I know there are countless blogs and articles about the more media-exposed spots in Iloilo City, but there are some much simpler treats, found in its nooks and creative crannies, and they are just as awesome! This post is a toast to all the unsung places and adventures waiting for the more budget-conscious, more curious travelers who want to really experience Iloilo…
Forget about Jollibee and Chowking for a while, when you’re in Iloilo and you’re nursing an empty stomach on a rainy afternoon, head to Calle Real and line up for siopao at Roberto’s. This restaurant is nestled between the flourishing rows of Chinese shops in Iloilo’s downtown area, and its a local favorite. It has been around for ages, maintaining the same simple menu and the same steamed buns of perfection (they’re especially so in the late afternoons when you take a bite and wonder why you ever settled for McDonald’s all your life). But of course I’m a tad bit prejudiced!
Before you leave Iloilo, don’t forget to buy some siopao for your family and friends. If you think Biscocho is the only acceptable “pasalubong” ( technically pasalubong is the Filipino word for souvenir shirts, key chains, native delicacies and other things you’re expected to bring to your friends, your co-workers and your family, even if they don’t purposely ask you to), then you probably spent too much time in Smallville and SM City. Let me illustrate. When you visit Manila and you go home to Iloilo, you’re expected to bring some Krispy Kreme donuts (usually from MOA, haha). But when you visit Iloilo and you go back to Manila, please be fair. Bring something from Roberto’s for your Illonggo relatives.
Unless you’ve been to this happy happy place along JM Basa Street, you’ve never really been to Iloilo! 🙂