As we settle into a new year, it’s time to take a dive into the vibrant food scene of the Philippines. An exciting and diverse nation means cuisine that varies from traditional and regional Filipino specialties to world-class modern bites. Whether you’re in the mood for a tasting menu in Manila or crispy pata in Cebu, these are our picks of the best places to eat in the Philippines in 2020.
Start making your foodie bucket list for the year, ticking off these restaurants one by one…
Best Places To Eat In The Philippines In 2020How do these rankings work?
The food at Abe focuses on Kapampangan favourites, while also serving other top-notch gourmet fare. The restaurant itself offers upscale surroundings and superb service. However, it’s the inventive dishes that make this one of the best Filipino restaurants in Manila.
Everything features an artist’s or writer’s storyline behind it, for a unique dining experience that feels more like an immersive, flavourful storybook than anything else.
The ultimate Filipino party dish, lechon is a whole pig is spit-roasted over coals, with the crisp, golden-brown skin served with liver sauce. Usually cooked at home for special celebrations, it’s to die for. While everyone you meet in the Philippines has their own favourite place to go, Elar’s Lechon is a legend for good reason.
It’s been serving up crispy, charcoal roasted pork since the 1970s, and shows no sign of slowing down in popularity.
The Pig & Palm is a real gem from one of the world’s top chefs. From the intricacies of the dishes they serves daily to the creativity that oozes out of the kitchen and into the dining space, this spot is superb.
From the starters to the small plates, there’s a lot to love here. But, it’s the entrees that are really captivating. Sample the 35-day dry-aged ribeye for a tantalising treat your tastebuds will never forget.
Golden Cowrie has locations across the country, with a passion for fusion traditional Filipino dishes. Think: Miki Negra made with squid ink sauce and deconstructed bone marrow, which is served with a flavoursome soup. There’s also all the classics on the menu, from crispy pata to grilled tuna or pork belly.
With a welcoming, family-friendly atmosphere and food worthy of a real feast, we can see why it’s such a hit with local Cebuanos.
This cosy seafood restaurant in Puerto Princesa is set in a beautiful, traditional wooden Filipino house. Serving up a menu of local ingredients, you can expect to taste some of the freshest fish in Palawan. Menu highlights change depending on what the fishermen bring in that day, but usually includes dishes such as prawns, crab or grilled fish.
Kalui Restaurant does get busy quickly, so be sure to book in advance. It is one of the best places to eat in the Philippines, after all.
Rico’s is a Cebu institution at this stage, and is constantly winning awards for its irresistible lechon. In fact, it’s so popular that you’ll find branches of Cebu’s Best Rico’s Lechon in Manila, too. What makes this lechon so famous? It’s all down to that signature golden and crispy skin, with tender and juicy meat.
Choose from original or spicy flavour, and get ready to be licking your fingers to get every last taste.
When it comes to consistently good, classic comfort food, you can never go wrong with a meal at Gerry’s Grill. Gerry’s serves up all sorts of tasty eats ranging from Filipino favorites – Sisig, Inihaw na Pusit, Crispy Pata, Beef Kare-kare or Adobo Shreds – to exotic cuisines. It’s nothing fancy, just homestyle delicious food that’s always cooked to perfection.
First opening more than 25 years ago, Café Laguna is now a household name synonymous with great Filipino food and warm Filipino hospitality. The perfect combination to be one of the best places to eat in the Philippines, we reckon. With seven branches nationwide you won’t be too far from this shining star, but the Cebu location is the original.
Iconic homecooked dishes here include Kare-kare with Bagoong, Crispy Pata, Lumpiang Sariwa, Crispy Tadyang and Pandan Chicken.
Looking for an authentic Neapolitan pizza in the Philippines? This place will hit the spot. Their pizzas are cooked in a traditional Italian-style with dough that has been baked in house and proves for at least a day.
They then cook the pizza within a couple of minutes at 400C, which results in a perfect crust. The toppings though, are what really bring the pizzas alive. Never a dull meal in here.
Demonstrating just how fantastic Manila is for cuisines from around the globe, Donsoti is a Spanish restaurant that specialises in food from the Basque region. Cordero lechal (baby lamb) and chuletitas (little lamb ribs) are just some of the ingredients you will find being cooked in their Josper oven, alongside smaller bites of pintxos (similar to tapas).
A prime example? The ‘El Matrimonio’ pintxo, a marriage between anchoa and boquerones served on bread and topped with an egg.
Perched on a clifftop above crystal-blue waters, Sirena Seafood Restaurant & Clifftop Bar is Shangri-La resort’s award-winning signature seafood restaurant and bar. You can unwind at the iconic outdoor cabanas and just chill out in style.
The head chef here takes a ‘sea to table’ approach to the menu, so expect overflowing seafood platters of grilled lobster, prawns, squid soft shell crab, King Fish ceviche, scallops and fresh fish.
Galley by Chele uses local flavours of the Philippines and the Southeast Asian to create short and long tasting menus that can be customised with signature dishes and vegan and vegetarian options. The plating of the dishes here is a work of art, with vibrant colours and textures creating food that looks as good as it tastes.
