The best restaurants in Iloilo are sublime in every sense of the word. Most of these restaurants are affordable, but some are pricey; still, they share one thing in common: They cook their dishes with finesse and passion. Because of this, their food brilliantly represent the diversity and depth of Filipino cuisine. These establishments will help you understand what is in store for you should you embark on a gastronomic journey in Iloilo.
Also read: A Foodie’s Checklist for Iloilo
The best restaurants in Iloilo that you should dine in
If you’re pressed for time, there are two unmissable Iloilo restaurants on this list — especially if it’s your first visit to the city. The first one is Roberto’s. This restaurant is nearly an institution in Iloilo. There isn’t a time when this restaurant has diners by the dozen; its classic fast food tables and take-out counters always swarm with customers. With all of this said, what is it that’s so special about Roberto’s?
There is an informal saying among Ilonggos: It isn’t siopao if it isn’t Roberto’s. That’s right, Roberto’s siopao is so good that it might redefine what people know about the dish entirely. Their siopao comes in different sizes. But for the best value, buy their ‘Queen’ siopao. It is the biggest and the most packed out of all their siopao.
The Queen siopao has chicken-pork adobo, Chinese sausage, bacon, and an entire egg inside it for its filling. If that sounds too good to be true, Roberto’s will make you believe! Aside from their famous siopao, they also have traditional Filipino food such as pancit and even morcon.
Here’s the second restaurant that you shouldn’t miss when you’re in Iloilo. Another culinary institution, Netong’s gradually caught fame among foodies around the Philippines and the world for their la paz batchoy. Starting out as a humble eatery, it has since become a local franchise in Iloilo.
Netong’s la paz batchoy is made from the rich broth of both beef and pork bones mixed with shrimp paste. The meat for this dish usually includes pork intestines and liver topped with crunchy chicharon, chopped scallions, fried garlic, and sometimes with a raw egg on top. Diners also have the option to have it served with noodles. The result is a gorgeous mix of layered flavours and textures held together by a rich broth. This hearty meal is their pride, and their patrons could not be any happier.
3. Tatoy’s Manokan and Seafood
Situated on the beach, Tatoy’s Manok and Seafood possesses an undeniable charm that has instantly attracted Ilonggos since its establishment. And because it’s beside the sea, the restaurant has the benefit of hauling in the freshest catch of the day and turning them into mouthwatering, culinary masterpieces. Paired with the restaurant’s mastery over chicken inasal and Tatoy’s has the perfect recipe to be counted as one of the best restaurants in Iloilo.
Try out their native chicken inasal or lechon for a filling meal and a fine summary of the best food in Western Visayas. But for a truly special dish, order their baked talaba. This dish is so good that even people who don’t have the stomach for oysters love it!
4. Farm to Table
It’s rare to find a buffet restaurant that serves organic food. Farm to Table is a gem in that regard because not only is the food organic, but they’re also very delicious. No longer will you have to feel guilt when eating succulent chilli crabs and tender scallops because their ingredients are from the sea itself. You can also enjoy the freshest vegetables for your salads when dining here. Pair it with an affordable rate, and you have yourself a reliable food spot when looking for the best restaurants in Iloilo.
5. Muelle Deli and Restaurant
Muelle Deli and Restaurant is one of the best restaurants in Iloilo that also happens to have a gorgeous view. Situated beside the Iloilo River, this undeniably ambient restaurant also has some of the best food served in the city.
Their menu is vast and versatile. Aside from the traditional Ilonggo cuisine, the restaurant also boasts exquisite continental dishes. As its name also suggests, they also have a wide range of delis for sale, all of which are robust in flavour. Pair some of it with wine as you relax, and dine by the riverside for a truly lovely meal.
6. Madge Cafe
One of the best restaurants in Iloilo also happens to be the simplest. Operational since the 1940s, Madge Cafe serves its patrons every day, and at any time of the day. They owe that success to cups upon cups of traditional Ilonggo brewed coffee.
Their strong brew’s popularity isn’t surprising once you get to taste it. It’s just simple black coffee, sure, but its acidity and robustness make it so unforgettable. It pairs great with their wide selection of cakes and doughnuts.
7. Troi Oi
Iloilo’s vibrant culinary scene is very welcoming. Troi Oi is one such example. It stands out among other restaurants because it offers traditional Vietnamese food right in the heart of Iloilo. It serves local diners well and is a formidable addition to the culinary hub that is Iloilo.
So if you’re craving pho when in Iloilo, Troi Oi would be the place to go. Needless to say, their pho tastes divine. The broth is flavourful, the proteins are firm and tasty, and its vegetables are crisp. Apart from that, they also serve street food that you would find when strolling in, say, Hanoi, such as banh xeo.
8. Tonino’s Ristorante
Another rising star in Iloilo’s culinary scene is Tonino’s Ristorante. This traditional Italian restaurant is hidden inside a subdivision, making it a great place to dine in private. But would the food be worth it when looking for such an elusive place?
It most definitely is! Any pick out of their pasta selection is tasteful. Tonino’s also has something up its sleeve for meat lovers. Their steaks are always cooked to perfection and every bite of the protein is sublime. Make that trip to Tonino’s and have that one-of-a-kind meal.
9. Mamusa Art Bistro
For an eclectic dining space, Mamusa Art Bistro provides diners with an experience out of the ordinary, in a good and enriching way. Doubling as an art space, this restaurant makes use of its gorgeous setting by serving delectable food while enjoying contemporary art. And much like the works exhibited inside, most of their food and drinks are born from places of inspiration. Taste their crispy kare-kareng bagnet or their signature Mamusa blends for a stirring meal.
10. Ramboy’s Lechon and Restaurant
Ramboy’s Lechon and Restaurant is one of the best restaurants in Iloilo and that is undisputed. Their food is legendary in the culinary landscape of Western Visayas, so much so that they have expanded their reach to other islands by becoming a franchise.
Their lechon is still consistently good even after all these years. This also applies to their lechon manok. Both are still highly sought after by locals while still attracting tourists constantly. If you try it out, it’s safe to say that it might just become your new favourite.
If you love food, you should definitely visit Iloilo. Their dishes are simple, but people always keep coming back to their cuisine. But maybe it’s because Ilonggos cook their food with intuitiveness. That much is clear with the food that they cook.
Featured image credit: Muelle Deli and Restaurant | Official Facebook page