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Filipino Food: Top 10 Must-Eat Philippines Dishes (+ Drinks)


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Lindsay Lumpkin



Adobo is not just a dish—it is a culinary icon and a reflection of the Philippines’ rich food culture. Considered the national dish of the Philippines, adobo is a classic Filipino recipe that has enchanted taste buds for generations.


Adobo is made by marinating meat, typically chicken or pork, in a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and spices, and then slow-cooking it until tender. The result is a flavorful and succulent dish with a perfect harmony of sweet, salty, and tangy flavors.


What sets Filipino adobo apart from its counterparts in other countries is the use of vinegar as a key ingredient. The vinegar not only acts as a natural preservative but also gives the dish its distinctive tangy flavor. The soy sauce adds depth and richness to the sauce, while the garlic infuses a delightful aromatic quality.


One of the best parts about adobo is its versatility. It can be enjoyed in various forms, such as adobo flakes, adobo sa gata (cooked with coconut milk), or even adobo with a twist, like adobo with pineapple or adobo with chili. The possibilities are endless, and each variation adds a unique twist to this beloved Filipino dish.


Filipinos often enjoy adobo with steamed rice, allowing the rice to soak up the flavorful gravy. The combination of the tender meat and the savory sauce creates a satisfying and comforting meal that is loved by locals and visitors alike.


If you have the opportunity to try Filipino cuisine, adobo is a must-eat dish. Its popularity and deliciousness have made it a staple on Filipino dining tables and in Filipino restaurants worldwide. So, whether you savor it at a local eatery or attempt to cook it yourself, be prepared to be delighted by the mouthwatering flavors of Filipino adobo.



Lechon is more than just a dish – it’s a culinary centerpiece in the Philippines. This iconic roasted pig is a gastronomic delight that holds a special place in Filipino culture and celebrations.


The preparation of lechon is an art form, requiring meticulous attention to detail. The whole pig is marinated with a blend of spices, typically including garlic, soy sauce, lemongrass, and various herbs, to infuse it with rich flavors. It is then roasted over an open fire or in a special rotisserie for several hours until the skin turns crispy and golden brown.


The result is a mouthwatering combination of tender and juicy meat, surrounded by a layer of irresistible crackling skin. The contrast between the succulent meat and the crispy skin is what makes lechon truly irresistible.


Lechon is often the centerpiece of special occasions like fiestas, weddings, and Christmas celebrations. It is a symbol of abundance and brings people together to share in the joy of good food and good company. Whole lechons are often displayed on a table, creating a visually stunning feast that is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the taste buds.


In addition to its traditional preparation, lechon has also evolved to include different regional variations. Each region in the Philippines has its own unique take on lechon, adding their own local flavors and cooking techniques. Some notable variations include Cebu lechon, which is known for its distinct taste and crispy skin, and Negros lechon, which is seasoned with herbs and spices like rosemary and thyme.


Whether it’s a special occasion or just a craving for something decadent, lechon is a must-try when in the Philippines. It’s a true testament to the Filipino culinary heritage, with its irresistible flavors and the joy it brings to every celebration. So, make sure to indulge in this delectable masterpiece and experience the magic of lechon firsthand.



Sinigang is a beloved Filipino soup that is known for its tangy and savory flavors. It is a comfort food that warms the soul and brings a sense of nostalgia to anyone who has grown up enjoying this traditional dish.


The star of sinigang is the tamarind, which gives the soup its distinctive sour taste. The tamarind pulp is typically boiled with a variety of vegetables, such as tomatoes, onions, taro, and string beans, along with your choice of meat, commonly pork or shrimp. The result is a flavorful broth that strikes a perfect balance between sourness and richness.


Sinigang is not just about the sourness, but also the medley of flavors that come from the combination of ingredients. The vegetables add depth and texture, while the meat adds a hearty element to the soup. The taste can be further enhanced by adding fish sauce or patis and a touch of chili for those who prefer it spicy.


One of the great things about sinigang is its versatility. It can be enjoyed with a variety of meats, such as beef, chicken, or fish. Each variation adds a unique twist to the dish, making it even more exciting to explore. Whether you prefer the tender meat of pork sinigang or the delicate flavors of seafood sinigang, there is a version that will satisfy your taste buds.


