For the second time in a row, Davao’s Huckleberry Southern Kitchen & Bar makes it to the exclusive Philippine Tatler’s Best Restaurants Guide (BRG).
Huckleberry was the only restaurant from Davao in the 2016 list and the only one from Mindanao. Huckleberry opened in January 2015 and has then made it to Tatler‘s BRG annually.
The 2017 edition of the BRG has the most recognition of Mindanao restaurants with four in the list. The other three are Marco Polo Davao’s The Lotus Court, The White House, and Seda Abreeza’s Misto.
The Best Restaurants Philippines Guide 2017 winners were announced last January 17 at the Bonifacio Hall of Shangri-La Residences at the Fort in Taguig, Metro Manila. More than 300 guests comprising the country’s top restaurateurs, hoteliers, chefs and gourmands came in full force to see which are this year’s must-try culinary gems across the country. Tatler‘s BRG lists 172 of the best restaurants from all over the Philippines across every cuisine imaginable.
To arrive at the Tatler list of best restaurants, every restaurant had been rated in four key areas – setting, food, wine and service. The system is used by all Philippine Tatler BRG reviewers. To ensure that the experience was as close to that of a regular diner, each venue was reviewed anonymously during the compilation of the guide. The final ratings are a result of the reviewer reports, plus the general recommendations of the Philippine Tatler’s Editorial Panel.
“We are glad and very proud to be recognized having opened for just two years and making it to the list both years,” said co-owner Chris Pamintuan, who is also the Chairman and CEO of Apo View Hotel, who runs and owns Huckleberry with his cousin Kim.
The 2017 Tatler recognition reflects how the restaurant stays true to its culinary blueprint, keeping dishes and drinks satisfying in every visit.
Huckleberry is the only restaurant in this side of the country that is home to contemporary flavors of the American South and soul food.
“We opened as a Southern US restaurant with food from the deep south and we won’t digress,” Pamintuan said, recalling Huckleberry’s humble beginnings and how it easily fit right in Davao City as a food destination, thanks to the local’s similar fondness on fried and straightforward food such as barbecues, shellfish and rice and how the food pairs perfectly with whiskey, especially ones from Kentucky and Tennessee.
Co-owners Chris and Kim Pamintuan work closely with partners Executive Chef Kenneth Villaluz and restaurateurs Vince and Tricie Arcenas to run the restaurant the way it was intended when it opened last January 2015: to serve good food and drinks with no fuss.
The humble restaurant offers simple, filling dining experiences with fares that excite foodies and regular diners alike. Classic, all-time Huckleberry favorites are the Southern Fried Chicken with Waffles, Louisiana Stew with Rice, and Fresh Oysters from Aklan.
Newcomers include the restaurant’s Squid Ink Pasta, Pulled Pork Spring Rolls, and the Beignets à la Café du Monde, plus ever-changing specials such as this month’s Fried Catfish with Spaghetti in Crab Fat and Grilled Pork Shoulder keep diners interested and coming back.
“The BRG is all about the best dining experiences, which, essentially could be casual—such as a gastropub or bistro,” said Shauna Jay Popple, Philippine Tatler marketing and special projects manager. “It’s about leaving the table satiated, fulfilled and impressed with the experience.”
Huckleberry prides in sticking to serving drinks that go well with straight up comfort food.
The restaurant’s extensive range of whiskey and tequila—flown from the US—make every drinking glass a feast. Their housemade infused rum also give staple cocktails a local punch; each rum infusion uses real mangosteen, santol, pineapple, mango, ginger, sili, and cacao.
Apart from the good food and drinks, Huckleberry’s carefully designed spaces keep patrons coming back for more. Huckleberry is located in the heart of Davao City, in a picturesque area of the Oboza compound, reminiscent of the houses in the Garden District of New Orleans.
Huckleberry’s garden offers a cool, laid-back ambience ideal for enjoying ice-cold beer under the stars. Its indoor bar and restaurant, bathed with warm lighting, sets an intimate mood for dinners and late night drinks, while the other dimly lit bar gives off a more relaxed and private drinking ambience for those who want to unwind and just enjoy themselves.
The sound of clinking glasses and incessant chatter on busy nights complement the range of different music played in the restaurant whether it’s blues, house, r&b, classic rock, or modern Americana, making Huckleberry a place that’s also pleasant for the ears.
“The restaurant and dining scene in the Philippines has improved significantly in the past year and we want to keep getting better too,” Pamintuan said.
Huckleberry remains in the Tatler list because there is no other restaurant just like it.