Known as the Surfing Capital of the Northern Philippines, San Juan simply bursts with life. Two surfing seasons, July to October and November to March, make it one of the coolest places to hang out, in these parts. However, after enjoying the riptide and the awesome “cowabunga” moments, it is a must to chill. Here are San Juan’s best places to do just that.
1. Get your greek on at Gefseis Greek Grill
Greek cheese, souvlaki, ouzo, saganaki and lamb – need I say more? After a hot day in the sun, the best thing to do is to eat your heart out and Gefseis specializes in this – Greek style! Owned by Vasily Polychornis, Gefseis Greek Grill is a legit food hub for all the rustic and all-natural Greek cuisine everyone loves. The place is serene with its blue and white decor and the open-air setup is best enjoyed with a group of friends or family while savoring every food item on the menu.
They have Greek-style pizza, sausages, grilled food, pasta, appetizers and of course desserts, that are truly Greek. Their list of beverages is as interesting as their food, too. A specialty is what is called “ouzo” – a Greek aperitif, infused with anise, that can be enjoyed with other flavors like peach, pear, apricot or plum. So after the waves, grab the grub at Gefseis Greek Grill. They are open from Monday to Sunday, 10:30 am to 11:00 pm.
Gefseis Greek Grill
Address: San Juan Surf Area Urbiztondo, 2514 San Juan, La Union
Facebook: Gefseis Greek Grill
2. Write poems at El Union Coffee
I guess everyone and anyone can have those sentimental moments, including surfers. If you wish to go literary and enjoy some alone time, writing in your journal or better yet, writing some poetry, El Union Coffee is the proper venue. Although having a hot cup coffee on a warm day sounds odd, given the climate in San Juan, there is nothing like getting inspiration from the elixir.
The good thing is El Union offers a variety of ways to enjoy this muse in a cup. From iced lattes, coco-nutty horchata, their white coffee “dirty white on ice”, or the good ‘ole reliable brew – El Union does it right. But, these concoctions are best enjoyed with dessert and the café serves indoor smores and their famed skillet cookie. These delights are freshly baked from the oven, so expect them to be warm and comfy. So, to have a moment to yourself, after tons of sun, drive to El Union Coffee.
El Union Coffee
Address: MacArthur National Highway, Barangay Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union
Facebook: El Union Coffee
3. Dig burgers? Mad Monkeys is the place for you
Burgers are the real deal. They’re juicy, complete with all the food groups, and they are the go-to tummy fillers, after an exhausting time on the ocean. Mad Monkeys take their burgers seriously by having only burgers on their menu and they do them right. Their Classic Burger has an inch-thick patty with gooey melted cheese and beer sauce (yes, beer sauce!)
Other items on their menu include the S.O.S., the Smokey BBQ Bacon and the BBLT. Their thick-cut fries and onion rings seal the deal, every time. Mad Monkeys is open from 12:00 noon to 11:30 PM.
Mad Monkeys Burgers
Address: Urbiztondo, 2514 San Juan, La Union
Facebook: Mad Monkeys
4. Burritos and Tequila? Say hello to Olas Banditos!
We've got the perfect hangover cure! Every Sunday starting tomorrow, Dec. 11, 8:30am, we will be serving our BREAKFAST...Posted by Olas Banditos on Saturday, 10 December 2016
Viva Mexico! For churros, burritos, tacos, flautas and quesadillas, enjoying some spice after a lot of sun and sand is a great option. After you and your friends have surfed your hearts out, head over to Olas Banditos. Their interior screams ‘surfer hangout’, with surfboards on its welcoming outer wall. The owner of the joint has been said to have partnered with a pro-surfer and San Juan Surf School owner, to create this food hub. Among their best-sellers are the fish burritos which are the perfect breakfast for a surfer, given their protein content and the carne asada burritos with beans and pork. The Ilocos Norte, filled with the all-time favorite longganisa (sausage), is also stuffed with fries.
Address: National Highway, Brgy. Urbiztondo, 2514 San Juan, La Union
Facebook: Olas Banditos
5. Enjoy the sunset by the bay at Le Point Bar PH
When the tide has settled, it is calming to watch the sun set at The Bay at Le Point Bar PH. This restobar is found in one of San Juan’s oldest resorts and is infused with both Filipino and French influences because it is owned by a Filipina and French couple. It is artsy and utterly relaxing and a well-known meeting spot for artists and photographers and of course, veteran surfers. Art and music jive with the panoramic view of the orange sky making your sunset moment, glorious. After all, the bay all about embracing the “Eat. Drink. Surf” lifestyle, which is Le Point Bar PH’s motto.
Sunset at The Bay
Address: Monaliza Surf Resort, Philippines Urbiztondo, La Union
Facebook: Le Point Bar PH
6. Satisfy your sweet cravings at Coast Call
Coast Call at the San Juan Surf Resort is known for its international dishes but it is their dessert that is most beloved. As a nightcap, after a day of surfing, dessert sounds pretty good. Among these sweet treats are their Choco Crumble and Oreo Cheesecake and they also serve milkshakes. One item on their menu that instantly aids the pain from the ocean is their toasted marshmallow drink. It combines Oreo cookies, chocolate ice cream and of course, wonderfully toasted marshmallows. Since it is a cold beverage, it is best enjoyed by the seashore, with friends, for that relaxing vibe.
Coast Call Kitchen & Bar
Address: #238 Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union
Website: Coast Call Kitchen & Bar
San Juan is more than just a surfing spot
San Juan, La Union, is now even more famous since surfers started setting up shops. Today, it is not just the sun, waves and sand that make this surf town an R&R haven. It is also the coming together of artists, musicians, locals and tourists, who have come to simply enjoy the surfer “ohana” culture.
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