“If you do not try to make food delicious, you will find that nature has already made it so”– Masanobu Fukuoka.
Hailed as the surfing capital of the country, La Union is known as one of the most popular road trip destinations near Manila—particularly with the younger crowd.
This favorite summer spot is a beloved summer getaway for those who are looking to catch a wave or a quick escape from the urban lifestyle. Today, it is still regarded as the main surfing spot of the Northern Philippines owing to its consistent world-class surfing waves.
Just because La Union is primarily known as a surf town, however, does not mean that it should be overlooked as a potential foodie’s paradise. With so many surfers and visitors flocking to the town all year long, attracting all kinds of new restaurants and concepts is inevitable. As a result, La Union has become a popular food hub apart from being a prominent surf spot in the country. With its diverse food offerings, melange of restaurants, variety of eateries, bars, and cafes, the allure of visiting the surf town has exponentially increased. Needless to say, La Union has a little something for everyone—whether they may be surfers or not. A good majority of the restaurants are located on or by the beach, and many of them come with a breathtaking view of La Union sunsets. To ensure that you make the most out of your trip, here are the best restaurants to visit while there:
a.) Funky Quarters
Fans of Mexican food and roof parties will definitely love Funky Quarters. Located at the top of a boutique hostel in the surf town, this restaurant serves tacos, hefty burritos, and tostadas that are generously filled. If you want to get more bang out of your buck, be sure to visit on a Tuesday, as you will get an extra Taco for each set that you order.
b.) Makai Bowls
Health buffs and enthusiasts need not worry about their diets when they are on vacation, as Makai Bowls serves healthy bowls. Located in San Juan’s coastal commune, dubbed the Great Northwest Philippine Travel Stop and Viewing Deck, Makai Bowls was established to ensure that surfers, beachgoers, and other visitors have healthy and refreshing alternative food options. Makai Bowls is a brand primarily known for its healthy dairy-free and sugar-free smoothie bowls. On top of that, they only use 100% real fruits.
Rest assured, the quinoa bowls, chia bowls, fruit parfaits, popsicles, and fruit shakes they serve are all made from fresh fruits.
c.) Mad Monkeys
Sitting along the McArthur Highway in San Juan, La Union, Mad Monkeys is a restaurant specializing in burger dishes. Their branch in La Union created a smaller menu selection to have a more burger-centric menu that features big servings and bold flavors. The restaurant is primarily known for its unique sauces, such as the SOS sauce, which combines roasted garlic with other spices. If you ever get the chance to try the restaurant out, be sure to order the Classic, as this burger is 200 grams of beef patty slathered with the restaurant’s famous cheddar beer sauce.
d.) Buhay Gulay
Vegans and vegetarians are not left out when it comes to a food crawl in La Union. If they want to take a break from the quinoa bowls and fruit smoothie bowls, they can head on over to Buhay Gulay, the surf town’s designated go-to meat-free eatery. Here, vegetarian food meets local carinderia charm, and the menu changes every day. In fact, there is always something new to try, so you might as well give the eatery a visit. Some carinderia staples are monggo, adobo flakes, and barbecue—all made from plant-based ingredients and priced reasonably as well.
e.) Little Canggu
You do not need to hop on a plane just to have a taste of Bali. At Little Canggu, you can order all of your favorite Indonesian dishes with a unique Filipino twist. Just some of the dishes you can order are Bebek gureng (fried duck), Babi guling made with bagnet Ilocano style, and tempeh satay. Finish your meals strong with their dessert, coconut ice cream. Also, if you wish to enjoy a cup of coffee after lunch, Little Canggu shares its space with little cat coffee.
f.) Papa Bear
Papa Bear is a restaurant that focuses on famous fusion dishes such as char kway teow, Thai salad, pho, and sambal pork. They are quite popular for their process of curing and smoking bacon. Vegans are not left out as the restaurant features a vegan menu. Some of the restaurant crowd favorites are sambal pork and begg. The latter is a dish composed of rice, egg, and smoked pork shoulder that is brined for 120 hours with a side of sweet soy sauce.
g.) Halin’s House
If you have an incessant hankering for Korean food after hitting the beach, head on over to Halin’s house, where they serve authentic Korean dishes. Their menu features Korean favorites such as samgupsal, bibimbap, Korean fried chicken, japchae, and plenty more.