Red Maleta Eats: Ilocos Food Tour

Mar 16, 2015

Vigan, Ilocos Sur

Eating empanada in Calle Crisologo

Traveling to new places is never complete when you haven’t tried the local food. Enjoying good food when traveling is one of my guilty pleasures. First stop for our 9-day backpacking across Luzon is Vigan, Ilocos Sur.

We kicked off our Vigan gastronomic adventure with Senorita Dulce’s sylvannas as a prelude taste of Vigan. Our verdict? Dumaguete’s sylvanna still rules hands down.

We gave in to our sylvanna cravings

While we were visiting Bantay bell tower, there are vendors hawking their tinubong and Candon kalamay outside Nuestra del Caridad church. Tinubong is sold in bundles, there are 3 to 4 bamboo cases for ₱100.00 only. For a minute there, the packaging reminds me of Bluewater Maribago‘s famous Adobo rice.


My colleague, Luida, was crazy for Vigan’s tinubong, and insisted I try the delicacy or take home some. Since we are still traveling to Laoag, we charmed the vendors to give us free taste instead.

Then there’s the Candon kalamay (not in photo which is supposed to be that basket beside the tinubong atop the beige monobloc chair), we weren’t interested in buying them as our taste buds are set in trying out the famous Vigan empanada and bagnet.

Irene’s empanada and okoy

We tried Irene’s Empanada and we love it! It tastes good in comparison with Laoag’s orange version. We haven’t tried their okoy though. The empanada comes with ketchup or vinegar to add flavor and costs less than ₱100.

We splurged a bit for dinner and dined at Cafe Leona. Vigan’s famous bagnet is equivalent to Cebu’s lechon kawali.

Vigan specialty: half bangus, Vigan longganisa, slivers of bagnet and pakbet (latter not in photo)

We had breakfast at Abuelita’s Restaurant–the only resto opened at 8 am we came across while walking and we feel like eating in.

Vigan longganisa, egg and tomatoes for brekky

Ilocos Norte

Batac empanada

In comparison, Vigan empanada tastes good than Batac empanada. But that’s just me. Here’s an empanada analysis by Ivan Henares as reference. We tried this near the sinking belltower.

When we went to see the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, we had lunch at Johnny Moon Cafe which is located near the area. Johnny Moon Cafe is a loose translation of the Spolarium Ilocano artist, Juan Luna.

Johnny Moon’s longganisa meal

We haven’t got the luxury to properly try the Ilocano cuisine due to time and budget constraints. All the food posts you are reading right now are the dishes we encountered during our short trip.

The Girl with Red Maleta

Red Maleta

The Red Maleta story was born out of an idea to travel to new places, learn different cultures and understand the world better. Of course, bringing my red maleta along with me.

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