Rugged Mystique

Credits: Papers from SDynes Christmas Treasures Mini Kit; Frames from Orchbroom Mask and SDynes Christmas Elements; Floral Elements from Sahlin Studio’s Story Telling kit (sc flowers).

Bewitched.  I can’t seem to put my finger on it but there’s something about the town of El Nido that has left me enchanted from day one.

The town sits on a sheltered bay flanked by limestone cliffs on one side

and hills on the other.

A small town center charmed with tree-lined streets and towering cliffs in the background, a stunning vista it makes.

It still is very much a backpacker’s town really and it is this laid-back backpacking atmosphere that lured me back to many years after.

This charming fishing village in the northernmost tip of the Palawan Island often is referred to as the Last Frontier due to its rugged mystique.

How time flies… it took me 8 years to come back to one of my favorite towns.  I still remember many details of the town like it was yesterday.

El Nido has turned into a touristic town and I see that more exciting places to eat and stay have sprouted everywhere.

Madali ang pera dito kung masipag ka”, says Mang Rudy.

The opportunities are endless with tourism at the forefront here at El Nido and money can indeed be easy if one works hard.

The one place I would have loved to go back to, we heard no longer serve meals on a regular basis.  Walking to town, we unwittingly found the house so we entered the half-opened gate and were told that they don’t accept dinner bookings anymore.  We took it as that.  On hindsight, I am not sure if they meant that they were already full for the holidays or that they weren’t serving because it was a holiday.  Having seen many closed shops and restaurants around Palawan during Easter break, this will not come as a  surprise.  Elm St Café is a cozy dining place set in a beautiful garden amidst a limestone backdrop so beautiful when lit at night.  The owners opened their home along Rizal Ave. and they served meals to those that booked in advance – usually a surprise, depending on what is found in the market that day.  They were the best of the best then, the ambiance and the element of surprise added to the experience and memories.

Not to fret though as there are a whole new lot to choose from, we barely scratched the surface, I think.  And here are some that caught our fancy.

La Salangane – more than the French meals, what had us coming back were the homemade flavored rums.

Ginger, apple, pineapple, pears, oranges, mangoes, even pepper –

wonderful flavors enjoyed in a relaxed atmosphere overlooking the Cadlao Mountain by the beach.

Made more special over sunset.  This is THE place to get your espresso fix as well.  Many of the places in E Nido, including our inn, do not even serve brewed coffee.

The Alternative Restaurant – mentioned by some French tourists we met on our way to El Nido, we decided to give it a shot.  The place was not easy to find as it does not look like much from the outside and we kept walking pass it.

On the 2nd floor though where the restaurant is, the ambience turned to cozy.  At one side overlooking the sea, a few sunken oval seats resembling a “bird’s nest” overhangs the beach – a cool place to hang out and watch the sunset, me thinks but A wasn’t as confident that the structure would hold us so we got ourselves a table instead.

Despite an extensive vegetarian choice, I had a pork dish with pasta – and it was pretty good.  Our French friends though were not as impressed.

Altrové Trattoria – saving the best for last.  This Pizzeria was the best of the lot in my books.

Made of fresh dough and cooked crisp in a brick-oven is perhaps the best pizza in town.  The place, unlike The Alternative, is hard to miss.  Beautiful façade of a place, the brick oven proudly stands at the ground floor.

A nicely decorated second floor is where the dining area is.

We enjoyed our antipasti of Beef Carpaccio and Baked Tomatoes on Mozzarella.

The seafood pasta dish was divine and the pizza, wonderfully crusty.  And to cap the evening… Limóncello, how can I not love this place?

To serve Limóncello in a town like El Nido, where electricity only runs from 2pm-6am, was impressive.  And this, dear friends, has easily landed on the top of my El Nido list, dining-wise.

Useful Info:

La Salangane
Serena Street
Barangay Buena Suerte
Contact:  (63) 916-648-6994
The Alternative
Serena Street
Barangay Buena Suerte
Contact:  (63) 917-896-3408
Altrove Trattoria
Hama Street
Barangay Masagana
Contact:  (63) 927-741-8016 

9 thoughts on “Rugged Mystique

  1. if and when tartare or carpaccio is on the menu, chances are that’s what i’m having that day 🙂 i simply loved those dishes.

    palawan is my top pi destination if and when i get back. it’s more to my taste i believe than boracay ever will be.


    1. Hi ewok, with the many places i’ve been to, i haven’t been to El Nido too. I am always planning but can’t seem to find friends with the same intension and schedule. This post makes me prioritize it, at all cost!


    2. Mine too. 🙂 Boracay has its own charm but unfortunately it has become over touristy for my taste. 😦


  2. All your shots are awesome, that one with the cliffs remind me of the Li River Cruise in Guilin, China years ago. Palawan’s limestone cliffs are really beautiful, it gave us the Underground River too. And your food plates with that pizza made me miss whatever pizza here in the metro.


    1. Yes, it does remind of Guilin and Halong Bay. Guilin’s cliffs, especially that of Yangshuo town wins hands down. 🙂


  3. Fantastic captures and what a gorgeous place — not to mention delicious looking food!! I want to go there! Thanks for sharing the beauty!! Have a great week, Jenn!


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