Sinigang is commonly served with steamed rice, which helps to balance out the sourness of the soup. The combination of the tangy broth, tender meat, and flavorful vegetables creates a harmonious and comforting meal that is loved by Filipinos of all ages.


If you want to experience the flavors of Filipino comfort food, sinigang is a must-try. Its hearty and tangy qualities make it a favorite among locals and foreigners alike. So, don’t miss the opportunity to savor a steaming bowl of sinigang and indulge in the comforting flavors of this beloved Filipino soup.



Kare-Kare is one of the Philippines’ most iconic and unique dishes, known for its rich and savory peanut sauce. This Filipino stew is a blend of flavors and textures that create a truly memorable dining experience.


The main ingredient that sets Kare-Kare apart is its thick, creamy peanut sauce. The sauce is made from ground peanuts, toasted rice, and annatto seeds, which gives it a distinct reddish-orange color. This combination creates a nutty and slightly sweet flavor that pairs perfectly with the tender meat and array of vegetables in the dish.


Traditionally, Kare-Kare is made with oxtail, beef tripe, and various vegetables like eggplant, bok choy, and string beans. The meat is simmered for hours until it becomes tender and flavorful, while the vegetables are added towards the end to retain their freshness and vibrant colors. The result is a hearty and satisfying stew that is full of depth and complexity.


What makes Kare-Kare even more special is the accompanying condiment called bagoong. Bagoong is a fermented shrimp paste that adds a salty and umami flavor to the dish. It provides a contrasting taste to the rich peanut sauce and adds an extra layer of complexity to every bite.


Kare-Kare is typically enjoyed with steamed rice, allowing the sauce to be soaked up by the grains. It is a dish that brings families and friends together, often served during special occasions and gatherings. It is a crowd-pleaser that never fails to impress with its unique flavor profile.


For those who are vegetarian or prefer an alternative to the traditional meat-based Kare-Kare, there are also versions that use tofu, tempeh, or other plant-based proteins. These variations offer a delicious option for those who want to explore the flavors of Kare-Kare without the meat.


If you’re looking to try something truly Filipino and unique, Kare-Kare is a must-taste dish. Its rich peanut sauce, tender meat, and medley of vegetables create a culinary experience that is both comforting and unforgettable. So, make sure to add Kare-Kare to your food journey in the Philippines and savor the rich flavors of this iconic Filipino stew.



Pancit is a staple in Filipino cuisine and holds a special place in the hearts and taste buds of Filipinos. This noodle dish is not only delicious but also symbolizes longevity and prosperity, making it a popular choice for birthdays and other significant celebrations.


What makes pancit unique is its versatility. There are countless variations of pancit throughout the Philippines, each with its own combination of noodles, meats, vegetables, and seasonings. Some of the most well-known variants include Pancit Canton, Pancit Bihon, and Pancit Malabon.


Pancit Canton features egg noodles stir-fried with various ingredients like sliced meat, vegetables, and soy sauce. It has a savory and slightly sweet flavor that is incredibly satisfying. Pancit Bihon, on the other hand, uses rice noodles and is often lighter in taste, with a blend of vegetables and meat or seafood. Pancit Malabon is known for its thick rice noodles topped with a rich shrimp sauce and a medley of toppings like smoked fish, shrimp, and chicharon (crispy pork rinds).


No matter the variation, pancit is a celebration of flavors and textures. It is often cooked in large portions to be shared with family and friends, emphasizing the spirit of togetherness and camaraderie.


Pancit is not only delicious but also a representation of the Filipino fusion of culinary influences. It is believed to have Chinese origins, brought by Chinese immigrants to the Philippines centuries ago. Over time, it has evolved with local ingredients and flavors, resulting in the diverse range of pancit dishes we have today.


Whether you try pancit in a local eatery, at a street food stall, or even attempt to cook it yourself, you will find that it is a dish that embodies the essence of Filipino cuisine. Its delightful combination of flavors, the satisfying texture of the noodles, and the communal spirit it brings make pancit a must-try when exploring the food culture of the Philippines.



Halo-Halo is a delightful and refreshing Filipino dessert that is perfect for beating the tropical heat. Translated as “mix-mix” in English, this layered dessert is a medley of various ingredients that create a symphony of flavors, textures, and colors.


