Grand Central Suites

Fields Avenue Hotel

TYPE: Full Service Hotel
RESERVATIONS: Highly Recommended
ROOM TYPES: 20 Rooms — Standard, Deluxe, Suites & Jacuzzi
RATES: See Attached PDF, prices as of Mar. 18, 2014
PAYMENT: Cash & Credit Card with additional 5% surcharge
LOCAL PHONE #: (045) 331-1820
ROOM SERVICE: Available from Gotham Bar & Cafe during business hours, plus numerous other surrounding restaurants that are open 24hrs.
LOCATION: See Map Below


View Grand Central Suites in a larger map

Grand Central Suites in the Heart of Walking Street

If you’re traveling to Angeles City and want to be in the very center of the nightlife scene then Grand Central Suites is a place you should look into for accommodations. This hotel was formerly known as the Orange Lion, but it has been completely renovated inside and out over the past year and a half by the new owners. If you’re looking for a mid-range hotel right in the middle of Fields Avenue, then Grand Central is a place you should consider.

An additional floor has been added making it a 3 story building with 20 rooms in total. All of the rooms have been refurnished to a high, luxurious standard that include Serta mattresses from the U.S., hard wood or tiled floors, leather furniture and large flat-screen TVs.

Grand Central Suites

Standing Out in a Crowd

While there are other hotels in the area and more being built, Grand Central seems to be focusing on standing out from the others in the area whom you would hardly notice if you weren’t looking.

Patio

The large, outdoor patio seating with Gotham Bar and Cafe and a coffee and juice bar is the first difference that sets it apart from other hotels in the surrounding vicinity. While this concept didn’t seem like a viable or attractive option a few years ago, the city’s beautification and renovation of Fields Avenue project now makes this a hot spot to relax and watch the world go by during the day or at night. It’s one of only a handful of establishments that offer this type of outdoor seating and its location and set up put you closer to the action than the other options.

Well Appointed Rooms at Attractive Prices

I was skeptical of what the rooms at Grand Central would look like but was pleasantly surprised at the two rooms I had an opportunity to see. I was able to view a Deluxe room and a Suite. Both rooms were much nicer than I had imagined and were more than fairly priced when compared to what other hotels are charging.

A walk-through of the Suite room can be seen below:


Serta Bed

The rooms were spacious, clean, nicely and simply decorated in warm and dark colors. All furnishings were solid and the beds are U.S. Serta mattresses that are extremely comfortable.

Leather Couch

Both rooms I saw had a leather couch and ottoman in the sitting area where you can view the 42″ flat screen TVs. The main differences between the Deluxe and Suite rooms was the overall size. The Suite room also has a separate sleeping area and additional 42″ TV as well as an upgraded bathroom setting. 

Suite Room

The bathrooms and showers in each room were large and shower areas had rain forest shower heads.

Restroom

Each of these rooms also had a balcony facing the back which was a nice touch giving the rooms additional natural lighting, but not much in the way of scenery. Opting for one of the 9 rooms with balconies facing Walking Street offers better viewing but more noise due to the area being a hot spot of bars and clubs.

Back of Grand Central Suites

The Deluxe room for 3000 (approximately $67.42) and Suite room  3750 (approximately $84.27) are fair prices for a mid-range, full service hotel of this quality in this location.

A walk-through of the Deluxe room can be seen below:

Additional Amenities

Grand Central also provides it guests with:

  • Free WiFi
  • Cable TV
  • Air Conditioners
  • Refrigerators with mini-bar snacks
  • Toiletries
  • CCTV security system

Refrigerator

It’s important to note that an elevator has been installed but is yet to be in working order. If you have issues with walking up a couple of flights of stairs please take note. Staff are hopeful that this issue will be fixed in the very near future.

Overall Impression

Grand Central Suites is a very attractive option if you plan on eating and hanging out mostly in the Walking Street area during your visit to Angeles City. Their location simply cannot be beat as you are right in the middle of the action.

There are more than enough restaurants, shops, clubs and bars in the surrounding area and nothing is more than a 10 minute walk away. You can really minimize your transportation costs by staying at Grand Central Suites.

I’ve watched this hotel go from being the dark and small Orange Lion to the well lit, nicely designed hotel that stands today. While there have been construction and restaurant issues in the past, it finally seems as if Grand Central has found it’s identity and is poised to become a well known hotel in the ever changing landscape of Fields Avenue and Angeles City.

Fake Books

It’s rare not to see one of the owners on site and the staff is a friendly, knowledgeable and helpful group who do their best to make sure your needs as a guest are met.

Pretty Girl

If you are planning a visit to Angeles City in the near future, be sure to consider Grand Central Suites for your lodging. They offer a comparable experience to some of the more expensive hotels in the area.

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S&R Pizza

Combo Pizza

The Quest for U.S. Style Pizza in Asia

One food that is never quite right in Asian countries is pizza. In the Philippines there’s strange toppings like canned tuna, canned corn, pineapple and processed cheese instead of mozzarella. Hawaiian pizza is the pie of choice in the Philippines.

