What Makes Iloilo Special Series: Eats Too Good in My Mind

A number of people ask me the same question when I tell them that I’m a travel blogger. "What is the best place you’ve been to in the Philippines so far?" Two places come to mind and one of them is warm and sunny Iloilo. I acknowledge that just a one-day post is not enough to sum it all up and here’s to more of what makes Iloilo special for me and why I just can’t stop talking about it.

Aside from being the birthplace of Mang Inasal, you’ll find the Queen Siopao of Roberto’s waiting for you in Iloilo. Unlike other cities I’ve been to, here you’ll find locals going for signature restaurants regardless of their income bracket.

One reason I like it is that food is affordable in Iloilo. 100 pesos will make you think of gluttony. 

Want to try out Ilonggo’s Legacy? Luna’s Arrozcaldo costs under 60 pesos and it comes with another bowl of refill. 

How about JD’s Pancit Molo for a whopping 24 pesos? What can I say about Mang Inasal? Mang Inasal’s chicken at 49 pesos, sinfully delicious and enough for my lunch, comes with unlimited rice and sinigang!

Another reason for me is that chicken dishes seem to be a common specialty in Iloilo and they have found many different ways to make me love chicken. 

JD’s Garlic Chicken Panini was superb. Guess what else has delicious chicken? There’s Mang Inasal, Roberto’s Siopao, JD’s Pancit Molo and Special Fried Chicken, Luna’s Arrozcaldo and Tatoy’s Manokan to name a few.

I will never get tired of repeating the following:

1. Eating at Mang Inasal in its first branch was worth my wait. 

Imagine this blogger looking forward to the Iloilo trip since booking the ticket and resisting the urge at the peak of the Mang Inasal hype in Manila just to get a sense of history. Here’s to traveling and making it a very memorable experience! Click here for the longer version of the story.

2. Roberto’s Jumbo Siopao was the closest I got to the Queen but it was not the typical siopao we have in Manila. 

To get to the Queen, you must know when the Queen arrives and call beforehand just to be sure. Oh, it is located in Iloilo’s Chinatown!

3. JD Bakery Café’s Pancit Molo was a crazy and funny experience.  I asked the waiter if he gave me the wrong item. Pancit Molo, apparently, does not have pancit (noodles) in it. 

The Garlic Chicken was also a great combination to go with it.

4. Tatoy’s Manokan is located near the beach and serves one of the best Grilled Tanigue I ever had. 

My tablemates also had fun munching on cheap and fresh oysters. 

You’ll also find Lechon Baboy and Lechon Manok at Tatoy's.

Wait, I’m not yet done. I have my favorites reserved for last. I am craving for the following:

1. The Original Biscocho Haus’ Butterscotch was always a favorite. Somebody once brought it home and I always remembered it as distinctly “from Iloilo”. Going to Iloilo means it's time to hoard!

2. Ted’s Old Timer La Paz Batchoy sounded great, except for the innards I requested to separate. 

My new local Iloilo blogger friends said it tasted better with it. I was content and thankful for the warm and flavorful soup.

3. I don’t know where they got it but Nang Palang’s Buko Pie is really a delightful snack for our picturesque road trip outside of Downtown Iloilo.

*Update: I surprisingly received a box of the same Nang Palang's Buko Pie (this time containing Egg Pie) from a friend! hehehe. 
Address: Trapiche, Oton, Iloilo
(033) 3360954, nang_palang@yahoo.com
Product of the Philippines =)

4. Afrique’s surprisingly serves gourmet pizza and pasta for a very affordable price. This is the Queen Isabela, filled with anchovies galore and olives at less than P250!

I would gladly go back there for the ambiance and the food.

5. Another round of Breakthrough’s Scallops, please! It’s a steal for the price and unforgettably mouth-watering.

6. Al Dente, Iloilo’s first Italian restaurant, makes a mean simple pizza. What more for the complicated ones, right?

7. Sipping Guimaras Mango Shake with a riverside view at the restaurant in Residence Hotel.


8. All-inclusive experience and my favorite of them all: I met a friend at his restaurant, The Mango Tree Bar & Restaurant, and we talked the night away. 

Located in Manduriao, this restaurant is quite hidden and has a simple signage outside. 

I was quite surprised, impressed really, when I found a very charming and romantic ambiance inside. 

Perfect for a little bit of stargazing and fresh air outside, the place was just conducive to have free-flowing conversations about life, travel and about Iloilo. 

Pair it with delicious Sizzling Bulalo Steak, 

this refreshing and unique shake-like Mango Iced Tea, 

and a couple more secret dishes like this whipped from their kitchen and I was set. 

A rare opportunity to see the bonsais and works of art at the back was a bonus and an honor.  

I would never have known of this place if not for a coincidence of meeting Jason in Iloilo and him making time to show me how to chill out, unwind and catch up with life in Iloilo. 

Because of that experience, the deal was sealed. I was in love with Iloilo.

Apparently, six days was not enough to experience Iloilo even at one category, which was food. The next time I go there, I’ll make sure I have time for my favorites, along with Carlito’s (for snacks), Kong Kee (for Chinese), Ocean City (for more seafood), Balbi’s (for pansit palabok), Deco’s (for batchoy), Panaderia ni Pa-a (for the iconic pan de sal), RCJ Bibingka (for Iloilo’s famous bibingka), Buho Bakery (for bread) and many more!

Iloilo is a Foodie haven. I ate so much chicken and learned to appreciate it in Iloilo. It seemed like I was eating chicken every single day, none of them tasting the same! Scallops and seafood, cooked simply to perfection, were easy to find. Plus, I stuffed myself with affordable gourmet food. I haven’t even started to talk about the Guimaras Mangoes, which were just 15 minutes away from Iloilo. 

I feel like I have uncovered something big in Iloilo and making sense of the food craze just leaves me hungry and starving for more.