Best Food in Vigan, Ilocos Sur

Historic Bites: A Food Lover’s Guide to Vigan

Vigan has always been a popular destination for tourism in Ilocos Region. The Philippines’ Heritage City is practically an artifact with its historical significance. Scores of visitors frequent the place, matching the number of attractions ready to meet the demand. 

When talking about Vigan, two images immediately come to mind. First is the iconic cobblestoned streets of Calle Crisologo and Plaza Burgos buzzing with tourists and the clip-clopping of horseshoes; the second is that of street vendors peddling the freshly fried, savory, semi-circle packets of meat and vegetables called empanadas. 

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Apart from the centuries-old intricately designed churches and structures that reflect the enormous influence of the Spanish occupation in the region, Vigan has curated a classic stable of delicacies that developed a following from Filipino foodies and fostered curiosity among global gourmands. 

Best Food in Vigan Ilocos Sur

Ilocanos are known to be practical spenders but great purveyors of food. While subscribing to stereotypes is generally frowned upon by modern society, Ilocanos presented these attributes in their cuisine using the ingredients available to make spectacular dishes people crave. Ilocano cuisine has been described as food that pairs best with rice, yet they offer classic meal must-haves to merienda offerings. Read on to learn more about Vigan’s most delectable dishes. 


Of course, the article kicks things off with bagnet. Its concept is simple enough: deep fried pork belly. Similar in concept and execution to lechon kawali, preparing bagnet includes a slight change in its preparation, which pays off significantly in the result. Bagnet and lechon kawali are prepared by boiling pork belly cuts before deep frying. The main difference? Bagnet is cooked in a stew of garlic, onion, bay leaves, and peppercorns that introduce new facets to its flavor profile and is fried twice. 

With a few tweaks to the preparation comes the joy of sinking your teeth through crispy, crackling skin and into soft and savory pork. Inventive chefs and cooks use bagnet in various dishes, from pinakbet to Bicol Express and even pizza. 

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Despite all these, there is no wrong way to enjoy bagnet. Whether dipping it in sukang Ilocano (sugarcane vinegar) or as an added attraction to another dish, bagnet makes any recipe a winning meal. 

Vigan Empanada

Empanada has reached near-synonymity with Vigan, where the hand-held delicacy is sold in the streets as a portable snack that tourists can lug around while taking in the sights and sounds of the heritage city. 

Did you know that the Ilocano empanada is not an original creation? A localized variant of the Spanish empanada as baking was not a popular or practical option, Ilocanos have improvised by frying their empanadas instead. 

There are two kinds of Ilocano empanada: Batac or Laoag and the Vigan variants. The former, the more popular version, is filled with green papaya and mung bean sprouts, also called togue. Batac or Laoag empanada is tinged with an orange color and has a thicker layer of rice wrapper, while the latter retains its original color. Later forms of Ilocano empanada began to include ingredients abundant to the locals, such as eggs and Vigan longganisa, making it the empanada we all know and love today. 

Enjoying empanada and okoy is a street food one must do when in Vigan. The snack has become so popular that several establishments have begun selling empanadas in Manila, but there is always something about being in the blazing streets of Vigan while enjoying an empanada and a bottle of soda.


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Dinakdakan, also called warek-warek, can be described as a creamy mix of boiled and grilled chopped pork organs and vegetables. The dish is often mistaken for sisig due to the use of pork parts such as the face or maskara, collar, ears, tongue, liver, intestines, and stomach with onions and chilis. However, dinakdakan bears the distinction of using three key ingredients: ginger, black peppercorns, and mashed pig brains to become the sauce. In the latter’s absence, mayonnaise is also used as a substitute.

Savory and layered with different textures, the dish is usually partnered with a steaming pile of rice or served as pulutan or bar chow paired with a cold glass of beer similar to sisig. Due to the affordability and abundance of its ingredients, the dish is slowly becoming a staple of eateries nationwide. 

Longganisang Vigan

The Filipino version of chorizo or sausage has long been considered one of the mainstays of the Filipino breakfast table. Longganisa are smoked meats filled with ground lean pork, ground pork fat, brown sugar, onions, garlic, and bay leaves, seasoned with soy sauce, vinegar, black pepper, and salt. Among the various versions of longganisa throughout the country, the Vigan longganisa’s taste profile stands unique for its strong garlic taste. Cooked fried, smoked, or boiled, longganisang Vigan is best enjoyed with spiced vinegar and rice.


Coming from the Ilokano word pinakebbet, meaning shriveled, pinakbet is a mainly vegetable dish with a sprinkling of protein. Pinakbet Ilocano combines ampalaya (bitter gourd), string beans, sweet potato, okra, onions, and tomatoes mixed with bagnet and a dash of bagoong (fish paste). Like the other entrants on this list, a more generalized version exists in pinakbet Tagalog featuring squash and lechon kawali instead of bagnet. Pinakbet, in either form, is best served with rice and is a dish that gives off a sinful taste but is packed with nutrients and antioxidants.

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Ilocano cuisine’s use of easily accessible ingredients and tendency to turn them into delectable dishes led to its significance and current place in popular culture. The popularization of Ilocano cuisine across the Philippines is another reason to visit Vigan, launching foodies from all over on a quest to see the already storied city. 

Must try Filipino Food, Local Dishes and International Fares

Conveniently located along the Vigan Plaza and within the vicinity are a string of restaurants and cafes that have an extensive menu of Ilocano delicacy, local dishes and even international dishes if you want to take a break from Filipino food. There is Lilong and Lilang restaurant, 1995 Studio Cafe and Cafe Uno, Coffee Break Vigan, Calle Brewery, Kusina Felicitas, Casa Jardin Empanada — mostly serving dishes like those mentioned. Apart from local dishes, they serve anything from Chinese cuisine, international rice bowl meals, and honey garlic chicken wings.

There is also a range of accommodations for visitors – from hotels to bed and breakfast type of lodging. Check out Grandpa’s Inn and Vigan Plaza Hotel. On your way home, do not forget to buy a bottle of Sukang Iloko (cane vinegar) and Vigan’s famous fermented fish sauce.

Why remain a tourist when you can own a home in the Heritage City of the Philippines? 

Camella Bantay

Camella Bantay remains the best route in settling down in the Heritage City with a wide selection of elegantly designed Mediterranean-themed houses and lot offerings. Whether for a growing family or a retiring couple looking to settle down, there is a home for you in Camella Bantay, with multiple home types: Bella, Cara, Dana, and Freya. Each house model features a two-story design, two to five bedrooms, two to three toilets and baths, a spacious kitchen and dining area perfect for home celebrations, and a living space for spending quality time with loved ones.

Querencia, A Vista Estates Development, is poised to breathe new life in Metro Vigan

 In the heart of Metro Vigan, where Plazas Salcedo and Burgos and the nearby Calle Crisologo have all been the center of the Bigueños’ lives for centuries, lies another gem waiting to be discovered. Querencia sits on a 16-hectare prime land along the National Highway. Vigan, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, boasts of being one of Asia’s well-preserved representations of a Spanish colonial village.

A collection of vertical residences with smart technology features, Querencia Towers will be replete with modern facilities. Centers for leisure, commercial, and retail concepts will be intertwined into the residential node. Designed after mission-style architecture, the towers and first-rate amenities, including a commercial hub called Azulejos, will indulge residents with a taste of estate living. 

Indulge yourself in Ilocano cuisine, and live your best life in the Heritage City by exploring the offerings of Camella and Vista Estates in Vigan. 

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