Updated May 2016
In recent years, my hometown Naga City in the Bicol Region has become a rising foodie destination. Every visit means that there are new restaurants waiting to be sampled, as well as old favorites that just have to be revisited.
Bikol cuisine is known as being spicy and sweet. Sili (chili peppers) and coconut milk (gata) are used in a lot of dishes, as well as pili nut products for desserts and a unique relish. Here’s a look at some of the best places where you can savor the flavors of Bikol (compiled from numerous visits to Naga to visit my folks), as well as some of the new restaurants worth checking out.
- Type of cuisine: BBQ / Asian Fusion (Bicolonial), Spanish & Mexican beers
- Price range: P150+ per person
- Address: Barlin St. Naga City (across Cathedral)
- Facebook: Que Pasa Naga
Que Pasa is a specialty BBQ restaurant serving Bicolonial cuisine – Spanish dishes with a Bicolano twist. The DIY Toro-Toro (turo-turo) street-forward fare concept lets diners customize their choice of grilled meat with regular or Bicol sauces (like Chili chocolate) and side dishes like Bicol Express, pinangat and laing rice. Encanto Bar by Que Pasa serves tapas, Spanish & Mexican beers, local beers and unique cocktails like the Aswangita (margarita spiked with chili).
Que Pasa has very artistic interiors following the Spanish-Mexican theme and murals all painted by Bicolano artists. This is definitely a must-visit for all first-timers & returning guests to Naga City!
- Type of cuisine: American retro diner, Filipino, burgers, rice meals, etc.
- Price range: P150-300 per person
- Address: Bigg’s has branches in Centro, Magsaysay, BMC Road and SM City Naga
- Facebook: Bigg’s Diner
No trip to Naga City would be complete without a visit to the homegrown classic Bigg’s Diner. This retro-inspired diner that’s been around for 30 years is known for serving Western style fast-food snacks like burgers and pizza, as well as satisfying rice meals. My favorites here include the cheeseburger, Pork Cordon Bleu & Tenderloin tips. They also serve hometown meals like Chicken cordon bleu stuffed with laing, Bicol Special (Pork Chop served with Bicol Express) and Pili Pie. Their Tower Burger (with 2 meat patties, bacon, 2 slices of cheese, a hashbrown, spam, lettuce, tomatoes, caramelized onions and a fried egg) is quite a meal!
- Type of cuisine: Filipino, Bicolano dishes, cakes
- Price range: P100-200 per person
- Address: P. Burgos St., Naga City
- Facebook: Geewan
Geewan, which is part of Graceland Food Industries, is another fast-food favorite of Naguenos, serves native Bicolano fare – carinderia style. Restaurant specialties include pinangat (minced shrimp and ground coconut meat wrapped in taro leaves and cooked in coconut milk), Bicol Express, kinunot and ginulay na natong. They also serve Halo-Halo with cheese (a famous dessert that originated in neighboring province Albay) and buko pandan salad in a buko shell.
- Type of cuisine: Filipino, Eastern, Western cuisine, cakes, pastries, desserts
- Price range: P250-400 per person
- Address: Cereza Compound, Magsaysay Ave., Naga City
- Facebook: Red Platter
This homey restaurant is a fine dining version of Geewan. They specialize in Filipino classic and traditional fare, as well as cakes and desserts. Aside from the Bicol Express and Pinangat, they also recently launched a Bicolano Special Pizza, topped with chili and laing. For dessert, try a slice of their bestseller Blueberry or Strawberry Cheesecakes or indulge in their homemade Halo-halo served in a coconut shell.
BOB MARLIN RESTAURANT & GRILL
- Type of cuisine: Filipino dishes, grilled, seafood, bar chow, beer
- Price range: P200-500 per dish
- Address: Magsaysay Ave., Naga City (they also have a branch called Cafe Rasta in Haciendas de Naga)
- Facebook: Bob Marlin Restaurant & Grill
Bob Marlin is a casual dining resto ideal for big groups and families. They offer seafood dishes like Island Grilled squid, Pinoy staples, basic cocktails and beer with reggae music to boot. Cafe Rasta by Bob Marlin in Haciendas de Naga, a new resort complex in the Pacol area, also serves the signature dishes and bar chow. Their ultimate best seller is the crispy pata.
