Pampanga, the Culinary Center of the Philippines
Top 5 Food Trip Destinations in and around Manila (2 of 5)
by Anton Diaz, Founder, www.OurAwesomePlanet.com
Published in San Miguel Great Food Club Newsletter (November-December 2009).
(Please register in MyGreatFood.com if you want to become a member of San Miguel's Great Food Club)
2. Pampanga, the Culinary Center of the Philippines
A Pampanga food trip is always good for a full day without the need to go on overnight because it is now one hour away and very accessible via the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX). A trip to the culinary capital is not complete without trying the best restaurants there.
Most people would go on a convoy or meet up at the last Caltex along Edsa before turning into NLEX. Others prefer to meet at the Total Gasoline Station, which is the last station before the San Fernando Exit.
Here is a good tip: Start with the best of San Fernando’s restaurants, then travel along MacArthur Highway to Angeles City’s foodie places. You can already exit Pampanga through the Angeles City NLEX Entrance going back to Manila.
First Stop, the Best of San Fernando, Pampanga:
1. Everybody’s Café - This is an all-time favorite and considered an institution of Kapampangan cuisine. Everybody’s is popular for its melt-in-the-mouth, creamy Morcon, Pindang Damulag (Carabao’s meat) with Rice and Carabao’s Milk, Tidtad Babi (Kapampangan Dinuguan), and its “fear-factor” treats of Betute (frog) and camaru (cricket). The restaurant has maintained its original turo-turo ambiance, which has been around since after World War II.
2. Lilian Borromeo’s Home of Kapampangan Cuisine - Lilian is a Kapampangan Chef Celebrity best known for her classic local fare and San Nicolas cookies. She caters to requests to serve breakfast in her ancestral home in Mexico, Pampanga and to have demos on how the famous San Nicolas cookies are made. She will entertain you with stories of her family’s culinary heritage and anecdotes on Kapampangan culture.
In between meals, most people would stop by and pray in the half-buried church in Bacolor, Pampanga and the Betis Church, which is hailed as the Sistine Chapel of the Philippines. In Betis, you can also check out the different wooden furniture and handicrafts of the talented local craftsmen.
Next Stop, the Best of Angeles City, Pampanga:
1. Claude Tayag’s Bale Dutung (House of Wood) - It is now a popular by-reservation-only restaurant
(minimum of 10-12 people) where Claude and his darleng Mary Ann Tayag
personally host an intimate 5-hour lunch. You can choose from the traditional
Kapampangan meal or their special 5-ways lechon. Recently, Bale Dutung made it
to the Miele Guide as one of the top restaurants in Asia. It is recommended
that you have a very light breakfast if you are going to Bale Dutung for lunch.
2. Chef Chris’ C’ Italian Dining - This is not Kapampangan cuisine but it is voted as one of the best Italian restaurants in the country. It is best known for its thinly sliced roll-over pizza called Panizza. This kind of pizza has been copied but nothing beats the original. C’ Italian Dining is located along Friendship Highway in Clark, Angeles, Pampanga. For a party of 10 or more, you can personally ask Chef Chris to design a special set menu for your group and let him do his culinary magic. It is great to hang out there at night -- dinner could easily last for 3-4 hours.
3. Aling Lucing’s Sisig - You can also pay tribute to the home of the original sisig on a sizzling plate, popularized by Aling Lucing in her original grill place along the railroad. Even after the owner passed away, the place did not lose its popularity. Most people would go here just to say that they have eaten in the birthplace of sisig -- one of the unofficial national dishes of the Philippines.
Last Stop, Dessert and Pasalubong:
The Nepo Mart area in Angeles City is a popular stopover for Susie’s Tibok-Tibok (pudding made from pure carabao’s milk) and Rosing’s Candies of pastillas and other sweet treats (all made from carabao’s milk).
You can also end your food trip with the famous Pampanga Halo-Halo, which is made with a few ingredients and sweetened to perfection. Two of the most popular Halo-Halo places around the area are Razon’s Halo-Halo (made with sun-ripened saging na saba, macapuno and leche flan with dayap rind) and Corazon’s Halo-Halo (made using macapuno, saging na saba, mais and their special beans and halayang gatas).
Live an Awesome Life,
P.S. What's your favorite in Pampanga?