Marikina has been one of those cities that just randomly sprout restaurants like a mushroom garden. We have all heard the famous Lilac Street which is sometimes referred to as the “new Maginhawa”. Really, that place is dynamic.
One day, you’ll see a mound of soil and the next day you’ll find a burger place on it. But there are a lot more places to eat around the city that you should also give a shot at. Besides, Marikina is home to several gourmet restaurants and a handful of street food stands so you’re really getting the best of both worlds in this small city.
Breakfast: Goto Bob
Nothing screams Marikina than goto all day everyday. We’ve seen and eaten at the classic Macky’s, Goto Garahe, and even Tapsi ni Vivian. In search of a place that serves goto all day, comments sections from different social media sites suggest Goto Bob. What we found new is instead of chicken or entrails, Goto Bob’s recipe calls for tender beef. Aside from its amazing taste, the serving is quite big as well so for only P20, it’s worth it.
Essentially it is a carinderia serving several food items, including your favorite Filipino breakfast meals like tapsilog and longsilog which are always available. And by always, we mean anytime you like since Goto Bob is open 24/7. Marikina has taught us that goto really isn’t restricted to being a breakfast or a cold weather item. At 4pm on a hot day, students still order heaping bowls for their afternoon snack.
Actually, you can find goto everywhere in Marikina. The tricycle terminals, the market, your neighbor’s front yard, you name it. But only a handful of places can nail the ultimate goto partner – the tokwa’t baboy. And Goto Bob’s recipe for it is spot on.
Light Snack: Kanzen Sushi – Lilac St.
We almost missed this one. This sushi place is tucked inside a house along Lilac. You can dine in their cozy little nook, takeaway, or have it delivered. Free delivery within Marikina never sounded so good.
Kanzen offers a 16-piece mixed sushi platter for only P170. They also offer prime sushi like the Dynamite Roll, Spam Wasabi, Cheesy Kani, and Panko Salmon Bonito in boxes of 8 for P85. Not feeling the single-servers? They also offer boxes of 200 for the regular rolls.
We saw how the rolls were made and each were handcrafted carefully. Each sushi roll has rich flavor and packed tightly so you don’t get those awkward hollow chasms of sadness inside. We also saw the many boxes of sushi for pick-up and delivery, proving how in demand they really are. And it’s also proof that cheap prices don’t have to compensate quality.
Kanzen has all its branches in Marikina – Lilac Street, J.P. Rizal Lamuan, and V. Gomez in San Roque.
Lunch: Q by Chef Jhun Cadenas – Lilac St. cor. Appaloosa St.
This is one red door you won’t be afraid of. A short walk from Kanzen will bring you to Q, a homey barbecue place with one of the best grilled chicken in the city. Their bestsellers, Q1 and Q2 which are barbecued chicken and barbecued ribs respectively, are insanely flavorful which really has a unique flavor we can’t quite pinpoint yet. You really have to try it for yourself. The meat is juicy like those commercials you see on television but this time it’s real and it’s right in front of you. Q1 is served with butter and garlic sautéed vegetables, and additional barbecue sauce and light vinegar for sawsawan.
We also tried the grilled chicken pasta, which was surprisingly light. The grilled chicken on top was not in any way dry and had the same unique flavor. For drinks, their lemonade comes in two colors – pink and blue. We tried the pink one that looked almost like a lighter and non-alcoholic tequila sunrise, and went well with the meals we ordered too. Whatever Chef Jhun’s secret recipe is, it sure is a gem.
Merienda: Ihawan – C. M. Recto St.
When dusk falls, residents of Barangay Parang flock a certain ihawan stand next to their favorite fried chicken stand. Even in the evening, you’ll see a crowd of around fifteen people waiting for their orders. If you want your dose of Filipino street food in the form of chicken and pork entrails, this one’s a clean one. No bitterness, and tastes like marinated chicken. If you’re not into these, you can always try their pork barbeque, hotdogs, and pork sausages which are also pretty good. You can also grab a refreshing gulaman drink at their stall when you’re done eating your grilled goodness. They open 4pm onwards, the perfect time to eat merienda. Or make it your supper, that’s fine too.
Bonus: This corner also has a bakery, a sari-sari store, and a stall that sells kwek-kwek, tokneneng, and fried isaw. So if you want something other than grilled, you sure can get it here too.
Dinner: Alexei’s Diner and Cafe – Mayor Gil Fernando Ave.
Alexei’s Diner and Café is one of those restaurants that accompany carwashes. It’s quite common in Marikina to have these actually. It’s like a blown up version of the carwash café or lounge. When you enter the diner, you’re greeted by retro posters and license plates from way back. It has a homey feel to it with comfy couches and wooden tables and chairs. They even have a loft upstairs to accommodate more people. Plus, it looks cool.
We ordered the bestselling Seafood Rice Bowl alongside the Shrimp Salpicao and the Salisbury Steak. All our meals did not disappoint in flavor. For the rice bowl, think Mongolian sauce on rice with heaps of seafood and bell peppers. It’s everything in a bowl, without one overpowering flavor. All the ingredients surely form a unique taste. The Salisbury Steak was juicy and tender, and worked well with its mushroom gravy sauce. You can really tell that the flavor comes from the steak and the sauce just adds to it. The Shrimp Salpicao was a great balance of sweet and salty and its buttered vegetable side tones it down a bit.
In general, Alexei’s offers a wide range of Filipino and American cuisine, with items on the menu fit for whatever you’d want to have for today. Bonus: their nachos the bomb too.
Thinking of visiting Marikina? Just remember one thing: restaurants are all over the place. Don’t be afraid to try the nearest one you see.
(Thanks to our Typist Intern)