Say you are a tourist on a 3D/2N Cebu vacation or even on a one day trip and it’s your first time in the Queen City of the South. You happen to find yourself in SM Cebu and suddenly got hungry so you wonder what’s the best local restaurant to try out? The answer would of course depend entirely on you and your companions and what kind of food you are currently craving. But if you ask me for Penfires recommendations on local restaurants inside this giant mall, the top picks are Neo Neo, Dimsum Break, Ayer’s Lechon and Flame It Burger.
Except for Dimsum Break which you can already find in SM North Edsa, the other 3 are only available in the province the last time I checked. By the way, these are proudly homegrown “Cebu brands” so if you wan’t to go local explore these choices.
There are tons of other dining places in SM that serves affordable good food but those four above are my top favorites. I also frequent food chains like KFC, Jollibee, Chowking, Sbarro, etc but these are mainstream restaurant chains that you can find elsewhere in the country.
Other popular choices for local based restos are Golden Cowrie, Majestic, Sunburst and Mooon Café but the menu offered in these establishments are more expensive than the top picks.
Let’s take a look at these affordable dining places in SM City Cebu. I’ll be sharing what I usually order when dining in these restaurants.
Cebu is synonymous to grilled food. Yah I know it’s over generalization but well if you come here you would undoubtedly see all these sugbahan in every street corner. Our most famous must dine place for tourist? That would be Larsian sa Fuente, a barbeque grilling center but heyyy I digress. Let’s get back to current topic =)
Looking for native chicken or manok bisaya? Neo Neo is a place to get it. If you are on a tighter budget I recommend their value meals at P49 per set. (Update July 24 they have raise their prices for the set meals to P59). My fave set is the value meal that comes with 2 sticks bbq plus 1 ngohiong with one rice and drink. You can throw in an order of cebu chorizo as a side-dish. Their baked scallops is P140 per plate, a plate consist of 7 scallops. Pork Sisig is also recommended. You can also order here guto, lato and other seaweed kilawin. =) They have fresh fish, squid and other seafood which are price per kilo and you can have them cook to your liking like a good old sutukil fare.
The dish that I don’t recommend which surprisingly is considered as one of Neo Neo’s signature dishes is their Bangus with Gata. I don’t know, I love milkfish but the gata coating the fish makes this dish taste totally weird, hindi bagay as in but heyyy that maybe just me.
More often than not, there is a customer queue so hope you are not too hungry when you come dine.
Dining tip: Don’t forget to ask for their special ngohiong sauce for that extra kick sa sawsawan. This sauce comes with your order of ngohiong but you can still request for this even if you did not order any ngohiong.
You want Chinese dimsum? Check out Dimsum Break on the 4th floor, near the Bowling Center. This Cebu restaurant is a sister company to Harbour City and Ding Qua Qua, well-known names serving chinese dimsum and cuisine in the city.
What to try? Pork steam rice of course! Before you even think it let me say that it’s different from your usual rice topping. This meal in a cup comes with thick sauce that seeps through the specially prepared rice and the meat cuts are tender. If you don’t like pork, beef steam rice is available.
Dimsum Break also offers a wide array of dim sum choices on their menu from siomai, chicken feet, steamed pork ribs, garlic wings, etc. These dim sums are usually price from 59 to 65.
Saving Tip: Here’s how you can get more value for your money. Based on personal observation most diners order a cup of steam rice plus siomai and drinks. Well, Dimsum Break offers Oriental Value Meals and there are 4 choices 1, 2, 3, 4. My recommendation is Set 4 which comes with steam fried rice + 1 piece siomai + 1 pc mushroom siomai + oriental nido soup + two buchi – all for the price of P99. For drinks you can add 5 pesos for a 12 oz iced tea or 8 pesos 16 oz iced tea.
You can definitely save since price for regular pork steam rice is P65 and a serving of siomai (3 pieces) is P59. BUT these value meals are only available for dine-in customers from 2 pm to 5 pm, that’s the catch but for me it’s worth the wait if you want a good deal and is not too hungry. =)
Dining Tip: Don’t forget to request for chili oil and ginger sauce at the cashier.
Cebu is also a lechon city so if you haven’t had your litson baboy fix yet, then there is Ayer’s waiting for you in SM. Their lechon value meal is P79, you can buy per kilo too. Aside from lechon they also offer spicy lechon belly, lechon sisig, lechon paksiw, pritson and pritong lechon. Good luck to your diet!
I also highly recommend their dinuguan! It’s the best pairing for your lechon. As an ala cart order, an order of dinuguan is P39.
Dining Tip: I bet when you eat cebu lechon you will be going for an extra helping of rice, so my best saving tip when dining in Ayer’s is to get a lechon value meal AND a dinuguan value meal which is P50. More expensive than having dinuguan as an ala cart order but heyyy, you now have have extra rice and extra drink.
Read more about Ayer’s lechon restaurant.
Flame It Burger
In case you prefer burgers and fries instead of a rice meal, Flame It Burger comes with Penfires recommendation although this local burger chain does not exactly fall under the ‘budget restaurant’ category but still, let me list is as it’s one of my favorite dining places in SM.
What sets them apart? It’s their real beef patties which are really juicy. The meat is so tender and juicy that your taste buds will definitely know you are not eating a fast food burger patty laced with extenders.
Dining advise: A bit of patience is needed before you’ll have your food on the table. Reason is that they only grill the burger patty after your order.
What I don’t like though is their fries, it sags so easily and the serving is small. :/
More on Flame It Burger here
You don’t have to spend much if you want to have a delicious and fulfilling food trip here in Cebu. Delight your taste buds with these affordable dishes from Penfires’ top restaurant picks in SM City that serves good food which are easy on the pocket.
Hope you get to dine in one of these restaurants when you come visit Syudad sa Sugbo!
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