Filipino street food

33 Filipino Street Foods You Have to Try When You Visit

Discovering Filipino Street Food

When it comes to street food, there’s no place quite like the Philippines. The country’s vibrant culture and love of good food are on full display in its numerous stalls and carts, serving up some of the most delicious dishes you’ll ever taste.

From sizzling sisig to savory halo-halo, Filipino street food is as varied as it is delicious. And with so many different options to choose from, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

So if you’re looking to explore the amazing world of Filipino street food, this blog will go over  some of the best Filipino street food dishes you need to try.

How is Filipino street food prepared?

Filipino street food is typically cooked on an open grill or over a charcoal fire, giving it a distinctive smoky flavor. This cooking method also allows the food to be cooked quickly, so it’s perfect for those who are always on the go.

Another popular cooking method for street food is frying, which is often used for dishes like lumpia or kwek-kwek. This cooking method not only gives the food a crispy texture, but also seals in all the flavors, making it even more delicious.

How much does Filipino street food cost?

Filipino street food is very affordable, with most dishes costing less than $2. This makes it the perfect option for those on a budget or those who want to try a variety of different dishes.

Filipino Barbecue

When it comes to street food, there is nothing more iconic than barbecue. And when it comes to barbecue, there is nothing more delicious than Filipino-style barbecue. There is something about the way that Filipinos cook their meat that just makes it irresistible. The secret lies in the marinade, which typically consists of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, pepper and sometimes sodas like 7-Up or Dr. Pepper. This combination of flavors brings out the natural taste of the meat, making it juicy and flavorful.

One of the best things about Filipino barbecue is that it is relatively cheap. You can usually get a plate of pork or chicken for less than $2. And if you’re feeling extra hungry, you can always add on a side of rice or noodles.

Filipino barbecue

Isaw

If you’re looking for something a little different, then you need to try isaw. Isaw is basically grilled chicken intestines. Yes, you read that correctly. Chicken intestines. But before you write it off as gross, just know that it’s delicious.

The intestine is first cleaned out and then marinated in a mixture of vinegar, garlic and pepper. After that, it’s grilled over hot coals until it’s nice and crispy.

Isaw is typically served on a stick, making it the perfect street food. And at less than $1 per piece, it’s also quite affordable.

If you’re feeling adventurous, then isaw is definitely worth a try.

isaw

Offal (Laman Loob)

If you thought isaw was strange, then you’re in for a real treat with laman loob. Laman loob is basically grilled offal, which includes organs like the liver, heart and lungs.

Like isaw, laman loob is first cleaned and then marinated. After that, it’s grilled over hot coals until it’s nice and crispy.

Laman loob is often served on a stick, but you can also find it served on a platter with rice. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you’re feeling adventurous, then laman loob is worth a try.

Calamares

Calamares is a dish that consists of battered and fried squid. It’s a popular street food in the Philippines and it’s usually served with a dipping sauce made from vinegar, garlic and chili peppers.

calamares

Image Source: Angsarap.net

Balut

Balut is a Filipino delicacy that is made from fertilized duck eggs. The eggs are incubated for 14 to 18 days before they are ready to be eaten.

When they are ready, the eggs are boiled and then served in a soup or with vinegar. Balut is often considered to be an aphrodisiac, so it’s definitely worth a try if you’re feeling adventurous.

balut

Image Source: Culture Trip

Betamax / VCD / DVD

Betamax is a street food that consists of grilled chicken or pork blood. It’s marinated in a mixture of vinegar, garlic and pepper before it’s grilled. The result is a delicious and slightly eerie-looking treat shaped into black boxes that look like the outdated technology known as Betamax. Betamax comes in a wide variety of smells and tastes, ranging from mild to offensive. Served with a side of spicy vinegar, sinamak.

Today, betamax is no longer offered on the streets of the Philippines, replaced with VCD or DVD. It’s essentially the same dish shaped into round pucks, resembling video discs. You can find them served on their own, fresh off the grill or in soups.

betamax

Image Source: Cooking Chew

Adidas

As you might have already guessed, Filipinos love to give street foods funny names, often rooted in pop culture. Adidas is no exception, a common name given to grilled chicken feet because the 3 toed chicken foot reminds many of the iconic 3 stripes of Adidas.

