8 Most Awesome Filipino Restaurants in the Philippines


I love Filipino food, and I’m not just saying that because I’m Filipino.

Filipino fare is always a celebration of what’s fresh and in seasoncooked slowly with love, served with warm hospitality, and enjoyed with the laughter of family and friends.

Here are the Top 8 Most Awesome Filipino Restaurants that Pinoys should experience in their lifetime:

1. Ka Lui, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan

Eating in Ka Lui (named after the owner, Louie Oliva) is like eating in a Filipino home, where each guest is treated like a VIP. Here, the menu changes daily, depending on what the freshest seafood, vegetables and fruits are available at the Puerto Princesa market. The dishes are quite unique, and their presentation can surprise you.

When you enter the restaurant, you have to leave your shoes outside. As you rest your feet on the clean and polished floor of Ka Lui, enjoy the bahay kubo-inspired ambiance as the fresh air of Puerto Princesa cools you off while you eat. Nothing beats the Ka Lui experience.


2. Isla Naburot Resort, Guimaras

This secluded and rustic island resort in Guimaras is a secret beach escape for foodies and beach lovers. There is no electricity on the island —  only solar-powered lights at night so that you can enjoy a no-TV, no-telephone experience. This Saldaña family-owned island resort does not advertise to preserve its “un-commercial” charm.

It really is back-to-basics, where the food is prepared using slow cooking methods and wood-fire oven techniques. They only serve the freshest seafood from the market and the best mangoes from the island of Guimaras. All you have to do is literally swim, sleep and eat five times a day. Indeed, Isla Naburot lives up to its name, which means “beautiful island”.


3. Claude Tayag’s Bale Dutung, Pampanga

Pampanga is the culinary center of the Philippines, and Claude Tayag’s Bale Dutung (House of Wood) is the best place to taste true-blue Pampanga cuisine. They offer a private dining group experience (minimum of 10) where you enjoy a long, slow-cooked, five-hour lunch.

You have the option of having the Kapampangan menu or the now-famous 5-Ways Lechon with Sisig menu. Each dish is cooked to perfection. They only serve one dish at a time to ensure that guests get to savor each one until the desserts are served. So when you’re there, just sit back, relax, enjoy the hospitality of the Tayags, and take in the simple yet artistic ambiance of Bale Dutung.

4. Breakthrough Restaurant, Iloilo

Breakthrough is the undisputed king of fresh seafood in Iloilo, and the number one tourist spot in the city. It is famous for its Aligue Rice and the Managat fish (also known as red snapper or mangrove jack). Native Chicken Inasal, and fresh and baked oysters are also served here.

The restaurant is the brainchild of marine biologist Raymundo Robles, who just wanted to have a side restaurant business for his wife. It was named after every scientist’s aspiration, which is to achieve a breakthrough in his/her field.

The best part of the Breakthrough experience is being able to enjoy the glorious food (and the popular vinegar called Sinamak) with the fresh sea breeze blowing around you.


5. Ugu Bigyan, Tiaong, Quezon

The internationally renowned potter Ugu Bigyan opened his garden for merienda, lunch and dinner in his private home in Tiaong. There are no signs leading to the place. In fact, his neighbors don’t even know that such a place exists.

Ugu Bigyan is famous for his Kulawo, a banana-heart dish that is charcoal-grilled in coconut milk, which tastes like creamy tuna. The Filipino set menu is fixed for a minimum of 5 persons.

Most visitors end up purchasing pottery before leaving, especially during the twice-a-year sale — May 15 (to coincide with the Pahiyas festival) and August 14 (his birthday, where the discount increases every year, equivalent to his age).

6. Kinabuhayan Café, Dolores, Quezon

Every stay in Kinabuhayan Café is magical. Its bed & breakfast is designed in such a way that you feel like you are living in a theater stage set – any photo you take is photogenic. Plus, every dish that comes out of the kitchen is really good. Jay Herrera is the heart and soul of the place, with his charming, bohemian persona and magical touch when it comes to food. He is popular for his Alagaw Leaves appetizers, Risotto, and cooked-on-the-spot Lamb Chops.

Jay has a secluded place called Kubli Springs where they set up beautiful-looking lunches and dinners. The spring waters running down your feet and just-enough lights at night all add to the ambiance for a romantic evening under the stars.

