A Foodie’s Guide to Iloilo City

During our two-day tour of Iloilo City courtesy of Seda Atria, we found out that Ilonggo cuisine is one of the most interesting things you’ll find in the Philippines.

It is adventurous yet inviting, its flavors familiar and comforting yet beyond normal. It’s a bit difficult to explain in words, so we’ll try to explain it in mouthwatering photos instead.

Netong’s La Paz Batchoy
Inside the La Paz Public Market, La Paz

 

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Netong’s is said to be the creators of the now famous Ilonggo dish: Batchoy.

Created decades ago to feed the train workers in the city, the warm and filling bowl of egg noodles, innards, and a myriad of aromatic toppings became a staple in local merienda (afternoon snack) sessions.

Netong’s recipe hasn’t changed since they opened in the 1940s, according to their operations manager Patrick Guillergan — the third generation of the family to own the business. There’s no right or wrong way to eat batchoy, so long as you enjoy it to your filling.

Although based on experience, if you’re not full of batchoy goodness, you’re doing it wrong.

 

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Madge’s Café
Inside the La Paz Public Market, La Paz

 

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Madge’s Café inside the La Paz Public Market is proof that designer coffee is nothing but a complete rip off!

For PHP 45.00, you can get a tall cup of iced chocolate drink made from real, locally made tablea (pure cocoa tablets).

It’s not overwhelmingly sweet, it’s brewed while you wait, and it is the perfect way to beat the afternoon heat when going around Iloilo City.

 

Tiny Bibingka
Outside Jaro Cathedral, Jaro

 

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Don’t let its size fool you. This tiny bibingka (rice cake with coconut and milk, cooked over low fire) is packed with sweet and smoky flavors unlike the bibingka you know. The crusty, toasted top and the chewy inside is perfect.

 

Deocampo’s Barquillos
La Paz

This is how Mang Jun — a 15-year Barquillos veteran — makes those crispy cylinders of milky goodness. We got to taste freshly made Barquillos, still warm from the flatpan.

It is a must to bring home packs of this cylindrical wafers because it is perfect with your morning or afternoon coffee or an added texture to ice cream.

 

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Camiña Balai Nga Bato
Molo

Inside a beautifully preserved stone house from the 1860s is a museum-slash-restaurant.

At the ground floor is the museum with a weaving loom, a workshop and a store making and selling batirol (steel pitchers for making authentic chocolate drinks) and batidor (wooden mixer), and a myriad of other local and religious items.

The second level houses the restaurant, which serves the best Molo Soup (chicken wanton soup) and Tsokolate Eh (thick hot chocolate made from authentic tablea) in the city.

At first we thought the mamon tostado (toasted bread) and biscocho (twice-baked biscuit) were for the tsokolate eh, but as it turns out, it’s the perfect accompaniment for the Molo Soup. You can never go wrong with salty and sweet, my friend.

 

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A photo posted by Food Ching Eats (@foodchingeats) on

 

Breakthrough Restaurant
Villa Arevalo District

Breakthrough Restaurant is already one of the major stops at any Iloilo City tour and there’s a great reason behind it: They serve the best and the freshest seafood in the city.

 

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Make sure to dip your fish or shrimp in some Sinamak, their highly addictive local spiced vinegar.

 

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Misto 
Seda Atria Hotel, Pison Road

Seda Atria recently celebrated their first anniversary in Iloilo City by hosting a Mardi Gras-themed party with a lip-smacking buffet showcasing local Ilonggo cuisine, Mediterranean fare and more international treats courtesy of their executive chef Shabab “Boo” Hesni.

 

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A photo posted by Food Ching Eats (@foodchingeats) on

It doesn’t have to be a special occasion to enjoy great food at Misto.

Chef Boo and his team makes sure they serve only the best items every single day. Just take a look at our breakfast plate.

 

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Two days and one belly are definitely not enough to explore all the goodness that Iloilo City has to offer. So better make sure you book that next trip — soon!

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