Filipino chicken feet

Image Source: Eat PH

Helmet

No part of the chicken is not wasted in Filipino street food, including chicken heads! Colloquially known as just “helmet”, Filipinos eat fried chicken heads on skewers. The skin covering the chicken head has more fat deposits than the chicken feet. You may remove the brain and other entrails from the skull using a hammer or mallet.

Filipino helmet street food

Image Source: Pinoy Easy Recipes

Walkman

Before being grilled, pigs’ ears are sliced into bite-size pieces. In the ’80s, Filipinos dubbed it the Walkman when Sony’s popular gizmo was at its peak of popularity, and the name just stuck. Chicken neck, gizzards, and liver are among the numerous pig and chicken parts that may be cooked on a charcoal grill; however, not all parts acquired pop culture names such as the Walkman, Adidas, Helmet, and Betamax.

Try out the restaurant sisig — a hash of chopped pig ears, snout, liver, jowls, onions, and spices served on a sizzling platter — as an alternative to the street Walkman.

walkman street food

Image Source: Kawaling Pinoy

Kwek-Kwek

This is another popular street food made of chicken or quail eggs that have been hard-boiled, peeled, and then skewered on a bamboo stick before being dipped in orange batter and deep-fried. The result is an orange egg with a crispy coating. It is often served with a vinegar-based dipping sauce.

kwek-kwek

Fish Balls and Chicken Balls

These are two of the most popular street foods in the Philippines. They are both made from ground meat (chicken or fish) that is mixed with flour, salt, and pepper before being formed into balls and then deep-fried.

The chicken balls are usually served with a sweet and sour sauce, while the fish balls can be served with a variety of dipping sauces, including vinegar, soy sauce, and chili sauce. Fish balls are also commonly served in soups, much like in Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai dishes.

Bulaklak

Bulaklak is a Filipino dish made with boiled vegetables, usually carrots and potatoes, served with a dipping sauce. The name of the dish literally means “flower” in Tagalog, the native language of the Philippines.

Bulaklak is a popular dish in the Philippines because it’s simple to make and affordable. It’s also a healthy option for those who are looking for a vegetarian meal.

bulaklak

Image Source: Asian Food Network

Sisig

Sisig is a traditional Filipino dish made from pig heads and livers. The name typically refers to the dish made with pork, but can also be made with chicken or tofu. Sisig is usually served over rice, with a side of soy sauce and vinegar. 

The dish originated in the city of Angeles in the Philippines, where it was first made by Lucia Cunanan, also known as Aling Lucing. Cunanan started serving sisig out of her pulutan (bar food) restaurant back in the 1970s. The dish quickly gained popularity among locals and has since spread throughout the country, and even outside of the Philippines. 

There are many different ways to make sisig, but the most common ingredients are pig heads and livers, chopped onions, garlic, chili peppers, and vinegar. The dish is usually cooked in a skillet or wok and can be served with rice or on its own.

sisig

Image Source: Serious Eats

Lechon Manok

Lechon manok is a delicious and tender Filipino chicken dish. The chicken is marinated in a special blend of spices and then slow-roasted over an open fire. The resulting lechon manok is succulent, juicy, and full of flavor. It’s a popular dish for entertaining, and definitely a must-try for anyone visiting the Philippines. Bon appetit!

Lumpia

Lumpia is a Filipino dish made with spring rolls. The word lumpia comes from the Chinese word for “spring roll.” Lumpia is traditionally made with pork, but can also be made with chicken, shrimp, or vegetables. The filling is wrapped in a thin pastry skin and then fried until golden brown and crispy. Lumpia is usually served with a sweet and sour sauce, or a vinegar-based dipping sauce.

lumpia shanghai

Image Source: Rasa Malaysia

Empanadas

If you’re wondering what’s in a Filipino empanada, the answer is a little bit of everything. Filipino food is a blend of various influences, including Spanish, Chinese and American. So, you’ll find that empanadas can vary depending on what region of the Philippines you’re in. But generally speaking, they are made with wheat flour or rice flour dough, and filled with either meat (usually chicken or beef), vegetables or sometimes fruit.

So if you’re looking for something specific, like chicken empanadas, they will likely be filled with shredded chicken, onions, garlic and some type of cheese. Beef empanadas will usually have ground beef (or sometimes stewed beef), potatoes and peas.

filipino empanadas

Image Source: Hungry Huy

Siomai

Siomai is a type of Filipino food that is made with pork, shrimp, and vegetables. The mixture is then rolled into a dumpling and steamed.

