Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Davao’s Deliciously Delirious Nightlife

Life in Davao after the sun goes down has changed so much over the last decade. Nowadays, a growing number of Davaoeños are out in the streets to dine, drink and dance the night away, be it a weekday or a weekend. Unwinding at night has become a way of life in this city as people grab the chance to revel in the delirious and delicious realm of flickering neon lights, sumptuous cuisine, genre music and carefree boozing. 

Bottoms up!


Davao has a number of food, beverage and entertainment establishments spread all over its sprawling expanse, all waiting to leave locals and tourists alike dazed and dazzled with their offerings once darkness creeps in. This is to be expected in a place touted as the country’s “most livable city”. So, when you're in town, it's best to live it up to the max!

Cap your nights at Davao's lounges and bars


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After six, huge crowds converge at watering holes like Matina Town Square, or simply MTS to its habitués, where they can drink and dine while listening to great performances by homegrown bands at its domed tavern, Taboan. 

Spread all over MTS’s ambit are an array of smaller bars, clubs, restos, lounges and cafés, offering a variety of choices for diners and drinkers who prefer a more laidback and quieter night. Kanto Bar, Aling Foping’s, Taps, Hollywood Burgers, The Stairwell, Calda Pizza and Blugré Coffee count among the MTS crowd’s favorites. 

Want to dine and drink al fresco with the city lights as backdrop? No problemo. If that's your trip, head for the hills of Matina and check out Jack's Ridge. Sitting on top of a cliff, the sought-after dining, drinking and entertainment enclave overlooks the sprawling expanse of the city and Davao Gulf. Habitués swarm its popular joints like Taklobo Restaurant, Kai’s Bar and Grill and Karlo’s Café. 

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Davao's glittering cityscape as seen from Jack's Ridge


Take note, foodies. A night in Davao isn’t complete unless you get to dine at F. Torres Street, the city’s popular food and beverage strip. There, you can savor an assortment of freshly cooked and delectable cuisine from its row of establishments. 
Bars, cafés and clubs located within the strip are also open up to the wee hours of the morning. Indulge yourselves at Bistro Rosario, Harana, Antonio’s Bar and Grill, Ah Yat Seafood Restaurant, Coco's South Bistro, Bucket Shrimps and Prime Square,  to name a few.

Live band performers in one of Obrero's bars

A certain part of Barrio Obrero, one of the city’s old residential and commercial turfs, has also evolved into one of Davao's after-dark entertainment hubs, too. Home to a number of night clubs, bars and joints, this enclave turns into a neon-lit after-hours hangout ala Malate as yuppies and students congregate to paint the town red, with the throngs gravitating towards  Business Class, Starr Club, Hybrid, among others.

Buckets of fun


A few hundred meters away from Obrero is the car park of Davao’s oldest mall, Victoria Plaza, where a row of food establishments cater to the discriminating tastes of gourmets. Ahfat Seafood and Grill, Probinsiya, Coco’s South Bistro are some of the more popular joints there.  

The city is also best known for the excellent variety of tuna dishes that never fail to impress even the most discriminating taste buds. Two of the more popular restos in town that are known for their mouth-watering tuna specialties are Yellow Fin and Marinatuna.

Grab a crab at any of Davao's seafood restos

Kinilaw a.k.a tuna ceviche
Crab and seafood lovers should also pay a visit to Grab-a-Crab, New Asia Restaurant and of course, Ahfat. Not only are their offerings top-notch, they're also priced reasonably! 

Up north, the throngs usually troop to the plush shopping and dining complex known as Damosa Gateway, which also happens to be one of Davao’s fast-rising business and IT parks.

Freshly baked clams in one of the city's seafood restos

Once a dusty, isolated part of the city, it has metamorphosed into an upscale entertainment strip teeming with shops, restos, bars, cafés and the like which offer a variety of international cuisines.  

Tsuru (Japanese), Hola España (Spanish), Spirale (Italian), La Taberna (Spanish), Hanoi (Vietnamese), Dencio’s (Filipino), Taj Minar (Indian), Tadakuma (Japanese)—these are just some of the names worth noting when you’re planning to visit this gateway to gastronomic delights. 

Fire dancers of Davao Crocodile Park

Adventurous food eaters will surely love the dishes served at the Riverwalk Grill of Davao Crocodile Park.  What’s on their menu?  Well, everyone’s favorite Pinoy farecaldereta, dinuguan, lechon, sisig, and a whole lot more—but all made out of crocodile meat! And while you’re devouring your beast (I mean feast!), you’ll be treated to breathtaking live performances by its in-house fire dancers. How’s that for an exotic evening? LOL!

