as big as a dinner plate! Don’t expect anything fancy; this is basically leveled up street food. All of their set meals are under a hundred pesos, and the jumbo taco is only ninety five pesos. And it’s not just their tacos that are humongous—all of their menu offerings come in generous portions too. This is a must visit for travelers on a budget.
Despite the proliferation of newer, fancier steakhouses around Subic, Meat Plus is considered a favorite by many because of its no-frills atmosphere, generous portions, and affordable prices. You can’t go wrong with their combo meals (our favorite is the BBQ Short Ribs, fall-off-the-bone ribs slathered with sweet and smoky BBQ sauce and served with java rice and soup). You can also order steaks, with the option to choose and purchase your own preferred cut from their freezer and have them cook it for you for a hundred pesos—a small price to pay for ensuring you get only the best quality meat.
For dessert, order a slice of their Apple Pie, with thick chunks of spiced apples and a delectable crumb topping with a hint of cheese to balance the sweetness. As we ended our meal, we found ourselves agreeing with the signage proudly displayed by the restaurant: no trip to Subic is complete without a visit to Meat Plus.
Meat Plus Is Located At 6 Sampson Road, Subic, Zambales. Tel. No. (047) 252 6096