The place is popular during the Holy Week because it is located at the foot of Mt. Banahaw. It is used as a home base by people who want to go to the blessed caves to recharge their powers.

7. Café Juanita, Pasig

Dr. Boy Vasquez wanted to honor the culinary heritage of his family by serving their heirloom recipes in this colorfully homey restaurant. Artistically done comfort Filipino food is the specialty of the house — from Molo, to Kare-kare, to Twice-Cooked Adobo. But you also have the option of ordering other Asian-inspired dishes.

The most unique feature of Café Juanita is its kitschy ambiance. The place has a hodge-podge of decorative items. Dr. Vasquez makes it a point to move one piece (or more) each day so that the restaurant feels alive as small changes are made. Café Juanita’s vibrant, evolving, eclectic collection is actually a good reflection of the “halo-halo” culture of the Philippines.

8. Pendy’s, Bacolod City

When it comes to good food in Bacolod, Pendy’s is the foodies’ choice because it is run by Omon Maravilla’s family (a family of foodies too). Pendy’s is already an institution in the area, and it is resisting the temptation to expand to keep its quality and consistency intact.

There’s a wide array of dishes on the menu, but don’t leave Pendy’s without trying the well-made Negrense cuisine. Among the crowd favorites are the Chicken Dinuguan, Pancit Molo, and Batchoy with Lechon. The menu is quite diverse because it is based on the food that the family likes and the food that they can cook well. Some people actually line up for their Korean Beef Stew, Spareribs and Pad Thai.

But the best part of the Pendy’s experience is having the Napoleones and Half-moon for dessert!

Besides the comfortable and homey restaurant, Pendy’s also has a pasalubong center that carries the best pasalubong: Bailon’s Piaya and Dulce de Gatas.

I’m still looking for 2 more to complete the Top 10 — What’s the best Filipino Restaurant for you in the Philippines?

Live an Awesome Life,

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Full Disclosure: Nothing to disclose. I’m not related to, connected with or compensated in any way by any of the establishments featured in this blog post.

P.S. This article is one of the awesome articles in  My Awesome Life Book in 2011 (a Travel Log Planner). Since only 1,000 OAP friends will get a copy, I decided to share the article with all the loyal subscribers of OAP. 🙂

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58 thoughts on “8 Most Awesome Filipino Restaurants in the Philippines

  1. i agree! 😉 matutina is one of the best restos i’ve ever been to! 😉 their kare-kareng dagat is soooo good that i finished 5 cups of rice with it!i was with my family when we dined in at the place and we all went home pigs afterward,hihi! 😉

  2. ….the best in foodie-travel photography & enthusiastic well spoken extremely energized well meaning is the new world’s best travel ‘think-tank’ photographer
    story telling MRS. MARIA SHIRLEY VALERA BALBUENA ADAMS of PINAY IN EUROPE….she captures the beautiful now modern civilized europe{w/o a doubt?

  3. ….a pinay in europe…. is a travelogue documentary like blogger’s itenerary with the most interesting exquisite solemn but truly architectural in nature photosmrs. maria shirley balbuena-adams is truly a great ‘pinay’ artist when it comes to taste in photography and story telling….shirley is one of a kind example of WINDOWS OF OUR LIVES her european contributions in travel story telling must be acknowleged….i mean by the europeans so i hope with big pride in mrs. balbuena-adams that the PRESIDENT OF FRANCE& HIS WIFE WILL INVITE MRS. ADAMS SOON to take pride in france’s presidential palce & gardens so we can hear-see from mrs. adams point of view MERCI!mr.& mrs. president of france….

  4. ….mrs. maria shirley valera balbuena adams contributions in europe’s ‘windows of our lives’ photgraphy & story telling is indeed extra ordinary and a heartfelt one i personally want to thank the french president & his wife if they could invite shirley in france’s presidential palace & garden so we in asia philippines america in pinoy’s view in particular can see ‘reality’ of what kind of beauty & perfections is out there….i am happy & waiting…. mrs.c mahoney

  5. I also love Breakthrough, Pendy’s and Cafe Juanita. Good to know that I was already able to eat in 3 out of the 8 restos in the list =). I agree that Kanin Club should be in the list. Love their crispy dinuguan and seafood kare-kare.

