The diverse Philippines street foods are not just affordable, but proof of the people’s adaptability and ingenuity. These Filipino street foods were once survival food that turned into some of the most delicious offerings in the country.
Traditional Filipino cuisine features a wide range of options. But when visiting a new country, particularly in South East Asia, street food is the most efficient way to learn more about the dishes and native culture.
So what are the most loved and well-known street food in the Philippines and which ones to try first? Here are a local’s recommendations on some of the best Filipino street food you should indulge in!
Grilled Philippines Street Foods – Try Grill To Be Healed!
First of the list! A classic summer treat! Filipino barbecue, sometimes called “Barbecue” or “BBQ,” is a beloved and appetizing street food in the Philippines.
It’s made with skewered tender meat pieces marinated in a flavorful mixture such as soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, and banana ketchup, which gives it an exceptional taste.
Then it is grilled over coals until perfectly charred, where you get the dark crunchy bits. They say save the best for the last; this Filipino street food includes a small hunk of fat at the end of the stick. It is paired with a vinegar-based sauce to balance the flavor.
You can find barbecue skewers anywhere on the streets! It is also perfect for parties or a simple dinner with family.
Adidas (Grilled Chicken Feet)
If you are feeling more adventurous, try this interesting-looking barbecue!
Philippines street food’s very own Adidas or grilled chicken feet. It’s literally chicken feet skewered on sticks and grilled until tender. Before grilling, locals usually boil it to ensure the tenderness of the chicken feet.
Adidas is irresistibly chewy, salty, and crispy! Most people top the flavor with banana ketchup or a vinegar-based dipping sauce to complete the taste.
Grilled chicken feet are available at many food stands, restaurants, and street barbecue stands. It is a unique treat that shows how varied and daring Filipino cuisine is.
Although it might not be to everyone’s taste, it is certainly worth a try for those who wish to sample the authentic flavors of Pinoy street food culture.
Helmet (Grilled Chicken Heads)
If you want another challenge to your taste buds, try Helmet! As the name implies, this Filipino street food is made from none other than Chicken heads!
The chicken heads are cleaned and seasoned with a marinade that consists of a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, calamansi or lemon juice, garlic, brown sugar, and spices. The marinade adds exotic flavor and improves the chicken heads’ taste.
The grilled chicken head is crispy on the outside but soft on the inside, and the fatty deposits that ooze with every bite make this dish special.
This exotic Philippines street food is undoubtedly not for the faint of heart, but once you try it, it can become addicting.
Walkman (Grilled Pig Ears)
By now, you probably know that the Philippines is famous for some weird yet tasty bites. And this dish is no exception.
The crispness and flavor of grilled pig ears are fantastic. It has a texture that falls in between chewy jerky and crispy bacon. You can taste all the pork’s flavor with a thrill as you can chew the cartilage of the ear.
Like other Filipino street food barbecue, it is often topped with banana ketchup and served with a vinegar-based dipping sauce.
Betamax (Grilled Pig’s Blood)
In the Philippines’ street food scene, street vendors serve grilled pig’s blood on sticks as a delicious snack, and it is called Betamax. It’s shaped in squares and is a coagulated pig’s or chicken’s blood. Betamax gets its name from its visuals, which resemble the old video tapes from the 1980s.
It even somewhat looks like chocolate when raw. But after being grilled, it turns into a smokey, flavorful delight that is excellent for dipping in vinegar and flavoring with garlic and pepper.
Isaw (Barbecued Pork or Chicken Intestine)
Isaw is barbecued pork or chicken intestine that’s been skewered and grilled over charcoal.
It’s traditionally eaten with vinegar and chili peppers to amp up the smoky flavor. Yes! Another mouth-watering Filipino street food! The contrast of the smoky flavor and the vinegar as the dip is simply addicting!
You can find Isaw on every barbecue stand in the Filipino street food scene, as it is loved by many! While it might sound like an adventurous eat, intestines are a common and delicious part of many Asian cuisines.
Puwet ng manok (Grilled Chicken’s Ass)
What a unique Filipino street food! Chicken ass, bottom, butt, or whatever you want to call it is typically grilled or barbecued to bring out its delicious flavors.
It is grilled to perfection, creating a slightly crispy texture on the outer skin but staying soft inside. In the evenings or during social events, you can find chicken butt being sold at various food stalls and marketplaces in the Philippines.
Filipino Street Food – Pick Your Pica-pica!
Let’s go to fried street food in the Philippines. First is a crowd favorite, fish balls! It is a conveniently delicious snack that is regularly enjoyed. They are well-seasoned balls of groundfish and spring onions; deep-fried to golden brown perfection with a crisp exterior and soft interior.
The fishballs have a savory flavor and addictive texture! It can be paired with sauce depending on your palate, whether it is sweet and sour sauce, vinegar with garlic, or spicy vinegar. Skewers or toothpicks are used to enjoy this delicacy; just poke and bite.
