As ‘80s and ‘90s kids will remember, Tropical Hut was once a ubiquitous fast-food chain in the Philippines, but since then it’s been overshadowed by bigger brands like Jollibee and McDonalds and largely forgotten by younger consumers.
That is until a recent viral tweet inadvertently launched a wave of nostalgia that turned Tropical Hut into a trending topic:
“Tropical Hut in Escolta, ako lang ang customer nila (I’m their only customer),” @dyumidyepee tweeted on June 12, triggering an avalanche of retweets and comments from people waxing nostalgic about their childhood memories of the fast-food chain.
Tropical Hut first opened in 1962 as a coffee shop inside a supermarket that began offering its Tropical Hut Hamburger. In 1972, it was bought by the Que family, the same clan behind the Mercury Drug drugstore chain. It is thankfully still around, but the number of branches has dwindled to just a few key locations.
The chain’s newfound virality makes sense. While it’s remained virtually unchanged over the decades — like that uncle you see once a year during family reunions — Tropical Hut has somehow managed to withstand the test of time (and inflation), continuing to serve its OG burgers and other treats everyone loves and remembers. People are nothing if not creatures of habit, after all, and returning to an old favorite is always a source of comfort.
Plus, with a wave of supply chain shortages hitting McDonald’s and other chains recently, giving this good ol’ classic another chance seems like a sensible thing to do, especially for Gen Zs and other generations who may not have had the pleasure of biting into Tropical Hut’s gloriously generous burgers.
So, what’s good at Tropical Hut in 2022? Gather ‘round, kids, for a guide to some of the must-try items for first-timers (or those rediscovering an old love).
One of the best things about dining at Tropical Hut? Its penchant for out-of-the-box fast food menu items like their Clubhouse Sandwich, which looks like it belongs in a country club patio more than a fast-food chain. Offering a great deal of value for money, the Clubhouse Sandwich comes with a side of macaroni salad (another item not to be slept on), fries, and soda for PHP235 (US$4.40).
KFC coleslaw could never compete with the moreish and bang-for-your-buck portions of Tropical Hut’s macaroni salad. Tasty and creamy, this side treat is made with hefty pineapple chunks and real mayo, giving justice to the idea that fast food can actually taste like real food. While this comes as a side to most of their meals, you can purchase it a la carte for PHP71 (US$1.33).
Super Cheeseburger Classic
Nothing beats a classic — and the Super Cheeseburger Classic is something of a mascot for this chain, a great introduction to what Tropical Hut is really all about. A massive beef patty sandwiched between fluffy buns, and a heap of tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, and cheese — they just don’t make burgers like these anymore. For PHP207 (US$3.87), you can get this filling burger, along with a side of fries and soda.
True-blue Tropical Hut patrons know the Sili Burger (literally translates to Chili Burger), arguably Tropical Hut’s star item, as a generous patty that’s, um, peppered with chilies and topped with large portions of lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, and cheese. If you don’t mind a little kick to your burgers, the Sili Burger is an absolute must-try. Even film critic Philbert Dy gives it his seal of approval:
The Sili Burger is sold at PHP163 (US$3.05).
Move over Jollibee Aloha — the Hawaiian Glee has just about everything one can love in a Tropical Hut burger, plus a massive pineapple slice that goes atop its other components. At PHP229 (US$4.28), this comes with a side of macaroni salad, french fries and soda, ideal for those heavy lunches.
Perhaps Tropical Hut’s best-kept secret is the Spring Chicken, which can easily rival Max’s in terms of its tender, moist, flavorful meat and delicately crisp skin. While sold solo at PHP203 (US$3.79), you can purchase a Spring Chicken set with a soft drink for PHP229 (US$4.28).
Can you think of any other fast-food chain that serves spaghetti with buttered toasted bread? Tiny details like these are one of the reasons Tropical Hut is special, with the extra care they manage to provide customers that you just can’t quite get with major players such as Jollibee or McDonald’s for all their mega-chain efficiency. Get their sweet and meaty Filipino-style spaghetti at PHP86 (US$1.61) solo, or with fried chicken on the side at PHP152 (US$2.84).