I was born and raised in the Chicagoland area and was brought up on some of the best pizza in the world. The best you can do in Asia are places like:

  • Pizza Hut
  • Shakey’s
  • Sbarro
  • Greenwich

Once in a while you can find an Italian restaurant that does a nice pizza. While these choices are ok, they are a far cry away from a Chicago deep dish pizza or even a New York style pizza. It can be extremely frustrating and disappointing if you live in this part of the world for an extended period of time when you have a pizza craving.

S&R Warehouse Shopping

S&R is a warehouse shopping experience almost exactly like Costco or Sam’s Club in the United States. There is a yearly membership fee that costs 700 pesos (approximately $16.00 per year). A branch near Angeles City finally opened in neighboring San Fernando. Before this you had to travel all the way to Manila with coolers of ice in a day long, traffic induced, 4-hour round trip nightmare.

But it was always worth the traffic and distance to bring home a pizza that looked and tasted just like the one’s you can get at Costco or Sam’s Club. Fortunately that trip now takes about 1 hour round trip with the opening of the San Fernando branch.

S&R Prepared Foods

Like Costcos and Sam’s Clubs, S&R has a food kiosk and eating area after you check out. They carry many similar items you’ll be familiar with if you’ve ever eaten at Costco or Sam’s Club.

Lines

Some items you can get are:

  • New York Style Pizzas (Pepperoni, Combo, Cheese, Garlic Shrimp & occasional specialty flavors)
  • American Style 100% Beef Hot Dogs
  • Calzones
  • Baked Rolls (Chicken & Beef)
  • Cheeseburgers
  • French Fries
  • Salads
  • Soup
  • Roasted & Fried Chicken
  • Ice Cream & Deserts
  • Coffees

More Foods

New York Style Pizza

First, this is not New York style pizza but that’s what they call. I for one am thankful it’s not New York style pizza. There’s nothing worse than that sloppy, floppy, greasy New York style pizza in my opinion. What’s great about trying to pick up an over-sized piece of pizza and watching the toppings slide off onto the floor before you even get a bite?! But maybe that’s the Chicagoan bias in me. 

The pizza at S&R is virtually identical to what you get at Costco and Sam’s Club. If I didn’t see them making them behind the counter I’d swear they were importing them in from the States. The crust is not too thick and not too thin. The sauce is your typical, familiar Italian style and the toppings taste exactly like you would expect from an American pizzeria. In fact, this is the closest American style pizza you can find in the Philippines. More importantly they are using a quality mozzarella cheese and aren’t being skimpy about it.

Cheese

While I enjoy the hot dogs as my go to meal when I’m there, the pizza is the best thing on the menu and I usually order 1 or 2 to take home to freeze. They reheat amazingly well in a toaster oven and I always try to keep a steady supply in stock.

Pizza by the slice costs 99 pesos (approximately $2.23) with whole pies available for 499 pesos (cheese, approximately $11.21), 549 pesos (all other flavors, approximately $12.33) and 599 pesos (specialty/seasonal, approximately $13.46). The slices and whole pies are huge, larger than a typical American large pizza. If you’ve eaten Costco or Sam’s Club pizza you’ll understand.

Other Flavors

A membership at S&R for access to the pizza alone is worth the $16 per year plus you can shop in the warehouse store. The 30 minute drive to San Fernando is well worth the trip. I hope the success of this S&R branch reaches corporate heads and they open a branch on the Global Gateway Logistics City complex in the Clark Freeport Zone near Angeles City. I think they would do well in pizza sales alone due to the number of foreigners and ex-pats calling Angeles home who can only get mediocre, expensive pizzas here.

If you’re missing great American style pizza then S&R is the spot that will bring back memories of home!

S&R is located near SM Pampanga on Jose Abad Santos Avenue in San Fernando is open to members 7 days a week from 9am to 9pm.

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J. Co Donuts & Coffee

Donut Franchises in the Philippines

Donut franchises in the Philippines and South East Asia are big business and the latest player to enter the marketplace is Indonesian company J. Co. They are expanding rapidly across the region and competing successfully with more well-known brands in the area like:

  • Krispy Kreme
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Mister Donut

Currently J. Co is opening roughly 30 stores a year and have a presence  in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and China.

Peacock

The J. Co Phenomenon

Pampanga saw the opening of their first J. Co store at SM Pampanga in San Fernando, a short 20 minute drive from Angeles City. Signs at Marquee Mall in Angeles City suggest that construction of a J. Co store is “Coming Soon,” which could mean anything from a few weeks, months, years or not at all.

Based on what I saw the first few weeks when the SM Pampanga branch opened, customers can expect 2 hour long lines at the Marquee Mall branch when it opens until the hype winds down.

San Fernando Location

I recently dropped in to the SM Pampanga branch again and was able to walk right in, order my donuts and coffee in less than 10 minutes. I even found a seat inside which was nearly impossible on the first visit. While the hype has certainly died down, the donuts remain a special treat that everyone should experience at least once.

