As I roamed around checking out the brand new J Center Mall in Mandaue City, Cebu, which never seems to have many people in it yet, I happened upon a thematic “diner” style restaurant. And my experience with highly themed or gimmicky restaurants in Philippines is that the food fucking sucks, and the owners just rely on the one-off customer who is drawn in by the gimmick, eats, then never returns. And those restaurants never last very long.
But I found one that I hope lasts a long long time. Because my experience there was sorta like a short trip back home to the USA. It’s a 50’s diner style (well mostly, there’s some decor in there that just doesn’t really fit, if you want to get picky about the decor). It’s called “District 50” and the atmosphere is quite comforting. But on my first visit there, I certainly was not expecting the food to be any good. And I certainly wasn’t expecting to ever return. But I was starving and needed some calories.
The place was nearly empty. Only one other table was occupied, so I got a menu, which was pages on a clipboard. Thumbing through the menu I was pleasantly surprised, and so far impressed.
They serve drinks from sodas to beer, cocktails and hard liquor. They offer a ribeye steak (haven’t tried it yet), and several other American comfort meals. But I decided I wanted to try one of their five specialty burgers. They’re all offered in quarter pound and half pound sizes (double 1/4 lb patties).
The place does possess the Flip Factor. Had to call a server over to take our order. Only two tables occupied and the burgers took a good 25 minutes to arrive. But when they did arrive, visually I was once again pleasantly surprised. It looked delicious, AND IT WAS! The beef patty tasted like some quality ground beef you picked up at your local meat shop in Texas. It was perfectly grilled on an open flame, juicy as fuck, and tasted just like the burgers I used to make on my backyard grill in the USA. The bun perfectly toasted warm, slight crunch on the outer crust, fresh, warm and soft bread in the middle. It didn’t take long for the bun bottom to be pretty saturated with the juices flowing from the burger. And you know what they say….the messier the burger, the better tasting it is. And it was.
As for the fries, well, just your standard “Restaurant French Fries”. They weren’t bad, and they were an acceptable accompaniment to the burger.
The replica of Herbie The Love Bug adds an nostalgic touch, and certainly is an eye-catcher for passers-by. It certainly made me walk in and check the place out. It’s been modified with a table inside and you can actually eat your meal sitting in the back seat. But that wasn’t going to be me.
On my first visit, I had the half pounder burger which was fucking enormous. (sorry I didn’t get any pictures of it). Way too tall to fit in my mouth. After attempting the second bite, I had to just set it back down on the wooden plank and finish eating it with the fork and steak knife which is stuck down the center of the burger as part of the presentation. I then understood why.
After years of trying burgers in the Philippines and being disappointed with that weird taste they have (like a garden burger, and texture like ground cardboard), you can imagine how delighted I was to have found this most excellent burger.
All in all, this is the best damn burger I have ever had in my 11 years here. Again, it was a little bit like being back at home for a while. If you’re hungry, get the half pound size of whatever burger you select. You will have a feast, and you will really enjoy it.
I do plan to return and try the Ribeye and other menu items. When I do, I’ll share it in another post.
District 50 is near the rear part of the mall on the 2nd floor at J Center Mall, A.S. Fortuna Street, Mandaue City. It’s somewhat close to the Bureau Of Immigration inside the mall.
Find them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/District50