Filipino cuisine has been heavily influenced by Chinese and Malay cuisine, so it’s no surprise that Siomai shares some similarities with those cuisines. In particular, the use of shrimp and pork give Siomai a distinctly Filipino flavor.

Proben / Tocino

Proben, also known as tocino, is a traditional Filipino dish made of pork belly that has been marinated and cured in a mixture of vinegar, garlic, soy sauce, and sugar. The pork is then grilled or cooked over charcoal until the exterior is crisp and caramelized.

Proben is often served as an appetizer or main dish, and is often paired with rice and dipping sauces. It can also be used as a filling for various Filipino dishes such as Lumpia (spring rolls) and Pancit (noodles).

Filipino food is known for being flavorful and colorful, and Proben exemplifies this perfectly. The combination of sweet, salty, tangy, and savory.

proben tocino

Image Source: Eat PH

Pochero

Pochero is a Filipino street food dish made with beef, liver, and vegetables. It’s basically a beef stew with a tomato-based sauce. The vegetables usually included in Pochero are carrots, string beans, potatoes, and cabbage.

This dish is very hearty and flavorful, and it’s sure to please anyone who loves Filipino food. If you’ve never had Filipino food before, Pochero is a great place to start. Give it a try!

pochero

Image Source: Foxy Folksy

Palabok

Palabok is a Filipino noodle dish made from a thin rice flour batter and topped with shrimp, pork, chopped hard boiled eggs, chicharron (pork rinds), and a garlic-flavored sauce.

It’s a popular dish in the Philippines and can be found in most restaurants, not just as a street food dish.

palabok

Image Source: Kitchen Confidante

Adobo

Oh boy, where do I even begin with this one? Adobo is one of those things that you just have to experience for yourself to truly understand. While adobo is popular in many areas of Latin America, Filipino adobo is unique and it’s absolutely delicious.

There are many different variations of adobo, but the basic flavor profile is salty, tangy, slightly sweet, and very savory. The key ingredient in adobo is vinegar, which give it that signature tanginess. Soy sauce and garlic also play a big role in the flavor of adobo.

Adobo is typically made with chicken or pork, but you can really use any type of meat (or even vegetables) that you like. The meat is cooked in a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and often other spices like peppercorns or bay leaves.

Adobo chicken is a popular street food dish in the Philippines, and it’s easy to see why. The flavors are absolutely amazing, and it’s a dish that you’ll definitely want to try if you’re ever in the Philippines.

filipino adobo chicken

Image Source: Sandra Valvassori

Tocino

There’s something special about Filipino tocino. It’s sweet, slightly sticky, and incredibly delicious. I’m not sure what exactly makes it so unique, but it’s definitely a dish worth trying if you’re ever in the Philippines.

As far as taste goes, tocino is quite similar to other cured meats like ham or bacon. However, the key difference is the addition of sugar or pineapple juice during the curing process. This gives tocino its characteristic sweetness, which is balanced out by a slight bitterness from the vinegar used in the cure.

tocino

Image Source: Wikipedia

Arroz Caldo

Arroz caldo is a comforting Filipino dish made with rice, chicken, and a spice-infused broth. It’s usually served with a side of dipping sauce (usually soy sauce or vinegar), and sometimes diced green onions for garnish.

The taste of arroz caldo will depend on the type of rice used, as well as the seasonings added to the broth. But in general, it’s a savory and slightly-spicy dish that’s perfect for rainy days or when you’re feeling under the weather. Comfort food at its finest!

arroz caldo

Image Source: All Recipes

Longanisa

Philippine Longanisa is a type of sweet, spicy sausage. It typically contains sugar, garlic, salt, and some version of ground black pepper or chili pepper. The sausage is often made from pork, but can also be made from beef or chicken.

The taste of Longanisa varies depending on the ingredients and the region where it is made. However, it is generally a sweet and spicy sausage that is similar to Spanish chorizo or Italian salami.

longanisa

Image Source: The Eat Down

Tapsilog

Tapsilog is a dish made up of tapa, sinangag (garlic fried rice), and itlog (egg). It’s a popular breakfast dish in the Philippines.

