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.
Address: 222 McArthur Highway, Balibago
19 Copung-Copung Grill
Contact: (045) 892 1922 | 0920 979 1922
Open: Everyday, 24 hours
The local grill is famous for serving native recipes. Their cuisine includes typical Pinoy guilty pleasures such as crispy crablets, liempo, beef kare-kare and bopis. However, the meals that make 19 Copung-Copung stand out from other eating joints are the town’s savory dishes. The Adobong Balut, Binukadkad, deep fried Camaru (crickets), Ginataang Kuhol, and frog dishes. They even have Sizzling Balut Sisig!
19 Copung-Copung Grill is the place to go if you want to relax and have fun like in the old times. The restaurant has the traditional buffet setup: the staff wears baro’t saya; there are pans with banana leaves over coal burners; there are wooden dining furniture, woven baskets and farmer’s hats and bamboo decors all over the place. They even have nipa huts for large families and groups that want privacy.
The grill offers a la carte dining after 2 p.m. Other than dining, the resident chef offers a session on how to make balut and camaru sisig. Check out their contact details for more information.
Address: L-463B Miranda St., Brgy Sto. Rosario
Open: Tuesdays to Sundays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Contact: (045) 304 1301 | 09357616550
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 are 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. Tsokolate Batirol is made with Davao cacao beans.
The Café is at the ground floor of the building.
Bâbo is a Kapampangan word. It means “above” - it’s located on top of the previous restaurants, and it’s *food concept is inspired by the traditional brought to a new light.
Your meal course should 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 pepper taste to the soup.
The unique Truffled Macadamia Kare Kare sauce is sweeter than 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. It’s 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 is also a Kapampangan word meaning “beside.” This charming restaurant is across the Café Fleur. It boasts of 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 has handwritten menu and stainless steelware. It embodies the comfort of modern street dining experience.
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.
Cisan’s Green Beef Curry is 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.
Mila’s Tokwa’t BaboyAddress: San Andres Street, Brgy. San Angelo
Contact: (045) 888 6727
Open: Everyday, 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.
The best tasting sisig is in the humble kitchen of Milagros and Reuben Gomez. They first started in 1987 as a sari-sari store until they offered tokwa’t baboy to people who looked for pulutan.
Their recipe of the Filipino favorite side dish came from a relative who suggested a tofu and soy sauce dish inspired from his culinary experience. After trying their hand in creating the right balance to the dishes, their version of tokwa’t baboy was born. It includes deep-fried tofu, pig ears and a special sauce, which is a mix of soy and vinegar. The tokwa’t baboy is still available and is part of their menu.
They also have their version of Sizzling Sisig. The secret is in the process of cooking the pig’s head. It is boiled, fried and diced. The seasonings and chopped onions completes the presentation of the sisig. The best sisig balances the sour, salty and savory - all of which Mila’s sisig satisfies. There’s no need for egg and mayo in Mila’s version.
After the putok batok meal, try their Pako Salad. The salad is simple. It contains ferns, tomato slices, onions and salted egg. The vinaigrette dressing is what separates it from other salads. There are other items on the menu such as their Calderetang Kambing, Crispy Ulo (pig’s head) and other grilled variety.
Mila has plenty of space indoors and outdoors. The place is ideal for casual dining experience. Most of all, the items are affordable. Thus, crowd tends to gather on during the weekends and holidays.
Address: 643 Manuel L. Quezon Street, Lourdes Sur East
Nyaman Na Pho
Open: Everyday, 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
‘Nyaman’ is a Kapampangan word that translates to delicious.
The name perfectly fits the establishment that serves authentic Vietnamese food. The ingredients in each serving comes from Vietnam and is handpicked by the owner.
Their simple menu consists of soups, salads, spring rolls, pork and chicken meals. Pho’ (beef noodle soup) is their best-seller. Their helpful servings are what keep the customers loyal to Nyaman’s cooking. Other must-try meals that won’t break the budget are Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwich) and Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Crepe). The sandwich comes it two varieties - pork and chicken.
Nyaman Na Pho also has its own version of halo-halo. However, their Vietnamese Coffee is what completes each dining experience. Vietnamese stainless steel single-cup filter has roasted coffee beans in it. Mixed with ice and milk, Nyaman’s Vietnamese Coffee is the ultimate drink.
The restaurant is owned by Ms. Liza Calaguas. The quaint interiors are perfect for group lunches and quick bites.
Address: 4810 Zeppelin Street, Hensonville Subdivision
Rasoi Indian Restaurant
Open: Everyday, 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Only few restaurants serve Indian inspired dishes. If you’re up for the adventure, add Rasoi to the list.
Rasoi is a small restaurant popular to the locals of Angeles. Their menu features various Indian staples such as chapati, naan bread, poori, roti and samosas. If you are craving sumptuous chicken dishes, try the Chicken Bhuna and their Chicken Tikka Masala. They also have Fish Jalfrezi with cheese.
Bhuna means roasted. The roasted chicken curry is mixed with sauteed chopped onions and slowly cooked to arrive at a thick sauce. The other hand, Chicken Tikka Masala is made of marinated chicken grilled and cut into chunks. The pieces of chicken are incorporated in creamy tomato sauce. Paprika or hints of cayenne brings the spice to the dish. When paired with naan bread, it’s like eating pizza!
Rasoi Indian Restaurant is managed by Indian national Chef Richard, who previously worked in international hotels both local and abroad.
Address: 4810 Zeppelin Street, Hensonville Subdivision
Contact: (045) 860 1121
Open: Everyday, 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Founded in 1950, Everybody’s Café is a casual dining joint serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is one of the many establishments that feature Kapampangan cuisine.
Must try specialties are camaru, betute, and pinadang damulag. The Betute is wild frog and seasoned minced pork. The wild frogs caught during the monsoon. Hence, Betute isn’t served throughout the year. The name comes from the word butete (tadpole). The large tummy of the stuffed frog mirrors the upper body of the tadpole.
Their famous Murcón is made of duck eggs, Chorizo el Rey, and Queso De Bola. Most of the meals in Everybody’s Café are customizable. You can request additional toppings or sauce from the staff. Their palabok, for example, are much better with shrimp and few drops of fish sauce to fully complement the coconut sauce.
The restaurant's set up is inspired from the grassroots way of living. It has turo-turo, wherein the dishes of the day are placed in a glass stand. You can choose which meal you want to order from the selection. However, fish and vegetable options in the menu aren’t displayed. It also offers short orders, which are small portions and servings of the meals.
The third generation owner, Poch Jorolan shares the secret to the establishment’s success. “It lies in the unique preparation of each dish.”
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 Sinigang Bangus Belly with Ripe Guava, Bamboo Rice, Tidtad, Gule Magalang and Knockout Knuckles. The guava and sinigang is 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 mangga 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 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.