At its core, Halo-Halo consists of crushed ice topped with sweetened fruits, beans, jellies, and other sweet ingredients. The toppings can vary from region to region and household to household, but common additions include sweetened bananas, macapuno (coconut sport), sweet beans, nata de coco (coconut jelly), and leche flan.


One of the iconic components of Halo-Halo is the ube (purple yam) ice cream. Ube is a popular Filipino flavor known for its vibrant purple hue and subtly sweet taste. It adds a creamy and indulgent element to the dessert, complementing the other ingredients perfectly.


What makes Halo-Halo unique is the interactive experience it provides. Before diving in, you are encouraged to mix all the ingredients together, allowing the flavors to meld and the textures to combine. As you take each spoonful, you’ll experience a delightful blend of sweetness, creaminess, and crunchiness that is truly satisfying.


Halo-Halo is not only a dessert but also a testament to the multicultural influences in Filipino culinary traditions. The combination of ingredients reflects the historical mix of Filipino, Spanish, and American flavors that have shaped the country’s cuisine.


Whether you enjoy Halo-Halo at a local dessert parlor, a streetside vendor, or even attempt to make it yourself, it’s a treat you don’t want to miss. Its vibrant colors, refreshing taste, and playful mix of ingredients make Halo-Halo a must-have dessert for both locals and visitors exploring the culinary wonders of the Philippines.



One of the more unique and adventurous delicacies in Filipino cuisine is Balut. This famous street food and snack might appear intimidating to the uninitiated, but it holds a special place in Filipino gastronomy and cultural heritage.


Balut is a fertilized duck egg that is boiled and then eaten, typically as a snack or a light meal. What sets Balut apart is its development stage—the embryo inside the egg has developed to the point where there is a recognizable duckling inside, complete with feathers, beak, and bones. This may seem unusual to some, but for Filipinos, it is considered a delicacy.


Consuming Balut is a multi-sensory experience. The egg is typically enjoyed by cracking open the shell, sipping the savory broth inside, and then proceeding to eat the semi-developed duck embryo. The flavors and textures range from the warm and rich broth to the tender, flavorful meat and the contrasting crunchy bits of feathers and bone.


Despite its outward appearance, Balut offers a unique taste that is often described as savory, similar to a rich chicken or duck broth. It is often enjoyed with a sprinkle of salt or a drizzle of vinegar to enhance the flavors even more.


Balut holds cultural significance in the Philippines. It is often associated with fertility and considered an aphrodisiac. It is also a common street food snack that brings people together, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie.


For those willing to step out of their culinary comfort zone, trying Balut can be a fascinating experience that allows you to embrace the local food culture. However, it is not for everyone, and that’s perfectly okay. The uniqueness and cultural significance of Balut make it an intriguing part of Filipino cuisine, but one’s personal food preferences and comfort levels should always be respected.


Whether you decide to try Balut or not, it remains an iconic and intriguing food item in the Philippines. Its cultural importance, adventurous nature, and distinct taste make it a topic of conversation and an intriguing part of the Filipino culinary tapestry.



Sisig is a sizzling and flavorful dish that has gained immense popularity both in the Philippines and around the world. Originating from Pampanga, known as the culinary capital of the Philippines, sisig has become a beloved and iconic Filipino comfort food.


Sisig is traditionally made from parts of the pig’s head, such as the cheeks, ears, and snout, which are boiled, grilled, and then finely chopped. The meat is then mixed with onions, chili peppers, calamansi juice, and various seasonings. The mixture is typically cooked on a sizzling hotplate, resulting in a mouthwatering sizzle and aromatic delight that immediately captures your attention.


The combination of flavors in sisig is what makes it truly remarkable. The tender and crispy bits of pig’s head are complemented by the tanginess of calamansi juice, the spiciness of chili peppers, and the sweetness of sautéed onions. The result is a symphony of savory, citrusy, and spicy flavors that dance on your taste buds with every bite.


Sisig is often served with a raw egg cracked on top of the hot sizzling plate. The heat from the plate lightly cooks the egg, creating a luscious and creamy texture when mixed into the sisig. This adds richness and a velvety consistency, elevating the dish to another level.


