Enjoying Smoke Resto in Boracay

Boracay is all about the beach, the sand and the sun. You don’t go here to primarily to enjoy food because you could practically eat anything when you’re in an island-paradise. But even people picky with their food will find what they prefer to eat in Boracay. Almost all major food chains are here. Greek, Persian, European, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Filipino and just about any palate grouping. You’ll find it in Boracay.

This fusion and profusion of food in Boracay is good. Really good. But it’s also a curse — when the time comes to choose which restaurant to eat in Boracay. And it becomes a challenge when there are a lot of you in the group, each one with a preference.

When we encountered this dilemma the last time we went to Boracay, we decided on a single, overriding criteria. No, it’s not about the most expensive or which one is fine dining. it’s also about the taste, but it’s primarily about which food or restaurant that we can’t find somewhere else.

Only in Boracay, so to speak.

There are a number of choices. One of the most recommended is the Smoke Resto. Or is it the Smoke Restaurant? The signage says Smoke Resto, but other people say Smoke Restaurant. We’d go with what’s written on the signage.

Smoke Resto is a hole-in-in-the-wall affair found at D’Mall in Station 2, obviously sandwiched between Stations 1 and 3. It’s a walking distance from all stations. We enjoy the feel of the sand tickling our soles when walking on the beach towards the restaurant. Some of our friends, those who didn’t enjoy “long” walks, chose to ride the tricycle or jeepney to D’Mall.

And once at the D’Mall, finding the Smoke Resto is not a walk in the park, or, er, the beach. There’s a main artery, a promenade of sorts, running through the middle of D’Mall from the “highway” to the beach. There’s a lot of restaurants, food outlets and other establishments along this artery, but Smoke Resto is not one of those. It takes a lot of sleuthing and searching, a process that could be fun or frustrating depending on your predisposition. If you’re going towards the beach, in the middle of D’Mall, the Smoke Resto is at the right side, a “block” parallel to the main artery.

The tables and chairs are made of wood. Old wood, cracked and far from smooth. Something that resembles a worn-out guitar, approaching abstract art, lies flat on one wall. Cases of beverage are stacked on one corner.

The Smoke Resto is space-challenged. The restaurant personnel at the other end could probably hear the food choices that you’re discussing, except that the hiss of the fierce stove fires drowns out the conversation.

This is true island dining. It’s just like carrying a barbecue grill on the beach, bringing in the cooler of meats, throwing some above the glowing charcoal, then kick back on the sand to enjoy a no-nonsense great time.

And the food is really good. And surprisingly affordable. Delicious lechon kawali. Beef salpicao. Chili chicken. Beef ‘n Mushroom. Some of the simple dishes we enjoyed at Smoke Grill.

Some of the things we’ve talked about here would probably deter the weak of heart, and stomach, from looking for Smoke Resto. Then there’s the general appearance of the restaurant. It’s exactly how we’ve initially described it, a hole-in-the-wall. Nothing fancy here. Just a small signage in front, a white oval bordering the word “Smoke”. Dimly lighted by yellow bulbs, the light coming from the stoves at the elevated kitchen, which could be easily mistaken as the cashier’s area, adds a warm color to the establishment. And, of course, some amount of smoke. Probably the reason why this joint is called the Smoke Resto. And we like it.

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