Where to Eat in Iloilo City: A UNESCO-Recognized Culinary Haven

Celebrating Iloilo City’s Achievement: A UNESCO-Recognized Culinary Haven

Image taken from Breakthrough Restaurant Iloilo Facebook page

Iloilo City, a vibrant metropolis in the heart of the Philippines, has recently gained international recognition for its rich culinary heritage. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has honored it as a UNESCO Creative City Network for Gastronomy. 

The honor is not one to be taken lightly. Iloilo City is the second city in the Philippines to receive this recognition, following Baguio City. Iloilo City stands proudly alongside other gastronomic powerhouses such as Parma, Italy, and Tucson, USA.

This accolade is a testament to the city’s commitment to preserving and promoting its unique gastronomic traditions.

From local favorites like chicken pork adobo and seafood dishes to innovative creations, Iloilo City offers a gastronomic adventure that caters to every palate. 

Anyone visiting Iloilo city should make time to go on a food trip to these culinary destinations as well and partake some of the best Ilonggo dishes in the province.

UNESCO Recognition: The Impact on Iloilo City

The recognition from UNESCO is expected to spur cultural and economic development, draw global food enthusiasts, and foster culinary innovations. It brings the Philippines great pride and honor, putting Iloilo City’s gastronomy on the worldwide stage.

With this recognition, Iloilo City is poised to strengthen its position as a culinary hotspot. The city’s gastronomy, marked by its unique blend of flavors and use of local ingredients, will undoubtedly attract food enthusiasts worldwide.

As the city continues to innovate and preserve its culinary traditions, the numerous dining destinations offering authentic Ilonggo cuisine will answer the question of where to eat in Iloilo City.

Exploring Filipino Cuisine in Iloilo City

Filipino cuisine is a fusion of various culinary influences – from Malaysian and Chinese to Spanish and American. Iloilo food takes on a unique flavor, with mouthwatering dishes that carry the distinct taste of the region.

One of the highlights of Filipino cuisine in Iloilo City is the iconic Chicken Pork Adobo. This versatile dish, simmered in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and spices, is a staple in every Filipino home, and Iloilo City’s version has a unique touch.

Iloilo’s traditional adobo does not include soy sauce. Instead, their adobo uses langgaw – a vinegar slightly more sour than cane vinegar, tomatoes, and muscovado sugar.

Most households use native chicken when preparing this dish and these ingredient add extra richness to the dish, making it a must-try in the city. The same set of ingredients and preparation can also be applied to pork ribs.

Another must-try is the Pancit Molo, a Filipino-Chinese dish from wonton soup filled with minced pork, shrimp, and a hearty broth.

This local food, originating from the district of Molo in Iloilo City, is a testament to the city’s culinary fusion.

Signature Dishes of Iloilo City

An array of signature dishes marks Iloilo City’s culinary scene. Some of the well-known ones include:

La Paz Batchoy

This noodle soup, made with a rich, savory broth, pork organs, crushed pork cracklings, and topped with green onions and a raw egg, and served with egg noodles, is a local favorite as part of main dish or snack.

Pancit Molo

A soupy dish containing molo or wonton wrappers stuffed with ground pork, chicken, or shrimp served with a broth made from chicken stock. It is normally taken in as soup or snacks with a hefty serving of queen siopao on the side.

Chicken Inasal

One of the personal favorites of the locals and a must try for those visiting Iloilo City, Chicken Inasal is a chicken dish marinated in a mixture of calamansi, pepper, vinegar, and annatto and grilled to perfection.

Taken anytime of the day, it is usually a staple in buffet breakfast, viand for lunch, and even at dinner buffet as part of main dishes. It is usually served with a warm bowl of Pancit Molo to wash the chicken oil.

KBL or Kadyos, Baboy, Langka

Traditional Ilonggo soup made with pigeon peas locally called kadyos, pork, and jackfruit, often flavored with a local souring agent called batwan.

There is also a version of this local cuisine that uses fresh coconut milk as part of the ingredients. Either way, both versions are delicious and served even at popular restaurants.


Another one of the famous dishes in Iloilo, Kansi is basilcally a soup dish with beef shanks, green jackfruit, chili peppers, and cooked with batwan.

Where to Eat in Iloilo City: Top Recommendations

The province of Iloilo, whether it is in Mandurriao Iloilo City, Guimaras Island or some other towns within the province, is teeming with many restaurants and eateries like those in the La paz market, serving local great food and international dishes.

The city is particularly famous for its chicken pork adobo, a popular Filipino dish, and seafood dishes made from fresh seafood sourced from the surrounding waters.

Iloilo City has something unique to offer if you’re craving a hearty meal of meat dishes, a feast of fresh seafood, or a bowl of hot chocolate to warm your soul. Here’s a list of locations where the best restaurants in Iloilo can be found:

Villa Arevalo District

Located in the southern part of Iloilo City, the Villa Arevalo District is known for its old-world charm and its modern dining scene.

The district is home to several restaurants that serve traditional Filipino cuisine in a contemporary setting. The fusion of old and new makes Villa Arevalo a unique place to eat in Iloilo City.

Tatoy’s Manokan and Seafood Restaurant

One of the top recommendations in Villa Arevalo is Tatoy’s Manokan and Seafood Restaurant, renowned for its grilled chicken marinated in a secret blend of spices. The restaurant also serves various seafood dishes, including grilled fish, squid adobo, and oysters.

Villa Beach

Another popular dining spot is the Villa Beach, a seaside area with restaurants serving fresh seafood and other local specialties.

Breakthrough Restaurant

The Breakthrough Restaurant in the Villa Arevalo District is a popular spot for fresh seafood. Known for its Aligue Rice (crab fat rice) and Baked Scallops, this seaside restaurant offers a feast of the freshest catch of the day.

The Villa Arevalo District also boasts several bakeries and sweet shops serving traditional Filipino desserts. These treats satisfy your sweet tooth, from the creamy leche flan to the chewy bibingka (rice cake). 

The Iloilo Business Park

The Iloilo Business Park in Iloilo City Proper is a hub of good food and entertainment. Here, you can find various restaurants catering to different tastes and preferences. 

SM City Iloilo

Another popular destination for food lovers is SM City Iloilo, a large shopping mall that houses some of the best restaurants in the city.

La Paz Public Market 

The La Paz Public Market is for those who prefer street food. Known for its delicious food stalls, this market offers a unique food experience that you won’t find in typical restaurants.

From chicken dishes to pork adobo and even Chinese sausage, the La Paz Public Market offers many options for food lovers.

When in you visit Iloilo City for a food trip, take some time to visit other places that serve local favorite, heirloom recipes, even international dishes- with good ambiance, good music, and great service.

There’s also the avenue complex, niño norte, smallville complex, rizal st, mango tree, and the rows of popular restaurant along the riverside boardwalk along the Iloilo river.

Conclusion: A Toast to Iloilo City’s Culinary Achievements

Iloilo City’s vibrant food scene reflects its rich cultural heritage and people’s love for good food.

From the bustling La Paz Public Market to the modern setting of Villa Arevalo District and the unique dining experience near the Old Iloilo Airport Terminal, Iloilo City offers a culinary journey that’s as diverse as it is delicious.

These places aren’t just about food, though. They are places where you can experience the local culture, meet the friendly locals, create lasting memories, and excellent service. So the next time you’re wondering where to eat in Iloilo City, remember that you’re not just going for a meal but an experience.

Here’s to Iloilo City, a UNESCO-recognized culinary haven, and its delectable food scene. May it continue to woo food lovers from around the world with its delicious offerings and warm hospitality. Cheers!

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