  6. I wanna try the one in Guimaras! 🙂 Hey Anton, I also did a blog post on Pendy’s recently 🙂 I hope you visit my blog too! My dad loves reading your posts. Even though I’m a food blogger as well, he doesn’t listen to me as much as he does with you. I hope I can be as good and as famed as you someday 🙂

  7. Good Morning!
    My name is Samantha Maristela and I’m from ARC Marketing and PR. I was wondering how else we could get in contact with you with regard to future events and other matters. Perhaps you can provide me with your email address? Just so we can discuss with you matters thoroughly. Hoping to hear from you!
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  8. I’m personally biased to Breakthrough, Isla Naburot and Pendy’s. Were you able to drop by Tatoy’s the last time you were in Iloilo? Another Iloilo Institution.
    For Pendy’s I also love their angus beef tapa, garlic rice with egg. So good!
    Looking forward to your next post! More power!

  9. hi anton, do you have contact details for isla naburot? thanks.
    btw, next time you go to bacolod, u should try business inn’s kansi steak – the best! 🙂

  10. Of all the restos on your list, I’ve only been to Ka Lui. I did enjoy the food yes but I didn’t get to try what I really wanted because we were in quite a big group so we got the group menu set. Darn. lol.
    I’m not biased or anything but what about Bohol Bee Farm? Ahhh remembering it makes me….*sigh*. (Although I’m not sure if it’s Filipino cuisine per se)

  11. hi there, I’m a frequent reader of your posts. I hope you could also get to try and feature food establishments from Mindanao, particularly Davao (in case you visit the place). More power!

  12. Hi Mr. Diaz! I’m Mik, a 3rd year medical student 🙂 I would totally agree on Isla Naburot! One of the owners is my friend, and she invited us over. It was one of the best 3 foodie days of my life!

  13. You can also add Kamayan sa Palaisdaan (Tayabas, Quezon) and Tatoy’s (Iloilo) to your list hehe!
    Larsian in Cebu though composed of diff bbq stalls also deserve a spot here siguro hmm…

  14. hello dear, claude tayag may be the rave, but my aunt’s cooking is the best pampango you will ever have. too bad she don’t have a resto. will blow your mind.

  15. Ugu Bigyan rocked, you need reservations you can’t just drop in though! Amazing pottery all around you.
    Forget Kinabuhayan Cafe, overpriced food per person and not worth it to stay in the compound in the middle of a residential area. That spring is another ride away! Boo.

  16. HI Anton,
    Glad I came across your site. Totally agree with Breakthrough and Tatoy’s in Iloilo, although Aboy’s in Bacolod is still tops in my list. My wife (a Texan) and 2 best friends (from Wisconsin and Hawaii), all 3 know their barbeques. And let me tell you, I have never seen 3 white people stuff their faces so fast with Filipino food!
    As far as Pendy’s and Calea, I think they’re average. But no doubt better than any Filipino restaurant in California & Hawaii.
    You have got to try Chicken House, and all the little inasal stalls at Manokan country (Nena’s and Pacitas come to mind)
    Will definitely go to Isla Naburot this Aug…my grandma is from Guimaras, and I didn’t know anything existed there.
    Glad to be a Filipino!

  17. Lutong Pilipino Ni Aling Ely in Calamba Laguna.
    They serve the best tasting lechon and the sauce is just to die for. They also serve sinigang na ulo ng isda. One of our favorites. The restaurant itself is just a simple kubo eatery-style.. But i tell you the food are really satisfyingly authentic filipino.

  18. Just along the Calamba National hiway. You’ll passed by it if you’re going to Los Baños. I advice tht if you’re going to try tbeir food, Go there on saturdays or sundays. These are the days when all of their specialty dishes are available. Also, be there around 10am so that you can try their lechon. They only cook 2 lechons a day and are usually sold even before 12nn. Been there last week and we’re planning to go back tomorrow. I love the lechon and the sauce, i also love their bopis (the best i’ve ever tasted), you ahould try their talong with bagoong as well. (oh my this is making my mouth water already lol). My sister loved their melt in your mouth leche flan and bought 4 to bring home. Hehe

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