Audience participation is a common feature of  Davao's lounge acts

Nightlife need not be zero for those who prefer to gravitate within the limited confines of their hotels. Most of the upscale hotels in the city have bars, pub houses and music lounges where live band performances enthrall guests. Among them are Marco Polo’s Eagles Bar, Apo View’s Blue Room, and Waterfront Insular’s Vinta Bar. A wide variety of liquor, wine and other drinks, including pica-pica and pulutan, await the guests of these watering holes.

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Of course, you can never go wrong with nights spent in Davao’s malls. Some shops located in these shopping complexes are now open beyond the usual mall business hours to cater to night owls.

A taste of Korea in Davao

SM Lanang Premier, for instance, has a Fountain Court at the back of the mall where you can find a number of restaurants, cafés  and eateries that includes Bulgogi Brothers, Archipelago 7107,  Munchtown, SumoSam, Mesa, Selera, Hog's Breath and of course, Vikings,  the largest chain of luxury buffet restos in the country. 

The light, music and water show at the Fountain Court is one for the books. Mall rats—the young ones and the young once—often haunt the musical fountain found there which is said to be the country’s longest.
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Part of Fountain Court's main attraction

SM Lanang also has its Sky Garden where guests can stay up late for dinner and drinks in the various food stalls cloistered within its spacious peripheryManna, Marinatuna, Toryano’s, Gilligan’s, Ineng’s, among others. The refreshingly casual al fresco ambiance, complete with a covered walkway, spouts, fountains, ornamentals and lights, will definitely make your dining and drinking a remarkably unique experience.
SM Lanang's Sky Garden lights up at night

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Abreeza Ayala's color-changing fountains complement the mall's classy ambiance

Abreeza Ayala, on the other hand, has a row of big name franchise and homegrown establishments scattered along its periphery. Names to remember include TGIFridays, Yakimix,  Mooon Café, Hukad sa Golden Cowrie, Gerry’s Grill, Italiannis, Café Laguna, Spirale, Dong Juan, Blackbeard’s Seafood Island, Ranch and Reef, among others.

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Boodle fight, anyone?

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Night owls make it to The Peak

For that top-of-the-world dining and drinking experience, nothing beats scaling The Peak. Perched on top of Gaisano Mall of Davao, this rooftop oasis of food strips, cafés and bars provides guests with a soothing al fresco dining and entertainment ambiance. Gusteau’s, Ineng's, Gerry's Grill, Mama Maria’s Pizzeria, Chicken Charlie, Figaro Café, Kublai Khan’s Mongolian Restaurant are some of the establishments worth taking a peek at The Peak.

Strewn all over the downtown area are a number of music lounges, KTV and videoke bars that pack in the nocturnal crowd who love to sing the night away. Popular venues include ET KTV and Music Lounge, K1 Family KTV, World Palace and Zed Pizza, which pack in the sing-along junkies.  

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One of World Palace's best-selling pica-pica

Nocturnal free spirits yearning for bedazzling band performances, below-zero-degrees beer and the best dance music in town should invade the newest party place in town—Soundbox Bar—which has contributed much to enlivening Davao’s nightscape. Location?  Just a stone’s throw away from People’s Park and Apo View Hotel.

Live bands perform at Soundbox Bar
Coffee lovers who prefer to cap their evenings with either a hot or cold brew will find Davao heavenly—it’s a certified coffee country!  They can surf the Net, snack with friends and sip their favorite brews at any of the city’s aromatic coffee stations–Blugré, Kangaroo, Bo’s, Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Caffe Firenzo, Green Coffee, Saging Repablik and a whole lot more.

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Aromatic treat for coffee lovers

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For those craving for thrills "hotter" than the usual, they can always head straight to any of those strip clubs and girlie bars dotting Cabaguio Avenue, which add vibrancy to Davao’s exciting nightlife. Most of them offer great shows, booze and fun until the wee hours of the morning. I won't mention their names. Go, check  ‘em out yourself. LOL!

Davao, however, isn’t Davao without its rules, which locals and tourists alike have to obey if they want to get the most out of their stay. The city is a no smoking zone. It also has an ordinance prohibiting bars, pubs, lounges and clubs from selling alcoholic drinks after 1:00 a.m. It has also imposed speed limits (30, 40 and 60 kph only) on all its main streets and highways. 

Living it up in Davao takes night owls to a deliciously delirious kind of nightlife...the kind that lives on and gets better by the hour long after the sun has gone down...the kind you'd have a hard time forgetting, perhaps long after the fun and frolic had ended. So, enjoy your nights in the city but always take to heart its “rules of engagement“. :D

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