La Union Food Guide: Where to Eat in San Juan

La Union Food Guide: Where to Eat in San Juan

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San Juan has been surging in popularity in recent years for two reasons – the first for its surfing, and the second for its food. I don’t know how it all started but this unassuming stretch of beach in La Union province has emerged as a foodie destination. With all the exposure its been getting on social media, it seems that people are becoming as excited to come here for its food as they are for its surfing. That was definitely the case with me.

Just a 5-hr drive north of Manila, if you’re looking to visit San Juan to go surfing and food tripping, then here are 26 restaurants and food stalls for you to check out.

1. Olas Banditos

I don’t know what it is, but good Mexican food and surfing go really well together. There’s just something comforting about having sand between your toes and a burrito in your hand in a place like this. It’s perfect. For that reason, Olas Banditos was one of the restaurants I was most excited about in San Juan, and it didn’t disappoint.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

An order of chicken quesadillas (PHP 125) and a beef taco (PHP 65). They have fish tacos (PHP 50) and flautas here as well.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

This Ilocos Norte burrito (PHP 250) was one of the best things I ate in San Juan. Aside from the usual burrito fillings, it was stuffed with fries, cheese, and Ilocos or Vigan longganisa which happens to be my all-time favorite type of longganisa. I thought it was delicious and a must-try if you like burritos.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Olas Banditos

Operating Hours: 9AM-11PM, Mon-Thurs / 9AM-12MN, Fri-Sun
What they Serve: Mexican cuisine
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 150-300 per person

2. Tagpuan

This place surprised me. I was more excited to have burritos and hamburgers than typical Filipino food, but we wound up having one of our best meals here at Tagpuan. It’s located at the side of the Mad Monkeys burger restaurant.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Tagpuan has a focused menu. They specialize in Filipino rice bowls topped with favorites like tapa (thinly sliced marinated beef), pares (beef simmered in sweet soy and anise), and chicken adobo flakes. But their best bowl perhaps, and the one you should try considering the region, is this bagnet rice bowl (PHP 120). It’s a supremely crispy deep-fried pork belly dish that hails from the Ilocos region, which is the province just north of La Union. Bagnet is probably one of the crispiest pork belly dishes you’ll ever have in your life. It’s delicious.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Tagpuan

Operating Hours: 8AM-2AM, Thurs-Sun / 8AM-12MN, Mon / 6PM-12MN, Wed (closed Tuesdays)
What they Serve: Filipino rice bowls
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 100-150 per person

3. Gefseis Greek Grill

Gefseis Greek Grill is one of the most popular restaurants in the area. You’ll find it on virtually every top ten “where to eat in San Juan” list. It’s located towards the beach, away from the main road.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

A tasty starter of hummus with pita (PHP 150).
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

We ate here for lunch so we opted for smaller meals like this lamb souvlaki (PHP 170), but they offer plenty of full meals here as well like lamb chops and kebab rice meals.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Gefseis Greek Grill

Operating Hours: 9AM-12MN, Sun-Thurs / 9AM-2AM, Fri-Sat
What they Serve: Greek cuisine
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 300-500 per person

4. Mad Monkeys

Burgers are my ultimate favorite comfort food so I really wanted to eat here. In fact, it was the very first restaurant we went to soon as we arrived in San Juan. However, they experienced flooding from the recent typhoon and had to temporarily close down. We stopped by everyday hoping to find them open but they never were. Bummer.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Mad Monkeys

Operating Hours: 10AM-10PM, Mon-Thurs / 10AM-12MN, Fri-Sun
What they Serve: Burgers
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 300-350 per person

5. Flotsam & Jetsam

As you can tell from the pictures, Flotsam & Jetsam is THE place to party at night in San Juan. It’s a hip and uber popular hostel that draws large crowds of millennial partygoers. At night, practically everyone vacationing in San Juan will be here.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

We came here to enjoy a few drinks but the hostel has a full menu as well, offering a wide range of dishes from Filipino staples to international favorites like pizza and pasta.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Flotsam & Jetsam is fun. There were so many people here that we couldn’t find a place to sit. It’s a stylish place that brands itself as an “artist hostel” so the vibe is young and electric. Beer is expensive, PHP 90 per bottle of local beer, but people didn’t seem to mind. The place was buzzing with activity anyway.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Flotsam & Jetsam

Operating Hours: Hostel hours
What they Serve: Continental cuisine
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 300-400 per person

6. Halo Halo de Iloko

This is the only place in this list that isn’t actually in San Juan. Halo Halo de Iloko, as their name suggests, is a popular halo-halo restaurant in the neighboring town of San Fernando. It’s a great place to stop and enjoy halo-halo on your drive back to Manila. Unfortunately for us, many people seemed to have the same idea as the place was packed with big groups of diners waiting to be seated. We had a 5-hour drive ahead of us so we decided to save this for our next visit.

