“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber

Eating Your Way in Ilocos

Having spent most of my childhood summers in Ilocos, and having brought up in an Ilocano household, I must say that I’ve had my fair share of Ilocano dishes. Some of which I absolutely love, the others not so. After my recent visit in Ilocos, I figured it would be nice to compile a list of dishes that visitors should try. Here’s the list:



1. Bagnet

The famous crispy pork belly deep fried to perfection. It’s best served with bagoong isda (fish sauce) and tomatoes. Eat with ypur bare hands for a more satisfying meal.

2. Pinakbet

A concoction of eggplant, okra, tomatoes, and ampalaya, with its flavors intensified by the bagnet and bagoong makes this dish truly Ilocano.

3. Dinengdeng

A soupy vegetable dish made from any mix of vegetables, typically of string beans, okra, ampalaya, or eggplants, along with grilled or fried fish.

4. Longganisa

The Filipino version of sausages, albeit the ones from Ilocos are typically small, fatty and garlicky. I only like this when it’s not too fatty and garlicky.

Ilocos Longganisa

Ilocos Longganisa

5. Empanada

Yes, that famous snack in Plaza Burgos in Vigan or at the Empanadahan in Batac, filled with cabbage and longganisa. Pretty much all towns in Ilocos sell this already!

D.I.Y. Vigan

Vigan Empanada

6. Sinanglaw/Imbaligtad

Warning – this may sound gross. This is a dish made of the pig’s internal organs, whose broth is flavored by the pig’s bile. Sounds yuck? It’s yum!


Homemade imbaligtad

7. Lomo-lomo

Almost like sinanglaw, minus the bile, plus spring onions. Typically served at breakfast.

8. Dinakdakan/warek-warek

A twist to the regular grilled pork – it’s pork belly plus liver plus ears, covered in pig’s brain. My American cousin almost puked as my late grandmother explained what he was eating!



9. Ipon

Fish, rather small in size, but a hit for Ilocanos! It’s available only during certain months of the year. This is also my least favorite Ilocano delicacy.

10. Puqui-puqui

An Ilocano’s version of an eggplant omelet. It’s chopped eggplants sauteed in tomatoes and onions, then the egg is added in.

11. Bibingka

A favorite pasalubong of all time – the Ilocano version is sticky and sweet. Try Tiongson’s from Vigan.

Royal Bibingka

Royal Bibingka

12. Kalamay

Best from Candon. It’s also sweet and sticky, but thin. It also has a coconut taste.

13. Tupig

A New Year specialty (but can now be bought anytime). It’s a native delicacy that’s sticky and sweet, made of coconut and peanuts. Make sure to get the bamboo version instead of the ones wrapped in banana leaves.

Have fun trying out these dishes! Hope you all like them when you visit Ilocos. Happy travels!

P.S. Feel free to add something on this list by commenting below. Cheers! 🙂


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This entry was posted on March 2, 2014 by in Ilocos, Philippines, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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