Everyone already knows that La Union (or ‘elyu’ in millennial speak) is THE place to be. If you haven’t been, head to Cubao ASAP, hop on a Partas bus, and see what you’ve been missing out on. The people are super chill, the sunsets are mesmerizing, and the waves are any surfer’s dream.
But even if you’re not into any of that stuff, come anyway because the dining scene is amazing too!
If you can’t start the day off without caffeine, don’t worry because there are plenty of cafes in the area that serve top-notch coffee! As for food, you’re not going to run out of choices either—there’s a seafood shack that serves irresistible crab rolls, an Insta-worthy restaurant that cooks up hearty Greek dishes, and a homey spot that whips up the best halo-halo in town. If you came to LU with abs, you might have to head home without them!
1. Clean Beach
Clean Beach, a hip coffee shop found inside Urbiz Garden, isn’t just passionate about its craft. It has a big heart for the environment too, advocating zero litter along Urbiztondo as well as other beaches in the Philippines. To get people to join the cause, they give a free cup of their Beach Cleanup Iced Tea to anyone who fills up a Beach Basket with trash and brings it to them!
As for their coffee menu, they’ve got drinks like Espresso, Pour Over, and Mocha, all made from quality beans. Cindy S. tried the Mocha and raved about it in her looloo review, saying: “It was super good! There‘s a nice balance of espresso and chocolate.” Remember to bring a tumbler with you when you order to slash ₱10 off you bill.
Clean Beach can be found at 134 National Highway, Urbiztondo Beach, San Juan, La Union.
2. Coast Call Kitchen & Bar
If you’re staying at San Juan Surf Resort, consider yourself lucky because that means you get a complimentary breakfast at Coast Call, a popular restaurant pick among LU-goers! But even if you’re not booked in the resort, you can still feel free to pull up a chair and order here. It’s considered one of the more ‘high-end’ dining establishments in the area but you’ll find that the prices aren’t actually all that bad.
If you’re eating here in the morning, do yourself a solid and get a plate of their S’mores Pancakes. In her looloo review, Cindy S. was all about it, saying: “My gosh it was so sinful! The pancakes were cooked just right and the chocolate was not too sweet which is nice.” Other great choices here are the Chicken Sandwich, Danggit and Beef Tapa.
Coast Call Kitchen & Bar can be found at San Juan Surf Resort, Urbiztondo Beach, San Juan, La Union.
3. El Union Coffee
There’s no way you can call it a proper LU trip if you don’t make time for a hangout sesh at El Union Coffee. You might have to squeeze yourself in along with a bunch of other people (it’s always packed with millennials no matter what time you drop by) but you won’t regret it! Everyone who has been here has loved the experience, from the cool hipster vibe, to the friendly servers, to the delicious food and drinks.
One of the ultimate bestsellers here is the Horchata, a drink made with rice milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and almond essence. They also have another variant called Dirty Horchata that’s finished off with a shot espresso for an extra kick! Other crowd favorites here are the Flat White, Grilled Cheese Sandwich, and Buttermilk Pancakes.
El Union Coffee can be found at MacArthur Highway, Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union.
4. Gefseis Greek Grill
While Santorini is a common item in travel bucket lists, it’s not exactly cheap to book a plane ticket to Greece. Which is why Gefseis Greek Grill is a pretty cool alternative while you’re still saving up for the real deal. The colors inside this Greek-themed restaurant are spot-on, the pristine white walls complemented by sky blue detailing. Their rendition of Greek dishes are spot on too!
An authentic Greek meal wouldn’t be complete without Moussaka and fortunately, their version of the dish doesn’t disappoint! Norman Lester T. raved about it in his looloo review, saying: It’s well-seasoned and really delicious. It’s legit.” If you find that you have extra stomach space, try the Beef Souvlaki Wrap and Smoked Salmon too!
Gefseis Greek Grill can be found at McArthur Highway, Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union.
5. Great Gamble Seafood Shack
For fear of straying too far from our comfort zones, most of us choose to stay in our corporate jobs even if we’re unhappy. But there were two friends who took the risk, moved to LU, and opened up their own restaurant which they aptly called Great Gamble Seafood Shack. It looks like their decision paid off though because their seafood dishes have won the love of locals and tourists alike!
If there’s one thing you should order here, it’s the Crab Roll. In her looloo review, Clarissa P. gave a very convincing description about it, saying: “You won’t get any crab sticks here as extender. It’s purely crab meat that’s been bought fresh from the market in the morning.” Other tasty eats here include the Crab Burger and Scallop Roll.
Great Gamble Seafood Shack can be found at Urbiztondo Beach, San Juan, La Union.
