Must-try local snacks in Ilocos Norte

ILOCOS NORTE, Philippines – Ilocos Norte is not only visited for its pristine beaches and historic churches – it is also home to famous and mouth-watering snacks that truly symbolize the history and rich culture of the Ilokanos.

Unfamiliar with Ilokano cuisine? Here we list some of the most popular in the province merienda choices to try if you find yourself in the area!

Ilocos Empanada

The Ilocos empanada is popular as an afternoon snack in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. Word empanadas would be derived from a Spanish term meaning to wrap and coat with bread.

Empanada ILOCOS. Photo by Edmar Delos Santos/Rappler

What sets this version apart from other empanadas is its bright orange half-moon shape and its filling of Ilocos longganisa, eggs, green papaya and parboiled mung beans (monggo). It is fried in boiling oil, until super crispy.

However, there are differences between Batac and Vigan empanadas, the two types of Ilocos empanadas. This latest version is thinner and the orange color is more subtle than the other. However, both versions are popular with locals and tourists alike, who prefer to dip them in sukang Ilocos (local vinegar) or banana ketchup.

Where to find the best: Glory’s Empanada at Batac Riverside Empanadaan (Batac Empanada) and Irene’s Empanada at Salcedo Street, Vigan, Ilocos Sur (Vigan Empanada).

Pinakbet Pizza

Pinakbet is a popular Ilokano dish made with different vegetables such as eggplant, tomatoes, squash, okra, ampalaya, and long beans. These vegetables are accessible and grown in people’s homes arubanthe Ilokano word for backyard.

In recent years, different restaurants in Ilocos Norte have incorporated the taste and ingredients of pinakbet into their pizzas. Locals and tourists, especially vegetarians, enjoy this snack when they visit Ilocos.

Where to find the best: Herencia Café in front of Paoay Church and Saramsam on Rizal Street, Laoag City.


According to the Museo Ilocos Norte website, tupig is traditionally popular during the Christmas season in Ilocos Norte, as during the holidays the Ilokanos always return to their ancestral homes, and this local delicacy serves as their “treasure chest of heirlooms and memories”.

TUPIG. Photo by Edmar Delos Santos/Rappler

“Tupig is a treat that is served to friends, family and Christmas carolers – as a token of gratitude for their holiday greetings and to wish them luck in the coming New Year,” he added.

But do not worry, tupig is available at any time of the year.

Native to northwest Luzon, tupig is a pastry made with glutinous rice (diket), coconut milk, molasses and sesame seeds. Some towns wrap and cook it in bamboo tubes, coconut leaves and coconut husks. It is usually grilled over charcoal.

Where to find the best: Sarrat, Ilocos North.


just like tupig, dudol is mainly served at parties. It is a local treat during the Guling-Guling festival in Paoay, and there is even a dudol cooking during the festival.

Howeverdudole is also available at any time of the year.

Made from coconut milk, anise, sugar cane and rice flour, it is an indigenous Ilokano delicacy with very Asian roots.

Dudol is a popular rice cake in some countries, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and southern India. It is believed that before the arrival of the Spanish in the Philippines, Malay and Indian settlers from the coastal towns of Ilocos Norte and Sur introduced the locals there.

Where to find the best: Paoay, Ilocos Norte.

Pasuquin Biscocho

The Ilokano version of biscocho is just leftover baked bread. According to Tourism Ilocos Norte, it comes in two forms: a crispy, toasted cookie, and a soft, chewy version.

Pasuquin biscocho is unsweetened and has the aroma and flavor of anise. It is said to be a must see when you visit Ilocos as they call it the “Pride of the North”.

Where to find the best: Pasuquin Bakery in Brgy. Population 3, Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte.

Ilocos Miki

Ilocos Miki is a popular chicken noodle soup found mostly on the streets and in food courts. Museo Ilocos Norte said the local miki “is distinguished from other Filipino variants by the type of egg noodles it uses.” It is made with chicken broth, rice noodles, atsuete and is mainly topped with boiled egg, bagnet and chicharon.

ILOCOS MIKI. Photo by Tricia Marie Marcos

It is believed to have existed since the Chinese migrated to the province. It is also served at birthday parties and lamay (wake).

Where to find the best: Batac Riverside Empanadaan in Batac City and Seachells Pagmiryendaan in Brgy. 28, Laoag City.

The Ilokano snacks listed here are just a few of locals’ favorites, and there are more beloved ones. merendas you should give it a try when you visit Ilocos Norte. –

Edmar Delos Santos is an intern at Rappler in the Life & Style and Entertainment section.

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