The recent opening of the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) – the longest and tallest bridge in the Philippines – has brought an influx of excited locals and tourists to Cordova, the otherwise laidback municipality on the southern end of Mactan Island.
The 8.9-km cable-stayed bridge and causeway is the third bridge connecting Mactan, where the international airport is located, to mainland Cebu. It is the first of the three bridges linking the island directly to Cebu City, significantly cutting down travel time. It now takes only 10 minutes to drive from South Road Properties (SRP) to Cordova town.
While the island town’s most popular destinations of Lantaw Floating Native Restaurant and 10,000 Roses Cafe have closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Super Typhoon Odette (Rai), a handful of new establishments have popped up in the last couple years to offer fresh and exciting dining experiences. Yes, there’s more to try in Cordova than their famed seaside bakasihan, eateries serving saltwater eel dishes.
From a Money Heist-inspired joint to a swanky sunset-view rooftop lounge, here are five new places to eat and drink you should check out on your CCLEX road trip!
Located at a Shell gas station, 1.2 km south of the expressway exit, McOQ’s Café is the closest establishment to CCLEX on this list. This pastel-hued cafe with a velvet couch and sequined pillows is an oasis of cutesy comfort that stands in contrast to its nondescript location. It’s an excellent place to grab a snack or drink, while filling up your tank. They specialize in milk tea, fruit tea and frappe drinks that come in variety of flavors with your choice of “sinkers” like tapioca pearls or coffee jelly. For their Signature Milk Tea (₱109/₱119 for Medium/Large), the best-selling flavors are Black Wintermelon, Meiji Inspired Milktea and, my favorite, Vanilla Orea Cheesecake. They offer affordable finger food as well like chicken wing baskets with premium sauces (starts at ₱149 for ½ pound), ham & cheese sandwich (₱49), chicken chops (₱70) and cheesesticks (₱45). Open daily from 10 am to 9pm.
An equally dainty establishment, located beside Gaisano Grand Cordova, is Lala Land Cafe with its all-pink interior festooned with plastic flowers. It is the only standalone air-conditioned establishment at Hamugaway Tropical Park, which consists mostly of stalls with al fresco seating. Satisfy your sweet tooth with their selection of freshly baked cakes, pastries, and beverages like boba tea (₱150-₱160), milk shakes (₱145-₱160), frappe (₱150-₱160) and iced coffee (₱125-₱140). Available whole for pre-order or served by the slice, among their best-selling cakes are Strawberry Cheesecake, Oreo Cookie Crumble Cake and Mocha Almond Cake. For savory cravings, they have three pasta dishes (₱165) to choose from: Creamy Carbonara, Tuna Pesto and Creamy Bacon. Open daily from 11am to 8pm.
Inspired by the hit Spanish crime-drama TV series Money Heist, Wingster Heist is a red-and-black roadside stall with al fresco seating near the junction to Solea Mactan Resort. Of course, deep-fried chicken wings are the superstars of their menu. They come in portions of six (₱180) to sixteen (₱460) pieces, prepared in sauces of your choice. There are a dozen flavors to choose from like Buffalo Berlin, Teriyaki Tokyo, Garlic Parmesan Nairobi, and Hickory BBQ Rio. Aside from wings, they offer an eclectic choice of sides like chicken poppers (₱180), fries (₱65) and kimchi (₱70), as well as generous bowls of basic ramen in three versions: Spicy Korean Kimchi (₱150), Creamy Cheese (₱150) and Green Onion Chicken (₱160). For big groups, check out their chicken-and-beer combos and family sets! Open daily from 11 am to 12 am.
Standing at the end of a long jetty stretching across tidal flats, Parola Seaview Restaurant is a large, open-air restaurant that can accommodate more than 300 customers. The eponymous decorative parola (lighthouse) and an overwater deck offers great views of Bantayan Bay and sunsets behind the mountains of Cebu island. Their extensive menu of Filipino meat and seafood dishes includes specialities like Nilarang Tangigue (Spanish mackerel soup, ₱285), Buttered Garlic Shrimps (₱220), Calderetang Kambing (goat stew, ₱365), and Adobo Rice Platter (₱175). Groups can opt for seafood and mixed meat value sets (₱499-₱599, good for 2-3) served in a bilao, a handwoven bamboo tray traditionally used for winnowing rice. For dessert, one would never go wrong with timeless favorites like Leche Flan (₱69) and Banana Nangka Turon (₱135). Open daily: 11 am to 9pm weekdays & 10 am to 9pm on weekends.
Last month, Solea Mactan Resort reopened Salt & Sky, its newly refurbished rooftop lounge on the topmost level with a 360-degree vista of the sprawling property next to Hilutungan Channel to the east and the mountains of Cebu to the west with the CCLEX bridge. As the sun goes down, savor unparalleled views eight floors up with delicious, Instagram-worthy signature cocktails (₱280) like Another Day in Paradise, Mango Aloo Float, and Experience Skydive (this comes with a shot blue curacao bomb you pour yourself) . Their revamped menu features unique cold bites and finger food like Hawaiian Poke Bowl (₱360) and Sisig Fajita (₱360), as well as pastas and pizzas like Norcina (₱590), with Italian sausage and truffled cream, and Funghi Pizza (₱550) with mixed mushrooms, truffle paste, and bechamel. Open Friday to Sunday from 3pm to 11pm. They will be open daily starting July 1, 2022.
How to Get There
From Cebu City, the fastest way to get to Cordova is via the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) from South Road Properties (SRP) by private vehicle or taxi cab (Toll fee: ₱90).
Alternatively, one can choose a cheaper route via public transportation by taking the Metro Ferry from Pier 3, Cebu City to Opon Pier, Lapu-Lapu City (₱25, inc. terminal fee). Ferries depart every 30 minutes between 6:00 am and 7:00 pm. The scenic Mactan Channel crossing takes only 20 to 30 minutes. From Opon, board a jeepney (₱10) to Cordova town proper. Hop on a tricycle (₱20) to get to establishments away from the main road.