Best of all? You can find them everywhere in the Philippines street food scene. From humble street vendors to mall food carts and even restaurants!
Best paired with fish balls, you can be sure the same vendor who sells fish balls has this delight on his pushcart as well.
Squidballs are small, round, or oval-shaped snacks made from minced or ground squid mixed with starch, seasonings, and sometimes other seafood or ingredients. They’re served alongside a sweet and spicy sauce and vinegar. This is so addicting because it’s sweet, salty, crunchy, and soft all at once.
You can also find this Filipino street food everywhere, alongside fish balls and squid balls.
It combines ground pork, shrimp, and a mix of spices. While the other two are circular in shape, Kikiam is elongated. Additionally, it is deep-fried, so its crispy, golden-brown surface gives way to a soft, juicy interior that is flavorful to the brim.
Kwek-kwek is a well-loved Pinoy street food! These are boiled quail eggs coated with an orange batter, a mixture of flour and cornstarch, then deep-fried to crisp perfection. They’re pretty much exactly how you’d imagine them to taste, like eggs deep-fried in tempura batter.
Eating this is fun with skewers or a fork! They’re crunchy on the outside, with soft eggs on the inside. It is best served with spicy vinegar or sweet sauce to make it more delicious.
Have you ever had food so good that even the thought of it makes you drool? That is what Okoy is made up of! It’s an explosion of flavors, a lightly battered, crispy fritter made with shrimp and vegetables.
There are also many varieties made with vegetables like mung bean sprouts and julienned squash.
It’s absolutely delicious and even better when dunked into a spicy vinegar dipping sauce. The sauce complements the flavors of the shrimp fritters and offsets the oiliness.
Lumpia is filled with ground meat, pork, shrimp, and fish. To give it a delicious and savory taste, it is further spiced up with herbs, onions, garlic, carrots, and other seasonings.
There’s also a variety of Lumpia packed with vegetables and fried until golden crispy. It is a delectable Filipino street food with a crispy surface and a soft, savory center.
This dish typically includes a dipping sauce to enhance it and give each bite an additional taste. Such dipping sauces include vinegar-based sauces with garlic and chili, or sweet and sour sauce.
This is a popular Pulutan (small side dish/tapas), meaning it is best eaten with beer! If you are feeling adventurous, try this Filipino street food which is essentially a deep-fried ruffle fat.
Some people say that this is the pig’s intestines, but the truth is it’s not the pig’s intestines per se. Rather, they are tiny tissues connected to the intestines.
Due to its flower-like appearance after cooking, it is called bulaklak (flower), best eaten when it is newly cooked and warm!
One-day Old Fried Chicken
Want to go on the more exotic side of Philippines street foods? Then you should try one-day-old fried chicken!
It’s made with newborn male chicks marinated and deep-fried to crispy perfection. The fried chick can be eaten off a skewer with its bone and beak since they are still soft. And it is so small that you can eat the whole chicken in just a few bites, starting with its head.
And don’t forget the wonders of spicy vinegar sauce with diced cucumber, which makes this dish even more delicious!
Filipino Street Food – Shoot! It’s For The sweet tooth!
If you’re looking for a filling mid-afternoon snack, this is the Filipino street food you are looking for! Bananacue is made with deep-fried bananas and then coated with caramelized sugar. So the outer layer becomes crispy because of the sugar while maintaining the banana’s soft and chewy nature.
Often referred to as “banana spring rolls,” turon is a delicious Filipino street food that blends fresh fruit and sweet brown sugar. Bananas, jackfruit, sweet potatoes, and coconut traditionally make this delectable dessert.
Thinly sliced Saba Bananas are often used to make the foundation. The fruits are then rolled in a spring roll wrapper and coated with brown sugar. It is fried till crisp and caramelized, and served warm.
Cascaron/ Bitsu-Bitsu – Filipino Doughnut
Cascaron or Bitsu-Bitsu are the names of these round, sugary, and chewy doughnuts. These unique sweets are made with glutinous rice flour, coconut milk, shaved coconut, and large amounts of sugar syrups like caramel or Filipino Latik.
Typically, cascaron are sold on skewers in the form of balls. The dough can, however, be shaped into rings, pancakes, or rectangles by some sellers.
This traditional Philippines street food is ideal for sweet lovers because it has a crispy exterior and a soft interior.
It’s a simple yet delicious treat that adds a touch of sweetness to special occasions and gatherings. A representation of the vibrant culture within Filipino street food!
Bibingka – Filipino Coconut-Rice Cake
Another street food you can find, especially during the holidays, is Bibingka. It is a sweet treat made from rice flour with a twist! Bibingka has been around since the 1750s. Rice flour, sugar, butter, coconut milk, milk, and eggs were all included as ingredients in the original recipe.
