In the past ten years, I have visited Boracay about eight times, and the three main reasons I keep returning on my most-visited beach in the country is 1) the beach is still spectacular with sands powdery and white (just know when to visit to appreciate--try avoiding peak season for some peace and quiet), 2) the company I am with always makes every trip memorable and fun, and 3) food, glorious food. Let's talk more about reason number three, as Boracay is one of those fantastic places where even just walking by the beachfront you can have your breezy, sunshine fix and get a tan, and have a marvelous spread of so many cuisines, the choices will overwhelm your palate.
Every visit is an opportunity to soak up on sun, have a toast during happy hour while the sun sets, and discover new flavors and dishes of both old and new restaurants. For this year, that delcious discovery is a leisuerly stroll away from Station 2's D'Mall (where I started my walk). At Station 3's Sands Hotel is a bright and crisp restaurant by the beachfront, and its formula of good coffee, generous servings of comfort food, and pleasure-filled desserts equates to a happy belly: The Sunny Side Cafe.
Almost a year old, the cafe opened last summer, and already has a following for their huge, fluffy pancakes -- exactly what two friends recommended for us to order, and so we did, among many other things. Their Chef Natalia Moran was around to recommend to us their specialties and must-tries, and here are our favorites from lunch. Quick tip: arrive at The Sunny Side hungry and with a big group so you can try many dishes and desserts, just as we did! This is best if you're in the island for a short trip, unless you want to go back every day to the cafe to try more things (which is what a friend did, she couldn't get enough of their pancakes).
And once our pancakes arrive, it's clear why customers love them. They huge, thick, and fluffy -- meant to be shared. A basic order of Giant Pancakes (P210) come as a pair, with whipped butter and muscovado syrup; they have eight more kinds of pancakes that come in classic and creative flavors, so we tried the Espresso and Caramel Pancakes (P290). They use espresso from their fresh-roasted coffee, and the combination was great with the dulce de leche and chantilly cream. Each piece was soft and thick, and our order so generous, it was shared by many (we were a table of ten and everyone got to try some).
A couple of soups to start our meal: Roasted Squash and Bacon Soup (P135), and Tomato Soup (P125). These two are my favorite kinds of soup, and I was more than delighted when my friends ordered these and let me have some. The tomato soup tastes very fresh and has that pinch and tang I look for in any tomato dish, while the squash is velvety, the bacon adding a tease of saltiness.
The Sunny Side Cafe has three grilled cheese sandwiches on their menu, and they all come with a smaller serving of their tomato soup, and an option to pair the sandwich with either a side salad or sweet potato hay (thin and crispy fried potato sticks). What is remarkable with their grilled cheese is their thick slices of brioche that comes straight from their own bakery. Soft upon bite, the Bacon and Mango Grilled Cheese (P390) was salty-sweet, a sandwich with a spread of mango jam made in-house, and mozzarella cheese. Other flavors are Grilled Three-Cheese Sandwich (P390) and Spicy Grilled Cheese (P345). If you want a refined version of Boracay's afterparty favorite, they offer The Sunny Side Chori-Burger (P290), a house made spicy chorizo sandwiched in brioche buns, with pepper jelly and some barbeque sauce on the side. It also has a serving of the potato hay--addicting to munch on!
More memorable than the sandwiches for me were the desserts, and I'm glad we were a table of ten to share different orders of sweetness. The very last item listed on the cafe's menu was the very first thing that got my attention: The Sunny Side Champorado (P250). It's not your mom's or lola's champorado, for sure -- the cafe's version is extra rich, using Malagos chocolate that hails from Davao. Fruit and protein sit side by side on top of the rice porridge: slices of mango, and bacon brittle made in-house. If that isn't interesting enough, they decide to serve it ala mode, with a small scoop of caramel ice cream! Extra rich, chocolatey and sweet, this big bowl is good for sharing.
We end our meal with a dessert quartet of muffins, cakes, and pies, and aiding me was my pretty cup of Flat White (P140), lovely to look at and even lovelier to sip in between bites of dessert. And so our sweet journey into sunshiney, sugary bliss was with bites and forkfuls of four items from the oven of Sunny Side Cafe: S'Mores Pie (P160), Calamansi Crumb Muffin (P90), Mango-Calamansi Pie (P150), and Espresso Cake (P150).
It was more than enough sugary sustenance for ten people (we did have those giant pancakes and champorado earlier!). The S'Mores is a straightforward classic of melty, sticky marshmallow goodness, while the calamansi muffin deliciously tart with its gooey center. It is more decadent and crumbly than that popular one located at a Station 2 cafe. The espresso cake is the lightest among the four, reminiscent of tiramisu, while the mango-calamansi pie is a personal favorite, taking some of my favorite local citrus and fruit for a sweet and tangy dessert.
Most of the time, travelers flock to Stations 1 and 2 of Boracay and stay there for the rest of their trip, but a little walk further and more food discoveries are in store for you, and some are gems that will make you come back for more. If brunch and happy comfort food is your tummy's type of thrill, then visit The Sunny Side Cafe on Station 3 to have some sunshine on your plate.
The Sunny Side Cafe is located at Sands Hotel, Beachfront of Station 3, Boracay. Like The Sunny Side Cafe in Facebook (/thesunnysideboracay) and follow on Instagram (@thesunnysideboracay).