If you want to try their famous halo-halo, then you may want to come at off-hours, like early in the morning or in the middle of the afternoon. They offer a full menu so they’re packed for lunch and dinner.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Halo Halo de Iloko

Address: 12 Zandueta, San Fernando La Union, Luzon 2500, Philippines
Operating Hours: 9AM-9PM, daily
What they Serve: Halo-halo, Filipino cuisine
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 400-500 per person

THE GREAT NORTHWEST PHILIPPINES TRAVEL STOP & VIEWING DECK

The Great Northwest Philippines Travel Stop and Viewing Deck is a mouthful of a compound that houses some of San Juan’s most popular eateries, including the iconic El Union Coffee which is without a doubt the most famous coffee shop in the area.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

7. El Union Coffee

As described, El Union Coffee is one of the most popular places in San Juan. From what I understand, they’re a pioneer here and are often featured in articles and TV segments about La Union. They’ve become a San Juan institution so your surfing trip can’t be complete without enjoying a cup of coffee here.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

El Union Coffee is famous for their cold brew coffee (PHP 140) and horchata (PHP 120). Cold brew coffee is coffee brewed with cold (or room temperature) water over a period 12-24 hours. As the pundits claim, it’s a bit mellower and more full-bodied than regular iced coffee which tends to be more acidic.

Horchata, on the other hand, is a milky beverage made from ground almonds, sesame seeds, rice, barley, tiger nuts (chufas), or melon seeds. At El Union, you can get it either plain or dirty, dirty meaning spiked with coffee.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

El Union Coffee is famous for their indoor s’mores (PHP 160, small) as well. I bet this sweet fluffy snack is all the rage on Instagram.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

El Union Coffee

Operating Hours: 9AM-9PM, Mon-Thurs / 9AM-10PM, Fri / 7AM-10PM, Sat / 7AM-9PM, Sun
What they Serve: Coffee, dessert
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 100-200 per person

8. Great Gamble Seafood Shack

I love seafood so this was another restaurant I was super excited to try. Great Gamble Seafood Shack is known for their seafood sandwiches and rolls, particularly their Classic Quarter Pounder which is 1/4 lbs of crab, shrimp, and scallop in a brioche roll. They offer a few seafood pasta dishes as well.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Here’s the aforementioned Classic Quarter Pounder (PHP 240) which tastes every bit as good as it looks. This was one of my favorite things to eat in San Juan. It’s soooo good. The seafood tastes fresh and the roll is nice and soft. There’s a good balance between the colder crab spread and the warm scallops too. If you like seafood, then you shouldn’t miss this.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

I enjoyed the Classic Quarter Pounder so much that I wanted to try more of their dishes. Soon as I took the last bite of my roll, I immediately ordered this crispy crab cake burger (PHP 170, single) which comes with one or two patties. It’s really good too.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Great Gamble Seafood Shack

Operating Hours: 12NN-2PM, 6-8PM, daily
What they Serve: Seafood sandwiches, pasta
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 200-300 per person

9. Sabong La Union Fried Chicken

As far as I know, people don’t usually eat fried chicken for breakfast (or drink beer at 10AM), but rules fly out the window when you’re on vacation. As their name suggests, Sabong La Union offers different types of fried chicken, from Korean soy chicken to chicken glazed with honey and bagoong (fermented shrimp paste).
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Behold the Elyu Original (PHP 180, plain rice) served with handcut fries and their own homemade banana ketchup. Bottled banana ketchup is too sweet for me but Sabong’s homemade version was perfect. It tasted of banana and tomato without being unnaturally sweet. The fried chicken was delicious too. Even the white meat was moist. Every 3-pc platter of fried chicken comes with either plain rice or chicken rice.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Sabong La Union Fried Chicken

