10 Must-Visit Restaurants in Pampanga
The land of tasty food, diverse culture and colorful tradition is what makes Pampanga a must-visit. There are delightful dishes that are unique to the province. Various restaurants from Angeles City, San Fernando and Magalang all have signature recipes that represent the Kapampangan way of life.
Below are ten restaurants from the Culinary Capital of the Philippines worth the drive by.
Chef Liam’s Kitchen
Address: 17 Era Zone Building, Kalahi Business Park, San Isidro
Contact: (045) 624 2714
Open: Everyday, 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
The restaurant is literally Chef Liam’s Kitchen. Chef Liam cooks the food in an open kitchen in the center of the restaurant. Customers can be sure their food is handled carefully and cooked to perfection.
Chef Liam’s menu has French, Italian, Mexican, and Kapampangan recipes. The Mexican inspired meals include nachos and quesadillas. The Chicken Quesadilla with Jalapeno is tasty and a bit spicy. The dishes with Asian palates includes Malaysian Laksa, Chicken Cashew, and the local Asadong Kapampangan. The Malaysian Laksa has chicken, shrimp, tofu and bean sprouts. Authentic laksa borders on spicy and salty taste but Chef Liam’s version is not overpowering. The Chicken Cashew includes mushroom and chili cooked in garlic, sesame oil, oyster and light soy sauce. Asadong Kapampangan uses pot roasted pork in traditional Asado sauce. There’s also Adobong Sugpo sa Taba ng Talangka which attracted a lot of patrons.
Some French and Italian-inspired recipes on the menu are Classic Lasagna al Forno, Spaghetti de Bilbao, Shrimps Thermidor on Flat Noodles and Tuscan Shrimps in Tagliatelle Pasta. The Spaghetti de Bilbao uses round spaghetti and comes with bilboa sausage and jumbo shrimps. The black olives, capers and parmesan cheese and tomatoes enhance its flavors.
Chef Liam’s KItchen is famous for simple food presentations but still blasting with flavors. The restaurant is a must-visit as it offers lunch buffet on weekdays and Thai Dinner Buffet every Friday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Address: Greenfields Square, Sindalan
The menu at Rainforest Kichene is a fusion of traditional recipes that use international ingredients. From the appetizer to the entree, the healthy recipes are not in the usual household cooking.
The best-selling dish comes in the form of an Organic Salad with Edible Flowers and Raspberry Vinaigrette. The salad has blue antirrhinum and yellow cosmos which has a bitter taste. For the main course, the Seafood Paella comes highly recommended. The presentation of the Paella will blow anyone away. There’s a hefty serving of mussels, fried prawns, and crab on top of the rice. The Paella is ideal for a group of four. Other dishes include meat cuts from Angus beef, lamb, and ox. It also has desserts such as the Banoffee Pie, Moist Chocolate Cake, and Tiramisu.
The natural ambiance of Rainforest Kichene is what separates it from the rest of the gourmet spots in San Fernando. The restaurant looks like a tiny house on the outside because of the various sizes and types of plants at the entrance. The restaurant has an option of al fresco dining, so customers have the chance to see the five hundred species of herbs and plants grown by Dr. Leo Manabat.
Address: 2nd-floor Dycaico Ancestral House, Barangay Sto. Rosario
Open: Everyday, 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Chef Sau Del Rosario opened 25 Seeds to celebrate his 25th year in the food business. The restaurant found its home at the Dychiaco Mansion, one of the ancestral homes in the heritage district of the city. It has the sustainable concept of being a farm-to-table restaurant. Most of the ingredients used to prepare the meals come from the establishment’s backyard.
The menu has recipes inspired by Asian and Western cuisine. The Portobello Confit Salad as an appetizer is a must-try. It has arugula picked from the garden, edible flowers, gorgonzola, apple shreds and portobello mushroom. The sweet balsamic dressing complements the bitter arugula.
Chef Sau’s Bulanglang, the Kapampangan sinigang that uses Guava to achieve the sour taste, takes on a different twist. The soup is placed in a kettle and served separately from the contents of the Bulanglang.
The restaurant also serves Sisig Paella in banana leaves. The Sisig is on top of the Paella rice instead of the usual seafood medley. The calamansi juices give balance to the different flavors. Beside these sumptuous recipes, they also serve Fried Duck Adobo, Steamed Apahap and their version of Pata Tim.
A slice of Lechemon and Jackfruit Sansrival for dessert marks the end of the dining experience. The top layer of the Lechemon has thick leche flan while the bottom part is mamon. The extensive coffee and juices on the menu are perfect for all the dishes on the menu.
