Uncover the Hidden Gems: 10 Secret Restaurants in La Union You Must Try

secret restaurants in la union

Searching for the perfect dining experience in La Union? Look no further! We’ve uncovered the best-kept culinary secrets in this charming province. Whether you’re a foodie or simply seeking a unique dining experience, these 10 secret restaurants in La Union are a must-try for any discerning palate. From mouthwatering seafood dishes to authentic local delicacies, each hidden gem offers a distinct and unforgettable dining experience.

Indulge in farm-to-table cuisine at a hidden garden restaurant or savor the flavors of the sea in a quaint beachfront eatery. Discover innovative fusion dishes that blend traditional and international flavors, or immerse yourself in the local culture with traditional Filipino fare cooked with love. Whatever your craving may be, La Union has it all.

Be prepared to get off the beaten path, as these hidden gems are often tucked away from the main tourist areas, offering a truly unique and intimate atmosphere. Get ready to embark on a culinary adventure like no other. So, food lovers, start planning your next gastronomic journey and get ready to uncover the delicious secrets of La Union!

What makes secret restaurants special?

Secret restaurants hold a certain allure and mystery that make them special. They are often tucked away from the main streets and tourist areas, creating an air of exclusivity and discovery. These hidden gems offer a sense of adventure for food enthusiasts, as finding them requires some exploration and local knowledge. The secret restaurants in La Union are no exception, and each offers a unique experience that sets them apart from the more well-known dining establishments.

One thing that makes secret restaurants special is the element of surprise. Unlike popular restaurants, which are often crowded and noisy, secret restaurants provide a more intimate and personal setting. You can expect a cozy ambiance, attentive service, and a chance to connect with the chef or owner, who are usually passionate about their craft. The limited seating capacity also ensures that the experience is more exclusive, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the flavors and atmosphere of the place.

In addition to the sense of adventure and exclusivity, secret restaurants often pride themselves on their culinary offerings. These hidden gems are known for their innovative menus, unique flavor combinations, and meticulous attention to detail. Many secret restaurants use locally sourced ingredients, creating farm-to-table experiences that showcase the region’s agricultural bounty. Whether you’re a fan of seafood, fusion cuisine, or traditional Filipino dishes, a secret restaurant in La Union will delight your taste buds and leave you craving more.

La Union’s unique culinary experience

La Union is a province in the Philippines that has recently gained popularity among tourists. Known for its picturesque beaches and vibrant surf culture, it has become a go-to destination for those seeking sun, sand, and relaxation. However, beyond the well-known tourist spots, La Union is also home to a treasure trove of hidden culinary gems waiting to be discovered.

While the province may not be as renowned as other culinary destinations in the country, such as Manila or Cebu, it certainly holds its own when it comes to gastronomic delights. La Union boasts a rich culinary heritage, with influences from its coastal location and its proximity to the mountainous regions of the north. This unique blend of flavors and cooking techniques creates a diverse and exciting food scene worth exploring.

From traditional Filipino dishes that have been passed down through generations to modern fusion creations that push the boundaries of culinary innovation, the hidden restaurants of La Union offer something for everyone. These hidden gems often draw inspiration from the region’s natural resources, incorporating fresh seafood, locally grown produce, and traditional cooking methods to create delicious and authentic dishes. Whether you’re in the mood for a hearty meal or a light snack, the secret restaurants of La Union have got you covered.

Must-try secret restaurants in La Union

1) Makai Bowls

Situated in the picturesque Great Northwest Philippine Travel Stop and Viewing Deck in San Juan, Makai Bowls provides a delightful culinary experience for surfers and beach enthusiasts. This renowned establishment is celebrated for its invigorating smoothie bowls, crafted exclusively from 100% real fruits and free from dairy and sugar. 

Makai Bowls also offers an array of delectable options, such as quinoa bowls, chia bowls, fruit parfaits, popsicles, and fresh fruit shakes. Among their famous creations are the Beach Break Smoothie Bowl and the Mango Shake Shack, guaranteed to satisfy any palate.

2) Mamba’s Kitchen

Look no further than Mamba’s Kitchen for an authentic taste of Filipino comfort food in San Juan La Union. This eatery is a true culinary gem specializing in beloved Filipino breakfast classics like tocilog, a delightful combination of rice, egg, and sweet pork sausage known as tocino. Mamba’s Kitchen also caters to those craving Western flavors with its selection of salads, burgers, and sandwiches. 

With its charming blue and white walls and open-air seating, this restaurant perfectly embodies the laid-back beach lifestyle of La Union. Located at 215 Urbiztondo Road, Mamba’s Kitchen is part of a vibrant dining hub offering diverse cuisines. No wonder this establishment is a local favorite, attracting crowds even during peak dining hours. 

