5 Restaurants to Try in Subic
The Subic dining experience isn't complete without a trip to any of these popular restaurants.
Twenty years ago, the Subic Freeport Zone was the place to visit. After it was opened to the public, people came to enjoy the beaches, rent houses and bond with family and friends, and shop for PX goods. Nowadays, Subic may not be the tax free haven it once was, but people are flocking to it once again (its accessibility improved thanks to the SCTEx (the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway), this time to laze in the sun, experience Subic activities such as survival training and a tiger safari and relax in one of the many hotels and resorts in the vicinity. Another lure of the former US Navy Air Station are the restaurants that can be found in and around it, simple down-home gastronomic delights than can only be found in the little town by Subic Bay.
The Coffee Shop
Opened in 1984, The Coffee Shop has become an institution in Barrio Barretto, just outside the main center of Olongapo City. The restaurant is famous for their Giant Tacos, hearty servings, and reasonable prices. Their Steak and Eggs (P170), for example, is composed of a medium-sized slab of beef, two eggs, two pieces of the best toast you will find in Subic, and home fried potatoes. The Giant Tacos (P85) are as long as a dinner plate, and as wide as half of it. As one of the few places in the area that's open 24/7, it's a good place to satisfy those midnight and early morning cravings. Be prepared to wait awhile for your food though. Like most of the restaurants in Subic, service conforms to the province's leisurely pace.
Everything is bigger in Xtremely Xpresso: the pizza, the cookies, and the menu, which offers Filipino, Italian, American, and Thai cuisine, as well as a selection of drinks and desserts. The cafe is one of the more popular hangouts inside the base, and is also one of the small number of establishments that stay open past 10PM. It is also one of the restaurants that comes closest to a Manila haunt, without losing its distinctly Subic flavor. A large order of the Big Ben, a pizza loaded with pepperoni, sausage, bacon and beef piled on onions, peppers, mushrooms, black olives, and two kinds of cheese comes up to P729, but looks like it could feed two families. The restaurant's interior and garden offer diners two different ambiances, so whether you feel like sitting in a rowdy family restaurant or chilling out with your friends, having lasagna or curry, Xtremely Xpresso has what you want, and more.
Meat Plus Cafe
Another Subic landmark, Meat Plus Cafe is one of those restaurants that locals say define the Subic experience. As its name implies, the restaurant specializes in meat--specifically steak. The restaurant tends to fill up during mealtimes, so go earlier or later if you want to avoid the long lines and families with small children. The food is worth the trip. The steaks are hefty, come in different cuts (Tenderloin P240, Topsirloin P270) and are served with gravy, vegetables, and rice. You can also choose your own cut and have them cook it for you (market price + P100). Sidings include soup (P45), mashed potatoes (P40), fries (P45) and a variety of salads (P30 - 130). There are non-beef options too, such as Grilled Boneless Chicken (P165) and Grilled Salmon Steak (P255), as well as a small but impressive dessert and coffee menu, which includes Apple Pie (P100), Chocolate Cake (P100) Banana Fritters (P105), and the usual assortment of hot and cold drinks. Meat Plus holds no airs apart from its claim to serving the best steaks in Subic--a claim which is true, by the way--this is part of its charm, and what keeps people coming back.
Texas Joe's House of Ribs
In a town that is popular for its hearty meat dishes and American-sized servings, Texas Joe's has made a name for itself, and is one of those places strongly recommended by the locals. Its ranch-style interiors (which actually extend to an outdoor dining area) hint at the down-home country cooking they serve. Their Hickory Smoked Ribs (P389 for a single order of three ribs, P549 for five ribs, and P759 for a Texas Slab with 7 bones) are strongly flavored and further enhanced by their selection of sauces. "Light fare" is also available, such as their Barbecue Quesadilla (P259) and Smoked Chicken Lunch (P219). The restaurant offers a wide selection of sides for the picking, including their classic Corny Corn Bread Loaf (P79). With its wood interiors, smoky stage, and jolly jukebox, Texas Joe's is the perfect place to experience the good ole ambiance of the American South.
Sam's Pizza, despite the dim lights, live music, and indoor smoking, is very much a family restaurant, as evidenced by the tables filled with smiling parents and enthusiastic children. The place seems like it never left the 80s, which is a good thing as it combines good and filling food at reasonable prices coupled with a lively atmosphere that, while chaotic, is also nostalgic. The restaurant, which opened in 1976, claims to have introduced the square pizza to the Philippines--so if this claim is true, it is a historic landmark as well. Sam's Pizza is located along one of the main roads of Olongapo City, so parking might be a problem, and valuables should be kept on one's person at all times.