Foods on top of banana leaves, rice, shrimp, fish, grilled pork, mussels, watermelon, coconut, sauces, vegetables

Food brings the Filipino family together. In this article we dished out the Filipino cuisine's origin, Philippines food expectations, the best Filipino dish to try, and special food delicacies around the country.

Hospitality is the main Filipino trait and it is also evident when eating.

If you travel to the Philippines, you will very often get invited “kain na tayo” (let’s eat) if you happen to catch a Filipinos in the eyes while they are eating.

It is considered to be not courteous if you don’t invite people around you when you are eating. In this article we are going to show you how to appreciate and enjoy Filipino foods when in the Philippines.

Philippines Food Culture and Traditions

If you think of fusion food, Filipino food was the predecessor to Asian Fusion before the phrase was coined. Different cultures left their mark in Filipino food evolution over thousand years making this the melting pot of cultural culinary influences.

An intricate pattern of Chinese (pancit, lumpia, anything soy-based, stir frying), American (burgers, fried chicken, fast food), Spanish (any dishes sautéd with garlic, tomatoes and onions, flans, sofritos, fiesta foods, for example bringhe, Filipino-style Paella most closely associated with Pampanga), Japanese and indigenous cooking.

Filipino culinary traditions reflect the country's unique colonial history and varied geography.

The Philippines location played an important role in being a focal point of trade and migration dating back to Malayo-Polynesians in around 3,000 BC. Some of these traders became the first settlers in the country, and came their influence of rice as the staple ingredient to the Philippines. The Chinese and other Asian traders brought with them bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, tofu,soy sauce, fish sauce, lemongrass, and ofcourse noodles.

Then the colonizers came along. The Spanish introduced new cooking methods like braising and sauteing, as well as new ingredients like potatoes, tomatoes, corn, onions and garlic. Finally, the Americans brought with it fried chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, and the idea of “cooking with convenience”.

Here Are Some of the Examples of Influences on Filipino Foods.

Eating in the Philippines is always a joyful experience. We take our time and savour our food rather than just having a quick meal. We love sharing the experience with everyone. We are very sociable and meal time is always the perfect excuse to meet and socialise.

Best Philippines Food Books to Read

Our Favorite Online Filipino Recipes With Videos

If you must know, I (Heyz) never cooked so much my entire life until Coronavirus happened. Being locked down in India for 6 months and counting made me crave for Filipino foods so much. I don't have much choice but to cook. Here are my favorite websites.

What to Expect in Filipinos and Philippines Food

Filipinos are always eating. We don’t just have three (3) meals in a day, we’ve added two (2) more snacks we call “merienda” (afternoon snacks) and midnight snacks. Snacks are light but don’t let this fool you. Our afternoon merienda can include something as filling as goto (Filipino congee) or bihon (fried rice sticks) plus bibingka (fluffy rice cakes topped with cheese).

In most foreign visitors' perspective, Filipino foods taste too sweet, or too heavy or too salty. Sugar is added a bit too much to everything, from hamburgers and sweet spaghetti's (like in Filipino’s favorite fast food Jollibee - PS. I love it but Josh hates it) to locally rendered Thai food. But if you know what to order you’ll find much pleasure to satisfy even those who have the most selective taste buds.

The international culinary audience are not a fan of Filipino foods. Or are they really? More often than not Filipino foods are largely misunderstood and neglected by the rest of the world. Sometimes, the food culture of the Philippines is also overshadowed by the all time fave Asian flavors from the neighboring countries Vietnam and Thailand. But the Philippines can hold its own global culinary stage in a poll that CNN conducted in 2015 to its readers on what was their favorite food destination.

In fact, the late well known celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain claimed the best pork he ever ate was in the Philippines. In 2012, Andrew Zimmern (American culinary expert, chef, restaurateur, television personality, director, producer, entrepreneur, food critic) proclaimed Filipino food to be “the next great thing”.

