It was a long day and we really did not know where we will eat since we do not know where the places we researched were located. We passed by Macy's Diner at the Bacarra Road and decided to eat there.
Macy's interior was inspired by a 50's diner complete with posters of James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. We chose a booth and looked at the menu. We decided to have gising-gising (chopped baguio beans mixed with ground meat) and Vigan longganisa for dinner.
The service wasn't bad but the staff were not very friendly and looked a little bored. That usually affects my disposition towards the food unless it was absolutely awesome.
The food arrived. There was nothing spectacular about the gising-gising, but it was good enough to enjoy. The Vigan longganisa tasted good with their local vinegar but there was too much big globs of fat for me to fully enjoy the viand.
I also ordered strawberry shake. I was expecting it to be a bit sour, instead it was sweet and very red. I surmise it must have used some strawberry ice cream in it, because it was also a bit thick. But it was not milkshake, so again, it was just an average drink.
Macy's Diner is not bad but it's not great either. I would like to explore other places to eat first before going back and having another meal there. What I am not sure about, maybe they have better tasting hamburgers and steaks since it is, after all, a 50's themed restaurant.
Favorite Dish: The gising-gising is super spectacular, but it was satisfying enough for me. It was a good combination with the longganisa though.
Of course, trying to local cuisine is an important part of traveling. I looked online to see which were the recommended places to eat, two restaurants were constant on the list - Max's and Saramsam Cafe.
I definitely did not want to go to Max's since it is easily available anywhere in the Philippines, but the sites did not lie since every time we passed it the place was full. Therefore the obvious choice was to go to Saramsam Cafe.
Saramsam is an Ilokano word meaning comfortable dining. True to its name, the place was like visiting a relative's house with its homey furnishing. My husband and I were lucky to find a dining table since the only one left was for two people. The rest of the customers were in big groups who were happily chatting and eating as we entered.
We received our menu, which made it difficult for us to choose, since there seemed to be so many Ilocano dishes to choose from. Plus there were a couple of novelty Ilokano pizzas that we could order. I usually like trying strange dishes, except if it has six to eight legs or should belong to the wild.
Anyways, we chose to have the standard Ilokano meal of pakbet with chicharon and insarabsab (grilled pork cheeks with tofu and onions with calamansi seasoning). We also had wild basil iced tea for our drink. The meal was good and it was like having an Ilokano lola's home cooked meal. After our lunch, we had malunggay sherbet for dessert. I wanted to order dragon fruit ice cream as well, but it was unavailable. The malunggay sherbet was a pleasant surprise. It did not taste like vegetable at all, rather it was quite milky. Best to squeeze calamansi over it. It was an interesting but delicious sour-milky combination.
We enjoyed our meal so much that we went back in the evening for our dinner. We wanted to order the wild basil iced tea again but the stock ran out from the whole day orders. For the evening, we ordered a beefy soup dish which was actually just nilagang baka. What I really enjoyed was the dinardaraan pizza. Dinardaraan is actually dinuguan. I was curious how it would turn out, but the dinuguan topping worked well with the tomato and cheese pizza surprisingly.
What was the disappointment for me in the entire meal was the gamet, or the Ilokano seaweed. This seaweed is what they use for nori, or that seaweed wrap for sushi. It was bland and slimy. I learned that I like my nori dry and crispy rather than wet and fresh. Ugh.
Having gone back on the same day twice to Saramsam Cafe, I think it's obvious that I would definitely recommend the place. The staff were friendly and responsive to our calls. They would also explain nicely if something is not available. Our server even told us to order immediately because there was a big group together with us and they usually serve first in, first serve. Our server during the evening also informed us ahead of time that our order will take a while because a big group ordered ahead of us. Such information is important before a customer orders so expectations are properly set.
I enjoyed our meal and I enjoyed our service. Definitely a must-try.
Favorite Dish: I really enjoyed the wild basil iced tea. The staff were nice enough to give us an entire bucket of ice four our iced tea. It was a very refreshing drink especially after being out under the sun for an entire morning. It was not too sweet like most iced teas establishments served.
Surprisingly, it was the dinardaraan pizza that I liked most among everything we ordered. The dinuguan topping was the dry kind. The meat used was really meat and not the innards that they usually use in typical preparations.
The malunggay sherbet was another pleasant surprise. I was expecting an almost bitter vegetable taste to it, instead it was creamy and milky in taste when eaten by itself. Drizzle calamansi juice and it transforms into a wonderful sour-sweet sherbet.
I would definitely order these dishes again when I go back to Saramsam Cafe.
