The biggest province of the Ilocos Region in terms of land area, Pangasinan has a lot to offer to travelers: the beaches of Dasol, Anda, and Bolinao; the Hundred Islands National Park of Alaminos; and the numerous churches scattered around its over 40 municipalities.
And then of course there’s the food: due to its vastness, Pangasinan is both coastal and agricultural, its products from the sea as abundant as those from the fields.
So whether you’re exploring the province or just passing by on a road trip farther north to Ilocos Norte or Baguio, stop by to get a taste of the Pangasinense palate with these options:
Must-Try Pangasinense Dishes
All gastronomic adventures start in the city of Dagupan. Not only does it have a wealth of eateries and restaurants that serve some well-loved and affordable dishes found only in Pangasinan, you’ll also find that they serve local takes on home-cooked Filipino staples.
Akin to the Ilocos version of the sinanglao, the kaleskes of Pangasinan is a rich (maybe even quirky) stew made up mostly of beef innards — testament to the province’s snout-to-tail approach to cooking. Unassuming roadside stalls serve the kaleskes until late into the night, but the most popular source would be one of many street side stalls along Dagupan’s Galvan Street.
Strips of beef, stir-fried with cabbage, make up this quintessential Pangasinense dish—perfect with beer but can also be eaten as a viand—that’s also widely available on street stalls at night along Galvan Street in Dagupan City.
Pangasinan prides itself for its bangus (milkfish). There are supposedly 101 ways to prepare this locally grown fish (from the familiar dried, steamed, smoked, sinigang, and ceviche, to the unconventional lumpia, steak, laing, and teriyaki). Every April, Dagupan celebrates its Bangus Festival, usually with a bangus cookout on the city’s streets.
Don’t fret if you’re not visiting during the festival; bangus is consistently good all-year, anywhere in Dagupan, although trying out homegrown restaurants such as Dagupeña (now in Calasiao), Silverio’s (M.H. Del Pilar St., Dagupan), or Matutina’s (Bonuan, Dagupan) for their bangus dishes is also a good call. These restaurants also offer seafood staples that are abundant in the province.
What To Take Home From Pangasinan
Take pieces of Pangasinan home with you after indulging in platefuls of pigar-pigar, kaleskes, and all the bangus you can eat. Here are some pasalubong ideas from the province’s locales:
The longganisa of Alaminos is the garlicky, orange-colored type, compared with the brown color of the Vigan variety. Alaminos longganisa is available at the Alaminos public market at about ₱90 for every dozen. Alaminos is also home to the Hundred Islands National Park, so while it takes another two hours from Dagupan to get there, the island hopping and the take-home longganisa may be worth the extra effort.
Puto or sweet bite-sized rice cakes which now come in flavors such as ube, strawberry, mango, and pandan is the product of the town of Calasiao. The most popular puto stalls are found in front of the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral at the town plaza.
Romana Peanut Brittle
The town of Mangaldan’s most famous product is the peanut brittle—whole-sized, chewy, glazed nuts that have been a household name in Pangasinan and nearby provinces for close to six decades. Romana’s Peanut Brittle are available even in pasalubong centers and grocery stores throughout the province.
Sticky coconut rice cake cooked inside bamboo tubes, the binungey is a product of the town of Bolinao, located on the western side of the province and is also home to Patar Beach.
The making of bagoong (fish paste) and patis (fish sauce) is a major industry in the town of Lingayen. Bagoong is a major component of Filipino cooking (including the Ilocano dish pinakbet), and is also used as a condiment.
Dried fish is widely available anywhere in Pangasinan, but the public markets at Dagupan would be a convenient source.
Pangasinan also has some local pastry makers. Some of the popular ones are Pedrito’s (Tapuac District, Dagupan), Jech’s (San Miguel Highway/J. De Venecia Avenue, Calasio) and Jam Sweet Jam (Guilig St., Dagupan) among others—whose freshly baked bread, cakes, and pastries are popular among locals and tourists.
How to get to Pangasinan:
Via public transport: From Pasay or Cubao in Metro Manila, take a Victory Liner, Five Star, or Dagupan Bus trip to Dagupan City. Trips normally take three to four hours. From Dagupan, other municipalities can be reached via jeepney or bus. Jeeps are the main mode of public transport within the city.