Bacolod City in Negros Occidental is a certified foodie haven. The distinctive local food culture and Negrense cuisine, the abundance of restaurants and cafes in the city, and the laid-back pace that allows for leisurely meals, all contribute to this reputation.
On a recent trip to Bacolod, there weren't enough days to try all the restaurants we had on our list--but we still managed to fit ten restaurants, kakanin stops, and cafes into three days. These included such institutions as El Ideal and Café Bob's, as well as newer favorites like Calea and Café Uma, though not, unfortunately, Café 1925, Bacolod Chicken House, or Pendy's.
Check out our list in the gallery below, and grab some ideas for your own Bacolod food trip for the next time you're in the area.
Maricar Dabao of Viaje Negrense runs a range of tours in and around Bacolod City. One of the stops for our tour was in Silay City, on the way to Bacolod from the airport, at the local public market where vendors gather at dawn to sell freshly-cooked snacks and local delicacies. Silay street food specialties include Panara, an empanada-like fried pie that's filled with togue (mongo sprouts).
Top off your early morning on-the-go meal with all sorts of desserts and native snacks. The ubiquitous suman is available in flat and rolled forms, as well as typical choices like polvoron. The hands down winner for sweet tooths (and there are a lot of them in this sugar capital) is kalamay, which is served in small plastic cups and eaten with flat wooden spoons.
Meals and coffee are also served, but on the locals' leisurely schedules--which is to say, you'll have to ask what's available when you arrive, since not everything is ready all the time.
The famous ruins of the Don Mariano Lacson house in Talisay now has a restaurant on the grounds. The restaurant is in a separate building, but meals can be served at the appropriately bare tables on the ground floor and around the porch of the ruins of the actual ancestral home. Coffee and a few snack and dessert items are also available for quick orders.
This homegrown restaurant has been serving Ilonggo specialties since the '60s, and the chain now has a number of branches in Bacolod and in Metro Manila as well (the branch we visited was Café Bob's along Lacson). The Deli Pinoy Spaghetti, one of their unique specialty dishes, is made with fresh tomato, sardines, and salted eggs.
Felicia's is best known for their huge macarons. Unlike the more common variety, their macarons are a good three inches in diameter, with dense cookies and thick filling. These come in four flavors: strawberry, mocha, blueberry, and mint chocolate, though the blueberry and mint chocolate ones are the crowd favorites.
Café Uma (and the neighboring Trattoria Uma, from which guests can also order) serves hearty Italian and Asian dishes that are more sophisticated than the typical fare you can get around the city (they're pricier, too). The Café Uma Special, shown here, consists of spaghetti with pesto cream sauce, smoked salmon, and huge chunks of bacon.
See Café Uma's contact details here.
Take home the Bacolod food experience with you by buying the city's pasalubong products.
Virgie's sells their own products and are most known for their Mango Tart, but they also carry other brands, including the innovative Casa Carmela, which has a modern take on the classic piyaya.
Another piyaya brand that locals swear by is Bailon's, which makes large flat piyaya with a gooey, tasty filling.
Finally, look for my personal favorite--Sugarlandia, which makes a small thick piyaya that looks like hopia. They also make barquillos, barquiron, biscocho, and other Negrense treats.