Visit Kantorini, the Santorini of Katipunan

Your next adventure is just down the road. Specifically, Katipunan Avenue.

by Philbert Dy

Who needs Greece when you’ve got a food park on the side of a major thoroughfare?

People who don’t have the time or the resources for a romantic getaway to Santorini now have an equally Instagrammable option: Kantorini, a food park that is on the lovely shores of Katipunan. It is just like going to Santorini, minus the beaches, the mild weather, the crystal clear water, the history, the Greek culture, or any of the other things one might associate with the island. But if you squint, some of those kiosks do mimic some of the distinctive architecture found there, so it counts.

Kantorini is walkable from the Katipunan LRT station, but nobody should ever do that. It is, after all, on the banks of one of Quezon City’s busiest arteries. That seemingly short stroll takes one through an urban sprawl that might leave one too disheveled for proper Instagramming. And one assumes this is the main reason anybody would want to visit Kantorini.

Once there, you are greeted with an unpaved parking lot, presumably a tribute to all the great unpaved parking lots of Greece. Come early, because it is not a particularly big unpaved parking lot. Once you make it past that rocky expanse, your feet will marvel at the flatness of the gray concrete flooring. Take a look around, and awe at the blue-and-white structures meant to evoke the feeling of traveling to some far-off place. Try to ignore the SMDC condominium looming over the park. It is not part of the experience.

Do try to go there on a sunny day. Not only does this help maintain the illusion that you are not in fact on the side of Katipunan Avenue, but it will make your overall experience much more pleasant. You see, despite coming late to the food park game, Kantorini doesn’t seem to have learned any lessons from its twenty or so predecessors. Majority of the seating in the park does not have any rain cover at all. This is one of those charming design decisions that can make the food park dining experience so unique. If it’s raining and you don’t have an umbrella, you’re going to have to skirt the edges of the food park, finding shelter under the meager awnings that hang over each of the vendors.

Food.

Unless, of course, you want to recreate your favorite running-in-the-rain moment from your favorite romantic comedy. You’re in Kantorini, after all. If you want drinks, you’re going to have to brave the rain anyway, since the bar is an island in the middle of the open-air area. Like every other food park, the bar serves soft drinks, beers, and cocktails in absurdly large containers. On a rainy day, though, they bring the added adventure of trying to keep rainwater out of your beverages.

Integral to any travel experience is trying out the local cuisine. Kantorini boasts a wide selection of dishes that might be best described as “food park standard.” You’ve got your place that sells fancy burgers. There’s a place that sells skewers. There’s a bingsu stall. There are lots and lots of chicken wings. We tried several of the stalls, and we can confirm that they are, indeed, food.

So come visit Kantorini, the next best thing to traveling to Greece, if you don’t like Greece. Take your picture by one of the blue domes, and participate in the general delusion that all of this means something.