When it comes to creative chefs driving on new era of Filipino food, the team here is always at the forefront.
For hearty Asian soul food dishes, huge portions and unique flavours, Ilaputi knocks it out of the park time and time again. They serve a range of traditional dishes such as Bawang Bangus (fried milkfish) to colourful bowls poké bowls that have a Filipino twist on the Hawaiian dish.
You can also enjoy tastes from across Asia, such as their Korean-style bulgogi and kimchi fried rice. The friendly staff and cosy atmosphere are the cherry on top.
This charming vegan-friendly restaurant in Boracay is all about feel good food, with an emphasis on sustainable and local ingredients. Nonie’s goes the extra mile with their menu; they bake their own bread daily, make all their sauces and marinades from scratch, and use only the freshest ingredients possible, often from nearby farms.
Must-eats include their vegan sisig, shitake mushroom Egg Benedict and seared tuna bowl with barley and seasonal greens.
We know, we know, our list of the best places to eat in the Philippines this year has its fair share of lechon restaurants. But when you have the chance to eat this iconic food at the source, don’t pass it up. Zubuchon is a lechon shop from Cebu that brings its famous feasts to Manila, with the lechon sampler complete with crispy pork flakes (below) an essential eat.
As well as their droolworthy roast pig, you can also dig into other delicious Filipino dishes here.
On the hunt for some fantastic vegan food in Palawan? Taste cafe in El Nido is the place to go. This cute spot is the perfect place to start your day with one of their pretty smoothie bowls. Choose from a variety of flavours, such as Smooth Red, Antioxidant Orange, Hello Yellow, Go Green, Cool Blue, Detoxify Indigo, and Pretty Violet.
There’s also plenty of yummy savoury dishes, such as Mexican chipotle bowls or vegan lasagna that will satisfy all tastes.
Calling all seafood lovers – the seafood buffet at this popular restaurant in Cebu. The approach here is an all-you-can-eat seafood feast, where you choose from an impressive array of fresh fish and have it cooked to order. Chow down until you can’t eat anymore, with options including calamari, steamed pompano fish, salted egg shrimp and mussels. It’s great value too, so it ticks all the boxes.
How to describe Smoque Bistro? Innovative, delicious and all-round fantastic are just some of the words that spring to mind. The menu is a mix of gastropub-style food, such as BBQ meat nachos or Korean honey glazed wings, with Wagyu steak and seafood also featuring.
It’s somewhat of a hip dining place in Bohol, with funky vibes and a great drinks list to boot. Come here for dinner and stay on for dessert and drinks.
Abaca Baking Company is where you’ll find the best brunch in Cebu, no doubt about it. They serve up artisan crafted breads, from-scratch baked goods and classic American food, such as an indulgent plate of fried chicken and fluffy waffles.
You can kickstart your morning here with fresh juices and smoothies with an all-butter croissant, fresh out the oven. What’s not to love about that”?
From their famous House Crispy Sisig to a delightfully delicious Pancit Palabok and Buko Pie at their cafe location, Manama is the spot to go if you’re craving traditional yet modern Filipino food. Everything here is prepared to perfection and bursting with authentic flavours.
However, their unique, modern cooking methods puts a unique spin on everything they do. Check out Manam Cafe for coffee, desserts, and pastries too.
Sometimes, only a huge, juicy beef burger will do the trick. That’s exactly what you’ll find at this fun food truck in Cebu. Their signature burgers are dripping with flavoursome jus and come in a soft, buttery bun with the choice to add on American cheese and other toppings. You can also enjoy other treats, such as chilli cheese fries, garlic parmesan wings and crispy onion rings. *drools*
As the name suggests, this restaurant is all about heaving buckets of shrimp and other seafood. Taking inspiration from similar restaurants in the USA, I Love Bucket Shrimps provides delectable metal buckets of boiled shrimp with garlic butter, cajun or curry sauce, as well as fresh crab and juicy mussels. Don a bib (it’s going to get messy!) and settle yourself in for a seafood fiesta.
Come here for fresh-as-can-be bowls of ceviche and kinilaw. Similar to Latin America’s ceviche and Hawaii’s bowls of poke, Kinilaw is the Philippines version of raw fish made with onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and chilies. This place has plenty of tasty picks.
Try the Guyam, with a sweet calamansi, ginger & coconut vinegar marinade for the catch of the day, grilled pork belly, homemade pickled papaya (atsara), roasted corn (cornick), cucumber slices, and garlic rice.
This popular restaurant and “chill-out lounge” in Port Barton has had shoutouts from several other publications who also think it’s one of the best places to eat in the Philippines. Mabuti has a tempting menu of vegan and vegetarian fare, including a rich Shakshuka dish for breakfast with home baked bread or veggie burgers and salads.
Finish off your meal with a scoop or two of their creamy homemade ice cream.
Mamou Kitchen is known countrywide for its fantastic cuts of beef, but it’s the Porterhouse to share that steals the show. The dry aged beef is produced in the U.S.A for 28 days and cooked until rich and juicy.
It’s somewhat of a legend at this stage, and you can rely on it for always serving up some of the best steak in Manila.