Street food spots in the Philippines can be found all across the archipelago. Apart from providing affordable but delicious meals, these food places are popular hangouts for groups of friends or families for a simple night out. Find out more about these spots so you can plan your next food crawl!
Street food spots in in Metro Manila
Tondo is a haven for street food. Multiple areas in this district of Manila are most likely responsible for making tumbong soup (large pork intestine soup), famous among street food seekers. Due to its growing popularity, the tumbong soup made casual diners from all over Manila curious. Since the foodie market grew, other food shops followed suit and capitalised on the trend.
Ugbo Street shines as one of the most famous street food spots in Tondo. Before becoming the famous food strip it is today, only a few eateries drew steady patronage along the district. Two of them, Aling Consuelo Halo-halo and Rado’s, may have been responsible for boosting Ugbo’s prominence as a thriving street food spot in the Philippines.
Today, apart from the two prolific eateries, many shops make Ugbo far more diverse. From being famous for serving tumbong soup, lechon kawali (deep-fried pork belly) and halo-halo (mixed sweets on shaved ice), the food strip eventually expanded and now has a community of food shop owners. With more people visiting the food strip every week, Ugbo has unarguably become a prime street food spot in the Philippines.
While other street food spots in Tondo don’t have a community like Ugbo, they earned their fame in their own right. Beside the Moriones Sports Association (Morsacc, for short) is a strip of tumbong soup stalls open as early as 2am. With their opening hours, the stalls are frequented by drivers at almost any time of the day. This time slot also attracts people trying to sober up from drinking sessions, as the broth acts as a makeshift remedy; not to mention, it is also a decent meal.
Quiapo itself is one of the biggest street food spots in the Philippines, but it can be difficult to navigate through. It doesn’t have a definite hub like most spots, but almost any area you might end up in Quiapo will have something to offer for foodies. Don’t get lost!
Quiapo can be divided into food specialities to help you decide and navigate through the gastronomic jungle. If you end up in Carriedo, for example, you will find some of the tastiest sotanghon (glass noodle soup) in Metro Manila. A famous food cart, affectionately called Eddie Wow Lugaw, serves the simple lugaw (Filipino-style congee) with cow brains and entrails. You can also order lumpiang togue (fried spring rolls with bean sprouts) or fried tofu on the side. It might sound exotic, sure, but it is absolutely yummy!
If you find yourself in Palanca Street, Vienna Bakery has a brilliant selection of freshly cooked hopia (bean-filled pastry).And, while not street food, you can also find Excelente here, makers of Chinese ham.
In Raon, Globe Lumpia House is almost an institution which foodies can rely on for delicious Chinese spring rolls. For halal options, Quiapo’s Muslim Town is teeming with eateries that feature authentic Maranao cuisine. Finally, Quinta Market houses Pastora Palabok, where they serve firmly cooked rice noodles with decadent shrimp sauce.
Most of Binondo’s food staples come from restaurants. But, did you know that it is also a rich street food spot in the Philippines? The choices may be limited, but the few street food options are undisputed heavyweights among foodies.
Shanghai Fried Siopao represents Ongpin Street when it comes to inexpensive but filling snacks. Although seemingly small, their siopao is packed with a delicious meat filling and is encased with a soft, gentle dough. The light sear at the bottom of the bun from frying gives it a gentle toast, giving it a bit of crunch when biting. A piece of this bun might be all you will need, but we can’t judge you for having seconds.
Why not buy fruits from the colourful Carvajal Street for a healthier option? Almost every kind of fruit can be bought here, but do keep in mind if your favourite is in season.
Speaking of healthy options, you can also find New Po Heng Lumpia, also located on Carvajal Street, for fresh Chinese vegetable spring rolls. Pair it with their thick pork or fish maki soup for a nourishing meal to energise you!
Finally, for easy snacks on the go, you can go to Hormiga Street for crunchy cornick (deep-fried corn puffs). Now, before you say that this snack can be found anywhere, you must know that the cornick here is remarkably delicious. It is deep-fried; yet, it feels light and rich in taste. The same can be said for their peanuts; you can mix them together in a bag for a nutritious and filling snack.
Concepcion Market should be more famous as a street food spot in the Philippines. Since Malabon is a popular seafood market, it’s only natural that their speciality is okoy (fried shrimp pancakes). These delightful treats are light, crispy, and filling, especially when the pancakes have sweet potato or pumpkin pieces included. It is usually poured with spiced vinegar for savoury bites.
Another snack that should be tasted here is the kikiam (Filipino-Chinese sausage). Unlike most commercial versions of this snack, kikiam in Malabon has a special egg wrap that acts as a light shell which encases flavoured pieces of meat. These can be served pre-cooked, but it’s best to enjoy them when they’re freshly fried.
We can’t forget the multi-coloured treat that is the sapin-sapin (layered glutinous rice and coconut). Fresh sapin-sapin from the oven of Dolor’s is the stuff dreams are made of. Each slice of this dessert will make you smile, from its texture to its taste. Make time for the shop whenever you are in Malabon, it’s worth it.
Street food spots in Cebu
You’ll never find a street food spot in the Philippines quite like Cebu. The Queen City of the South has some of the best street food around, and they’re not even that difficult to find. At every turn, you’ll find fried chicken, siomai sa tisa (steamed pork dumplings), or ngohiong (Chinese sausage) sold alongside bundled puso (hanging rice).
Makeshift hubs are also popular in Metro Cebu. Stalls usually serve grilled meats like pork, chicken, and seafood. Some of them even offer sinigang (meat stews in tamarind). One famous spot that serves most of the food mentioned here is Pungko-Pungko sa Fuente. Be sure to also order ginabot (deep-fried pork intestines) while you’re here!
If you want something sweet and cold to ward off heat in Cebu, try a cup of Sol’s in any of its branches. These light cups of halo-halo are incredibly popular throughout the city for their simplicity and affordability. Since their ingredients are pretty light, their flavour is not overbearing and refreshing compared to its commercial counterparts.
Street food spots in Davao
Davao has a sophisticated palate when it comes to food, so it’s no surprise that it has one of the most prolific street food spots in the Philippines. Roxas Night Market prides itself as a street food spot filled with innovation and ingenuity. It has enjoyed steady growth since it started, thanks to a seemingly endless strip of food options.
These options are very diverse as well. You can enjoy home cooking from stalls that serve traditional meals like sinigang and grilled meats. Crowd favourites like lechon (roast pig) are rampant inside the market. Halal options are also available. You can find fruit cups and drinks if you want something light. There are also trendy and Insta-worthy food items, like black charcoal ice cream and fluffy waffle wraps. If you have an adventurous palate, Roxas Night Market has just what you’re looking for.
It can be overwhelming to pick out a street food spot in the Philippines because of all the available options. But, that’s a good thing. These street food spots serve so many purposes apart from providing affordable meals. For some, it’s a part of everyday life, especially for people who work on the road. But most importantly, these places to dine in bring people closer together.
Featured image credited to The Aden Manalo Collection via Canva Pro.