Other recommendations: Sinigang na Salmon, Laing, Bicol Express, Grilled squid, Chicken adobo sa gata & Rasta-Paling (a rainbow-colored cocktail spiked with lambanog)!
- Type of cuisine: Pizza, pasta, salads, Bicolano fusion cuisine, beer (San Mig & Brew Kettle)
- Price range: P100-P300 per dish
- Address: Basilica Road, Magsaysay Avenue, Naga City
- Facebook: Woodstone Kitchen
Opened last Dec 2014, Woodstone Kitchen and Bar by Chef Ton Castillo is the newest dining destination in Naga City, specializing in Bicolano and Pinoy Classics with a twist. Bestsellers include Crispy Pinangat, Crispy Dinuguan, Bicol Express with pineapple, Kare-Kare (topped with shredded banana heart), Lechon Laing and Crispy Tilapia Sinanglay.
They also serve pizzas like Antonio’s El Diablo Pizza (Spicy Barbeque Sauce, Ground Angus Beef, Bell Pepper, white onion, black olives, anchovies, mozarella), Bicol Express Pizza, and have very interesting beer cocktails including a Chili Choco Coffee Beer Cocktail. The place has very nice interiors that make use of natural elements. Great place for dates, families or barkadas!
- Type of cuisine: American (New), American (Traditional), Asian Fusion, Barbeque, Breakfast, Brunch, Burgers, Filipino, French, Pizza, Sandwiches, Seafood, Steakhouses, Vegan and Vegetarian
- Price range: P200-300 per person
- Address: CBD II, Naga City
- Facebook: Flavours
A refined and homey restaurant that serves a good selection of Western and Pinoy fare which uses good spices in their dishes. I really liked their Potato and Crab Chowder and my order of Baked Salmon with Crusted Pesto. Every dish we ordered had a distinct delicious sauce.
Flavours also serves a few dishes with regional twists including Chicken and Laing Panini and a refreshing Milky Pili Shake.
THE COFFEE TABLE
- Type of cuisine: Pasta, sandwiches, crepes
- Price range: P120-185 per dish
- Address: 2/F ADC Hotel, Magsaysay Avenue, Naga City
- Facebook: The Coffee Table
The Coffee Table (formerly known as the Pro-Chef’s Office Culinary Essentials) is a casual industrial cafe that serves local coffee, shakes and cakes as well as sweet and savory crepes, sandwiches and pastas. The food is great and the servings are good for sharing. The Chicken Parmigiana Crepe and the Crepedilla are must-tries. For first-timers looking for a local flair, the Cococcino (coffee with dessicated coconut) and Spicy Pili Affogato (a dessert coffee with ice cream topped with pili nuts and sili bits) are good choices.
SOLEDAD SPANISH-FILIPINO RESTAURANT
- Type of cuisine: Spanish, Filipino, Bikolano
- Price range: P250-400 per dish
- Address: La Piazza, corner Magsaysay and Dayangdang Sts, 4400 Naga City
- Facebook: Soledad Spanish-Filipino Restaurant
A restaurant specializing in Spanish/Basque and Filipino comfort food with a few spicy Bikolano dishes. We had Crispy Tuna Tail (one of their specialties), Pinangat and Laing. Food was pretty good. I really liked the presentation of the pinangat and the interesting patterend interiors of the place. Nice family-friendly space.
