Spot Cool Stuff has been to many restaurants that are next to a waterfall. We’ve even been a few that are above a waterfall. But we’ve only seen one restaurant that’s in a waterfall.
At the uncreatively-named Waterfalls Restaurant near the city of San Pablo in the Philippines, the Labasin Falls literally flows through the eating area. The water tumbles down nearly on top of the diners, passes below the (strongly bolted down) tables and then continues flowing on its way down a river.
Granted, the Labasin Falls themselves are not exactly a world class scenic wonder à la Niagara or Iguazu. It is not even a natural waterfall—the cascading water is simply spillover from a dam. But the visual and auditory effect that the falling water creates is completely wonderful. All that running water also has the advantage of cooling down the restaurant goers—no small thing in the heat of a Filipino day.
There’s something else we love about the Waterfalls Restaurant: the food.
The Philippines, in the opinion of this blog, is one of the planet’s worst travel countries for food†. At the very least, it is one of the worst in Asia. (And we say that as big fans of the country in general.) Why the Philippines, with its lush habitat and its rich mix of cultural influences, has such a generally poor quality of cuisine we don’t know. But exploring the country is generally a slog through meal mediocrity. Until you get to a rare place like the Waterfalls.
Nearly all the offerings at the Waterfalls Restaurant has . . . what’s that thing food is supposed to have? Oh yeah, taste. The ingredients are local and fresh. Most of the dishes consist of fish, meats and fruits, roasted and spiced and served with rice or pancit noodles. There’s a variety of local drinks too, including exotic juices and coconut milk.
Best of all, the food is all served buffet style. So you don’t need to know anything about local cuisine to order. Simply scope out the offerings and choose what you’d like.
The Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort
The Waterfalls Restaurant is part of the Villa Escudero Resort. It’s a lovely place to spend a few days even apart from its aquatic eatery. The resort occupies a former coconut plantation. The dam, in fact, was the Philippines’ first hydro electric project and was originally built to power said plantation.
In 1981, the plantation was transformed into a tourist destination. Soon thereafter, the resort opened as a sort of culture-cum-recreation park. Guests can paddle traditional bamboo rafts along the river, tour a nearby native village, watch a local dance show and go on a bird watching expedition. There’s also a museum, swimming pool and other sports facilities.
Our favorite of the Villa Escudero’s overnight options are the bamboo cottages. They are scenically set along the river (above photo) and feature private porches for hanging out in a hammock (below pic). The cottages don’t have A/C, but between the fans and river breezes we found it plenty cool enough to sleep at night. The resort does have air conditioned western style hotel rooms, though compared to the cottages they’re both more expensive and less interesting.
The grounds of the Villa Escudero also has a few other places to eat besides the Waterfalls Restaurant. But they aren’t nearly as cool-looking. Or as wet.
† Of course, it isn’t that every single meal in every single restaurant in the entire country is terrible. But the majority of it is bland. There’s a reason why Europe and America are filled with Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants while Filipino joints are rare.
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Planning your trip
When: The Waterfalls Restaurant is open for lunch only. Check with the resort for the exact hours.
If you go: Your feet and legs will get wet—choose footwear with this in mind. We’d recommend wearing a swimming suit.
Family friendly? Very much so. Though you do have to watch younger children playing in the rushing waters at the zenith of the falls, the water around the tables is more akin in a kiddie pool.
For your bookshelf: Philippines: Islands of Enchantment
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