The Visayas region consists of beautifully scattered islands blessed with diverse cultures, majestic beaches and warm people that will keep you coming back. But aside from these, one thing that makes all its islands worth flying for is the glorious food, which is the highlight of—if not the reason for—traveling here. From foods that originally came from the region to the reimagined classics, hopping off from one Visayan island to another offer great experiences for the senses and especially for the stomach!
Are you a foodie traveler? Cross some Visayan food from your bucket list! Here are some Visayan provinces that will give you a taste of an unforgettable vacation:
Bacolod: The Land Origin of Chicken Inasal
The famous Masskara Festival in Bacolod | Photo by Leonardo Villasis
Bacolod City, the capital of Negros Occidental, is home to the vivacious Masskara Festival and vast sugar plantations. That is why it’s dubbed as the City of Smiles – a place where festivals are faithfully celebrated and the people are some of the friendliest in the country. Aside from these, Bacolod is famed for its vibrant food scene that the term “great food” is always tagged in this beautiful city. The Bacolod experience is not complete without trying their delicacies!
Let’s be real: what’s a visit to Bacolod without trying the real star of their food scene—chicken inasal? Almost every food stall in the city serves this signature dish, but for a more authentic experience, head to Manokan Country—a strip of food stalls with different takes on the inasal. It’s where you can also find some of the tastiest grilled foods like isaw, atay (liver), isol (chicken butt), and eat them with your bare hands! It’s the Bacolod (a.k.a. the best) way to enjoy your food.
Bacolod is also known as the country’s sugar bowl, so don’t leave without indulging yourself with their sweet treats! Try the mouthwatering specialties of famous pastry shops like Felicia’s Pastry Café and Calea Pastries and Coffee, where you can spoil yourself and even hoard as much treats as you like for pasalubong. You also don’t want to miss the original Negrense favorite—piaya, an unleavened flat bread filled with muscovado sugar. Locals recommend the one from Bailon’s Food, located at San Sebastian Street.
Weego Bistro via Instagram: @kyxvee
Their in-house restaurant, Weego Bistro, is something you don’t want to miss. It’s hard not to notice its colorful exteriors that showcase the vibrant local art scene, and the interiors will make you want to take photos in every corner. Aside from chicken inasal, included in their menu are some Negrense favorites (batchoy, KBL, kansi), all-day breakfast meals, main meals and flatbread pizzas. It’s the best place to dine and hang out almost any time of the day!
Taste the authentic batchoy in Iloilo
When you’re in the province of Iloilo, the quest for delicious eats is not really a daunting task. In fact, Ilonggo food is popular everywhere in the country, so a lot of people love traveling here to taste the authentic ones. Their cuisine – just like the province itself – is a fusion of different cultures and background, and they’re definitely worth the flight!
La Paz Batchoy: a famous Ilonggo delicacy | Photo by Zarah Mercado
For starters, Iloilo is the birthplace of the famous La Paz Batchoy—a rich-flavored noodle soup that is a favorite among locals dating back to the 1940s. It’s the Philippines answer to Japan’s ramen, suffice to say. You can try the best ones from the stalls at La Paz Market, where it all originated. Among the most popular stalls are Netong's Original Special La Paz Batchoy and Deco’s Original La Paz Batchoy.
Seafood lovers will also find Ilonggo cuisine a delight since seafood is a very common staple in the whole province. Head to Tatoy’s Manokan and Seafood Restaurant, and taste their crowd favorite dishes like kinilaw na tanigue, baked oysters, and boneless bangus. If you love chicken, try daraag—their wildly popular native chicken that is roasted in charcoal and marinated in vinegar. For your meryenda, a few minutes away from Tatoy’s is Tita Paz: The House Pancit of Molo, which serves another Ilonggo favorite, the pancit molo.
Chika-An Menu via Facebook
Traveling in large groups? Chika-An Restaurant, their official breakfast provider, is an ideal dining place for families and barkadas. Their extensive menu is very Pinoy, you’ll be enticed to order more than you should. They serve seafood, vegetable, sizzling meals, salad, meat, breakfast food—mostly anything that your taste bud will crave! Customers recommend Chika-an’s crispy pork belly, squid sisig and seafood kare-kare.
