The Great Luzon Menu: Popular Must-Try Dishes Per Region

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Home to the Philippines’ capital of Manila, Luzon is the northernmost of 3 major island groups in the country. Geography class taught us all about the different regions and island groups, but didn’t answer a fundamental question any Philippine traveler would ask… what’s there to eat??

In this infographic, you’ll find some of the most popular and must-try dishes of every major region in Luzon.

Mapped out, the Great Luzon Menu is a 23-point checklist for anyone looking for a culinary roadmap of the north!

Click on the image to see it full-sized!

The Great Luzon Menu: Popular Must-Try Dishes Per Region

Nothing reminds us of home more than the dishes we grew up eating.

Popular Dishes in Luzon: BicolAlbay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, Sorsogon

The Great Luzon Menu: Bicol Dishes

Aside from having nature’s most perfect cone in Mt. Mayon, the Bicol region is also known for its cuisine — local ingredients infused with heat, adding a bit of spice to the region’s culinary personality.

Probably the most well-known delicacy from the region (though its name was coined in Manila), Bicol Express is a stew made from sili (chilies), coconut milk, and pork.

Another Bicolano specialty is laing. Made using dried taro or gabi leaves, coconut milk, and more sili, it makes for a rich and creamy veggie dish.

For dessert, there’s always pili nut candy, a favorite snack or souvenir made from pili, known as the “king of nuts!”

A list of places where you can try Laing or Bicol Express:

Popular Dishes in Luzon: Cagayan ValleyBatanes, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino

The Great Luzon Menu: Popular Dishes in Cagayan Valley

With the growth of the fishing industry in the area, the Cagayan Valley region is also known as the Tilapia Capital of the Philippines. You’ll find no shortage then, of the fresh fish, incorporated into the local cuisine.

In Tuguegarao, you’ll also find the famous Pancit Batil Patung, the area’s signature dish. The stir-fried noodle dish separates itself from other pancit dishes through its choice of added ingredients — often topped with beef (or carabao meat), mushrooms and even fried eggs!

Unknown to most, Batanes is actually part of the Cagayan Valley Region. If seafood’s more your thing, Ginataang Alimasag, a dish made from coconut milk, crabs, and a few other basic ingredients, is something you definitely have to try. The crustaceans from the group of islands are some of the largest and juiciest you’ll find anywhere in the world!

For your Pancit Batil Patung Fix:

Or check out the “5 Must-Try Restaurants In Basco, Batanes

Popular Dishes in Luzon: CALABARZONCavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon

The Great Luzon Menu: Dishes in Calabarzon

In this region, you’ll find several dishes that might sound more familiar to most, especially to Manileños. From the breakfast favorite, Longganisang Lukban, to fresh tahong (mussels) and oysters in Cavite, these classic Filipino food staples are a must for foodtrippers in the area.

The region is also known for Quezon’s Pancit Habhab (Lucban), a close cousin to the more familiar Pancit Canton. Made with dried flour noodles, it’s best eaten by getting down and dirty with your hands, making use of the banana leaf the dish is traditionally served on.

With the area being a major producer of beef in the country, there’s also Batangas’ Bulalo. The beef dish is flavored almost solely by the rendered-down fat and cartilage, making for a hearty (although not necessarily healthy) dish for cool and breezy evenings by Taal Lake and the Taal Volcano.

If you’re looking to try Pancit Habhab:

…or if you’re craving for Bulalo:

Popular Dishes in Luzon: Central LuzonAurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales

The Great Luzon Menu: Popular Dishes in Central Luzon

Central Luzon, the “Rice Granary of the Philippines,” is made of up endless stretches of flatlands and rice fields. While it’s known for its bigas, it’s also where a lot of Filipinos’ favorite ulams originated from. The country’s best Sisig is said to be found here, at Aling Lucing’s or Mila’s, and there’s a reason why most people’s freezers are stocked with Tocino from a company named “Pampanga’s Best.”

For some of the best Chicharon in the country, look no further than Sta. Maria, Bulacan. You’ll find few things that’ll go better with that ice-cold San Miguel beer from the local sari-sari store nearby.

The places in Pampanga best known for their sisig:

Popular Dishes in Luzon: CordilleraBenguet, Abra, Kalinga, Apayao, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Baguio

The Great Luzon Menu: Popular Dishes in Cordillera

The mountainous terrain of Cordillera is not only home to frequented adventure-seeker hot spots, it’s also a must-visit region for any local foodie traveler. The cooler climate makes growing the freshest strawberries possible, and the mountain slopes are where some of the country’s best Arabica Coffee beans are harvested.

When you’re done checking out the Sumaguing Cave in Sagada, you might want to reward yourself with a serving of Pinikpikan, a chicken dish made from coagulated blood, burnt feathers, and Etag, which is smoked and cured pork. Sagada is definitely not for the weak-stomached.

While Pinikpikan is available at a lot of places in Sagada, here are a few ones to get you started:

Popular Dishes in Luzon: IlocosIlocos Norte, Ilocos Sur

The Great Luzon Menu: Popular Dishes in Ilocos

No conversation on Filipino cuisine would be complete without mentioning Ilocano food. For starters, there’s Bagnet — deep-fried chunks of pork (because we Filipinos can never have enough deep-fried pork) presented in all its fatty glory, also known as “Ilocano Chicharon Baboy.”

What do they do with the rest of the pig? Turn it into Dinakdakan! The face, brain, and other innards are chopped up and mixed with mayonnaise and vinegar… like an Ilocano sisig!

As a “healthier” (or at least we think it is) accompaniment to bagnet, there’s Dinengdeng and Pinakbet, bagoong-based vegetable dishes that differ only in the amount of “soup” served with each (dinengdeng has fewer vegetables and more of the broth).

A favorite condiment in Ilocano cuisine? Buro. It’s fermented rice mixed with seasonings and simple ingredients like shrimp or fish. Best to take a bottle of mouthwash with you if you’ll be trying this one!

For some legit Ilocano cuisine, check out:

Popular Dishes in Luzon: MIMAROPAOriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan

The Great Luzon Menu: Popular Dishes in MIMAROPA

Mindoro’s rich marine life strongly influences not only the local industry, but the local cuisine as well. Because “regular” proteins like chicken are actually more expensive than seafood here, it’s not unusual that dishes like Adobong Pugita (Octopus) is popular among locals and tourists. Sold along the streets of Romblon, you’ll also find Sarsa, a dish made from boiled coconut, chilies, and tiny shrimps caught in nearby rivers and streams, or other kinds of fish.

For the adventurous few who’d be willing to, you can try Tamilok(Shipworm)! Don’t worry, it’s not really a worm, as it’s a worm-like mollusk (think clams or oysters). If you can stomach how it looks and keep it down it’d make a great story you can brag about to friends!

Try Adobong Pugita at:

…or if you’re brave enough to taste Tamilok:

Luzon is HUGE and we’re sure to have missed out on a few more local delicacies. If we did, give us a shout out in the comments below!

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About Author

EJ dela Vega

You'll find EJ rummaging through refrigerators for unlabeled leftovers, earning him the nickname, "The Finisher." He's got a knack for magic tricks too, his best one being the ability to make food on his plate (or anyone else's for that matter) disappear in the blink of an eye. Too damn cheap to be picky, he once ate several slices of pizza doused in Robitussin... just because he can.