Just a few hours’ drive from Manila, La Union is a favourite spot to surf, chill on the beach, and enjoy the buzzing nightlife. If you haven’t already noticed, it’s also brimming with amazing eats! To put the spotlight on Elyu’s exciting culinary scene, we’ve come up with a list of 20 restaurants in La Union that you definitely can’t miss out on.
We’ve got you covered from breakfast till happy hour! Let’s make your next visit an Elyu food trip, shall we?
1. Mad Monkeys
When in La Union, Mad Monkeys is a must, especially if you love a good burger! Their menu includes their very own mouthwatering recipes, as well as flavours from across the globe. Firstly, make sure to try the ‘Classic’ — a 200-gram, 100% beef patty generously drizzled with their secret cheddar beer sauce. Additionally, you can also try it with a twist, in the form of their ‘SOS’ burger. The patty is topped with a stack of crispy onion rings!
Mad Monkeys address: Mac Arthur Highway, Barangay Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union
2. Olas Banditos
A laidback spot for lunch, dinner, or drinks, Olas Banditos is another crowd favourite! When you hit this Mexican joint, you’ll want to try a whole bunch of their specialities. This being said, try to come with a group so you can enjoy them all! Be sure not to miss out on their flautas, tacos, and burritos. Also, don’t forget to try their homemade horchata!
Olas Banditos address: National Highway, Brgy. Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union, San Juan, La Union
3. Clean Beach
Clean Beach is an eco-friendly beachside cafe that doesn’t just offer great coffee and food. Above all, they’re driven by their mission to live up to their name. Here, they encourage visitors to grab one of their provided beach baskets and collect litter from the beach. Their reward? A free glass of their home brewed iced tea!
In addition, come by for coffee, cocktails, or refreshing fruit shakes! Notably, you get ₱10 off your order when you bring your own tumbler. As for their must-try food item? Their Kaya toast!
Clean Beach address: 134 Beachfront, MacArthur Highway, Brgy. Urbiztondo, San Juan, 2514 La Union
4. Sunset Shack by Fatwave Resort
Meet your new favourite happy hour spot! Sunset Shack is located at Fatwave Resort’s beachfront, and they have a whole lineup of interesting signature cocktails. These include their salted caramel vodka shots, ‘Elyuzu’ (gin, cucumber, lemon, campari & yuzu puree), and ‘It’s Complicated’ (tequila, gin, watermelon, dalandan, and pineapple with a kick of fire water liqueur)! What’s more, they serve cocktails in pitchers for you to enjoy with your barkada, too!
Sunset Shack address: Beachfront at Fatwave Surf Resort, Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union
5. Tagpuan sa San Juan
Now this one’s an Elyu classic! Tagpuan is a humble roadside restaurant that serves Filipino comfort food at affordable prices. It’s a great choice if you’re craving for a home-cooked meal, or looking for somewhere to eat after a night out. In other words, come by if you’re on the hunt for a good hangover cure! Two notable items on their menu? Their bagnet and beef tapa (but you’ll definitely want to try a whole lot more)!
Tagpuan address: Urbiztondo Rd, San Juan La Union
6. El Union Coffee
Let’s be real — is a trip to La Union ever complete without stopping by El Union Coffee? Definitely one of San Juan’s most popular establishments, this spot is perfect for breakfast, dessert, and your daily dose of caffeine. Must-try menu items include their dirty horchata (a horchata with a shot of espresso), waffles, and s’mores. Above all, you can’t miss out on their mouthwatering grilled cheese sandwich with bacon jam!
El Union Coffee address: Kilometer 274+600 MacArthur National Highway, Barangay Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union
7. Makai Bowls
Another iconic La Union establishment, Makai Bowls is best known for its refreshing smoothie bowls. And yes — they are as delicious as they are Instagram-worthy! To add to this popular menu item, they also serve chia bowls, fruit popsicles, fresh smoothies, and juice. Without question, they’re all perfect for cooling down after spending a hot day at the beach!
Makai Bowls address: The Great Northwest Philippine Travel Stop & Viewing Deck, San Juan, La Union
8. Papa Bear
Brimming with a variety of Asian flavours, Papa Bear is a place you’ll want to keep coming back to so you can try everything on the menu. Because nope, you won’t want to split your orders with a friend! Must-try dishes include their tacos, sambal pork, chicken satay, and char kway teow. For dessert, don’t miss out on their Milo dinosaur soft serve!
Papa Bear address: The Great Northwest Philippine Travel Stop and Viewing Deck, McArthur Highway, San Juan, La Union
9. Great Gamble Seafood Shack
Calling all seafood lovers! Great Gamble Seafood Shack has reimagined several new ways to enjoy your favourite seaside dishes. Here are a few menu items that just might tickle your fancy: the ‘Quarter ‘Pounder’ (crab, shrimp, and scallops in a brioche roll), grilled tilapia burgers, and crispy crab burgers!
Great Gamble Seafood Shack address: The Great Northwest Philippines Travel Stop and Viewing Deck, Urbiztondo, La Union, Philippines
10. Coco Mama
Whether you’re on the hunt for a guilt-free treat or simply looking for something sweet to munch on, you have to drop by Coco Mama! Their signature vegan desserts served in coconut shells have remained in many minds since they first opened in Boracay. We guarantee you’ll end your trip daydreaming about their coconut ice cream. It’s served with mango, sticky rice, and pinipig!