WHITE BEAN CAFE
- Type of cuisine: Pasta, sandwiches, coffee, cakes
- Price range: P150-300 per person
- Address: G/F Naga Land Hotel Elias Angeles St. Naga City
- Facebook: White Bean Cafe
White Bean is a cozy cafe in the lobby of Nagaland Hotel along Elias Angeles Street. This lovely cafe serves continental breakfast, classic Filipino breakfast, coffee, specialty tea, shakes, pasta, salad, sandwiches. They also have a few interesting Bicol fusion dishes on their menu like Laing Quesadilla, Stuffed Sili in Garlic Mayo Dip, Pinangat Rolls and Bicol Express Linguine. Great Kare-Kare! Desserts include a selection cheesecakes and healthy ice cream.
CHEF DOY’S GOURMET RESTAURANT
- Type of cuisine: Filipino food with a twist, beer
- Price range: P200-500 per person
- Address: Cereza Compound, Magsaysay Ave., Naga City
- Facebook: Chef Doy’s Gourmet Restaurant
Another favorite restaurant of mine in Naga City is Chef Doy’s, known mostly for its unique take on traditional Pinoy favorites. Favorites here are Kare-Kareng Lechon Kawali, ‘Batang-batang pusit’ (baby squid in olive oil and spices), Ginataang puso ng saging (a mixture of banana heart cooked in coconut milk), Crispy Tadyang, Bangus sa Bayabas and Pininyahang Manok sa Gata.
- Type of cuisine: steak, ribs, pasta, seafood
- Price range: P150-300 per dish
- Address: G/F Avenue Square, Magsaysay Avenue, Naga City
- Facebook: Chili-Peppers
Chili-Peppers is an old local restaurant that used to be the only decent place to eat along Magsaysay Street (way before the restaurant boom in the area). They disappeared for a while after opening some branches in Manila. Good thing they came back to Avenue Square with a modern look and upgraded menu. Some recommendations include the Jurassic Ribs, Sta. Fe Pork Chops, Baked scallops and Crispy tuna tail.
- Type of cuisine: Italian dishes, pasta, pizza
- Price range: Price range: P175-P300 per dish
- Address: Cereza Compound, Magsaysay Ave., Naga City
- Facebook: Grissini Ristorante
Grissini Ristorante (Italian for “bread stick’) serves Italian food like pizza and pasta and appetizers. Recommendations include the Italian feast (a combo of 4-ways pizza, pasta and a chicken dish), Ravioli di spinaci (spinach stuffed ravioli with cream sauce) and Porchetta con Patate (roast pork loin with marble potatoes).
- Type of cuisine: Italian
- Price range: P150+ per dish
- Address: #17 Zone 1 Caluag St. Naga City
- Facebook: Forchetta
A homey restaurant hidden in the residential area of Calauag Street. They serve Italian food like pasta, pizza and sandwiches and good drinks at budget prices.
- Type of cuisine: International, Asian-inspired, Filipino
- Price range: P150+ per dish
- Address: Zone 5, Panganiban Drive, Brgy.Concepcion Pequena, Naga City, Naga City
- Facebook: Global Kitchen
A restaurant that serves international and Asian-inspired dishes and specialties like Vietnamese Pad Thai and Singaporean Laksa. Delicious and tender Beef Rendang, Hainanese chicken, and savory Vietnamese Beef Pho and good cakes. It’s a good uncrowded alternative for those looking for more international cuisine in Naga City.
- Type of cuisine: Family Heirloom Cuisine
- Price range: P200-500/dish (family-style, good for sharing)
- Address: 29 Concepcion Grande, Naga City
- Facebook: Casa Soriano
Casa Soriano is a house-turned-restaurant that offers family heirloom cuisine, with some Filipino dishes influenced by Spanish, French and Italian cuisine. Guests can choose to sit in the air-conditioned dining area or the garden/al fresco veranda where dining tables have been placed in the landscaped garden surrounding a swimming pool. The place has a very cozy ambiance and uses antique touches all around. We tried the Pumpkin soup, Salad, Pan-seared Salmon, and Turbo Broiled Chicken. The food was a bit on the salty side, but was very flavorful. Very nice place for special occasions or dates.