6. Halo Halo de Iloko Balay
When the heat at the beach gets too much to handle, the best form of relief is found inside this popular restaurant in LU—halo halo! People flock to Halo Halo de Iloko Balay for a large glass of this cold, icy treat, even if it means having to wait for their turn to get seated. There are a ton of variations to choose from, including Buko Halo Halo, Fiesta Halo Halo, Kiddie Halo Halo, and Ginataang Halo Halo.
According to Mariz P. in her looloo review, the Fiesta Halo Halo is the best she’s ever tried. “It has the coconut oil taste that makes it so special and one of a kind. It has the addictive aroma and after taste that’ll make you crave for more and more.” Aside from halo halo, they also have tasty Ilocano dishes like Okoy Tikyoso and Emparedados.
Halo Halo de Iloko Balay can be found at 12 Zandueta St., San Fernando City, La Union.
7. Mad Monkeys
The burger selection at Mad Monkeys may not be extensive but you can be sure that each item has a touch of creative madness! According to Luisa E. in her looloo review, the burgers here are the most delicious she has ever tried in LU. Not only that but they’re part of her list of top 3 best burgers of all time! Aside from the drool-worthy burger creations, people love the jazzy music in this joint too.
The most popular pick from their menu is the Classic which features a thick, 200-gram beef patty in between its buns. But the winning ingredient is their signature Cheddar Beer Sauce which they smother the patty in! The SOS Burger, made with a 1-inch thick beef patty, crispy onion rings, and their secret sauce, is another bestseller.
Mad Monkeys can be found at Manila North Rd., Urbiztondo Beach, San Juan, La Union.
8. Makai Bowls
Whatever your agenda is in LU, whether it’s to trek to Tangadan Falls or surf all day, you’re bound to get famished. Which is exactly why Makai Bowls was created–to feed the hungry weekend warriors with healthy, delicious, and not to mention totally Insta-worthy smoothie bowls! They’re made with 100% real fruits, plus they’re dairy and sugar-free!
The bestseller here is the Beach Break, a green concoction made with spinach, pineapple, banana, mango, spirulina, and coconut juice. Though if you’re craving for something a little fruitier, there’s the Point, a combination of strawberry, banana, mango, papaya, and acai juice. But if it’s chocolate you’re after, order up the Carille.
Makai Bowls can be found at El Union Coffee, MacArthur Highway, Urbiztondo Beach, San Juan, La Union.
9. Olas Banditos
When you’re hit with a sudden craving for Mexican food while you’re in LU, you can appease your belly by eating at Olas Banditos, the surf town’s only Mexican restaurant. The place is pretty easy to find—just look for the huge mural of a moustached skull wearing a sombrero! For all you Luke Landrigan fans out there, you’ll be kilig to know that he’s a co-owner and that he designed the facade of the place himself!
After you’re done taking pictures of the place, you’re ready to order! The Ilocos Norte is a good choice if you want to help yourself to a burrito filled with salty, garlicky Vigan longganisa, while the Fish Taco is a better option for those who want something lighter. To cap your Mexican meal off, be sure to order up their churros!
Olas Banditos can be found at Manila North Rd., San Fernando City, La Union.
10. Surf Shack
Riding the waves / face-planting in the water is a real workout which can leave anyone feeling extra ravenous. If you need to eat ASAP after a grueling surf sesh, you can chow down on hearty comfort food at Surf Shack! It’s not just the filling dishes that draw in the crowd though—the ultra laid-back vibe plus the chill music in this joint make it a favorite tambayan among LU peeps.
On the menu, you’ll find things like nachos, pizza, pasta, wings, and beer. One of their bestsellers is the Bognotan Pizza, topped off with local Vigan longganisa. Josette P. enjoyed digging into this dish, saying this in her looloo review: “It tasted good. The garlicky flavor of the loganissa did not overpower the cheese and red sauce goodness.”
Surf Shack can be found at 238 MacArthur Highway, Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union.
11. Tagpuan sa San Juan
The truth is, eating out in LU isn’t exactly cheap. If you have a few more days left in the province but your funds are running low, Tagpuan sa San Juan is the best place to hit up. In here, you and your squad can pig out like a bunch of hungry surfers without having to worry about the bill! You won’t have to spend more than ₱100 but it’ll easily be one of the best meals of your trip.
Ordering up their Tapa is a decision you won’t regret. According to Sandy P. in her looloo review, she was extremely satisfied with the dish, saying: “Sobrang saraaaaap!! I could’ve ordered for 2 meals. It’s actually the best tapa I’ve ever tasted in my life.” The Bagnet is another bestseller her, loved for being juicy, crunchy, and flavorful.
Tagpuan sa San Juan can be found at Manila North Rd., Urbiztondo Beach, San Juan, La Union.