(This article is sponsored by AZURE NORTH, an amazing, tropical-inspired residential project featuring a man-made beach in the heart of San Fernando, Pampanga! Developed by Century Properties who clearly know that Pampanga, with its delightful food and hospitable people, is a place really worth living in. Check it out: www.azurenorth.com.ph)
PAMPANGA is widely revered as The Culinary Capital of the Philippines. Highly acclaimed Kapampangan Chef, Claude Tayag of BALE DUTUNG and 1956 DOWNTOWN CAFÉ, believes the province’s reputation for good food is because of its history with Clark Air Base (a military facility for American and Filipino forces from 1903 to 1991).
Due to the base’s proximity from the capital city, Angeles, international goods and other ingredients became easily accessible. Thus, locals assimilated these ingredients to their cuisine and signature Kapampampangan dishes like Sisig were born.
In collaboration with the Angeles City Tourism, Team OAP traveled to Pampanga in search of the best restaurants.
Here are the top ten most awesome restaurants in Pampanga in 2016 … (watch: Pampanga Food Trip – Top 10 | Hot Stop )
1) CAFÉ FLEUR BY CHEF SAU DEL ROSARIO
CAFÉ FLEUR is a 3-restaurant concept reflecting Chef Sau Del Rosario’s passion for food and travel. On the ground floor is the Café that serves cakes, smoothies, and casual food. Across it is LEH-LEH, a Thai-inspired eatery; and on the topmost floor is BÂBO, a more sophisticated dining area reserved for traditional Kapampangan cuisine.
Go here with a budget of at least 600/head. To cool down, grab yourself a sweet treat at the Café proper with Tsokolate drinks and decadent desserts! For some tasty Thai comfort food, drop by Leh-Leh right across and get the Tom-Yung Goong, Pad Thai, and Pandan Chicken. Experience contemporary Kapampangan food at Bâbo and order the Crispy Okoy, Swam Mais, Sisig, Kare-Kare and Lengua.
CAFÉ FLEUR BY CHEF SAU
L-463B Miranda St. Brgy Sto. Rosario, 2000 Angeles City
Tuesdays to Sundays: 11:00 am to 10:00 pm
2) 1956 DOWNTOWN CAFÉ
Formerly called 1956 DOWNTOWN CAFÉ, this retro-style eatery does not only signify Chef Claude Tayag’s date of birth, but also the era he holds dearest to him. Peace times helped build a bigger middle class and establish businesses and entertainment centers, which Kapampangans would come to refer to as Downtown.
Going “downtown” meant spending quality time with family or friends at local shopping malls, restaurants, and cinemas after Sunday mass. Now in 2016, with life more hectic and too focused on moving forward, people have forgotten the value of slowing down to embrace the past and present. In light of this, Downtown Café is a perfect way to step back and appreciate the golden years of honest Kapampangan food.
Downtown Café by Chef Claude is one of the most memorable stops of our Pampanga Food Trip for its down-to-earth ambiance and terrific, honest food. We loved how the dishes were a good balance of presentation and taste, as well a gustatory reminder of the uniqueness of the Kapampangan culinary heritage.
The Quad at Nepo, Nepo mart, Plaridel St, 2009 Angeles City
Monday to Sunday–10AM to 10PM
Email: [email protected]
Mobile: +63 917 535 9198
Facebook: 1956 Downtown Café
3) BALE DUTUNG
Chef Claude Tayag’s proudly Kapampangan food concept, BALE DUTUNG, is one of the most highly acclaimed restaurants in Asia. Ranked as one of the best by the Miele Guide in 2009, Chef Tayag’s humble abode reached celebrity status when he was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” in 2008.
It was only in 1979, after an Economics degree at UP-Clark, that Claude found himself backpacking in Europe and craving for homemade Filipino food. Living on only about $10 a day, he explored wet markets in search of cheap, alternative ingredients. Learning to experiment with food unleashed Chef Tayag’s culinary creativity and paved way to more milestones in his life such as Bale Dutung.