Operating Hours: 10AM-2PM, 5-10PM, daily
What they Serve: Fried chicken
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 200-300 per person

10. Papa Bear

Papa Bear has a focused menu offering different types of Asian dishes like pho, char kway teow, and sambal pork.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

I had this bowl of begg (PHP 180) which is a dish of house-cured bacon cubes served with a sous vide egg over rice. According to the server, this begg and the sambal pork (PHP 250) are Papa Bear’s specialties.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Papa Bear

Operating Hours: 11AM-10PM, Wed-Mon (closed Tuesdays)
What they Serve: Asian dishes
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 200-300 per person

11. Layag Grille & Kilawen Bar

Layag Grille is a Filipino restaurant that serves inihaw (grilled food) and different types of kilawen. A specialty of Ilocos province, kilawen consists of goat, beef, pork, or fish that’s been “cooked” by the acidity of organic vinegar or calamansi. If you’re interested in trying regional specialties, then you should definitely try the goat kilawen.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

We tried the inihaw na liempo (PHP 210) served with java rice and vegetables. It was delicious.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Layag Grille & Kilawen Bar

What they Serve: Filipino cuisine
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 200-300 per person

12. Makai Bowls

Makai Bowls is another popular eatery in San Juan. From what I understand, they used to be located at Flotsam & Jetsam but they’ve since moved to their own location here at the Travel Stop. They’re known for serving these healthy fruit smoothie bowls made with different types of fresh fruit and homemade granola. Colorful and pretty, these smoothie bowls are another must for your Instagram feed.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Makai Bowls

Operating Hours: 8AM-6PM, Thurs-Mon (closed Tues-Wed)
What they Serve: Smoothie bowls
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 200-300 per person

215 URBIZTONDO ROAD

Like The Great Northwest Philippines Travel Stop and Viewing Deck, 215 Urbiztondo Road is a small cluster of restaurants offering different types of food.

13. Seawadeeka

Seawadeeka offers Asian specialties like banh mi, pad Thai, nasi lemak, and satay. From what I understand, Seawadeeka operated as a food truck for many years before finally settling at their permanent location here at 215 Urbiztondo.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

These glasses of Thai iced tea (PHP 95) were refreshing and delicious, perfect for the hot San Juan weather.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

I had my heart set on the banh mi so I ignored the server’s recommendation of pad Thai. We tried the chicken banh mi (PHP 175) and the beef banh mi (PHP 195). Both were pretty good but they had way too much bread for the amount of meat. We’ll try the pad Thai next time.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Seawadeeka

Operating Hours: 9AM-10PM, Mon-Fri / 8AM-10PM, Sat-Sun
What they Serve: Asian dishes
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 200-300 per person

14. Mamba’s Kitchen

This place was by far the most popular restaurant at 215 Urbiztondo. It was packed when we were eating at nearby Seawadeeka for lunch. Mamba’s Kitchen serves breakfast, sandwiches, salad, and burgers.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Mamba’s Kitchen

Operating Hours: 7AM-10PM, daily
What they Serve: Breakfast, sandwiches, burgers
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 200-250 per person

15. Bar-You Tayo

Bar-You Tayo serves a wide variety of Filipino food. Judging by their name and the type of food they offer, I think they’re most popular as an evening watering hole.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Bar You Tayo

Operating Hours: 9AM-10PM, Tues-Sun (closed Mondays)
What they Serve: Filipino cuisine
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 150-250 per person

16. Leche

Leche is an ice cream parlor that serves interesting Filipino-inspired flavors like champorado-tuyo (chocolate porridge, dried fish), mangga’t suman (mango with steamed rice cake), and coconut three-way.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Leche

Operating Hours: 11AM-9PM, daily
What they Serve: Ice cream
Expect to Spend: PHP 99-180 per person

BEACH BUM FOOD PARK

Beach Bum is the very first food park in San Juan. Food parks have been all the rage in Manila in recent years and they’ve proliferated in other parts of the country as well, including La Union.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Beach Bum Food Park offers an alternative watering hole to Flotsam & Jetsam. It isn’t nearly as stylish or hip but the beers here are decidedly cheaper. If I remember correctly, a bucket of 5 San Mig Lights cost just PHP 270.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