Address: L-463B Miranda Street, Barangay Sto. Rosario
Contact: (045) 304 1301 | 09357616550
Open: Tuesdays to Sundays, 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
The Café is part of a three-part restaurant concept. It serves cakes, casual eats and hot and cold beverages which are more a millennial’s scene. Still, there is no shortage of flavors in this cafe.
The Tinapa Truffle Mousse has capers and dill. The flavors are highlighted by cream and white wine. The smoky tinapa is light yet flavorful and goes well with the homemade pandesal. Another dish that features capers is the Spicy Tuyo & Caper Pasta. The dish has camias and chili oil which perfectly complements the salty-sour notes of the capers.
Another meal to try from the menu is Tamales Pampangueña. Chef Sau takes on a modern twist by adding annatto quail egg, and peanuts to fresh Coconut cream and ground rice flour. The traditional Kapampangan Tamales are steamed while wrapped in banana leaves.
Other things to try are the Tsokolate Batirol Drinks from their Tsokolate delights menu, in-house smoothies, and Salted Egg Bibingka Cheesecake. The café’s Tsokolate Batirol is made with Davao cacao beans.
The Café is on the ground floor of the building.
Bâbo is also a Kapampangan word. It means “above” – it’s located on top of the previous restaurants, and its food concept is inspired by the traditional brought to a new light.
A meal course must include Crispy Okoy & Shrimp, Swam Mais, Crispy Pork Belly & Truffled Macadamia Kare Kare and Creamy Rellenong Bangus. The Okoy and Shrimp are made of papaya and cassava fritters complemented with fresh green mango and spicy vinegar deep. Start off with the dish and eat it while it’s hot. Swam Mais is a corn soup with chili leaves. The leaves add a peppery taste to the soup.
The unique Truffled Macadamia Kare Kare sauce is sweeter than the traditional peanut. The fat from the meat and the salty shrimp paste balances renews the experience of eating the sumptuous meal. The Rellenong Bangus has Stuffed bangus, tomatoes and cream sauce. There is rice on the side. What’s different about this recipe is the boneless fish and the personalized sauce.
No menu will be complete without sisig. Sisig Ala Chef Eric is made of chicken liver, pork cheek, and belly. It’s garnished with onions and prawn crackers. Like everything on the menu, the preparation isn’t traditional, but the salty and sour flavors are present.
BÂBO takes on the contemporary way of preparing traditional Filipino cuisine. Its ambiance is perfect for those who want something fancy. The paintings, murals, slidings and clear chandeliers give the distinct qualities of the restaurant.
Leh-Leh means “beside” in Kapampangan. This charming restaurant is across the Café Fleur. It boasts the local comfort food upgraded with hints of Thai flavors.
Tom-Yung Goong shows the mastery and creativity of Chef Sau. The hot and sour soup with prawns and spices resembles the sinigang. Unlike other Tom Yum recipes, this one has a specific taste and less pungent.
A Thai inspired cuisine would not be complete without pad thai and pandan chicken. Chef Sau, version of pad thai allows the person to customize the meal according to personal preference. The dish includes tamarind sauce which can be quite sweet. The Pandan Chicken is Boneless, wrapped in Pandan leaves and fried. The flavor of the pandan seeps into the chicken, and it’s perfect with rice.
Leh-Leh’s interiors have a handwritten menu and stainless steel ware. It embodies the comfort of the modern street dining experience.
Address: Villa Gloria Subdivision
Contact: (045) 502 4527
Open: Reservation Only
Bale Dutung offers a leisurely lunch available upon request. The meal spans for four hours and is prepared by artist, chef, and owner Claude Tayag along with his wife, Mary Anne. The restaurant is part of their abode and was featured in Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” in 2008.
The restaurant offers seven sets of entrees to choose from – Anthony Bourdain, Lechon, “To Go” Specialties, Desserts, and Christmas Dishes. Each menu has different meals included for each course. The Lechon 5 Ways includes Talangka Sushi Hito at Balo-Balo Sushi, Bulanglang, Kare Kareng Laman Dagat or Seafood Paella as the main course. The Lechon is served in 5 ways – Lechon Skin, Lechon Tortilla, Sinigang na Lechon, Inihaw na Tadyang na Lechon with Ensaladang Talong and Lechon Sisig.
The Bale Dutung menu includes Pritong Lumpiang Ubod sa Claude’9 Oriental Sauce, Inasal na Manok at Claude’9 Talangka Sushi, Hito at Balo-Balo Sushi, Balat ng Lechon at Liver Sauce, Fried Lechon Flakes Binalot sa Tortilla at Claude’9 Oriental Sauce. The meals end with their signature dessert – Paradiso. It is made of carabao’s milk and topped with cassava, macapuno, ube, and yema (custard).