Our time at Bale Dutung was like no other. Not only was the food memorable, the Filipino-inspired ambiance elevated the whole experience. By opening up their home, the Tayags increased our appreciation and understanding of the Filipino-Kapampangan heritage.
4) EVERYBODY'S CAFÉ
Everybody’s Café started as a neutral ground during liberation times in Philippine history. Anyone from Filipino, Japanese, and American could enjoy the café’s simple menu of Pancit Luglug (glass noodles with coconut milk sauce flavored with annatto and shrimp) or Mami (egg noodles with shredded meat and broth). Little by little they began adding local specialties and treasured family recipes to the menu. After more than 50 years later, Everybody’s Café still stands as one of the most resilient and authentically Kapampangan establishments to date.
Everybody’s Café's timelessness lies in the fact that the recipes have practically remained the same since the 60’s. Even if the restaurant is popular among the older generations, it’s good to see how parents are teaching their kids to appreciate traditional cuisine with every visit.
Angeles Branch: 105-106 BPI Arcade, Nepomart, Angeles City
San Fernando Branch: Mc Arthur Hiway, Del Pilar, City of San Fernando
Makati Branch: Salcedo Village, Makati (Saturday Market)
Mondays to Sundays–7:00AM to 9PM
Telephone: +6345 887 0361 | +6345 435 2085
Mobile: +6392 284 67121 | +6392 284 67121 | +6392 284 23755
Facebook: Everybody's Café
Related Blog Post: PAMPANGA: Your Awesome Journey to Pampanga Food Trip (Infographic)
5) PICCOLO PADRE RESTAURANT
PICCOLO PADRE is a fine-dining restaurant located at Prime Asia Hotel, Angeles, Pampanga. Its menu and ornate interiors mirror the rich culinary journey and Italian heritage of third generation owner, Chef Danilo Giampaolo.
Our experience at Piccolo Padre is unforgettable. Not only is eating here a gustatory treat, but also a visual feast. If you plan on visiting, set your budget to around P1,500 per head. Order the Ahi Katsu and Live Oyster Inferno for starters, the Capllini D' Angelo Al Rau' Di Mare and Ossobucco Alla Milanese for your mains, and then finish the night with the wonderful Cannoli Siciliani!
PICCOLO PADRE RESTAURANT
Narciso Street | Prime Asia Hotel, Malabanias, Angeles City, Pampanga
Operation Hours: 5PM to 11PM
Email: [email protected] | [email protected]
Mobile: +63 919 887 2195 | +63 917 500 47500
Facebook: Piccolo Padre
CISAN'S is home to a mixture of Philippine, Thai, Vietnamese, and Japanese-inspired dishes picked up by the Nepomucenos of Pampanga throughout their travels. Nestled in Nepo Quadrangle, this modest restaurant is a good option if you want to eat “healthier” in Angeles City…because we all know how a visit to the Culinary Capital of the Philippines is bad news for our waistlines!
Cisan’s is an underrated restaurant full of good, albeit pricey, Asian comfort food that is best enjoyed with family and friends. Get the Pomelo Salad for a refreshing start to your meal, pair the Grilled Pork with Bagoong Rice with the Green Beef Curry for your mains, and order the Mango Sticky Rice and Thai Red Tea for your sweet fix. Budget about P500/head.
7) JIRO ASIA
JIRO ASIA is an offshoot restaurant of the famed Jiro Izakaya Sushi Ramen (now closed) in Angeles City Pampanga. We featured Jiro last year in our 15 Places to try in Angeles City and loved their selection of authentic Ramen and Sushi Rolls. With Jiro Asia, owner Vincent Roque brings his love for both Chinese and Japanese food under one roof.
Jiro Asia is a fantastic restaurant that has a great selection of both Chinese and Japanese cuisine. The food here is best shared so bring friends or visit with your family. Expect to pay around P1,000 for 4 persons. Order the West Lake Soup, Aburi Sushi, Omelet Rice, and Chili Prawns.
