Chef Claude Tayag's top 10 favorite Philippine restaurants

Claude Tayag, who once cooked for Kitchen Confidential author Anthony Bourdain for his "No Reservations" TV show, reveals his favorite restaurants in the country 

Claude Tayag in his element at Bale Dutung. Pinched from @mitziborromeo


Baguio magnet dish, screengrab from Cafe By The Ruins Facebook page

Café by the Ruins, Baguio
“Try the local dish Cordillera chicken soup pinikpikan with watercress, and Baguio bagnet.” They also have beef ribs sinigang (sour soup) and shrimp & mango curry. 25 Chuntug St., Rizal Park (across Baguio City Hall)tel +6374 442 4010, check out Cafe by the Ruins' Facebook

2 Glory’s Empanadahan, Ilocos
“The Ilocos empanada or fried savory turnovers are the mainstay at Glory’s. The empanada is served piping hot, with a spicy vinegar mix called sukang Iloko, infused with tanbark.” Riverside Empanada Plaza, Batac, Ilocos Norte, tel +63916 358 2597.

Kusina Felicitas, Ilocos
“Grandpa’s Inn’s Kusina Felicitas and Café Uno are known for authentic Ilocano cuisine like bagnet (crisp-fried pork belly served with vinegar), pakbet (stewed eggplant, bitter melon, okra and tomatoes and seasoned in salted fish sauce), dinengdeng (soup- based dish with stewed vegetables like squash, bitter melon and string beans and salted fish sauce), baradibod (sweet soupy dish of sweet potato, bitter melon and spinach).” 1 Bonifacio St. corner Quirino Blvd., Vigan, Ilocos Sur, tel +63917 799 0121, check out Kusina Felicitas' Facebook

4 Matutina’s Seafood Annex 3, Pangasinan
“Just the thought of having a newly grilled fresh bangus (milkfish) and pakbet at Matutina’s Seafood Restaurant makes me want to drive all the way to Pangasinan.” Aling MacArthur Hi-way, Urdaneta, Pangasinan.
1956 Downtown Café, Pampanga
This retro restaurant’s menu gets its inspiration from slow-cooked traditional Filipino dishes, and gives them a contemporary take. Examples of this are the pork adobo confit; crab fat rice with deep-fried crispy crablets; Chinilaw – a mix of pork cracklings, tuna ceviche, and Fuji apple kimchi; warm green papaya salad; bringhe, a traditional Pampango fiesta rice dish, made into a pizza-like pie with a crispy bottom; crispy catfish or tilapia with two sauces—salted fish roe and fermented rice with shrimps; five duck entrées led by the best-selling crispy Aromatic Duck served with Chinese pancakes; and its famous halo-halo with a liquid pastillas made from carabao’s milk. The Quad, Nepo Center, Angeles City, Pampanga, tel +63917 676 1689, check out 1956 Downtown Cafe's Facebook

Everybodys Café, Pampanga
Morcon from Everybody's Cafe by Erik Liongoren
“The murcon or meatloaf of Everybody’s Café is an heirloom recipe from the present owner’s grandmother.” Del Pilar, MacArthur Highway, San Fernando, Pampanga, tel +6345 435 2085, check out Everybody's Cafe's Facebook

Breakthrough Seafood Restaurant, Iloilo
“They have a water cage containing live managat or mangrove jack and imbao clams. The managat is hauled as ordered, butterflied, basted with calamansi (local lime), garlic (if requested) and grilled.” Villa Beach, Brgy. Sto. Nino Sur, Arevalo, Iloilo City, tel: +6333 336 4755, visit Breakthrough Seafood Restaurant

8 Plato D’ Boracay, Boracay
“The first crab wasn’t the fatty one the vendor promised us so we sent it back. Without any fuss a bigger, fatter one was served. And we were charged only once for the twice cooked crabs!” D’Talipapa, Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan, tel: +6336 288 3864, check out Plato D' Boracay's Facebook

Aboy’s Restaurant, Bacolod
Adobong taba ng pusit from Aboy's Restaurant by Mark Antang
“What bowled us over during our last visit was the adobong taba ng pusit, squid or cuttlefish with its fat carefully squeezed out and then sautéed adobo style.” Liroville Subdivision, Singcang Bacolod, tel +6334 435 0760, visit Aboy's Restaurant

10 Talisay Food Alley, Cebu
“This narrow street near the beach, with food stalls on both sides, sells roast pig, roast native chicken, assorted grilled pork, chicken and fish, pork blood stew, several kinds of seaweed ceviche. Lechon (roasted pig) is sold by the cut. Puso or heart-shaped steamed rice wrapped in coconut fronds and roasted kamote (sweet potato) can accompany the meal.” Burgos corner Garces Streets, Cebu City. Open on Sundays only.

Chef Claude Tayag by Erik Liongoren

Claude Tayag is the chef and owner of Bale Dutung, his home kitchen in Pampanga, which he opens for private dining. Kitchen Confidential author Anthony Bourdain once visited Bale Dutung for a meal and was suitably impressed. Tayag wrote “Kulinarya: A Guidebook to Philippine Cuisine”, and “Linamnam: Eating One’s Way Around the Philippines,” which he co-authored with wife Mary Ann. Both of his books are sold at National Bookstore and Powerbooks outlets nationwide while Linamnam is sold on Amazon too. 

Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations Philippines at Bale Dutung

Anthony Bourdain No Reservations Philippines: Does the Philippines have the best lechon (roast pig)?

Originally published in InFlight Traveller April 2012. Updated March 2016