Where to Eat, Where to buy Pasalubong, when in Iloilo City
By Rhea B. Peñaflor
One cannot be truly called an Ilonggo if he or she does not appreciate food, good food at that. Ilonggos’ tongue for good food can be reflected in the many restaurants mushrooming every corner of Iloilo City.
Ilonggos are known for their passion in cooking good food and preparing sumptuous meals. Indeed, there is no denying that good food is what Ilonggos crave for when they go to their favorite restaurants. Even in their homes, one will observe how meticulous a typical Ilonggo family prepares their food—it would always spell a delightful meal.
Iloilo’s local specialty of course is still the famous La Paz Batchoy. Nothing beats Iloilo City’s original La Paz Batchoy, the city’s trademark of what Ilonggo food is all about.
Deco’s La Paz Batchoy offers really affordable and mouth-watering batchoy prices ranging from P45-55. These are the Special, Extra special and Super special batchoy One can also choose from noodles of meke, miswa or bijon. It goes well with puto manapla at P3.50/piece, pandesal ni Pa-a at P2.50/piece or pre-war pandesal at P1.50/ piece.
For tourists who want to have a taste of Ilonggo cuisine, there is still the famous native lechon chicken of Tatoy’s located at Arevalo or Nes ‘N Tats along Diversion Road, Mandurriao. For those who are fond of seafood with a nice beachfront, Breakthrough Seafood and Restaurant in Arevalo is still the best place. Located at Guzman St., Mandurriao, Tib’s Rock’s beef tapa, sizzling talaba (oysters) and T.R.S. (Tib’s Rock Special baked oysters) are must eat specialty of this much affordable and relaxing restaurant.
Panaderia de Iloilo’s pancit molo and Dac’s kutsinta are still a must-try Ilonggo homemade food located at Arevalo. Jiecel and Thea’s siomai, siopao and lomi are also the best home made food restaurant located along the old airport in Mandurriao. Roberto’s siopao though is already an institution when one would talk about the best siopao in Iloilo City. So never leave Iloilo City without tasting Roberto’s siopao located at J.M. Basa Street or even the Dinagyang siopao with branches in Arevalo and Marymart mall.
Afrique’s Restaurant is popular among Ilonggos who are pizza and pasta enthusiasts. It has branches at the historical Macavinta house located at Gen. Hughes, City Proper, Desamparados, Jaro and right outside Hotel Del Rio, along General Luna Street. Westown hotel’s all meat pizza is a must taste. There is also the Dos Maria’s Pizzeria along Gen. Luna Street which is open until 2 AM which has a variety of pizza choices.
To those who are chicken inasal or “sinugba” (grilled) freaks, there are the Barrio Inasal located at Aurora Subdivision and Jaro, Mang Inasal at almost all malls in Iloilo City and Jo’s Inato with a branch at Jalandoni, Jaro. Buto’t Balat’s specialty which is the “halang-halang” (a Cebuano word which means spicy), an appetizer made of ground chicken with spices and fried potato chips still stands as the restaurant’s most ordered food.
Bigby’s Restaurant at Smallville Business Center (SBC), Diversion Road offers the best emperor caesar’s salad, Mexican soup (only on Wednesdays), Titanic Treat (30 scoops of ice cream in a bowl and the catch is, if you finish the whole bowl in 5 minutes, the Titanic treat is on the house) and organic strawberry tea. These are all favorite treats to those who want a quiet, relaxing ambiance. Bigby’s is indeed, a cozy place to dine with family and friends. The waiters and waitresses are friendly and good service is never a problem.
JD Bakery and Restaurant caters to those who want to enjoy good and quality food but at a cheaper price. JD now has expanded and offers a variety of food. From short orders of its pioneer meals like baked macaroni, chicken ala king and palabok, JD now is serving delightful breakfast, lunch, dinner and even desserts and beverages.
Meat lovers can try Bourbon’s honey mustard braised pork or baby back ribs. The serving for the half-rack alone for baby back ribs is big enough for 2 people who have large appetites. Also, Bourbon’s seafood chowder and fish and chips are a must-try as well as its side dish of mashed potatoes. For burgers with really good patty and uniquely Ilonggo, Glor’s Hamburger at Ledesma Street is a must try. They grill their patty and they do not use oil. Its double cheese burger is still its top seller.
For coffee lovers, Iloilo has its own version of Starbucks—Bluejay Coffee and Deli. It has branches at Smallville, Diversion Road and main branch along Gen. Luna Street. Grand Dame Hotel’s ambiance is a thumbs-up and it has also good, affordable coffee and tea served in french press. There are also other good alternative coffee shops which are located inside a mall in case you are doing your shopping spree, like Figaro, Pancake House and Vienna Kaffeehaus (Vienna has another branch in Robinson’s mall) in SM City.
Buho Bakery has the best pancho bread in town. Pandesal ni Paa at Jaro still has the best pre-war pandesal and pan de siosa. Tibiao Bakery’s unique bread which is called teren-teren is also a must try. Tibiao Bakery has branches in Molo, Jalandoni Street and Gen. Luna Street.
For tourists who are in a hurry and who want to bring pasalubong for their family and friends, Wewin’s biscocho along Taft North, Deocampo’s barquillos at Jaro, BB’s garlic peanuts which you can buy at Deco’s Pasalubong Center at La Salette Bldg, Valeria St., JD’s meringue and ciabatta at Gen.Luna Street are sure food gifts.
Ilonggo cooking includes the famous KBL (kadios, baboy, langka). Also, the tasty dried fish which are called uga, tabagak and uga-balingon usually served with eggs during breakfast are uniquely Ilonggo food.
There are also must-try restaurants which are not Ilonggo like Bavaria, a German restaurant famous for its sausages and really tasty pepper steak. Spezi, Bavaria’s own non-alcoholic concoction is also a must try. Peppy Thai Restaurant is also a must try Thai food restaurant located along Sambag, Jaro as well as Kim’s Bob restaurant’s bibim bap located outside Robinsons mall along Quezon Street.
So if you ever think of visiting Iloilo City, these are among the best places you can go to if you have cravings and if you want good food for your money.
Indeed, Iloilo City has answers not only to those who have large appetites but this unique city sure is a city where its food will never be forgotten.