A sool and comfy space, a refuge from the Ilocano heat, lunchtime at La Preciosa. This place is a popular among the locals and tourists and we learned about this place simply by asking one of the market vendors a where to eat local dishes within the city and, among the three Ilocanos that we asked, La Preciosa was the first thing they said.
Favorite Dish: Bagbagis - pork intestine deep fried until crispy served with vinegar with onions. Just watch out for your cholesterol levels.
Bagbet - this is Pinakbet with Bagnet but this one made purely with Bagnet cooked like pinakbet and not the like the one we had in Vigan (wixed veggies sauteed in fish paste). This one was bagnet cooked with fish paste and no veggies. By the way, Bagnet is the twice fried pork slab usually topped in noodle dishes or veggies.
Ginataang Tilapia - Tilapia cooked in coconut milk
Ukoy - shrimp, carrots, onions and sweet potato in batter fried until crispy
A place that tries to capture native Filipino ambience, the structure was made of nipa and bamboo. It is open, airy and comfortable. The service was great and fast and the food was affordable.
Favorite Dish: Chicken Ati-atihan - their version of Chicken Inasal which is actually chicken marinated with different spices and grilled. Their chicken was savory, sweet and tender and was cooked through.
The restaurant's very homey ambiance adds character to the food they serve.
Favorite Dish: We ordered Poque Poque Pizza - pizza topped with grilled eggplant, tomatoes and onions. You would be surprised how wonderful these blend with the pizza sauce and crust. The pepperoni pizza was too spicy for my kids though. Don't miss the Saramsam Pasta as you would have a hard time finding the same in Manila. We had our dinner here on our first and last day in Ilocos.
this resto is located in general segundo avenue laoag city, this is the home of the original baby back ribs. this is where the politicians like the gov. the mayor. and also the doktors. because of their native anbiance and delicious foods and wow service of the waitresses you can never forget this restaurant in ilocos norte laoag city. there is also a dispaly of seafoods ,from there you can choose what ever you like and would you like it to be cooked. what great restaurant to dine in.
Favorite Dish: the baby back ribs. the gov. says it is the best ribs not in that place but in the whole world. imee marcos said ang sarap ng sizzling pusit kakaiba. all the guest are smiling every time they leave the place. the food is rilly great kahit ano . because the owner itself is the one cooking.
Laoag City, or the Ilocos Region as a whole is famous for their special empanadas like no other. The true Ilocos empanada, consists of a matrix of sauteed vegetables and a piece of longganiza and topped with one whole egg before packing everything up in a wrapper made of flour. At P35 a piece, and with ice cold soda, that completes you.
They have put up a place especially for the empanadas, across the plaza.
Favorite Dish: Haha obviously empanadas!
Although we try to stay away from the usual city crave, we can't help but check this steakhouse. It looks pretty cool and besides, the only decent dining that is open pretty late than usual (most closes at 7pm). And since we have practically tried everything, we had no other choice to calm our rumbling stomachs.
This is the usual place you'll find in Manila around schools and offices and malls. They primarily serve stuff on sizzling plates. Nothing unusual really and pretty priced fair.
The place itself is cozy, I think they only have like 6 tables. Nice painted walls and fixtures.
Sorry I took this picture at night so the light bounced back :D
Favorite Dish: Hmm.. I think I had salisbury steak, fried potatoes, and fruit shake. Make sure to ask which fruit in season they have or they might serve you this disgusting fruit flavored powders you can get in Divisoria.
The place looks like a canteen offering a variety-- from pasta to sandwiches to breakfast meals to snacks.. Good food at a very fair prices. Service is OK.
Nice looking menu-- you'll get enticed to have your fix just by looking at it.
Favorite Dish: I love the spaghetti pizza and chicken combo! They come in small servings but they would surely fill your empty stomach!
The place is clean and nice. Their service is good. They have set menu good for 10 persons starting at P2,200. Since we are 12 we just ordered 1 large crab meat nido soup (this is really a big bowl, we had our 2nd servings of soup after all of us get our first servings hehe), 2 small fried chicken (yummy!), 1 large seafoods chopsuey & large pancit canton. Good thing they have a promo from april 15 - may 15 (not sure if i got the date right) dine-in customers get free ice tea or almond jelly. We only paid 1,100+ not so bad huh!
Expensive seafood!!! We decided to skip the seafood because it was too expensive. Even the other disehes were quite pricely also. The food was not really spectacular, just ok.
But what really made the dinner horrendous was the live performance. The singer sounded like a screaming banshee.. really terrible.
Long road travel in between sites, Jade Karla offered a delicious too-late lunch between Paoay and Vigan.
Favorite Dish: crunchy Bagnet !!!
Farinas Caltex Station, Bacarra Road,Brgy. 55-B Salet,, Laoag, 2900, Philippines
Good for: Couples
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