If you’re walking along the seaside Boulevard in Dumaguete, the Philippine’s coolest little city and one of the best retirement/expat havens in the world, you have several options for getting some grub or a cold beer. Going in order along the 1.5 KM strip, there’s Allegre, Honeycomb, Why Not, Sans Rival, Casablanca, and a few others in the area. But one place that gets seriously slept on is Bogarts.
Part of the reason is that it’s not as high profile as the other places, so tourists often walk right by it without realizing it’s a good option to eat, drink, and chill. The outside façade of Bogarts is definitely not remarkable, as there is one long sign advertising the name with a photo of Humphrey Bogart and little else. Tucked in between a local Filipino food counter and a Bank, there is little else to signal that it’s a restaurant other than a couple of benches and chairs pulled up to three simple tables with blue plastic table clothes. But step inside the open resto/bar front into the shade, and you’ll see that there’s a little more going on.
Bogarts specializes in Austrian food and cold beer, and little else. They keep the prices moderate and project a no-nonsense and frills vibe, so for that reason, the older expats and retirees love it. They can sit and drink beer from 10 in the morning on at Bogarts without sticking out like a complete degenerate, and no one cares if they smoke cigarettes or stay for hours on end.
I’d describe the food at Bogarts as filling and very edible but not spectacular by any means. The annoying thing is that they don’t have actual menus, but write out all of their items in chalk on the walls. While that wouldn’t be terrible if it was all on one wall that was easy to see, the menu is actually spread out over three or four walls, and the patrons sitting down are in the way, so you’re scanning the fine print on every wall of the restaurant to figure out what you want.
It’s ok because I usually just go for a mango/banana shake (no sugar) and an omelette, which they can’t mess up. I’ve also tried their shepherds pie, salami sandwich, schnitzel, and a few other Austrian dishes but I find them pretty unimpressive. But, again, cheap enough and filling. I think they’re better in the beer department because the prices are good – and even better for happy hour – and they serve ‘em cold.
But there is one really cool thing about Bogart’s – I talked to the Austrian owner for a while the other day (nice guy), and he took me through a sketchy back hallway and door to their new bar space, which is awesome! The space looks about twice as big as the restaurant front, with a really high ceiling and laid out in a modern industrial motif (probably unintentionally). They have several benches with cushions and a full circular bar. The owner told me that they just opened and they’ll staff it at night for now, and I’m excited to come back there one night and hang out!