Coco Mama address: The Great Northwest Philippine Travel Stop & Viewing Deck, San Juan, La Union
11. Sabong Fried Chicken
If you didn’t think it was possible to feel like going on a five hour drive just for a plate of fried chicken, you thought wrong. With their exciting lineup of flavours, Sabong has practically reinvented what was once just a staple dish for many of us! Certainly, their honey bagoong, Korean soy garlic, and eight-spice rubbed fried chicken are a few things you’ll want to keep coming for!
Sabong Fried Chicken address: The Great Northwest Philippine Travel Stop & Viewing Deck, San Juan, La Union
12. Salad Stoke
#SaladSluts, this one’s for you! Hidden in San Juan’s Monaliza Surf Resort, Salad Stoke is your new go-to for fresh salads, fruit bowls, smoothies, and parfaits. They’re so good, you’ll be torn between keeping this hideout a secret or sharing it with the world. And what’s more to love? Apart from their selection of salads, you also have the option to build your own bowl!
Salad Stoke address: Monaliza Surf Resort, Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union
Definitely a gem for those who love to brunch, Barefoot is tucked in San Juan’s Monaliza Surf Resort. Menu items you won’t want to miss out on? Their breakfast burger, Manong Benny (Barefoot’s take on eggs Benedict), and French toast — complete with fresh strawberries and blueberries from Baguio!
Barefoot address: Monaliza Surf Resort, Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union
14. Masa Bakery
Fellow bread lovers, make sure not to skip this one! Masa Bakery is on a mission to #StopBadBread, and they’re definitely doing it right.
Regulars will know Masa as La Union’s local travelling bakery. Thankfully, however, it’s finally found a permanent home in San Juan. Undoubtedly your favourite new spot in La Union, Masa Bakery is home to a variety of freshly baked breads, pizza, sandwiches, and quality coffee!
Masa Bakery address: San Roberto St., San Juan, La Union
15. The Coffee Library
Image credit: The Coffee Library San Juan LU Official Facebook Page
This coffee shop is certainly Instagrammable, and bookworms will love that it lives up to its name. They carry a selection of books that guests are free to borrow and enjoy over a cup of coffee. After soaking up some sun at the beach, come by not just coffee, but for their refreshing desserts. Their halo-halo and mango graham float are both great ways to beat the summer heat!
The Coffee Library address: Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union
16. Layag Grille and Kilawen Bar
No trip is ever truly complete without getting a taste of the local fare! Layag Grille and Kilawen Bar focuses on just that — inihaw and kilawen (goat, beef, pork, or fish half-cooked in organic vinegar or calamansi), which is a speciality in the Ilocos Region.
When dining here, it’s best to arrive with an empty stomach. Recommended menu items include their liempo, chicken inasal, sinigang, and octopus kilawen! After a hearty meal, enjoy their Ais Kacang-inspired halo-halo!
Layag Grille and Kilawen Bar address: Urbiztondo Rd., San Juan, La Union
17. Surf Shack
It doesn’t come as a surprise that Surf Shack is one of La Union’s frequented spots. You’ll find almost anything and everything on their menu! Brick oven pizzas, shawarma, salads, and seafood — the list goes on. It’s a pretty random selection, but that’s exactly why we love it! With a generous array of beers and cocktails, this open-air roadside restaurant is an ideal place to spend happy hour, too!
Surf Shack address: 279 Urbiztondo Rd., MacArthur Highway, San Juan, La Union
Here’s another cool place to escape the heat, especially when you’re visiting La Union in the summer! Leche serves craft ice cream with a variety of original flavours that’ll definitely pique your interest. Here are a few that stand out on their menu: ‘Champorado-Tuyo’, ‘Flat Tops,’ ‘Kape + Yosi’, and ‘Mangga’t Suman’! Enjoy your ice cream on a cone, in a cup, or with pandesal!
Leche address: MacArthur Highway, Urbiztondo Beach, San Juan, La Union
19. Tipple & Brew
With a selection of craft beer, wine, cocktails, and lots of pulutan options, Tipple & Brew is an ideal place for an inuman with friends. Moreover, their roof deck in particular is a cool al fresco happy hour spot!
Not just limited to drinks and bar chow, Tipple & Brew serves a little bit of everything. You can enjoy their meals at any time of day! Their most-loved menu items include their sisig, burger sliders, seafood pesto, fried isaw, and bacon-wrapped sausages.
Tipple & Brew address: MacArthur Highway, Urbiztondo Beach, San Juan, La Union
20. Halo Halo de Iloko
While you’ll find that most of the restaurants on this list are in San Juan, take note that this one is in San Fernando. Despite being a little out of the way, it’s certainly worth the side trip!
Halo Halo de Iloko doesn’t serve your regular halo-halo; come by and you’ll find that theirs has a little extra something you won’t find in Manila. They offer the popular Pinoy dessert in several interesting ways, which include deep fried, in a buko, and in ginataan form!
Halo Halo de Iloko address: Zandueta St, San Fernando, La Union
Well, now I’m starving! Are you itching to start your Elyu food crawl, too? Use this list of restaurants in La Union as a guide, and share your experience with us on Instagram. Don’t forget to tag us at @tripzillaph!