CAFE PLAZUELA, AVENUE PLAZA HOTEL
- Type of cuisine: International, Fusion
- Price range: P150-300+ per dish, P350 for afternoon tea set
- Address: G/F Avenue Hotel, Magsaysay Avenue, Naga City
- Facebook: Cafe Plazuela
Cafe Plazuela is the in-house restaurant of The Avenue Plaza Hotel, the best hotel in Metro Naga. Their a la carte menu features fusion and international dishes. They recently launched an afternoon tea, that comes with an assortment of gourmet sandwiches, pastries and desserts, served with a pot of tea of your choice. The tea set is a pretty good deal for afternoon with friends or business meetings. Avenue Plaza also has promos for a Businessman’s Lunch and Holiday Feast.
GREEN EARTH CAFE
- Type of cuisine: Vegetarian
- Price range: P150-250 per person
- Address: 3rd St., Villasorabella Subd., Concepcion Pequeña, Naga City
- Facebook: Green Earth Cafe
Green Earth Cafe is the first vegetarian and health food restaurant in Naga City. Located in Villa Sorabella, a residential area in Concepcion Grande on the highway to Legazpi, this rustic and homey restaurant serves all natural and organic food. Their tasty offerings include crispy homemade nachos and hummus, fresh salads with organic dressing, pako (fern) salad, shitake mushrooms and tofu, and veggie pad thai.
- Type of cuisine: Coffee, pizza, pasta
- Price range: P60-90 for drinks, P130-P150 for meals
- Address: Taal Avenue corner Bulusan Street, Naga City
- Facebook: Anthosia Cafe
An artsy hole-in-the-wall hangout serving coffee and light meals. Lots of “hugot” emo details and murals coupled with the vintage decor make the place worth checking out. Try their heart-shaped pizza and pasta meals and frappes.
ALFONSO SIMPLY NATURAL RESTAURANT
- Type of cuisine: Vegetarian / Vegan
- Price range: P110 – P180 per dish
- Address: J. Miranda, Concepcion, Naga City
- Facebook: Alfonso Simply Natural Restaurant
Alfonso Simply Natural Restaurant serves vegetarian homemade versions of favorite Filipino dishes like Veggie Kare-Kare, Kaldetera, Sisig and Barbeque. None of their dishes make use of meat, MSG, animal by-products, additives or preservatives. They also serve vegan cold pressed detox juices, organic wines, wraps, sandwiches and cakes and sell health products here.
- Type of cuisine: Grill
- Price range: P55 -75 for drinks
- Address: Haciendas de Naga, Brgy. Carolina
Ranchero Grill is the in-house restaurant of Haciendas de Naga. They serve a variety of dishes and short orders here for you to snack on if you get hungry while visiting the resort and adventure park. I recommend you try the Pili Shake, which is made of a blend of the skin, pulp and nuts of the pili nut. The drink is surprisingly filling and tastes very distinctive.
- Type of cuisine: Coffee, desserts
- Price range: P39-99/drink or food
- Address: Magsaysay Avenue (in front of Bob Marlin)
- Facebook: Travel Cafe
A cozy travel-themed cafe that serves a small selection of hot coffee (by Caffe Mauro), cold drinks, snacks and a few desserts. Cool London-inspired Red Telephone-booth door and interiors. Nice place to hang out. Hopefully, they can expand their dessert selection in the future.
DICE BOARD GAME CAFE
- Type of cuisine: coffee, gaming food
- Price range: P110-P220 per dish
- Address: 29 Magsaysay Avenue, Naga City
- Facebook: DICE Board Game Cafe
A coffee shop where you can enjoy burgers, pasta, dessert and drinks while playing different types of tabletop board games. I believe this is the first board game cafe in Naga City. It can get pretty crowded during the holidays, so it’s best to reserve a table if you want to check it out.
