Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Everything in Between in Pampanga

Christmas time is near and if checking out the Giant Parol Festival in Pampanga is in your list (this happens on the third Saturday of December), might as well maximize your trip and have a culinary tour around the country's culinary capital. Here's how you can spend a day at the old kitchens of Pampanga:

Start your journey with a traditional Kapampangan breakfast at Atching Lilian Borromeo’s residence in Mexico. She is, by the way, the famous food historian of Pampanga. The hearty breakfast buffet served at the al fresco area of her house includes pako (fern) salad tossed in vinaigrette, tsokolate-a (“a” for aguado; watery) made of homemade tablea (cacao tablets) prepared through a traditional batirol (a small urn-shaped pot and  a stirring rod rotated using your palms to crush the tablea), tidtad babi (pork blood stewed in vinegar), pistou (sautéed ground pork), pindang damulag (cured carabao meat in thick sugar), sinangag (garlic fried rice), tamales (a rice delicacy topped with savory meat slices, peanuts and salted eggs and wrapped in banana leaves) and tehadang kamatis (candied tomatoes). Make sure to book in advance as Atching Lilian does not accept walk-ins.

Atching Lilian's al fresco dining area


Pindang damulag and longganisang Kapampangan


San Nicolas cookies

A batirol

Tehadang Kamatis
After having breakfast, join Atching Lilian as she tours you around a small gallery where her family's heirloom kitchen tools are showcased. Here, centuries-old copper pans, claypots, wooden moulds, antique glass canisters, and native baskets showcase how the Kapampangans value their kitchen traditions.

The gallery

Old claypots and copper pan

A stack of herbs

Gilingan ng bigas/puto

After the tour of the gallery, enjoy watching Atching Lilian while she conducts a brief demo of how to make the iconic San Nicolas cookies, a recipe passed down by the Spaniards who made use of spare egg yolks. It is believed that egg whites were used to build churches during that period.

Atching Lilian making San Nicolas cookies

Heirloom moulds

San Nicolas cookies upclose

Atching Lilian and I
Morning Snacks
After the sumptuous breakfast in Mexico, continue driving towards Arayat. By the time you arrive there, it is time for morning snacks. In Arayat, nothing beats the famous Kabigting's halo-halo.
Kabigting’s version of halo-halo has three ingredients: pastillas (carabao’s milk candy), halayang (jam) white beans, and sweet corn topped with finely-shaved ice. This version is new to my palate, but I honestly find it too rich. Celebrities and famous personalities are said to flock the place, including her excellency, former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Kabigting's Halo-Halo

By this time, your tummy must have been 3/4 full already, but it will be such a pity if you will not continue your culinary journey towards Angeles and San Fernando. In Angeles, do pass by Susie’s Cuisine before you head to lunch in San Fernando.  It is famous for its native delicacies like tibok-tibok (carabao’s milk pudding) and mochi (glutinous rice, red beans and coconut milk). You can also buy the sinfully delicious taba ng talangka (crab roe) and the iconic Kapampangan delicacy, burong isda (fermented fish in rice), here.

Boxed sweets

Bottled goodies


Arroz Valenciana

Burong Isda
After buying pasalubong at Susie's Cuisine, head straight to Everybody's Cafe in San Fernando where you'll have lunch. Since 1950's, Everybody's Cafe has been serving authentic Kapampangan fare including their version of morcon, a loaf of meat slowly-baked for six hours and drizzled with its devilishly delicious drippings. It has quezo de bola and chorizo all over, so you could just imagine how rich and flavourful it is. Their authentic sisig is not the typical sizzling version, rather it is made of pork boiled until tender, slightly grilled and chopped into tiny bits tossed with onions and chilli and drizzled with vinegar and calamansi (native citrus). Go more adventurous and try their exotic dishes like camaro (stir-fried crickets), betute (stuffed frog), and burong isda (fermented fish in rice) paired with fried catfish.

Dining at Everybody's Cafe


Burong Isda and Catfish


Authentic Sisig
I know by the time you finished your lunch at Everybody's Cafe, your tummies must be flashing red lights already, so your next activities would be pasalubong shopping and a farm tour.

In Guagua, check out La Moderna Bakery, the oldest bakery in town. It has been around since 1947, or even earlier at its original location in Sta. Rita in the late 1800's. Their cookies and biscuits are so delectable!

Assorted cookies and biscuits
Afternoon Snacks
To burn the extra calories, proceed to Prado Farms in Lubao. Owned by the Gutierrezes, a family of artists, Prado Farms combines art and the unique charm of hacienda living. Upon arrival, a staff will give you a tour of a farm teeming with art masterpieces, old architectural structures and an organic piggery (yes, you read it right!) After the tour, afternoon snacks will be served which includes their rendition of pistou topped with longganisang Guagua (sausage) served with pan de sal and kesong puti (white cheese made of carabao’s milk) and tsokolate-e (“e” for espresso; thick) with suman (rice cake). You can also pre-order a whole duck-stuffed arugula-fed lechon for an ultimate dining experience.

Prado Farms

Pistou and Pan de Sal

Fried suman and tsokolate-e
And for the finale, have dinner at the historic Gosioco ancestral house in Sta. Rita. Built in 1849, the house used to be a candle factory, thus, the name salaria (derived from the Spanish word “serreria” which means a place for candle making). The host will tour you around the house before sending you off to the patio for the much-awaited dinner. Here, the stars are heirloom dishes such as asadong matua (old-style pork asado), sale manok (chicken in lemongrass soup) and pocherong tilapia (local fish stew). The dessert: a serving of cold melon in sweet syrup.

At Gosioco's porch

An antique bottle collection at the Gosioco's house

Sale Manok

Asadong Matua
Pocherong Tilapia
By the time you park your fork, you are full to the brim already!

You may book a tour of Pampanga's old kitchens (aptly called Viajeng Cucina Matua) through Tracey Santiago of Travel Tales Inc. at the following:

Unit 1122 Wack-wack Royal Mansions, 
Wack-wack Road, Mandaluyong

Special thanks to Mr. Ryan Sebastian of the Department of Tourism 
and Ms. Tracey Santiago of Travel tales Inc.


  1. nakakagutom naman matet!

    i want those san nicolas cookies. very old school with the moulds :)

  2. Oh my! I really love Pampanga food trip, that's why Pampanga is touted as the culinary capital of the Philippines. Thanks for sharing Matet! Thumbs up! :)


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