Those who are allergic to shellfish—which is bountiful in Zamboanga City’s cuisine—should be prepared before partaking of such fresh and sumptuous dishes.
Food is meant to be a rite of passage into a city, province, or a town’s culture. In Zamboanga City, every bite of its delicious offerings lures tourists into their Chavacano, Muslim, and Malay heritage—a veritable melting pot of cultures within a warm-hearted community. You might even end up engaging in a history lesson and a fun conversation with a local.
From fresh seafood to Filipino-Spanish-infused dishes, here’s a glimpse of why tourists find themselves returning to Zamboanga City for the food.
Alavar’s Chavacano-inspired flavors
Perhaps, the must-try dining spot for any first-timer in Zamboanga City is Alavar Seafood Restaurant, which is best known for its Chavacano-inspired dishes and bounty of seafood.
Don’t miss out on Alavar’s famous Curacha dish, or deep-sea crabs with special sauce. The crab’s sweetness blends well with the savoriness of the sauce. You can even buy the 250-gram pack of the sauce for P190.
If you’re allergic to crabs (like me), you can savor the goodness of their Butter and Garlic Shrimp (P980) and Grilled Blue Marlin Belly (P480). Of course, what better way to pair these seafood dishes than by ordering Alavar’s Paella Negra for P245.
Once Islas specialties
If you plan to island-hop in Once Islas, an eco-cultural destination that was opened to the public in 2018, don’t forget to savor the fresh seafood prepared by the locals. Some of their yummy dishes include breaded calamari, grilled squid, grilled fish, fresh mud crabs, and latok (or sea grapes), among others.
Tourists can avail their delectable dishes once they book a tour at the City Tourism Office by phone at (062) 975-6341 or by email at [email protected]. Prices are available upon request.
This sweet and icy goodness may just look like Halo-Halo, but it ain't one.
Zamboangeños call this treat Knickerbocker, which is composed of strawberry ice cream and a mixture of sliced strawberries watermelon, and sour-sweet mangoes. The refreshing treat is finished with green gelatin for added texture.
A taste of Tausug sweet and savory classics
A trip to Zamboanga City is not complete without tasting their sweet and savory treats. Perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack, these Malay-inspired delicacies are a gateway into Tausug culture.
Packed with cultural traditions from Muslim Mindanao and Sabah, Tausug cuisine is an intricate blend of flavors and Malay influences. Some of its well-known delicacies include the waterfall-like filigree biscuit called Jaa, Kahawa-Sug coffee, and Putlihmandi, among others.
Taluksangay Barangay Hall community leader Fatmawati Nuño told the media during a press junket that their food is made with “love.”
“It always matters to us to present the food with love and beautify them with [our culture]. Because for us, food is meant to show a place’s culture and where they come from,” Nuño added.
Tourists can taste these delectable offerings by visiting Dennis Coffee Garden located at the KCC Mall or at the heart of Limpapa National Road, San Jose, Zamboanga City.