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

What to Eat in Cebu

I must admit that I grew up not being too familiar with Cebuano cuisine. My parents both hail from the Ilocos region, and maybe I have no right discussing about the food in Cebu. Yet, my past few years of visiting the province enabled me to try some of their most famous dishes, and hence this post. If you’re visiting the city or the province, here’s a list of food to try.


A short cut for sugba (grilled), tula (stewed) and kilaw (raw), this dish (or a triumvirate of) is almost similar to Cagayan de Oro’s sinuglaw, except for the stew. Choose a seafood and it will be cooked in three different ways.

After the Ironman event, my mother and I went to the Mactan Shrine and decided to try the Cebu’s STK. We found Manna, the most famous one catering this delicacy, but was taken aback by how expensive the food was. The fish was PhP 1000 per kilo, enough to send us away and go to the nearest lechon restaurant.

My brother who had a dining experience here many years ago found the place cheap — maybe because it wasn’t as touristy then or because he was in a bigger group. Make sure you are in a big enough group to split the bill…unless money is not an issue. 🙂

Meats on Sticks at Larsian

Larsian contains a wide assortment of meat on sticks ready for grilling. It’s another icon in Cebu’s culinary scene that my family and I found rather disappointing. Nope, it’s not the food, it’s the place. Again, we didn’t dine here. It’s not because of the costs but the attitude of the sellers. They were so pushy. Plus, the flies kept buzzing here and there — which the oldies didn’t like, so we left.

When I told this to a friend who is from Cebu, she told me that the sellers have the tendency to be like that, unfortunately. She, however, commented that this place is great for evening dining, and well, maybe for the young at heart. Maybe next time.

What to Eat in Cebu

Barbecue, anyone?

Puso (the rice, not heart)

This is rice wrapped in woven coconut leaves. Actually, not. It’s rice cooked in woven coconut leaves. I had the pleasure of asking our driver how this is cooked, and he told me that the uncooked grains are placed inside the leaves first before submerging them in water to cook. That’s why it’s a hit or a miss — sometimes it’s dry, sometimes not. It all depends on the adequacy of the water where it is placed. Still, it’s best eaten with grilled meat and bare hands.

What to Eat in Cebu

Puso – rice cooked in coconut leaves

Otap, Rosquillos and Dried Mangoes

Near Larsian is a store of Shamrock, famous as the makers of Otap. Otap is a sweet puff pastry that would make you speechless…literally. Flakes of dough will shower your friend otherwise. It’s my brother’s favorite food in Cebu.

Rosquillos are shaped cookies that are highly addicting to eat, at least for me. I prefer Conching’s, but my brother likes Shamrock’s with its milky taste. Titay’s claim to be the original one.

What to Eat in Cebu

Shamrock Milky Otap

Dried mangoes are, well, dried mangoes. Buying in bulk? Head to the factory where you can get a discount when you buy by boxes. Otherwise, hit the supermarket and other pasalubong centers for a taste of these or to bring home as a gift to your family and friends. Manufacturers have added glam to this treat by dipping them in chocolate. If you don’t like too much sweets, opt for the mangorind (mango + tamarind) candies, which have a delightful balance of sweet and sour.

What to Eat in Cebu

An assortment of dried mangoes


Oh, this roasted pig that makes any Cebuano proud deserves a separate entry. I wouldn’t give it justice otherwise. Stay tuned!

What to Eat in Cebu

Crispy, almost crunchy lechon

Happy eating!

One comment on “What to Eat in Cebu

  1. Tisha Tran
    October 13, 2014

    Very helpful !

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This entry was posted on October 12, 2014 by in Cebu, Philippines, Travel and tagged , , , , , .
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