The tapa is usually beef, but can also be pork or chicken. The meat is marinated in soy sauce, garlic, sugar, and pepper then grilled. The sinangag is garlic fried rice. And the itlog is a sunny side up egg.

Tapsilog is usually served with a dipping sauce made from vinegar, soy sauce, and chilies.

tapsilog

Image Source: Bon Appetit

Day Old

While you might at first think that Day Old means you’re getting someone’s leftovers, that’s far from the truth. One Day gets its name from the age of the chicken: one day old chicks that are skewered and deep fried. Day Old is considered a delicacy in the Philippines, but it’s not for the faint of heart.

Turon

Turon is basically a fried banana, and it’s usually served with a dipping sauce made from sugar, water, and vinegar. It’s sweet, sour, and ultra-decadent.

Turon is a popular street food in the Philippines, but it’s also served at special occasions like weddings, parties or your average Filipino family gathering.

turon

Image Source: Hungry Huy

Camote Cue

Camote Cue, a dish made of sweet potatoes, is a popular street food in the Philippines. The sweet potatoes are boiled then skewered and grilled, and then typically served with a sugar or honey glaze.

The dish has a slightly sweet flavor with a smoky taste from the grilling. It’s a popular snack food, but can also be eaten as a main course.

Sorbetes (Dirty Ice Cream)

The sorbetes is refreshing, creamy, and sweet all at the same time. It’s one of those things that’s hard to pin down, but you know it when you taste it.

There are a lot of different ways to make sorbetes, but the standard ingredients are usually milk, sugar, and flavorings like vanilla or chocolate. Some recipes also call for eggs, which makes the sorbetes richer and smoother.

The key to really good sorbetes is investing in some good quality ingredients – using fresh milk from a local farmstead or dairy maker will make a big difference in taste. Filipino sorbetes vendors often use carabao milk, which has a higher fat content than regular cow’s milk.

sorbetes dirty ice cream

Source: Food.com

Halo-Halo

Halo-halo is a refreshing Filipino dessert that’s perfect for hot summer days. It’s a mix of shaved ice, evaporated milk, and assorted fruits and beans. The most common fruits used are bananas, mangoes, and lychees. Halo-halo also typically includes ube (purple yam) ice cream, which gives it a unique taste that you can’t find in other desserts.

The best thing about halo-halo is that it’s completely customizable. You can add or remove any ingredient you want, so everyone can create their own perfect version of this classic Filipino dessert. Halo-halo is a must-try for anyone visiting the Philippines!

halo-halo

Image Source: Serious Eats

Taho

It’s a bit difficult to describe the taste of Filipino taho because it’s a bit unusual, but I’ll give it a try. Taho is made from soybean curd, and it has a pudding-like texture and a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. Some people say it tastes like tofu, while others say it tastes like soy milk. I personally think it tastes more like pudding than anything else. If you’ve ever had Japanese miso soup, the taste of taho will be somewhat familiar to you.

taho

Image Source: Kawaling Pinoy

Puto

Well, puto is a bit hard to describe because it really depends on what kind of puto you’re talking about. There are many different types of puto, each with its own unique flavor and texture.

Generally speaking though, puto is a very soft and fluffy rice cake. It’s often quite sweet, but some putting can also be savory. Filipinos typically enjoy puto with various accompaniments, such as grated coconut, preserves, or savory meat dishes.

So if you’re wondering what puto tastes like, the best way to find out is to try it yourself! Head to your nearest Filipino market or restaurant and give it a taste.

puto rice

Image Source: Kitchen Confidante

Green Mango and Bagoong

Filipino green mango with bagoong (a shrimp paste) is a sour/spicy dish that’s popular in the Philippines. The green mango gives the dish a tart flavor, while the bagoong provides a salty and spicy kick. Some people also add chili peppers to give it an extra bit of heat.

green mango with bagoong

Image Source: Burnt Lumpia

Filipino Street Food Has Something for Everyone

Filipino street food is so versatile because the Philippines is a melting pot of cultures. With influences from Spain, America, China, and Japan, the Filipino palate has developed into something that can enjoy flavors from all over the world. From savory to sweet, spicy to salty, there’s something for everyone on a Filipino street food menu. Plus, since these foods are often made with cheap and readily available ingredients, they’re perfect for people on a budget. So if you’re looking for a delicious and affordable meal, head to your nearest Filipino street food stall!

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