JACK’S BLUE PLATE DINER
- Type of cuisine: American, Asian Fusion, seafood, burgers, beer
- Price range: P99-299 per dish
- Address: Shell Station, Palestina, Pili, Camarines Sur & Magsaysay Street
- Facebook: Jack’s Blue Plate Diner
A diner that serves surprisingly affordable seafood dishes like fresh lobster, crabs, prawns, exotic seafood and fish. They have live seafood on display in aquariums in the middle of the restaurant. We tried the lobster in butter sauce, fried scallops, wild clams adobo, and orange chicken. The Jack’s Burger (Angus Beef) is also a bestseller. They also have interesting fusion pizza dishes like Tapizzalog (pizza topped with tapa, egg & French Fried onions) and Nacho Pizza. The branch in Magsaysay has a 2nd Floor known as Sweet Gallery, which displays some paintings for sale by local artists serves a breakfast buffet and desserts.
- Type of cuisine: Filipino
- Price range: P150-300/dish
- Address: 32 Barlin Street, Sta. Cruz, Naga City
- NOTE: As of August 2015, the restaurant has been renamed Alfogen’s. I haven’t tried it since it changed management
An old ancestral house previously known as “Sa Harong,” (Our House) in the early to late 90s along Barlin Street. Growing up, this place was our go-to place for BBQ and sisig. However, it used to have more of a pub/beer garden feel. Now under new management, Calle Barlin has reinvented itself as family-friendly destination with brighter and modern interiors and a wide range of Pinoy home-style cooked dishes. The second floor of the resto is now occupied by Hillary & Andrew Hostel, which caters mostly to backpackers.
We got to try a range of dishes here, including crispy pata, sinigang na hipon and kaldereta. Standout dishes for me were the Lemongrass Chicken, the huge slab of ribs and grilled tanigue.
JIMMY & TANG’S RESTAURANT
- Type of cuisine: Filipino
- Price range: P60-250 per dish
- Address: Liboton Street, Naga City
- Facebook: Jimmy & Tang Restaurant
Jimmy & Tang’s Restaurant serves affordable home-cooked dishes like kare-kare, bopis, pancit, ukoy, and Bicol Express for sharing. The restaurant comes from the same owners as the famous Aling Conching’s Restaurant which used to be located along the diversion road in Naga. We got a taste of one of their old specialties, Tabagwang, an exotic dish of susong pilipit (conical snails) found in rice fields that’s traditionally cooked in gata.
NAGA GARDEN RESTAURANT
- Type of cuisine: Bicolano food / pancit & toasted siopao
- Price range: P100 and below
- Address: Panganiban Drive, Naga City
Opened in 1969, Naga Garden Restaurant is one of the oldest restaurants in Naga City. It specializes in budget-friendly Bicolano dishes such as laing, bicol express and kinunot. This is one of the pioneers of toasted siopao, and serves delicious mami and pancit.
- Type of cuisine: Fastfood, meals
- Price range: P50 – P150 /dish
- Address: SM City Naga
- Facebook: Graceland
From the same family as Geewan, Baker’s Plaza and Red Platter, Graceland offers fast food burger-fries-chicken-spaghetti staples and some uniquely Bicolano dishes including Lechon Bicol Express, Laing Bangus Meal & Bicol Special (Pork Chop with Pinangat). Graceland usually has a bakeshop section or has a twin Baker’s Plaza outlet that sells breads, specialty refrigerated cakes, wedding and birthday cakes, and other pastries.
- Type of cuisine: Bar & Grill/Filipino, beer
- Price range: 150-300/dish good for sharing
- Address: Penafrancia Avenue
- Facebook: Bora Hut
Casual open-air restaurant along Penafrancia Avenue that serves Pinoy favorites like crispy sisig, grilled pusit and other pulutan fare. Good for barkadas who want a night out of drinks. Try their crispy kangkong and baked tahong topped with cheese!
