Pampanga’s pride is indeed its heritage and cuisine. Here are some of the places you might want to try out while you are there:
In Everybody’s Cafe, Kapampangan food is available everyday in their turo-turo style display. Try out the pako salad, calderetang baka, morcon, chicharon bulaklak, tortang bangus, inihaw na hito or bulalo soup. For the brave, go further and savor the buro with hito (fermented fish paste with catfish), betute (deep-fried stuffed frog), camaru (fried cricket adobo), dumara (wild duck adobo) or pindang damulag (carabeef tapa). They have branches in San Fernando along MacArthur Highway in Barangay Del Pilar, and Angeles City in Nepo Mart.
Also check out Aling Lucing’s at the Crossing (Henson Street, Angeles City) which is the birthplace of Pampanga sisig and the steakhouses in Marisol Subdivision, Angeles City. Luring’s of Guagua (with branches all over Pampanga) serves some of the best barbeque and other grilled meat products. Ikabud (the contracted form of ika kabud which translates as only you) is another restaurant that serves grilled food and is located in Hensonville, Angeles City.
Other must tries are the Kapampangan halo-halo places. In fact, there are three distinct halo-halo varieties in Pampanga. These are Guagua (Razon’s), Angeles (Corazon’s) and Arayat (Kabigting’s and Jurado’s) halo-halo. It must also be noted that Kapampangan halo-halo is distinct from the other halo-halo served in the country because it uses only three or four ingredients or sahog. However, the richness of these ingedients more than compensates for the number of types thrown in the glass. Arayat for example is distinct for its pastillas, crushed beans and saging combination; Guagua for its macapuno, saging, and leche flan; while Angeles is distinct for its mais, saging, pastillas and crushed beans combination.
If you want to try out everything, go for Smorgasbord, the buffet Kapampangan lunch and dinner offered at Partyland (MacArthur Highway and SM City Pampanga) and Holidayland (Gapan-Olongapo Road) both in San Fernando.
If you’re ready to splurge, go for the private lunches which can be booked for groups of 12 or more. Abe’s Farm is one option. It is actually the Mt. Arayat resthouse of restaurateur Larry Cruz of the LJC Restaurant Group which includes Cafe Adriatico and Cafe Havana among many others. The fabulous resthouse is in Magalang, Pampanga, the hometown of Larry’s father, journalist and artist E. Aguilar Cruz. Having lunch at his place requires arrangements made in advance.
Another must try lunch venue is Claude Tayag’s residence Bale Dutung in Villa Gloria, Angeles City. This P1800 per head Kapampangan feast has to be pre-arranged as well and you must have at least 12 persons in your group. Claude has a shop in his house where you can buy bottled buro and taba ng talangka but the Claude 9 brand is also available in Pampanga supermarkets such as Essel Supermarket. You can also pass by Tita’s or Pampanga’s Best along Gapan-Olongapo Road for even more Kapampangan delicacies.
The ensaymadas in San Fernando are made-to-order and you have to call them at least 2 days in advance. But Imang Salud Dayrit’s San Fernando ensaymadas are actually available in Manila. These melt-in-your-mouth wonders are six inches in diameter, made with the finest ingredients and topped with a generous serving of queso de bola. You can visit the Legaspi Sunday Market open every Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. behind the Corinthian Plaza building. Make sure you look for the Imang Salud booth. Also on sale are atcharang gule, atcharang ubud, balu-balo, tibok-tibok and burung mangga (pickled mangoes). Another signature dessert but made-to-order is plantanilla, sweet egg crepes with latik filing. Yummy! You can call (0920) 9478819 for orders.
C Italian Restaurant is among the many international offerings that line Fields Avenue and Friendship Highway beside Clark. You can check out Zapata’s (Mexican), Salvatore’s (Italian), Subdelicious (American), Country Kitchen (Cajun), and a host of Japanese and Korean restaurants among many others.
When in Pampanga, don’t miss the following places…
* Bacolor Church – this is the half-buried San Guillermo Church in Bacolor. Entering what was once the largest church in Pampanga, visitors enter the church through the choirloft windows, and are greeted inside by beautifully restored retablos dug up from several feet of lahar. The citizens of Bacolor take pride in their rich heritage which is why they painstakingly excavated the ornately carved wooden main and side altars which are now back to their pristine condition;
* Betis Church – a must visit church in Pampanga, the centuries-old Betis Church in Guagua is nicknamed the “Sistine chapel of the Philippines” because of its wall ceiling murals. It is the second oldest church in Pampanga and one of the 26 churches declared by the National Museum as national cultural treasures;
* San Fernando Heritage District – ride in a calesa and enjoy the many heritage homes along Consunji Street; and
* Center for Kapampangan Studies – a museum, archives, library, research center and theater rolled into one, the Center for Kapampangan Studies was put up by Holy Angel University in 2002 to preserve, study and promote Kapampangan history and culture. (Ivan About Town)
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