3) Sabong Fried Chicken

Located at the vibrant Great Northwest Philippine Travel Stop and Viewing Deck, Sabong Fried Chicken is a haven for those seeking Western comfort food, mainly fried chicken. What sets this establishment apart is its wide selection of distinct sauces, including the classic Elyu Original, the flavorful Korean Soy, and the spicy Chick’n Morty. You can also indulge in their locally-inspired Honey Bagoong sauce for a local twist. 

Sabong Fried Chicken goes beyond the ordinary by pairing their mouthwatering fried chicken meals with delectable Western side dishes. Indulge in their bucket meals, fried chicken sandwiches, and flavored fried chicken options, accompanied by specialty beers, to complement the crispy and flavorful goodness. Sabong Fried Chicken guarantees a tantalizing experience for your taste buds. Take the chance to visit this must-try destination during your La Union road trip. 

4) Mad Monkeys

Conveniently located along McArthur Highway in San Juan La Union, Mad Monkeys is a haven for burger enthusiasts. With a deliberate focus on its burger offerings, this restaurant prides itself on serving generous portions and bold flavors. The creative minds behind Mad Monkeys have crafted unique sauces, such as the tantalizing S.O.S. sauce, which combines roasted garlic and exquisite spices. The Classic reigns supreme among their mouthwatering burgers, featuring a hefty 200-gram beef patty complemented by the restaurant’s renowned cheddar beer sauce. 

Self-proclaimed burger aficionados must make it a point to prioritize a visit to Mad Monkeys upon our arrival in San Juan. It was the perfect way to kick-start our culinary adventure in the city.

5) Beach Bum Food Park

With its enticing offerings, including a bucket of 5 San Mig Lights for just Php270, this food park caters to its patrons’ taste buds and wallets. Among the popular stalls, Beach Bum B.B.Q. stands out, tantalizing guests with its delectable grilled snacks, such as the beloved Filipino street food, isaw – barbecued chicken or pork intestines.

After a sun-soaked day at the beach, many flock to this vibrant food park, where they can choose from a diverse selection of at least ten eateries. For those seeking a more budget-friendly watering hole compared to Flotsam & Jetsam, Beach Bum Food Park is the perfect choice. 

6) Fatwave Sunset Shack

Fatwave Sunset Shack is the bar component of Fatwave Surf Resort, a popular beach resort located near Manila. Situated on the beach, Fatwave Sunset Shack provides breathtaking views of the sea and sunset while offering an impressive selection of signature cocktails. Among their crowd-pleasing drinks is the refreshing ‘Elyuzu’ made with gin, cucumber, lemon, Campari, and yuzu puree, as well as the enticing ‘It’s Complicated’ featuring tequila, gin, firewater liquor, pineapple, watermelon, and local mandarin.

At Fatwave, guests can indulge in various cocktails while enjoying the tranquil seaside ambiance. The bar also offers pitchers instead of individual glasses for those sharing with a group. Reflecting the laid-back and trendy atmosphere of the attached resort, Fatwave Sunset Shack features an open-air lounge area furnished with low tables, pillows, a sunset viewing deck, and a collection of tables, chairs, and bean bags right on the beach. The main bar exudes a cool and stylish vibe with its nipa roof, tall wooden bar chairs, and suspended chairs.

Adding to the overall aesthetic, the bar is adorned with pink neon decor reminiscent of flamingos and other cute elements. The cocktails served at Fatwave Sunset Shack are visually appealing and reasonably priced, making them a delightful choice. Additionally, we highly recommend trying their delectable chicken dish if you’re looking for a bite to eat.

7) Papa Bear

Situated within the Great Northwest Travel Stop and Viewing Deck of San Juan, La Union, Papa Bear is a remarkable eatery that offers stunning views of the sea and a refreshing breeze. With a strong emphasis on community engagement and eco-consciousness, Papa Bear strives to be a socially responsible establishment.

What sets Papa Bear apart is its unique cuisine approach, which includes the art of curing and smoking bacon and serving delicious vegan dishes. Drawing inspiration from the rich flavors of Asian fusion cuisine, the restaurant features popular dishes like sambal pork, char kway teow, Thai salad, and pho.

Among the highly recommended specialties at Papa Bear are the mouthwatering sambal pork and the beloved ‘begg’ dish. The ‘Begg’ consists of rice topped with sous vide egg and succulent, 120-hour brined and smoked pork shoulder, drizzled with a delightful sweet soy sauce. Begg and the sambal pork, priced at Php180 and Php250, respectively, truly showcase Papa Bear’s culinary expertise and distinctive flavors.

