Filipino cuisine often overlooks the global culinary stage, but it offers a delightful treasure trove of flavors and textures. From savory stews to grilled meats, seafood, and comforting rice dishes, Filipino food offers a diverse and unique culinary experience. If you’re looking to explore the best dishes this cuisine has to offer, you’re in for a treat. In this article, we’ll guide you through the 20 must-try Filipino food dishes that will tantalize your taste buds.

1. Adobo

Adobo is the undisputed national dish of the Philippines and a must-try for anyone seeking to explore Filipino cuisine. This iconic dish consists of meat, usually chicken or pork (or a combination of both), stewed in soy sauce and vinegar. The addition of peppercorns and bay leaves gives it a unique and unforgettable flavor. To take your adobo experience to the next level, try frying the meat until it’s crispy, creating the delicious adobo flakes.

Filipino Food Dishes

2. Kare-Kare

Kare-Kare is a rich stew made with a creamy peanut sauce. While oxtail is the traditional meat of choice, you can also find versions with other cuts of beef. It’s often served with a side of bagoong, a fermented seafood paste, which adds another layer of flavor to this already decadent dish.

freshly-cooked-filipino-food-called-kare-kare

3. Lechon

Lechon is the star of any Filipino celebration. This tantalizing dish features a whole roasted pig with perfectly crisp skin and juicy meat. While it’s most famously associated with Cebu, you’ll find it served at grand gatherings and fiestas throughout the Philippines.

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4. Sinigang

Sinigang is a sour soup, usually made with pork and tamarind, though other sour fruits like guava, green mango, or calamansi can be used as well. Tomatoes, garlic, onion, and a variety of vegetables complete this comforting stew. It’s the ideal dish for a hearty breakfast, especially if you’ve had a few too many drinks the night before.

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5. Crispy Pata

If you can’t have a whole lechon, don’t worry; crispy pata is here to satisfy your cravings. This sinful dish involves deep-frying an entire pig leg until it’s perfectly crispy. Served with a soy-vinegar dipping sauce, chopped garlic, and chili, it’s a guilty pleasure you won’t be able to resist.

freshly-cooked-filipino-food-called-crispy-pata

6. Sisig

Sisig is a sizzling favorite, often found on the menu as a popular pulutan (beer snack). The primary ingredients include chopped pig’s face, and no part of the animal goes to waste in Filipino cuisine. Some recipes use mayonnaise or raw egg to create a creamier texture, but the classic version includes pig’s brain for an extra layer of flavor.

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7. Pancit Guisado

Pancit Guisado is one of the more popular Filipino dishes, especially at birthday parties, where it symbolizes a wish for long life. This noodle dish is sautéed with sliced vegetables and meat, all cooked in a delicious broth with soy sauce and fish sauce. Squeeze some kalamansi over it to elevate the flavors.

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8. Bulalo

On a cool, rainy day, there’s nothing better than a hot bowl of bulalo. This delectable soup is made by slow-cooking beef shanks and bone marrow in water, with the addition of fish sauce, onions, and peppercorns. It’s particularly famous in Batangas, a province in the southern Luzon region of the Philippines.

freshly-cooked-filipino-food-called-bulalo

9. Pork Barbecue

Pork barbecue is a favorite Filipino merienda (snack between meals). Skewered sweet meat pairs perfectly with plain rice, but it’s also common to find street vendors grilling them for a quick and affordable on-the-go snack.

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10. Palabok

Palabok is a delightful variation of pancit that is vibrant and filled with various textures and flavors. This dish includes a shrimp sauce that gets its color from annatto powder and is topped with slices of hard-boiled eggs, crushed chicharrón (pork rinds), smoked fish flakes, and spring onions.

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11. Filipino Breakfast Dishes (‘Silog’)

Filipino breakfast often includes a combination of meat, sinangag (garlic fried rice), and itlog (egg). The dish’s name varies depending on the meat served with the rice and egg. Tapsilog combines cured beef (tapa), tosilog uses sweet cured pork (tocino), and longsilog includes sausages (longganisa). These hearty breakfast servings are perfect for starting your day.

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12. Bistek Tagalog

Bistek Tagalog, or Filipino beef steak, is a delectable fusion of salty, sour, and sweet flavors. Thinly sliced beef is marinated in a mixture of soy sauce and kalamansi, fried to perfection, and topped with caramelized onions, creating a tantalizing balance of flavors.

13. Fried Lumpia

Lumpia is the Filipino version of egg rolls, a dish that frequently graces Filipino gatherings. These deep-fried rolls are filled with minced meat and vegetables and served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce, making them a popular choice at family feasts.

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14. Beef Kaldereta

Kaldereta is a flavorful Filipino beef stew that enriches itself with tomato sauce and liver paste. While people typically make it with beef, they can also use goat meat. This stew is a delightful mix of tastes, with vegetables like carrots, bell peppers, and potatoes enhancing the experience.

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15. Dinuguan

People make dinuguan, a dark-tinted Filipino stew, by cooking pork and innards in pig’s blood and vinegar. They often enjoy it with puto, a slightly sweet steamed rice cake, which complements the savory flavor of the dish.

best Filipino restaurant Calgary - Dinuguan

16. Inihaw na Liempo

Inihaw na liempo, or grilled pork belly, grills juicy cuts of pork belly that marinate and grill to perfection. You can marinate it with a mixture of soy sauce, fish sauce, banana ketchup, garlic, kalamansi, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Enjoy it with your hands, your preferred dipping sauce, and a generous serving of plain rice.

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17. Ginataang Gulay

Ginataang gulay, or vegetables cooked in coconut milk, is a testament to the culinary magic of coconut milk. Simply cook your favorite vegetables in coconut milk, with squash and string beans being popular choices. You can add some chili for an extra kick.

18. Chicken Inasal

Chicken Inasal is a flavor-packed grilled chicken dish. The chicken is marinated in a mixture of vinegar, kalamansi, ginger, and lemongrass, which gives it its mouthwatering taste and beautiful golden-brown color. Dip the chicken in spiced vinegar (sinamak) for an extra zing.

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19. Kilawin

Kilawin, also known as kinilaw, is the Filipino version of ceviche. Seafood like tuna and tanigue undergoes curing in vinegar and kalamansi, with the addition of onions and chili to create a more complex flavor. People often serve Kilawin as an appetizer or as a pulutan (beer chow) when they’re enjoying a few drinks with friends.

20. Lugaw

Lugaw is a comforting rice porridge commonly enjoyed for breakfast and merienda. This hearty dish gets its rich flavor from ginger, garlic, onions, and a flavorful broth. Add slices of chicken and hard-boiled eggs, garnish each serving with fried garlic bits, chopped green onions, and drizzle kalamansi juice.

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Filipino food is a vibrant and diverse cuisine, and exploring its flavors is an adventure for your taste buds. From the savory goodness of adobo to the rich creaminess of Kare-Kare and the crispy delight of crispy pata, there’s a Filipino dish for every palate. Whether you’re savoring a hearty breakfast or indulging in a flavorful stew, Filipino cuisine offers a culinary experience like no other. So, when you’re on a quest to discover the best of Filipino food dishes, this list of 20 delectable options will guide you on your delicious journey.

You can find some of these dishes in these restaurants:

Top 10 best Filipino restaurant Calgary