The undisputed king of fresh seafood in Iloilo and the number one tourist spot in the city. It is famous for its Aligue Rice and the Managat fish (also known as red snapper or mangrove jack). Native Chicken Inasal and fresh/baked oysters are also served here.
The restaurant is the brainchild of marine biologist Raymundo Robles, who just wanted to have a side restaurant business for his wife. It was named after every scientist’s aspiration, which is to achieve a breakthrough in his/her field.
The best part of the Breakthrough experience is being able to enjoy the glorious food (and the popular vinegar called Sinamak) with the fresh sea breeze blowing around you.
Breakthough now has a branch called Ponsyon by Breakthough located in Plazuela de Iloilo. Another alternative is Tatoy's, which offers almost the same cuisine and is located near the same beach area. Some foodies like Villarosa by the Beach and look for Orly's.
2. Netong's Batchoy
Iloilo is the home of Batchoy, and there is a never-ending debate on who offers the best version – Ted's or Deco's (which is now expanding because it was bought by the Mang Inasal Chain).
However, the best authentic Batchoy for me can be found in Netong's. It is located in the birthplace of this beloved dish in the La Paz Public Market in La Paz, Iloilo. The owner's great-grandfather is credited with the invention of the Batchoy mixture.
Batchoy or “Ba-chui” means pieces of meat in Chinese. The authentic Batchoy contains fresh egg noodles called miki, buto-buto broth slow-cooked for hours, and beef, pork and bulalo mixed with the local guinamos (shrimp paste). Its generous toppings include fried garlic, crushed chicharon (crispy fried pork skin), scallions, slivers of pork, intestines and liver, with a spoonful serving of bone marrow. You can tell your servers not to put MSG in your order and, to complete the Batchoy experience, you can order an extra bowl of the soup. :)
3. The BEST of Iloilo Delicacies
In Iloilo, there are a lot of shops that are popular for their signature delicacies. Although you can find these treats in pasalubong outlets, I suggest buying them from where they are made. Here is a list of the best Iloilo Delicacies:
Maridel's Cafe in Plazuela de Iloilo serves the BEST cakes in Iloilo. Maridel does not scrimp on her ingredients, and the cake flavors are well balanced. She only serves signature cakes in her cafe that already became foodie favorites like Snickers Pie, Heaven and Hell, and Frozen Lemon Meringue.
Also, don't miss the “Queen Siopao” of Roberto's, which is legendary among the local foodies for its huge size and flavor. You don't even need any sauce to make it yummy.
Panaderia de Molo in Molo is the oldest food business in Iloilo. Around since the 1830's, it is known for its artisan Spanish biscuits like the Galletas, Hojaldres, Rosquetas, Banadas, Biscocho and Kinamonsil. An assorted box of these biscuits is the most popular pasalubong from Iloilo.
Biscocho Haus in Jaro, Iloilo is widely popular for its toasted Biscocho, but its Butterscotch, Yema and Banana Marbles also get a lot of attention.
PJ's Delicacies in Jaro is known to have the best Butterscotch bars in town. The Mazapan de Pili there is also a good buy.
Deocampo Barquillos in Jaro, Iloilo has been around since 1898. Besides its famous Barquillos, it also offers Toasted Round Cakes and Pinasubo (a sweet concoction of banana and molasses, wrapped in cone-shaped paper).
Panaderia ni Pa-a is another well-established bakery in Iloilo. Since 1896, it has been serving artisan pandesal to its loyal patrons.
4. Miag-ao Food Trip
In the southern part of Iloilo, going to the next town of Antique, you can find two internationally known churches:
Miag-ao Church - Built in 1776, it is one of the four churches listed in the UN World Heritage Sites for its earthquake baroque architecture. Its dramatic structure provides stability during an earthquake. The church is lower and wider, has thick walls and a separate buttress that houses the church bells. Most visitors stare in awe at the detailed relief sculpture of St. Christopher carrying the baby Jesus amidst coconut trees, papaya trees and guava shrubs.
San Joaquin Church - Located in the next town south of Miag-ao, it is set apart from other churches in terms of design. Its military-themed bas-relief features a bloody battle scene with rifles and horses. The church was built in 1869 by Fray Tomas Santaren of the Agustinian order as a tribute to his father who participated in the Spanish battle of Tetuan against the Moors. This interesting detail led to the church's inclusion in CNN's list of Asia's Most Overlooked Destinations.
En route to Miag-ao, check out these awesome foodie places:
Mama's Kitchen in Arevalo, Iloilo is famous for its cookies. Crunchies in Peanut, Cashew, Pinipig and Tsokolate flavors and Mango Chewies are popular picks. Besides pasalubong treats, the place is also known for its Sinamay (traditional fabric handmade from banana plant fibers).
Allan's Talabahan in Oton, Iloilo is known for its yummy grilled specialties like the Grilled Catfish and Managat. But, as stated in its name, the crowd-drawer is the fresh talaba, which people enjoy in a bahay-kubo-carinderia setting.
The Miag-ao Green Public Market is a great place for adventurous foodies. Here, you can find the Linaga, a broth of cow innards soured by batuan (an Ilonggo souring agent), which includes thecorazon (heart), ahi (spleen), bato (kidney) and tinae (intestines) – the unwanted parts in a market's slaughterhouse. You can also try their local kakanin: Bayi bayi (corn and rice flour), Ibus (steamedmalagkit), Kalamay-hati, Alupe nga pilit and Pichi pichi nag balinghoy (cassava).
5. Flavours of Iloilo's Recos
Jorry Palada's Flavours of Iloilo is the BEST Food Blog in Iloilo. I trust and agree with his recommendations. Check out his blog for the latest on the food scene in Iloilo.
As a start check our his foodie guide entitled, "13 Gastronomical Pitstops in Iloilo City":
Ask Ilonggos (or just anybody who have been to), what to do in Iloilo City, the most likely answer would just be one word – punctuated with an exclamation point. Eat!
And it’s nonstop eating one will get with this list of 13 food places, which in my opinion, puts in a nutshell the gastronomic delights of Iloilo City. A useful guide for tourists who want to enjoy the heart of the Philippines through their stomach.
Read More: Flavours of Iloilo | 13 Gastronomical Pitstops in Iloilo City
Any other foodie tips in Iloilo?
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Full Disclosure: We paid for our family trip to Kalibo. I wrote this blog post myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I have no business relationship with any company mentioned in this post or any organization promoting it. As a policy, I don't receive compensation from food and travel places we feature in the blog.
P.S. The best time to go on a food trip in Iloilo is during the Dinagyang, one of the best festivals in the Philippines. Read More: Iloilo's Dinagyang: Hala Bira! Viva Señor Santo Niño!