In truth, indigenous Filipino food is neither as bad as its international reputation, nor as delicious as locals would have you believe. Of course, it all depends on your taste buds. Bottom line, our food is tasty. I hope the world will realize what Andrew did a few years ago

I don't know about you but for me and Josh
- Filipino cuisine is delicious.

15 Must-Try Philippines Food for Your First Time Visit to the Country

Exotic Pinoy Foods

Places and Restaurants to Eat Around the Philippines

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Eat Your Way Around the Philippines

In a country of geographic diversity, it's no surprise that there's an equally diverse array of regional specialties. Staples such as rice, longganisa, lechon, adobo and even balut are cooked and presented in different ways. Of the regional cuisines, the spicy food of Bicol is probably most suited to Western palates, while Filipinos consider Pampanga province in Luzon as the country’s food capital.

Philippines Food for Fiesta

Each village, town and city in the Philippines has its own fiesta celebrated on the feast day of its patron saint (in the Catholic calendar). Before, every household was expected to prepare local food and for anybody who appeared at the door. Today, food is still prepared but on a smaller scale, and only people who have been invited shows up at the buffet table.

The preparation on such occasions varies regionally, but expect meats are always present generally consisting of pork, beef and chicken dishes, sometimes fish and seafood are thrown in.

“Kaldereta” (beef or goat-meat stew), “igado” (stir-fried pork liver), fried chicken and of course the “lechon” (roast pig) are some of the dishes you can expect to find at a fiesta. Local delicacies like sweet rice cakes are served as dessert. Birthdays and other private parties are usually celebrated with a big plate of “pancit”.

Where to Eat & Drink

Although Filipinos love to eat out, you hardly ever need to book ahead for the trendiest restaurants in busy metros like Manila and Cebu. Here are the places where you can order food and drinks.

Food Tours, Events, Destinations Around the Philippines

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Philippines Food for Vegetarians & Vegans

If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you’ll have a hard time eating out in this meat-mad country. It is hard to find soy-based products outside of Manila or Cebu, where Chinese merchants and restaurants sell soy milk, tofu etc. Beans in general is often not on the menu in the Philippines, hence getting adequate protein can be difficult. If you feel this is going to be a problem, then we advise that you stock up on these products before leaving the metropolis.

Drink Guide

Alcoholic Drinks

Non-alcoholic Drinks

Philippines Street Food

Filipinos’ love for food is exceptional. Despite three large meals, we still enjoy taking several snacks in between. This is where street food plays its part. Filipinos love having access to a quick bite anywhere, anytime. So does a great variety of street snacks have developed - some sweet, some savory, and some are just... odd.

In this street food adventure, we must first understand the word “tusok” (Tagalog word for poke). Most of the Filipino street foods are deep fried, eaten by taking a pointed skewer and “poking” or sticking it through the pieces, and then dipping it into your preferred sauce.

Here’s the most common Filipino street foods:

Other Resources

Final Thoughts

This is only an introductory taste to all the different Filipino foods available. Needless to say, boiled rice is the centerpiece of any meal may it be fiesta, birthdays or ordinary days. Regular Filipinos eat rice everyday from the time they are able to eat solid food.

A piece of advice, when we travel we must aim to dive into the culture of the place and one of which is by eating local food. Understand the culture better through food and enjoy the experience.

And, along with the food, one of the most memorable parts of eating in the Philippines are the amazingly friendly people you’ll share your food with.

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14 thoughts on “Philippines Food: The Ultimate Food Guide”

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  4. Wow so much international diversity, awesome post..
    Ilocos would go my taste as I love eggplants and veggie
    food. Fantastic, detailed post with book recommendations,
    I’m thrilled..

    1. Thank you! If you like veggies or if you are a vegetarian, there are several vegetarian restos in the cities and metros. We do have tons of tropical fruits to fill your tummy when you are on the far fetched islands.

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    1. hazel apuhin

      I love milkfish too. I have been craving for it here in India. I love it grilled with stuffed tomatoes and onions. Yum!

      1. Thankyou for sharing this! I’ve never had Filipino food and wouldn’t know where to start. This post is super helpful, I’m inspired to give it a try now!

        Shayla |

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