- Type of cuisine: Filipino, grilled food, beer
- Price Range: P100+ per dish
- Address: Mayon Ave., Naga City; they also have a branch in SM City Naga
- Facebook: Triboo Grill
- Type of cuisine: Chinese, seafood
- Price Range: P150-P300 per dish
- Address: G/F Lobby, Regent Hotel, Elias Angeles St., Naga City
If you’re craving for Chinese food while in Naga City or have to feed a large group of family and friends, Oyster Restaurant (also known as Oyster Villa) is the place to go to. This restaurant serving Filipino, Chinese dishes and seafood has been around since I was a kid. Expect the usual assortment of Chinese comfort food including Yang Chow fried rice, stir-fry dishes, lemon chicken, century egg with sea cucumber and Nido soup with quail’s eggs.
MUST-TRY BIKOL DISHES
LAING: stewed taro leaves in coconut milk, seasoned with shrimp paste or fish bagoong and red hot chilies.
BICOL EXPRESS: mixture of pork flab and shrimp paste sautéed in tomatoes and onions and lots of green chili strips simmered in coconut cream.
PINANGAT: bundles of taro or gabi leaves, filled with shredded bits of pork and shrimp, lots of chilies, ginger, garlic and onion and grated young coconut, then cooked in coconut cream.
SANTOL EXPRESS: santol fruit cooked in coconut cream. This is similar to Bicol Express, but is on the sour side. Goes great with fried food.
KINUNOT: spicy dish traditionally made of shark meat (endangered) but also now of stingray or crabs cooked in coconut cream, malunggay leaves and spicy chilli.
STREET FOOD & SNACKS
For buget merienda and meals, street food and snacks, you can head to Plaza del Rizal, where there are numerous food stalls selling local fare and street food.
KINALAS: Kinalas is Naga City’s homegrown version of mami or noodles. The broth is made from strips of meat from cow or pork head that is boiled until tender. The soup is topped off with a serving of gravy, scallions some kalamansi on the side. Popular places to get kinalas include Bolofer’s and Cely’s. Cordova’s (also known as Tya Kamot) is reputed to serve the best kinalas in town. Cha Ced (Kinalas sa Balatas) is another eatery by the riverside that serves good kinalas.
TOASTED SIOPAO: Toasted siopao bola-bola is a warm toasted dinner roll filled with ground pork and slices of boiled egg. This variation of the traditional white bun that is usually steamed is a must-try in Naga City, and a local favorite. You can buy this in Naga Garden Restaurant & numerous bakeries in Naga and environs.
PUTONG BAGAS: Putong bagas (steamed rice cakes) is a traditional Bicolano delicacy made of rice flour and shredded coconut cooked with brown sugar inside. The rice cakes are steamed in small coconut shells and wrapped with a banana leaf. The combination of dry rice cake and sweet moist coconut is reminiscent of pan de coco. This is sold just outside San Francisco Church.
BADUYA (maruya): Sliced bananas that are dipped in rice flour batter and deep fried. You can find this sold in many street corners around town. You can eat this alone or with santan (coco jam with pili nut).
BULASTOG: The Bicolano version of kwek-kwek (a hard-boiled chicken egg deep-fried in orange batter)
PILI NUT PRODUCTS: Pili nuts, an indigenous nut that grows primarily in the Bicol Region, are widely used in a variety of delicacies – from pili nut pastillas, mazapan, suspiros, bonbones, cakes and candied treats like Pilinut Choco Kisses, Dark Chocolate with pilinuts, and Pili Bar. You can buy these at J. Emanuel in centro, and in their main store in RJ Village, Haring Canaman.
DISCLAIMER: For people who are from Naga City, I know that there are many other restaurants (esp. in Magsaysay Ave.) that are not included in this list. Either I have not tried them yet or don’t have photos. I am currently based in Manila, but I will try to update this as soon as I get a chance to go back. 🙂 Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments section on what other restaurants/food are must-tries especially for first-timers in Naga! For those who are not from Naga City and are looking for tours, check out Naga Excursions page.
NOTE: Read my article on Looloo Insights: 5 Places to Eat like a Local in Naga City