Why Not – The Restaurant

There aren’t many decent bars in Dumaguete, nor are there first class restaurants. The bad news is that Why Not – a multi-faceted business that’s become a notorious institution in Dumaguete – is neither of those things, although it tries. It’s definitely hard to miss Why Not because what it does have is a prime location, located right on the popular Rizal Boulevard that faces the sea. That lineup from Bethel Guesthouse all the way to Bos Coffee about one kilometer down the road (with about 20 bars, restaurants, hotels, a 7-11, and a few other businesses in between) is the most-traveled road by tourists and locals alike. In fact, every sunset, the pedestrian walkway along the seawall, with its park-like grassy area under the Acacia trees, is packed with people strolling, eating, watching the sunset, and just enjoying the community.

The Restaurant “Why Not” – Full Review

So other than a prime location, what does Why Not have? If you read the sign out front, it says that it is a restaurant, deli, travel agency, internet café, and, oh yeah, a night club. To make it even more confusing, the building is basically split in two – including the restaurant – with the main bar entrance and hallways down the middle. Whew. Deep breath.

All of those businesses and pseudo-businesses aside, I’ve tried the restaurant more than the others. Usually, I sit outside, where there are about 4 or 5 round tables that can accommodate four people, and, on the other side of the split, a row of small tables no bigger than a large nightstand with a chair on either side. Most of the seats are facing the street, which allows patrons to people watch on the road.

There’s also a proper indoors restaurant with tables and booths, but I’ve only eaten inside once, and I prefer to sit outside.

Ask for the menu at Why Not and you’ll get a document that rivals the Magna Carta. They seriously have page after page of options, from traditional Filipino food to Thai dishes, a few Indian food items, some American cuisine, and definitely a lot of European grub. While at first, it seems like a Godsend that Why Not serves so much variety among the limited Duma food scene, after trying a good sampling I would say that the food should be rated about a 7 out of 10. It’s good but not great, but some items are even good-ish. But the good news is that the portions are solid for most items, so you’ll definitely fill up, and the prices are consistent with a mid-range restaurant (about $5 a meal or main dish on average). The staff can be overworked with all of that running around inside-outside and trying to make so many foreigners happy, but I’ve found that if you are sweet to them, they usually respond in kind and will remember you. Two more quick things to note: their breakfasts are probably the best part of the Why Not menu, and they have a buffet on the weekends, or my regular favorite is the giant and super delish banana/mango pancake. At night, it’s a perfect place to grab a beer and watch the street, but don’t ever order a mixed drink or liquor out there – they once brought me a Jack Daniels that literally barely was enough liquid to cover the bottom of the glass. When I protested, they insisted that it was a full shot glass. So when I asked for the supervisor to bring me the shot glass, they brought me a thimble-sized cup – all for a pretty hefty price compared to other local places. So stick to the food and the beer at Why Not – and definitely double down on the fruit pancakes!

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Norm Schriever is a blogger, Amazon best-sellling author, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone. His work appears in the Huffington Post,, Good Morning America, The Anderson Cooper Show on CNN, NBC, MSN, Yahoo,, and media all around the world.
Norm grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut, where he was never accused of overstudying. After expatriating to Costa Rica in 2011, he started traveling the world and documenting what he saw. He now lives in Southeast Asia, writing his heart out and working with local charities.

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