August is officially recognized as Buwan ng Wika. According to Proclamation No. 1041 under former President Fidel V. Ramos, National Language Month is a celebration of the country’s heritage. Both the government agencies and the private sector are encouraged to participate in programs boosting the national language and instilling community awareness. With all the energy involved in these ethnic activities, it is only appropriate to feature Filipino culture through one of its best modes: food.
There are a lot good Filipino restaurants out there, and many do not just present their best version of our top local dishes. These places go the extra mile by serving them in a set-up that feels like a Filipino home, too. If you’re away from home and are looking for authentic local dishes in a Filipiniana-themed restaurant, be sure to consider the places on our list.
XO 46 Heritage Bistro
Salcedo Village, Makati City
The name of the restaurant itself signifies its strong ties to the nation. ‘XO’ stands for extraordinary, in reference to 1946 or the year that the Philippines gained its independence. XO 46 is a restaurant with a distinct Filipino-Spanish style, with well-appointed settings and perfectly uniformed staff. This multi-awarded bistro by Advent Manila Hospitality Group, Inc. presents local cuisine and culture in an exceptional manner. Their food is not only delicious and hearty but pleasing to look at as well. Try the best-selling crispy binagoongan and end the meal with the colorful and sweet sapin-sapin bahaghari.
Puerto Princesa, Palawan
The restaurant comes highly recommended by residents of the city. It is not hard to see why. Upon entering, diners are instantly welcomed by its wooden and bamboo interiors. Ka Lui has a homey feel to it but there is no mistaking that it is a good place to eat. There are real fruits and vegetables on display along with select art pieces for sale. The capiz décor, batik fabrics, and wooden masks set the right mood.
Ka Lui’s menu is mainly composed of the day’s freshest seafood catch, vegetables, and fruits. These can be prepared kilawin style, made into sinigang soup, or mixed into a healthy salad.
Photo via Depositphotos
Angeles City, Pampanga
Celebrity chef Claude Tayag has been serving Kapampangan cuisine from his world-famous restaurant Bale Dutung for many years. It was made popular by the late Anthony Bourdain way back in 2008 when he visited the place as part of his Philippine tour for his now-defunct show, No Reservations. ‘Bale dutung’ actually means wooden house, and this one—home to the Tayags—was built in 1991 using recycled wood and other materials. It has a Filipino countryside feel to it, accentuated by several artsy elements.
A three- or four-hour semi-buffet lunch is a degustation menu that includes select dishes representing the province well, though lechon or roasted pig usually takes center stage during the meal.
STK ta Bai! sa Paulito’s Seafood House
This is unmistakably one of the best seafood restaurants in Metro Cebu and possibly the province itself. STK ta Bai! is a casual restaurant, to be sure, but diners are treated to the old-world charm it exudes. The decor and generous Philippine memorabilia nonchalantly on display, deserve a closer look as they could yield pleasant surprises, just like their food.
STK ta Bai! has been serving traditional Filipino fare since it was first established in 2002. As their name suggests, they have various items prepared the STK (SuTuKil) way: sugba (grilled), tuwa (soup) or kilaw (raw and marinated). A definite must-try for those visiting the restaurant for the first time is the grilled tuna jaw with sumptuous baked scallops.
Photo via Depositphotos
Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant
Intramuros, Old Manila
It would be difficult to complete this list without mentioning this gem from the historic walled city. Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant is an immersion into Philippine culture, without a doubt. Visitors are instantly transported to the 18th century as soon as they start walking up its stairs. This dinner affair will be filled with a heady mixture of authentic Filipino dishes served buffet style alongside a cultural show. Brave diners can even dance along with the performers to work off some of their meal.
As a nod to the father of the national language President Manuel Quezon, his hometown is featured on this list. Kusina Luntian is a very unassuming restaurant. It is more of a nipa hut, actually, though the charming experience is unmistakably Filipino. Diners use their hands to enjoy the simple yet delicious comfort food served on a banana leaf. It is composed of rice, a tasty protein, salted egg, and some fern salad.
Photo via Depositphotos
Enjoy clean, organic food prepared Filipino-style from this farm-to-table restaurant. No visitor to Davao City should leave without dining at Balik Bukid. It is a place to appreciate healthy food served in natural wooden bowls and plates. Philippine artwork and handicrafts made from recycled materials adorn its interiors. Visitors regardless of nationality are sure to admire its wonderful Filipino vibe, which is made even more festive whenever there are cultural shows to heighten the dining experience.
Do you agree with our choices? List your own choices in the comment section below.