4 spots that show why Pampanga is the food capital of the Philippines

From traditional cookies made from heirloom recipes to a mouth-watering meat roll that takes hours to prepare, these dishes showcase the best of Kapampangan cuisine.

Lake Pinatubo in Pampanga
  • Cheong Kamei
  • December 2019

Blessed with fertile land and rivers, Pampanga has always had easy access to amazing produce. Throw in the fact that it’s the birthplace Kapampangan cuisine — a creole cuisine with Spanish, Chinese, Mexican and Malay influences — and it’s easy to see why it’s dubbed the culinary capital of the Philippines.

Bryan Ocampo, owner of food tour company Mangan Kapampangan, shares his favourite food spots in the province.

1. Koyang Mario

Lechon pugon
Lechon pugon from Koyang Mario.

At this reservations-only restaurant opens in new window, lechon pugon is the star of the show. Instead of the usual method of slow-roasting whole pigs on an open charcoal fire, cuts of pork are roasted in a traditional brick oven. Ipil wood gives the meat a kiss of smokey flavour while the oven-roasting method produces crackling that stays shatteringly crisp for days.

Tel: +63 917 814 1587
facebook.com/koyang-mario opens in new window

2. Everybody’s Cafe

Morcon from Everybody’s Cafe.

This family-run, canteen-style eatery has been feeding generations of locals well since it opened after World War II. The bestselling item morcon is a carnivore’s dream. The meat roll stuffed with chorizo, ground pork and duck egg yolks is a labour of love that takes about four hours to make. Have it with rice to sop up the drippings.

Tel: +63 45 860 1121
Address: MacArthur Highway, San Fernando opens in new window

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3. Ocampo-Lansang Delicacies

Sans rival
Sans rival from Ocampo-Lansang Delicacies.

For nearly 100 years, this bakery has been making sans rival — a beloved cake made of layers of buttercream, meringue and chopped cashews — using the same top-secret recipe that first-generation owner Felisa Lansang learnt directly from a Dominican nun in the 1920s. The turrones de casoy — a crunchy nougat made with honey and cashew nuts — is also a hit among locals.

Address: 170 Maglalang St, San Jose, Santa Rita opens in new window

4. Atching Lillian’s Kitchen

Saniculas cookies from Atching Lillian’s Kitchen.

Atching Lillian Kitchen opens in new window is a great example of how food can be a gateway to understanding a place’s history and culture. Here, owner Atching Lillian Borromeo doesn’t just whip up Kapampangan heirloom recipes from the open-air kitchen in her ancestral home; she generously shares her wealth of heritage food knowledge with her guests. She’s most famous for her buttery, melt-in-your-mouth saniculas cookies, one of the oldest Filipino confections. Have them with a cup of hot chocolate, and relish the precious taste of tradition.

Tel: +63 915 773 0788
facebook.com/atchinglillian opens in new window

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