Vigan cuisine is more than the iconic Vigan empanada, longganisa and kankanen. These Vigan must-tastes are just the tip of the culinary experience that can be had in this city. To ready the food adventurers, they must be informed that Vigan cuisine is simple and leans towards keeping the natural flavor of each ingredient, which are mostly vegetables. Ilocano dishes are characterized by sweet, sour or salty taste. Noteworthy is the favor towards bitter flavor that can be attested by its presence in its most-loved dish, the pinakbet. The pinakbet uses bitter melon, eggplant, squash and okra cooked with bagoong or fermented shrimp fry and bagnet or sun-dried pork belly, which is fried to a crisp prior to mixing with the vegetable.
Well-known Ilocano dishes like dinengdeng and dinoydoy are variations of pinakbet, although they are soupy. Gastronomes can scour not only the resorts, hotels and restaurants for great Vigan cuisine. It is best that they also try the food stalls in the plazas. Plaza Burgos is a great place to sample an order of arroz caldo or chicken porridge, pancit Vigan or soupy miki noodles and okoy or deep fried shrimps mixed with flour and eggs. Filipinos have these during regular meals or as snack food at anytime. They can be eaten on their own, paired with another or even with rice.
The food stalls or carinderias in the Vigan Public Market and near the bus terminal are also great places for culinary adventures. There one can sample local viands such as lumo (soup made with pork blood, pork tenderloin and green onions), pipian (cooked chicken and pazotes with ground rice), poqui-poqui (mashed eggplant with egg), caldereta (local beef stew), pinapaitan (bitter meat dish, made with either beef or goat bile and innards) and sinanglao (beef broth with beef innards) at its most authentic.
However, for visitors who want to taste Vigan cuisine in a more comfortable setting, the Vigan Heritage Mansion is recommended for its bagnet, dinengdeng, longganisa and pinakbet. A bottle of basi or local sugarcane wine is recommended as well. Another must-visit dining place is Café Leona. Café Leona offers international and Vigan cuisine and a fusion of both. It recently added in its menu pinakbet pizza, which is really for the adventurous and open-minded even among locals. For those who miss familiar food, resorts, hotels and restaurants offer a choice of international food which guest can also order for take-out or picnics. There are also fasfood chains near the center of town, like Chow King, Greenwich, Jollibee and McDonald’s.