17. Beach Bum BBQ

Beach Bum BBQ offers different types of inihaw or grilled Filipino food.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Places like Beach Bum BBQ tend to be the most successful stalls at food parks, simply because Filipinos love snacking on grilled food while drinking. Pictured below are sticks of isaw, a popular Filipino street food made with barbecued chicken or pork intestines.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Beach Bum BBQ

Operating Hours: 11AM-12MN, daily
What they Serve: Inihaw (grilled food)
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 100-200 per person

18. Mang Enteng’s

Like Beach Bum BBQ, Mang Enteng’s offers popular Filipino bar chow like inihaw na liempo (grilled pork belly), sisig, and crispy pata (deep-fried pork hocks).
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Pictured below is a tantalizing bouquet of chicharon bulaklak (PHP 200) or deep-fried pork messentery. Be still my clogging arteries.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Mang Enteng’s

Operating Hours: 11AM-12MN, daily
What they Serve: Filipino bar chow
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 300-400 per person

19. Beach Break

Beach Break offers a mishmash of snack foods like grilled cheese sandwiches, onion rings, dumplings, and empanada.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Beach Break

Operating Hours: 11AM-12MN, daily
What they Serve: Sandwiches, empanada
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 100-200 per person

20. Tokyo Go

As you can probably guess, Tokyo Go serves Japanese food like sushi, tempura, chicken karaage, and katsu.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Tokyo Go

Operating Hours: 11AM-12MN, daily
What they Serve: Japanese cuisine
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 200-300 per person

21. PizzTacito

PizzTacito serves 10″ pizzas, some made with Filipino ingredients like sisig, salted egg, and Vigan longganisa. They have a few pasta and dessert dishes as well.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

PizzTacito

Operating Hours: 11AM-12MN, daily
What they Serve: Pizza
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 300-400 per person

22. Chancho Loco

Chancho Loco offers Mexican rice meals. According to their menu, their bestseller is the barbacoa or slow-cooked beef.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Chancho Loco

Operating Hours: 11AM-12MN, daily
What they Serve: Mexican cuisine
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 200-250 per person

23. K-Pop’s Diner

From their name, you’d think K-Pop’s Diner would serve only Korean food but they actually offer a wide variety of dishes. They have hamburgers, fish and chips, ribs, Asian rice bowls, and noodles. They even serve all-day American breakfast.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

K-Pop’s Diner

Operating Hours: 11AM-12MN, daily
What they Serve: Korean snack food, American breakfast
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 150-250 per person

24. Rustic Box Steakhouse

If you’re in the mood for steak, then Rustic Box is the place to go at Beach Bum Food Park.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Rustic Box Steakhouse

Operating Hours: 11AM-12MN, daily
What they Serve: Steak meals
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 250-350 per person

25. Papak sa Dagat

Papak sa dagat means “to snack by the ocean” in Filipino. This tiny stall specializes in chicken wings and rice bowls.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

Papak sa Dagat

Operating Hours: 11AM-12MN, daily
What they Serve: Rice bowls, chicken wings
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 100-200 per person

26. Drinks Ahoy

This is where you’ll get your drink on at Beach Bum Food Park. Not sure how much cocktails are but local beers like San Mig Light are PHP 270 per bucket of 5.
San Juan Food Guide: Where to Eat in La Union, Philippines

LOCATION MAP

Aside from Halo Halo de Iloko which is in the neighboring town of San Fernando, you shouldn’t have a problem finding any of the restaurants listed here. San Juan is a small town with most of its eateries located within a central area, either by the main road or along the beach. It’s so informal that many of the establishments don’t even have addresses. To help you find these restaurants, I’ve pinned them all on the map below.

CONCLUSION

San Juan has been gaining popularity in recent years, especially with the temporary closure of Boracay. More and more people are flocking to San Juan over long weekends because of its cool hipster vibe and proximity to Manila. You can see this surge in popularity from all the establishments popping up in the area, from boutique hotels to coffee shops to cocktail bars and restaurants.

And these aren’t your typical provincial eateries either. Like Flotsam and Jetsam, many of these establishments are trendy, design-driven concepts that would probably fare just as well in Manila as they would here. With San Juan riding this wave of popularity, I wouldn’t be surprised if this list of 26 swells to 50 in a year’s time.

Thanks for reading and have an awesome time food tripping in La Union!

For travel tips to San Juan, check out our First-Timer’s Travel Guide to La Union, Philippines.

The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to La Union, Philippines

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