When MECQ rules ease off and travel bans are lifted, plan a trip to Iloilo City, where eating is always a festival
Among the many cities and provinces that claim the title “food capital of the Philippines,” Iloilo is one most worthy of the epithet. The charming province in the Western Visayan region has always been a place of sensory pleasure, especially for the palate.
Iloilo has a way of capturing the hearts of travelers through their stomachs and their taste buds. More than the tourist sights and activities, food spots, where “namit gid (very good)!” punctuates every experience, are what makes up the very heart of the heart-shaped island of Panay, and one can map out the treasures and pleasures of Iloilo by the locations—some secret, others widely known, some new, others old—of its many kitchens, eateries, restaurants, grills, chophouses, bakeries, anywhere food, especially Ilonggo food, is made, sold, and served.
Thanks to Ilonggo cuisine and culture champion Rafael Jardeleza Jr. or “Chef Tibong,” as he is called by everyone, from market vendors to society matrons, more and more of Iloilo’s remarkable fare is being discovered by distinguished chefs and the media, who in turn are sharing the flavors of Iloilo with the world. Beyond its pride of place in Western Visayas as an education hub and an economic powerhouse, Iloilo is the food haven of the Philippines, sourcing its culinary and gastronomic wonders from plains and mountains and rivers, lakes, and the sea, with skills honed by age-old traditions and enhanced by modern technology.
Here are some of our latest finds, where Chef Tibong has taken us to show us—better yet, to make us taste—what he means when he says Iloilo is the food haven of the Philippines.
Found in Barangay Taft, North Mandurriao is a one-stop restaurant for all your seafood cravings. The place promises diners a taste of Capiz. In our opinion, Beng’s offerings arguably surpass authentic Roxas City seafood.
A farm-to-table dining concept in Buenavista, Tigbauan, Iloilo, this is the in-house restaurant of Dreamer’s Valley Camp and Resort, an institution that trains farmers. It is known for selling the freshest produce in the area. Here you can find the best garden salad in Iloilo.
Iloilo has a way of capturing the hearts of travelers through their stomachs and their taste buds. More than the tourist sights and activities, food spots, where ‘namit gid (very good)!’ punctuates every experience, are what makes up the very heart of the heart-shaped island of Panay.
Roberto’s Queen Siopao
The iconic restaurant has been one of the oldest and most famous snack houses on Calle Real in downtown Iloilo for its tasty steamed buns that could be considered the best in the whole country. Roberto’s maintains only one branch, but has focused on menu expansion offering all-time favorite meals. Of course, the main selling point is their siopaos.
Batchoy is the heritage dish that puts La Paz, Iloilo on the Philippine map. You can easily find this comforting and nuanced noodle soup at the central market or basically anywhere in Iloilo. But the best of the best arguably is Deco’s, which is also believed to be the first establishment to offer the dish. The father of all batchoys, Federico “Deco” Guillergan, Sr. created the dish during World War II. You can expect that Deco’s has the closest flavor profile to that of the original batchoy.
The go-to place to enjoy seafood and other grilled dishes on Villa Beach, Villa Arevalo District Iloilo City, this 800-seater restaurant has been in business for almost three decades. It’s now a haunt for both visitors and Iloilo families.
This all-day dining concept at the Richmonde Hotel Iloilo serves international cuisine and some Ilonggo specials when in season. What one should order here are the pastries that are absolutely sinful. The ensaymada is a signature, which has, in fact, been hailed as one of the best desserts, incredibly creamy, buttery, and sweet.
(033) 328 7888
Serving up authentic Chinese noodles and other house specials like machang, chao fan, dim sum, etc., Pancit Pancit is a comfort zone just outside of ICON, formerly known as the Iloilo Convention Center.
0917 122 2229
Salam-Ukan, which translates to nabulunan in Filipino or to choke in English, offers a stew of the same name, made of carabao head and innards boiled for hours and flavored by lime, lemon, and a mix of five secret spices. It has a couple of locations, but in San Agustin, it is at its most quaint, normally manned by its owner, the manlalaga Boyet Susvilla. True to its name, mabubulunan ka sa sarap (it’s so delicious you would choke) once you have a taste of the nilaga. The broth is made to energize those who consume it.
A carinderia established in 2016 at Gen. Hughes Street, city proper, Iloilo, it is like an elevated turo-turo with a menu that changes daily, serving inasal, seafood, talaba, and other lutong-bahay or homemade dishes.
0919 596 1397
Situated along the historic Iloilo River, Muelle offers a fusion of traditional and international cuisine prepared to culinary perfection. The homegrown gourmet sausages are the food to try here.
336 39 13 | 0922 815 7797
On this online comfort food concept by mom-preneur Jackie Tinsay, everything is homemade and made fresh to order. While new to the food industry, Jackie shows great promise with her simple but distinctive and luscious baked goods. Each of her dishes is made meticulously and with great care, as if cooked for her family and friends. The Neapolitan Pizzas are her love language. She ferments the digestive dough for a long time giving it a soft but chewy texture that is an absolute winner. Those interested to order must message her two days prior, as she follows a strict schedule. The pizzas are delivered every Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
Enjoy farm to table dining with a captivating seaside view at this Filipino family restaurant in Brgy. Namocon, Tigbauan. Award-winning chef Ariel Castañeda took care of the development of the dishes of Sol Y Mar, the in-house restaurant of the resort of the same name. Offered are beach food such as grilled seafood, and other Ilonggo staples. Also within the vicinity are Café La Playa and Supremo Pizzeria, Sol Y Mar’s latest food concept that sells pizza.
09985762737 | 09173228269