Read more: JIRO ASIA: The Best of Two Culinary Worlds
Don Juico corner California Street,
Perimeter Road, Anunas, Angeles City
Mobile:+63 917 820 6322
The typical Filipino nightlife culture often involves endless rounds of beer and copious amounts of deliciously fatty “Pulutan” or finger food. At Angeles City, Pampanga, establishments like B&B (Beer & Barbecue) have popped up to satisfy our appetites for BBQ, Sisig, and other Kapampangan fried favorites.
B&B is a nice way to experience a glimpse of the Angeleño nightlife without the noise or potential rowdiness. Our OAP favorites are the homemade Garlic Longanisa, Pititian, and Binagoogan Crispy Pata. If you’re watching your weight, opt for the Bangus Ala Pobre or their Pinakbet w/ Lechon Kawali (you can always opt not to eat the pork).
B&B (BARBECUE & BEER)
Richthofen St, Brgy. Malabanias, Angeles City, 2009 Pampanga
Mondays to Sundays–5PM to 2AM
Mobile: +63917 714 9268 | +63908 886 8963
Facebook: B&B Grill
9) MILA'S TOKWAT BABOY & SISIG
Ranked as one of the best Carenderias in Angeles City, MILA's has been a household name for many Kapampangans since 1989. They were originally famous for their Tokwa't Baboy, but now they're more known for their unbelievably addicting crispy Sisig!
Sisig is a Kapampangan staple consisting of grilled, diced pork cheeks, ears, liver, onions, and even pig brain. This beloved drinking food is often credited to Lucia “Aling Lucing” Cunanan of Angeles City, who made the best of the discarded ingredients from Clark Air Base. Due to the simplicity of the preparation and affordability of the ingredients, Sisig grew in popularity and more establishments, like MILA'S, began offering variants.
MILA'S TOKWA'T BABOY AND SPECIAL SIZZLING SISIG
Brgy. San Angelo, San Andres St, Angeles, Pampanga, Philippines
Phone: +63 45 888 6727
Open: Everyday 10am – 10pm
10) BAHN MI
BAHN MI Vietnamese Eatery by Chef Rex Soriano is a fresh take on the traditional flavors of Vietnamese Cuisine. Chef Rex, a former Nobu Chef from New York, spent his time sharpening his culinary skills in cities from around the world. Chef roots his Banh Mi menu in tradition, yet he is unafraid to incorporate other culinary influences and techniques — making Banh Mi Vietnamese Eatery a stand out from other Vietnamese Restaurants in Pampanga.
Bahn Mi is a great concept and very affordable for the quality of food being served in the Angeles area. The menu is simple, the house cured meats are really tasty and perfectly salted, the veggies crisp. The fresh flavors of Vietnamese cuisine are definitely present in Chef Rex's Menu.
BANH MI VIETNAMESE EATERY
1-1 Pacimar Estate, Jesus Street, Pulungbulu, Angeles City
Operating Hours: Mon-Sat 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Telephone: +63 45 304-1301
Facebook: BanhMi Vietnamese Eatery
(Team OAP photo by Bruno Tiotuico)
With a repertoire of new food adventures, Team OAP and Angeles City Tourism went home with smiles on their faces and new pants sizes. Not only did we learn so much about the Kapampangan heritage, but developed a newfound appreciation for the history and origins of food as simple as Sisig.
Pampanga, yet again, proved itself as one of the best places to eat for its delicious array of local and international food spots. It is, after all, considered the Culinary Capital of the Philippines!
Awesome Pampanga Series:
- PAMPANGA: Top 10 Most Awesome Restaurants in Pampanga! (2016)
- Awesome Guide: 15 Places to Try in Angeles City: Filipino Cuisine (4) | Awesome Places (3)| International Cuisine (8)
– DENLIM'S KITCHEN: Hipster-Inspired BYOB Secret Private Dining in Pampanga!
Live an Awesome Life,
Team Our Awesome Planet
Disclosure: Our meal was courtesy of the owners in partnership with Angeles Tourism. We wrote this article with our biases, opinions, and insights.
P.S. Tell us about more restaurants in Pampanga you want to be featured!