Food & Drink

Must-try Foods in Iloilo

Written by Patrick

Whether indulging in hearty street food or enjoying a leisurely meal in a heritage restaurant in Iloilo, these must-try foods will surely captivate the taste buds of any food enthusiast.

Iloilo is known for its rich cultural heritage with all its ancestral houses, centuries-old churches, and traditions that have been passed on from one generation to another.  Tourists visiting the city can spend a day or two exploring these spots and take a glimpse of the lives of Ilonggos in the past.

But these heritage tours and pilgrimage tours are not the only activities to look forward to in Iloilo.  Ilonggos take pride in their delectable cuisine that mirrors its diverse influences including Spanish, Chinese, and Malay.  And with the recent designation as the First Creative City of Gastronomy in the Philippines by UNESCO, you definitely have to see and experience authentic Ilonggo cuisine.

If you plan to be in Iloilo anytime soon, here are the must-try foods that define the culinary landscape of the city and province,

Biscocho

Original Biscocho Haus

Caption: Biscocho from the Original Biscocho Haus| Image Source

Biscocho is a twice-baked bread known for being crispy and crunchy.  While biscocho is available in various parts of the Philippines, it is popularly associated with Iloilo.  Iloilo’s version comes in different variants but the most popular includes kinihad (plain) and the one coated with butter and sugar.

Popular biscocho brands are Original Biscocho Haus and Wewin’s.

Cream Horn

Cream Horn

Caption: The Original Cream Horn Iloilo | Image Source

Although it did not originate in Iloilo, cream horn has become a popular delicacy in the city.  As the name implies, the delicacy is horn-shaped and is filled with custard cream, thus characterized as crunchy, sweet, and milky.  Aside from the original filling which is the custard cream, cream horn also comes in other fillings including buko pandan, chocolate, mango, and ube.

The Original Cream Horn Iloilo, formerly Margec’s, popularized cream horn in Iloilo.

KBL

KBL is the acronym for kadyos (pigeon peas), baboy (pork), langka (jackfruit).  A favorite comfort food among Ilonggos, the stew uses unripe jackfruit and has that distinct color due to the pigeon peas.  The dish is typically soured using batwan (also spelled batuan), a spherical fruit popular in Ilonggo cuisine.

Most restaurants in Iloilo serve KBL.

La Paz Batchoy

Iloilo's La Paz Batchoy

Caption: Iloilo’s La Paz Batchoy

No visit in Iloilo is complete without savoring a steaming bowl of comfort that is La Paz batchoy.  This noodle soup originated in the La Paz district and has become an iconic dish of Iloilo.  The heart broth, rich in pork or beef, is complemented by pork offal, noodles, and topped with crispy garlic toppings and chicharon.  Originally, pancit, locally referred to as miki, is the type of noodles used.  But now, batchoy restaurants offer other noodle options including bihon, sotanghon (glass noodle), and even miswa.

The best spots for batchoy in Iloilo include Popoy’s, Alicia’s Batchoy, and Netong’s.

Pancit Molo

Iloilo's Pancit Molo

Caption: Iloilo’s Pancit Molo

Pancit Molo is a noodle soup that originated in Molo district, hence the name.  It features wonton dumplings filled with a mixture of ground pork or chicken and shrimps.  It is served in a savory chicken broth with egg noodles and garnished with green onions and fried garlic bits.  This comforting dish showcases the Chinese influence on Ilonggo cuisine and has become a beloved staple in local households.

For the best pancit Molo, try Kap Ising’s in Atria.

Pinasugbo

Pinasugbo from The Original Biscocho Haus

Caption: Pinasugbo from The Original Biscocho Haus | Image Source

A popular delicacy in Western Visayas, pinasugbo is made by thinly slicing saba bananas and then deep frying them before coating with caramelized sugar and sesame seeds.  Two or three thin slices are then lumped together and then placed in a small white paper cone which people can hold while eating.

Roberto’s Siopao

Roberto's Siopao

Caption: Roberto’s Siopao | Image Source

Roberto’s is a hole in the wall restaurant that has become popular among many Ilonggos due to its delectable foods.  This unpretentious restaurant is particularly known for its siopao, a steamed bun filled with savory meat, boiled egg, and others.  Roberto’s siopao comes in different variants including regular, jumbo, king, and queen, the most sought-after.  This particular variant boasts of its size and fillings which include Chinese sausage, bacon, chicken-pork adobo, and egg.

Roberto’s Restaurant also offers other dishes including burgers, meatballs, and sotanghon guisado.

Other foods you may want to try in Iloilo include chicken inasal, seafood dishes, and baye baye, a dish made from ground sticky rice or corn.

READ MORE: Iloilo City Visitors Guide | Iloilo Province

What's YOUR favorite Iloilo food?

About the Author

Patrick

Patrick is an entrepreneur, digital nomad, explorer, and photographer. Patrick is always in search of fun and adventure. He is well travelled throughout the world, and although location independent, his home base is Phoenix, Arizona in the USA. Patrick loves island lifestyle which is no wonder why he is so interested in spending time in the Philippines with it’s over 7,000 islands. Patrick created this site to share his knowledge of and experiences in the Philippines with Filipinos as well as other foreigners.

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