While the classic sisig recipe starts with pig’s head, variations have emerged that cater to different tastes and preferences. It is not uncommon to find sisig made from other proteins like chicken, squid, or even tofu for a vegetarian option. Each variation offers a unique twist on the traditional dish, making it accessible to a wider range of food enthusiasts.


Sisig is not just a dish; it has also become a centerpiece of Filipino gatherings and celebrations. It is often enjoyed as pulutan (beer match), making it a perfect accompaniment to drinks and a social food to be shared with friends and family.


For those looking to experience the vibrant flavors of Filipino cuisine, sisig is a must-try dish. Its combination of textures, flavors, and sizzling presentation make it an irresistible and memorable culinary experience. So, embrace the sizzle, dig in, and allow yourself to be captivated by the mouthwatering delight of sisig.


Chicken Inasal

Chicken Inasal is a delectable grilled chicken dish that hails from the Western Visayas region of the Philippines. Known for its distinct flavors and tenderness, Chicken Inasal has become a favorite among locals and visitors alike.


What sets Chicken Inasal apart is its marinade, which consists of a mixture of vinegar, calamansi juice, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and various spices. This combination infuses the chicken with a delightful tanginess and a hint of sweetness. The marinated chicken is then grilled over hot coals, resulting in perfectly charred and succulent meat.


The grilling process is a crucial step in creating the unique flavors of Chicken Inasal. The smoky aroma from the charcoal infuses into the chicken, giving it an irresistible and slightly caramelized taste. The grilling also imparts a beautiful golden hue to the chicken skin, adding visual appeal to the dish.


Chicken Inasal is typically served with a generous serving of steamed rice and a side of sinamak, a spicy vinegar dipping sauce. The sinamak adds an extra kick to the already flavorful chicken, creating a dynamic flavor profile that is both savory and tangy.


The dish is often enjoyed with bare hands, allowing you to truly savor the juicy and flavorful chicken. The communal and informal dining experience adds to the joy and satisfaction of indulging in Chicken Inasal with friends and loved ones.


Aside from its flavorful taste and juicy texture, Chicken Inasal holds cultural significance as well. It is often associated with festivals and celebrations and is a popular choice for backyard barbecues and gatherings. It showcases the warmth and hospitality that Filipinos are known for, as it brings people together over a delicious meal.


If you want to experience the enticing flavors of Filipino barbecue, Chicken Inasal is a must-try dish. Its combination of tangy marinade, char-grilled goodness, and aromatic spices will transport your taste buds to the vibrant streets of the Philippines. So, take a bite of this mouthwatering grilled chicken and immerse yourself in the flavors of Chicken Inasal.



Taho is a popular Filipino street food and breakfast staple that is loved for its simplicity and sweet flavors. It consists of silken tofu, sago pearls, and a sweet syrup made from brown sugar, creating a delightful and refreshing treat.


Taho vendors can be found roaming the streets of the Philippines, usually in the morning. They carry a large stainless steel container known as a “taho cart,” where they keep the soft and silky tofu and the other ingredients needed to assemble this tasty snack.


The dish is prepared by spooning the warm tofu into a cup or bowl and topping it with sweet syrup infused with vanilla and caramel-like flavors. In addition to the syrup, chewy sago pearls are added to provide a textural contrast to the smooth tofu.


The combination of textures and flavors in taho creates a harmonious balance. The creamy and silky tofu melts in your mouth, while the sago pearls add a fun and satisfying chew. The sweetness of the syrup ties it all together, making taho a delightful treat for the taste buds.


Taho is not only loved for its deliciousness but also for its nutritional value. Tofu is an excellent source of protein and is low in calories, making taho a healthy and filling breakfast option. It is a preferred choice for many Filipinos to kickstart their day with a nutritious and satisfying meal.


Aside from its taste and nutritional benefits, taho also offers a nostalgic experience. For many Filipinos, growing up with the sound of the taho vendor’s voice and the familiar sight of the taho cart brings back cherished memories of childhood. It represents a simple pleasure and a connection to Filipino culture.


Whether enjoyed on the streets of the Philippines or homemade in your own kitchen, taho is a must-try treat. Its velvety texture, sweet syrup, and combination of flavors make it a unique and beloved part of Filipino food culture. So, indulge in a cup of taho and let it transport you to the bustling streets of the Philippines, where this sweet delight is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.