The quirky names whose recipes have been passed on from one generation to another makes an intriguing culinary discovery.

Vigan City is one of the Hispanic settlements in the Philippines.  Apart from the architectural landscape greatly influenced by the Spaniards and even the early Chinese settlers on account of the Galleon Trade, Ilocano cuisine is more than a scintilla of evidence to prove the city’s origin.


Ilocano style tacos with longganisa, papaya, egg, monggo seasoned with herb, known as Empanada is a must-try in the city.  Empanada like any other dish in the country has varied versions per city, and Vigan City’s empanada is totally different from that of Batac, though coming from the same region, Ilocos. 

Empanada at the Empanadahan
Alongside the Burgos Plaza, varied stalls are set-up for a dining experience.  Considered two of the most interesting street food finds in the heritage city, any of the aligned unassuming stalls is the right venue for an authentic experience of empanada and okoy.

Okoy at Empanadahan ni Aling Tina
Okoy, on the other hand, is an Ilokano style shrimp omelette with onions, tomatoes, seasoned with herb. It perfectly complements with vinegar.  And I like okoy more than empanada.

Of the many stalls aligned, both street foods are best prepared at the oldest and popular stall of Aling Tina.  The tip came from the locals and as suggested by the city Mayor and Vice-Mayor to us during one of the events we have attended while gathered in one dining table.

Aling Tina

the making of Empanada

Aling Tina was present to greet every visitor as we dined in her stall in one afternoon together with my travel buddies.  Guests can likewise view how these delicacies are prepared as there is no enclosed kitchen.


Longganisa has a garlicky, sour and salty taste with distinct pungent aroma even in its uncooked state.  To step on the cobblestone pavements of Calle Crisologo imposes the same sense of obligation to tourists as eating Vigan Longganisa. 

The longganisa is an icon in itself. With our familiarization tour, we were fortunate to have witnessed how the same is prepared in a local household, being the main producer in the commercial market.

Hotel Felicidad Vigan welcomed us on our stay with a sumptuous breakfast buffet and the longganisa was my favorite. With such an introduction, I know the said dish will be part of my serving plate a number of times.


Bibingka is a type of rice cake in the Philippines that has varied versions per region as well.  In Vigan City, bibingka is not the same as what I perceived it to be, the sticky rice is closer to the Chinese tikoy.

Tongson’s Royal Bibingka is the famous shop to buy the Vigan bibingka as it is situated at the city center, near the historical and heritage sites serving as Vigan City’s landmarks.


Pinakbet is made of assorted vegetables shriveled in bagoong na isda (fermented salted fish), with tomatoes and ginger topped with bagnet (deep fried pork).  The best pinakbet I have tasted is that prepared at Pinakbet Farm, though not situated at Vigan City.

Every restaurant of the city offers pinakbet claiming it to be one of their specialty dishes.


bagnet served at the Hidden Garden
And who would not know bagnet of Ilocos?  This deep-fried pork chunks preferably the liempo, marinated with the Ilocano sauce served with kamatis, bagoong and lasona (KBL) is an all-time favorite. 

Bagnet with KBL
Lasona in my native dialect, Waray, is garlic.  And so I was surprised the word is used as a spice of a different meaning in Ilocos, and that is, onion.  But truly, KBL adds flavor to the crispy bagnet.

Bagnet Sisig
All restaurants serve the best bagnet.  I can’t make specific recommendation if one would ask. Lampong's Restaurant in Calle Crisologo however is quite unique in presenting the different ways on how bagnet shall be served.

adobadong bagnet

One dish that strikes an intriguing name is warek warek.  It is an Ilocano recipe made of grilled pork’s lean meat, liver and intestine blended with mayonnaise. The dish tastes like sisig for me.


In one rainy afternoon, we stayed at Casa Caridad.  After the session for the preparation of pipian, we were likewise served with an Ilocano soup base noodle known as the Miki.  It was a perfect dining treat for the kind of weather we had during our stay.


I can finish poqui poqui in a serving good for two to three persons.  Eggplant sautéed with onions, tomatoes and eggs make up this funny yet delicious dish.

served at the Hidden Garden

served at Kusina Felicitas - my favorite version of all

served at Lampongs Restaurant, Calle Crisologo
In all restaurants where we dined, poqui poqui was a default order for me.  I just love poqui poqui, of all versions in Vigan City I should say.


One of my favorite dishes is Igado.  I am unaware that it is an Ilocano cuisine.  One dinner, we went to Kusina Felicitas and ordered the said dish, which is a staple serving on almost all Philippine fiestas.  And it never disappointed me especially that I am a pork lover.  The mix of pork tenderloin and pig innards reminded me of menudo, which is an all-time favorite dish for me as well.


A Mexican dish served in the City of Vigan is a testament of cultural preservation.  Pipian is a Mexican dish which we were fortunate to have witnessed how the same is prepared from Casa Caridad’s kitchen right into our serving plates.

Pipian is cooked chicken with pazotes and ground rice.  Though of Mexican origin, it is said that the Vigan version tastes even more delicious.  I have no basis for comparison but one thing is certain though, having enormous amount of servings can’t be helped.

And of course, with all the dishes presented, which are just a few of the many authentic Bigueño cuisine, the Ilocano basi or local sugarcane wine is a must try to complete the gastronomic delight of Vigan City.


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  1. Waaa. Na miss ko bigla ang Vigan! Thanks for this very informative post :)

  2. Kagutom! Hehe I am proud of my Ilocano roots :D Igado ftw!

    College ko na lang din nalaman na considered Ilocano food pala ang Igado hehe :D Buti na lang Pinakbet with Bagnet ang ulam namin tonight :P