The Visayas region has a rich history of cuisine greatly influenced by Chinese and Spanish cooking. Every visit here offers a gastronomic adventure, with fresh seafood, heirloom recipes, a wealth of locally sourced ingredients bursting with flavors and distinct touches representing different cultures. Here are just a few of the best destinations for food-tripping in Visayas.
Cebu City, Cebu
You know you’re a foodie when the first thing that comes to mind when you mention Cebu is lechon, the star and center piece of every Filipino feast. Dubbed the “Lechon Capital of the Philippines,” no trip to Cebu is complete without indulging in a plateful of savory roasted suckling pig (preferably with the crispy skin intact).
Everyone has their own favorite lechon joint here from CNT to Zubuchon, but my favorite is the lechon served in Carcar Public Market. Other food commonly associated with Cebu includes puso (hanging rice), longganisa, danggit and dried mangoes. Cebu City is home to many foodie hangouts like Larsians and homegrown restaurants like Abaseria Cafe and Deli, where you can try authentic Cebuano cooking.
Most Boholanos still grow and eat their own food, resulting in food that’s simple, natural and healthy. One of the best restos to try when in Bohol is Bohol Bee Farm, which offers organic meals using the freshest ingredients sourced from their farm.
Before you leave, don’t forget to buy a pack of Peanut Kisses, a signature Boholano recipe of small crunchy cookies shaped like a miniature Chocolate Hills (the island province’s most famous attraction). When in Jagna, you can also try their local delicacy called calamay, a concoction of glutinous rice, sugar, coconut milk and peanuts enclosed in a coconut shell.
Bacolod, Negros Occidental
The “City of Smiles” is well-known as a foodie haven. Bacolod, the capital city of Negros Occidental is probably best known for chicken inasal, the local version of pork or chicken barbecue marinated in herbs and spices, skewered on bamboo sticks and grilled to juicy perfection. Most tourists head to Manokan Country, a strip of carinderias that serve this delicious dish.
With vast sugar plantations across Negros, sweet treats are very popular. Bacolod is known for its Napoleones and piaya, which make popular souvenirs. Don’t leave without trying the mouthwatering cakes from Calea Pastries and Coffee, which is a household name in the city.
Roxas City, Capiz
Do you love seafood? Then you will love eating out in Roxas City, the capital of Capiz. Dubbed the “Seafood capital of the Philippines,” Roxas City offers a range of fresh and affordable seafood including shellfish, squid and different varieties of fish cooked any way you like. One of the best places to get your seafood fix is the People’s Park and Seafood Plaza, a dampa-style haunt frequented by locals. Try scallops baked with garlic, butter and cheese, fresh oysters, and diwal or the seasonal angel wing clams, which is said to be only available in Capiz.
Good restos here include Cafe Terraza, Spanggo Cafe & Pasalubong Center, Espacio Verde Resort and Bitoy’s Balay Barbekyuhan along Baybay Beach. Here’s a more detailed guide to your food trip in Capiz.
Iloilo City, Iloilo + Guimaras
Ilonggo cuisine epitomizes classic Filipino cuisine with well-loved dishes like La Paz Batchoy, Pancit Molo, and biscocho. Visitors always look forward to fresh talaba and seafood at Breakthrough, the most popular resto in the city. Because of the Ilonggo-Chinese trading in the pre-Hispanic era, Chinese influence is evident in Iloilo’s cuisine. One iconic must-try Ilonggo dish is Kadyos, Baboy, Langka, a soup that makes use of pigeon peas, pork and jackfruit soured with batwan (a tamarind-like fruit).
When in Iloilo, you might as well make a side-trip to the neighboring island province of Guimaras, famous for their sweet mangoes. They even offer “all you can eat mangoes” to tourists as part of their Manggahan Festival every May!
Check out the best food trip destinations in Luzon here and watch out for our last installment in this series, featuring destinations in Mindanao!