There are three dining options in Bale Dutung to choose from, with each having a different theme – Almazen, Silong, and the Gallery.
Address: Nepo Quadrangle
Open: Everyday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
According to blogger Carla Manalo, “Cisan’s is an underrated restaurant full of good, albeit pricey, Asian comfort food that is best enjoyed with family and friends.”
The restaurant is a fusion of Filipino, Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese cuisine. Their menu features refreshing starters, unusual salads, sandwiches, and entrees.
A must-try is their pomelo salad. The fruit comes with cashew nuts, spring onions, shallots, dried and pan-grilled shrimp, coriander and pomelo dressing. It’s topped with coconut and chili flakes. The flavors are orgasmic. The sweet and bitterness of the pomelo dances with the sour and salty dressing. If you want an update from the usual barbeque, order the Yakitori BBQ Combination. It’s chicken, the skin and beef skewered, grilled and pan-fried. The pan-frying procedure brings out the meaty taste. Each order comes with the Sriracha and Yakitori sauce.
There’s Cisan’s Green Beef Curry. Something you don’t see in the usual menu. The dish includes peppers, kaffir leaves, coriander, tender beef, and eggplants. The coconut sauce is rich and creamy. Mixing it with other ingredients produces an appetizing aroma. Cisan’s version of the Thai dish is simple, but it captured the essential flavors.
Wash off the flavors with their Brewed Thai Milk Tea, which they also offer in a pitcher. The red tea comes from Rooibos leaves imported from Thailand. For dessert, try the Mango Sticky Rice. It is a traditional Thai dessert made of steamed sticky rice topped with slices of mango. Thick and simmered coconut milk is poured on top of the dessert.
The Nepomuceno’s of Pampanga nurtured their menu through their extensive palate. Their taste buds were introduced to various flavors during their travels. Cisan’s is inspired by the owner Kiko Nepomuceno’s daughter. The establishment is clean, homey and simple. It brings healthy food options to the people of Angeles.
Address: 36 Hilda Street, Nepo Mart Building
Contact: (045) 322 4775
The restaurant chain started as a small canteen in Nepo Mart. It served Pancit Luglug and various kakanin. It now has several branches in nearby provinces of Pampanga including Metro Manila.
Susie’s Cuisine is known to serve Pancit Luglug. The pancit is the Kapampangan version of the Pancit Palabok. The recipe uses washed noodles, and “luglug” is the Kapampangan word for wash. The restaurant also has Sotanghon and Baked Lasagna which can be ordered in bilao. It also serves Biringhe which is the Kapampangan Paella. Biringhe is also known as the Poor Man’s Paella because chicken is used in place of seafood.
The menu for kakanin is something worth exploring. The Tibok-Tibok, a Kapampangan dessert made of carabao’s milk, coconut milk, kernel corn and sugar and latik is a crowd-favorite. It is similar to Maja Blanca. Other delicacies to try are Halayang Ube, Duman Suman, and Sapin-Sapin. They also have Mochi which is made of sticky rice and filled with red bean paste.
Susie’s KItchen is one of the restaurants in Pampanga that doesn’t include preservatives. Their food is fresh and made from scratch each day.
Address: Barangay Ayala
Open: Everyday, 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Abe’s Farm is part of the LJC Group. The quiet sanctuary from the loud and busy city offers above-average accommodations, dining, and spa to its clients. The in-house restaurant carries the signature dishes of LJC’s restaurant chains.
If you plan to stay over the weekend, try their Sinuigang Bangus Belly with Ripe Guava, Bamboo Rice, Tidtad, Gule Magalang and Knockout Knuckles. The guava and sinigang are not something you have everyday. The Tidtad is their version of Dinuguan (meat stew) while the Knockout Knuckles is Abe’s take on fried crispy pata. Have the Gule Magalang to have a variety of fresh vegetables served with squash flowers.
If main courses are somewhat ordinary to the local palate, try the farm’s desserts. Sikreto ni Maria, a combination of suman and mango with creamy coconut milk, is what makes the patrons of Abe’s Farm come back to the restaurant. Another must-try is their tamarind shake. The liquid will wash out the umay factor of the heavy meal.
Enjoy your meals at the farm’s antique wood and a bamboo rest house. The farm is named after Emilio Aguilar Cruz – writer, artist, bon vivant and food lover and father of Larry J. Cruz. Abé is the name that his friends used to call him. Evidently, it is also the Kapampangan term for friends.