Grated cheese, salted duck eggs, grated coconut, and other items are occasionally used in recipes in modern times. The Bibingka is frequently prepared by the locals in clay pots lined with banana leaves, giving it a unique smoky flavor.
Kutsinta is like a Filipino street food version of Asian steamed cakes. The ingredients are simple flour, tapioca flour, and sweetened with sugar. But results in a flavorful treat with a jelly-like texture that pairs perfectly with grated coconut or Dulce De Leche.
The locals accomplish this by steaming the set of ingredients. You can buy Kutsinta all year round and anywhere, just wait for the vendor to pass by your house; you will know because they shout, “Putooooo! Kutsintaaaa!”
That said, Kutsinta and Puto are always sold by pair, meaning you can always find Puto when there’s Kutsinta and vice versa. Puto are bite-sized pieces of rice with toppings like cheese or grated coconut. They make for a quick snack that is light for the tummy or a nice breakfast in the Philippines.
Filipino Street Food – It’s Refreshingly Freeing!
Now that we have a range of delectable delights to fill our tummies, what about some refreshing ones to beat the heat? Considering the Philippines is a tropical country, here are some of the refreshments you’ll find on the street.
This is one of the summer staples providing relief against the heat and humidity. It features shaved ice infused with banana extract, evaporated milk, flavorings, and food coloring. An iconic pink hue is added to make this treat even more enticing, then topped with skim powdered milk, sprinkles, chocolate syrup, and marshmallows for extra sweetness.
The most iconic ice cream of Pinoy street food culture! Sorbetes is a specific kind of ice cream only found in the Philippines.
Traditionally, it was made from carabao milk, which was less expensive than cow’s milk. Together with other ingredients like coconut milk and cassava flour, both types of milk are now used. Among the favorite sorbet flavors are mango, strawberry, chocolate, ube, buko (coconut), and queso or cheese.
Sorbetes is also known as “dirty ice cream” because it’s sold as street food in Manila. But the ice cream is actually clean. However, this ice cream melts faster than factory-made ice cream, so eat it immediately. You get to enjoy the last bite because it is served in an undeniably crispy small sugar or waffle cone!
If there is an awardee of the most loved and well-known street food in the Philippines, Halo-halo would be the winner! This refreshing delight enchanted the whole world. Found everywhere on the streets, this popular Filipino dessert combines shaved ice, milk, fruits, beans, ube, jelly, tapioca, and leche flan.
With this Filipino street food, the sky’s the limit! Because the customer can always customize it based on their preferences. There’s no rule to follow in eating Halo-Halo; so throw in your favorite fruits, more beans, and all the extra milk you want, as long as you’re lactose tolerant.
Each bite of halo-halo packs a burst of flavors and textures that’ll blow you away! And it will keep you digging for more until the bottom’s up.
Filipino Street Food – Take Broth For Comfort!
The Philippines is a developing country, and broth at affordable prices can bring comfort to ordinary people. It was made for survival, and we continue to enjoy these street foods as the country progresses.
Lugaw refers to a thick Filipino rice porridge similar to Cantonese-style congee. It’s boiled with strips of fresh ginger and often topped with scallions, crispy fried garlic, and other seasonings.
This is such a comfort food for everyone! Are you feeling under the weather? Grab a lugaw at the nearest Lugaw corner in your place.
The term “lugaw” refers to plain rice porridge. When served with different types of beef and pork offal like tripe, intestines, and tongue, it becomes known as “goto.” When filled with chicken, it’s referred to as “Arroz caldo.”
But they’re all pretty much the same thing – rice porridge. The additional ingredients make it memorable! Nevertheless, plain rice porridge will always hit home!
Mami is a Chinese-Filipino noodle soup made with wheat flour noodles, flavorful broth, and meat like beef, chicken, or wonton.
Given that Chinese immigrants brought the dish to the Philippines, it is considered to have Chinese origins. However, it has developed into a cherished Filipino comfort food throughout time, with its own special twists and changes. Mami is perfect during the rainy seasons!
Pares is a favorite among Filipinos due to its delicious and flavorful broth. It’s a dish that can be enjoyed at any time of the day. It consists of three main components: beef stew, garlic fried rice, and a bowl of beef broth —the perfect pair during rainy days and whenever you just want to eat it.
We kid you not when we say that you can find Pares everywhere. Best of all, many street vendors offer them at an affordable price! Make sure to give this savory Filipino street food a try.
Philippines Street Foods – A Quick Culture Tour
With all that diversity within the street foods in the Philippines, some find that everything is mouth-watering, while others might get a culture shock amongst the exotic dishes.
One thing is for sure, diving into these Filipino street foods will be quite the experience.
Filipinos are known for their resiliency, making the best of anything they have at the moment. That is what the country’s street food reflects, creating salivating delicacies locals enjoy! It’s one of the special facts about the Philippines.