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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

entry arrow8:41 PM | Food Roundup Dumaguete 2016: Mamita's Diner

I am an accidental foodie: I used to write a food column for a local paper and have written extensively about the Dumaguete food scene for national magazines and newspapers -- until I decided to discontinue the enterprise about four years ago. Still, people I know who visit Dumaguete keep asking me about the best places to go to eat, and I've found I no longer quite know the scene. A lot can change in half a decade. So I've decided to try a new approach this year and go about sampling the local food culture once more and document everything online in the course of twelve months. The city has grown and expanded enough in the years since 2011, and a significant part of what's happening food-wise has become unfamiliar to me. Consider this a personal adventure.

There has been, for some reason, an explosion of meat-loving eating places around Dumaguete in very recent years -- although ironically not a single one of them is a steakhouse of some reckoning. (Don't even mention Don Atilano, please.) For the most part, the explosion has centered on everybody's pork passion, which is not always a healthy thing -- and above all these, a hankering for all manner of lechon. Mamita's Diner, only a stone's throw away from the city police station along Cervantes Street, is perhaps one of the first to cash in on this food trend in Dumaguete, billing itself to be the place to go if one wanted the finest of Cebu's boneless lechon. I know people who swear by the delicacy of Mamita's lechon -- and not too long ago, I've sampled the spicy variety that seems to be the favorite, and found it much to my liking. There was a spicy earthiness to the bite of supple meat I had then -- but none of that, unfortunately, was to be had in my latest visit a few days ago. Perhaps it was due to the fact that the meat we got might have sat on the counter for much too long and had grown exceedingly cold, enough to lose the vibrancy we love in freshly made lechon. Still I consider this an anomaly; the diner has always been a lovely place to go. In itself, the place charms me with its intimacy (there are only four tables) and its curious eye for detail. Consider, for example, the tables and chairs -- just your ordinary carinderia prototype, but designed with an eye for an exquisite finish. That assures me very much of the proprietor's keeness to make this place work: it mixes no frills down-to-earthness with pleasant, well-designed air. The staff, too, is a gregarious and friendly bunch, which is always a plus. It has been a while since Manang Siony's, the city's legendary meat central, disappeared. Others have quickly taken its place, and I'd guess Mamita's is one of the more successful torchbearers for our continued meat madness. A quarter of the lechon priced at around P120. Placed my order at 7:00 PM. Order received at 7:15 PM.


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