Artisan Donuts with Clever Names

The donuts at J. Co have names like Alcapone, Tiramisu, Choconuttzy, Jcoccino and Mona Pisa. While the names may seem a little goofy, the donuts are artistic masterpieces that are just as pretty to look at as they are delicious to eat. Their flavors are unique, unexpected and delightfully different than what you get at other chains.

Artisan Donuts

Individual donuts are 42 pesos (approximately $0.94) each, 1/2 dozen 230 pesos (approximately $5.15), 1 dozen 350 pesos (approximately $7.74) and 2 dozen 550 pesos (approximately $12.30).

Store Interior

The decor of the store interior is very warm and cozy. Comfy faux leather bound seats and wood and iron legged tables are inviting resting spots to enjoy your donut creations and beverages. For some reason this chain seems more inviting and comfortable to me than any Krispy Kreme or Starbucks I’ve visited.

Warm & Cozy

Italian Coffees & Frozen Yogurt

J. Co is not just donuts. They have an extensive drink list of Italian blended coffees, cappuccinos, lattes, frappee cappuccinos, non-coffee drinks, teas and frappes. They also have some frozen yogurt selections with various toppings, but the donuts are the real draw.

Drinks

Continued Expansion & Success

J. Co seems to be in a position to continue their successful run due to their unique brand and flavors of donuts. Their success in infiltrating surrounding Asian countries is somewhat of a rare feat that is usually only attained by large, Western corporations.

Donut Creations

It’s refreshing to see a quality product and success story originating in this part of the world. Perhaps J. Co will even spread to the U.S. as their success continues and branches like Krispy Kreme continue to die out in the United States. In my opinion J. Co is the best donut chain in the world right now. If you find yourself in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philipines, Singapore or Shanghai, China make sure you stop by for a delectable donut from J. Co.

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Rating: 8.0/10 (5 votes cast)

Walter’s Bistro

Drop-Ins

I eat a lot of meals at home, but I often find myself running errands and stopping by smaller restaurants and cafes for a quick snack or even a full meal. In most of these cases I’m unprepared or just not in the mood to do a full SleepEatGolf review.

Sometimes these places really don’t warrant a full-on review, but that’s not to suggest that they aren’t putting out delicious food. I’ve decided to do some smaller reviews I’m calling “Drop-Ins.” These will be my initial thoughts and impressions of places I drop-in to when I’m out and about.

If they really pique my interest or I think they’re something special, I’ll head back at a later date and do a full SleepEatGolf review.  At a minimum, I hope these Drop-In reviews provide you with some new information of places you may be overlooking.

Dropping-In on Walter’s Bistro

One day while trying yet another Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich at a place called Banh Mi Ngon, I noticed that next door was a small cafe with six or eight Europeans eating, drinking and talking in what I perceived to be German. I was immediately intrigued by this place as I love German food, but don’t eat it nearly as much as I’d like. I decided to head back there the next time I was looking to eat out in order to investigate further.

Tonight I dropped in to Walter’s Bistro. I was surprised that there was no indoor seating and at the small size of the menu. There’s a breakfast menu featuring American, German and Filipino breakfast plates and a snacks menu.

The snacks menu consisted of:

  • Hungarian Goulash Soup with bread — 145 pesos (approximately $3.25)
  • 2 Vienna Sausages with mustard and bread – 145 pesos (approximately $3.25)
  • Toast Hawaii (ham, cheese & pineapple) — 155 pesos (approximately $3.48)
  • German Bratwurst with bread — 130 pesos (approximately $2.92)
  • Käse Kreiner with bread – 130 pesos (approximately $2.92)
  • Currywurst with french fries – 185 pesos (approximately $4.16)
  • Nürnberger Bratwurst with sauerkraut and bread — 160 pesos (approximately $3.60)

On Saturdays there’s a special schweinebraten dinner available for 290 pesos (approximately $6.50) that includes salad and dumpling as well as daily specials. Alcoholic drinks and imported German beers are also available.

My order was the Nürnberger Bratwurst with sauerkraut and bread for me and Currywurst with french fries for the girlfriend with 2 bottles of soda. The waitress grilled our sausages on the gas grill right in front of us.

Nürnberg

Both dishes were much better than we both expected. The bratwurst were small, but full flavored. The sauerkraut was delicious and was a great accompaniment to the sausages. German brown bread is always good.

The Currywurst was plump, juicy, mildly flavored and had a nice, slightly sweet and spicy curry sauce on top. The fries were crisp.

Plump Sausage

While the portions were rather small, the price was right. I wanted to try the Käse Kreiner with bread, Hungarian Goulash Soup with bread, or Vienna Sausages with mustard and bread but unfortunately all were sold out for the day.

The total bill with tip was 445 pesos (approximately $10.00). I think Walter’s Bistro is great little spot for a light German meal, quick snack or a place to enjoy a few specialty beers. I will definitely be back and hope the other sausages are just as tasty and authentic as what I tired tonight.

Walter’s Bistro is located on Perimeter Road in Angeles City between The American Hotel and ABC Hotel, next door to Banh Mi Ngon. Look for the German man holding a mug of beer statue out front.

Beer

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Rating: 4.3/10 (3 votes cast)