Join the coconut milk craze in Tacloban City
Tacloban may not be the number one choice for travel in the region, but the city has a lot to offer than you think. For one, it’s the biggest city in Eastern Visayas where you can find the country’s longest bridge, the San Juanico, and it serves as gateway to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. Aside from that, their food is something your taste buds will crave! Going on a food trip in this highly-urbanized city is definitely a must.
Baked scallops from Ocho Seafood and Grill via Instagram: @sabugoesto
Buttered shrimps from Ocho Seafood and Grill via Instagram: @sabugoesto
The Tacloban cuisine is a mix of different Pinoy flavors, but what makes their food so distinct is their delectable use of gata or coconut milk. One of the best places to try their ginataan specialties is Ocho Seafood and Grill where you’ll love their purbidang kangkong and ginataang ganga or spider conch. Their seafoods are also some of the bestsellers, which includes baked scallops, crispy tuna skin, and crispy scallops.
Another traveler’s favorite is Chew Love Tacloban, which features an alfresco dining experience and is most notable for its appealing, Instagram-worthy look. Their quirky menu attracts a lot of customers, with bestsellers including Be Kare-Ful with My Heart (kare-kare), Love at Pork Sight (pork liempo with eggplant salad and rice), and halu-halo which comes in three sizes (Gold Digger, Double Digger and Freaky Digger). Conclude your day by having a glass of the Tacloban classic coconut wine, Vino de Coco, which you can purchase at some supermarkets and re-sellers in the city.
Perk up your morning with the yummy Mexican food offerings from Mex ‘Em Up Grill, Go Hotels Tacloban’s official breakfast provider. They serve most of your morning favorites—from toasted bread to rice and eggs—and some famous Mexican food served with your choice of drink. For those who aren’t fans of breakfast food, their menu also includes angus beef fajita, beef mushroom, buffalo wings, among others. All of these have reasonable prices so don’t fret!
Fall in love with Dumaguete’s chicken inato and seafood offerings
Crystal clear waters of Dumaguete | Photo by Namhwi Kim
Dumaguete is a quiet, little town often overlooked by tourists, but when you discover its hidden gems, a trip to this city is definitely memorable. This place offers the best of both worlds: it’s where you can find big universities where Visayans and Mindanaoans converge, and it’s also a diving haven which houses some of the most beautiful secret beaches in Visayas, and even the Philippines.
Same goes with their food offerings. Their cuisine is a combination of different Pinoy – mostly Visayan – specialties, that is why Dumaguete is one of the best jump-off points to get you started with the Visayan cuisine. If you’re a certified foodie, this is the place to be!
Start off your taste bud adventure with the city’s institution: Jo’s Chicken Inato. You’ll instantly fall in love with chicken inato, their specialty chicken famous for its homestyle cooking. Don’t worry, it’s affordable despite the fame! Their menu also includes other delicious Visayan cuisine like sizzling and seafood, and you can pair them with yummy desserts like the buko halu-halo, one of their bestsellers.
Silvannas from Sans Rival via Instagram: @sansrivalph
To satisfy your seafood cravings, you can find some of the most delicious ones at Lab-As Restaurant. Dining here gives a really calming vibe, since it features al fresco dining beside the sea. They have an extensive menu of your seafood favorites: name it, they have it. End the day by ordering drinks at the Hayahay Treehouse and Viewdeck or try the sushi at Taco Surf Steaks and Sushi Bar—both located beside Lab-As. For the sweet tooth, on the other hand, another food stop that is a certified Dumaguete essential is Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries. It boasts the buttery silvannas and creamy sans rival—perfect for meryenda and/or pasalubong for your loved ones.
Looking for a comfy place for refreshments? Scooby’s, a snack bar just near the hotel is a great place to have a chill afternoon—quite similar to your favorite quaint café in Manila. Students and freelancers frequent here, mostly because of the relaxing environment, stable Wi-Fi and yummy desserts. Try their freak milkshakes (they’re very Instagrammable!) and pair them with pastas, bread or fries.
Traveling to Visayas is a trip that’s worth every penny. While the region is more famous for the island activities and beautiful sights, it is just as much of a paradise for food as it is for the culture, beaches and people. Be sure to get your belly acquainted with the food spots we just mentioned—you’ll miss them when you get home!
Single bedroom at Go Hotels Tacloban
Luckily, there are Go Hotels branches near these food spots, so accommodation is not a hassle. They offer all your essential needs in very affordable rates—that means you can allot more money for food and eat all you want, wherever you want without hurting your wallet. This Visayan experience will definitely make you want to go back.