8) Masa Bakehouse

Nestled on San Roberto St. in San Juan, Masa is a renowned bakehouse and restaurant celebrated for its exceptional handcrafted bread. The menu at Masa extends beyond bread to include delectable sandwiches, mouthwatering pizzas, and a selection of signature beverages, including their famous Notorious P.I.G. sandwich—a delightful combination of pork and vegetables reminiscent of the Vietnamese banh mi.

As a sibling establishment to the esteemed Barefoot restaurant in San Juan, Masa resides in a converted old house that exudes a cozy and laid-back atmosphere, providing a delightful open-air dining and drinking experience. Recently, Masa has relocated to a new and expanded location, offering a larger space for patrons to enjoy their beloved handcrafted breads and pastries. The aroma of fresh-baked goods permeates the air, creating an enticing and inviting ambiance.

Alongside their world-class bread and baked goods, Masa serves an array of hearty sandwiches, breakfast toasts, and delectable dips, all perfectly complemented by their freshly baked sourdough. For those seeking more substantial fare, Masa also offers satisfying rice meals to satisfy any craving.

When in search of a remarkable dining experience in La Union, Masa Bakehouse is a must-visit destination. Indulge in their exceptional bread and savor the flavors that have made them a beloved establishment among locals and visitors alike. Don’t miss out—head to Masa and experience the magic of their handcrafted delights.

9) Gefseis Greek Grill

Many travelers highly regard Gefseis Greek Grill as one of the top La Union restaurants. Gefseis, meaning ‘flavors’ in Greek, prides itself on serving authentic Greek cuisine using the freshest ingredients. Hence, it stands out in the province due to the rarity of Greek eateries outside Metro Manila. The restaurant offers a delectable range of Greek dishes, such as lamb souvlaki, grilled meat pita sandwiches, and kebab rice, at reasonable prices. Their set meals often include fries, vegetables, and Greek sauces. One of the best-selling items is the Greek version of cheese sticks, made with saganaki cheese and lemon. 

The restaurant’s design and ambiance draw inspiration from the Greek Island of Santorini, providing guests with stunning sea views while they dine. It is a beloved hole-in-the-wall establishment among locals and tourists in San Fernando. 

Being one of the most popular restaurants in the area, Gefseis Greek Grill is consistently featured on various “where to eat in San Juan” lists. It is conveniently located near the beach, away from the main road. Whether you opt for smaller meals like lamb souvlaki or indulge in their full meals like lamb chops and kebab rice, Gefseis offers a delightful dining experience.

10) Tagpuan sa San Juan

For an authentic and unpretentious Filipino dining experience, look no further than Tagpuan sa San Juan on Urbiztondo Road. Beloved by locals and travel nomads alike, this small outdoor eatery may seem modest with its main gray wall, wooden roof, and simple tables and chairs, but it exudes a unique charm.

Tagpuan sa San Juan is renowned for its Filipino rice bowls, featuring mouthwatering options such as pares (sweet soy beef), chicken adobo, or tapa (marinated beef slices). However, the most adored rice bowl is undoubtedly the bagnet version, showcasing the crispy, deep-fried pork belly dish from the Ilocos Region.

Despite initially craving burritos and hamburgers, Tagpuan will pleasantly surprise you with one of your most memorable meals. Conveniently located beside the Mad Monkeys burger restaurant, Tagpuan’s focused menu centers around their specialty rice bowls topped with tapa, pares, and chicken adobo flakes.

But the true star of the menu, particularly given the region’s influence, is the bagnet rice bowl priced at Php120. This dish showcases the supremely crispy, deep-fried pork belly hailing from the neighboring Ilocos province. Bagnet is undeniably one of the crispiest pork belly dishes you’ll ever taste, an absolute delight.

Despite its limited dining space, Tagpuan sa San Juan has earned a reputation as a go-to spot for affordable meals in the area. Tourists flock to this charming eatery to savor Tagpuan’s famous rice bowls. Also, Tagpuan is only 15 minutes away from Pugad Adventure Park, so going here is a breeze.


In conclusion, while some of the restaurants mentioned in this article may not be as hidden as their reputation suggests, they still possess a mysterious appeal worth exploring. La Union is known for its vibrant food scene, and these ten restaurants add to its charm. Whether it’s the hidden location, the unique menu, or the secret recipes passed down through generations, each establishment has something special to offer. So, venture out and uncover these hidden gems, and let the enchantment of La Union’s secret restaurants captivate your taste buds.

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