Filipino Street Food

Delicious snacks & meals you can find on the streets of the Philippines.

Deep fried Saba banana in spring roll wrapper and bananacue with brown sugar coating Street Food

Street food, enjoyed as a snack or a beer match, is a significant part of Filipino cuisine. It’s affordable, accessible, and involves lots of dipping sauces and condiments. A variety of fish balls, squid balls, kikiam, isaw (barbecued pig or chicken intestines), pork barbecue, betamax (barbecued coagulated chicken blood), or kwek-kwek (deep fried quail eggs) await experience seekers.

List of Common Filipino Street Food

  • Adidas (charcoal-grilled chicken feet)
  • Balls (deep-fried fish balls, squid balls, chicken balls)
  • Balut, Penoy (boiled chicken or duck embryos)
  • Banana-cue and Kamote-cue (deep-fried whole sweet plantain bananas or slice sweet potatoes, skewered rolled in sugar)
  • Barbecue (charcoal grilled, marinated skewered meats)
  • Betamax and DVD (charcoal grilled coagulated pig’s blood)
  • Bibingkang Galapong (rice cake made from ground rice cooked in a clay pot)
  • Binatog (boiled white corn doused with sugar, milk, grated coconut, cheese, or salt)
  • Buko Juice (coconut juice)
  • Carioca (deep-fried caramelized glutinous rice flour balls with coconut shreds)
  • Cheese sticks
  • Chicaron
  • Chicharon bulaklak
  • Chicken skin (deep-fried battered chicken skin)
  • Dinamita (deep-fried fiery hot cheese and green chili spring roll)
  • Fresh Fruits (watermelon, soursop, pineapple, atis, any seasonal fruit)
  • Ginanggang (charcoal-grilled sweet plantain bananas, popular in the Southern part of the country)
  • Isaw (charcoal-grilled pork or chicken intestines)
  • I-scramble (Pronounced as Ice scramble, derived from English “to scramble,” shaved ice delight with milk, chocolate, or strawberry syrup and a mélange of toppings – marshmallows, chocolate or candy sprinkles, rice crispies, cereals, sago (pearls)
  • Kikiam (deep-fried minced meat, vegetables, and extenders)
  • Kwek-kwek and Tokneneng (deep-fried, tempura-battered quail and duck or chicken eggs)
  • Lomi (thick noodle soup)
  • Lugaw (rice porridge)
  • Mais (boiled sweet corn)
  • Mami (noodle soup)
  • Mangga at Bagoong (green mango with spicy salt or fermented shrimp paste dipping)
  • Ngo hiong (popular in the Cebu in the Visayan region, deep-fried julienned vegetables, ground meat, shrimp, and bamboo shoots spiced with Chinese five spice powder wrapped in rice paper roll)
  • Okoy (deep-fried baby shrimp, bean sprouts, and squash in tempura-like batter)
  • Pansit (stir-fried noodles with meats and vegetables)
  • Proven (deep-fried chicken proventiculus)
  • Putobumbong (glutinous rice cake made from purple rice called pirurutong)
  • Puwet ng Manok (charcoal-grilled grilled chicken butt)
  • Sorbetes (ice cream)
  • Taho (silky tofu, sago pearls and sweet syrup confection)
  • Tupig (rice cake from Pangasinan in Luzon province)
  • Turon (deep-fried sweet plantain bananas and jackfruit wrapped in a spring roll, sprinkled with sugar)
  • Vigan Empanada (deep-fried meat-filled pastry from the Northern region of Luzon, Ilocos)
  • Walkman (charcoal-grilled pig’s ears)

Filipino Street Life = Perfect Street Food!

No view is more iconic of Filipino city life than a street filled with vendors and peddlers in their push carts, sidecar bikes, or pop-up stalls shaded by large beach umbrellas. A few steps into the maze and you’ll spot a samalamig stand (the word samalamig comes from the root word lamig, which means cold, beverages with slushed fruits and ice). The stands sell a variety of cold juices with jellies or fruits: think melon juice, gulaman at sago (a sweet pandan infused muscovado sugar liquid with gulaman), sweet corn beverage, or coconut and pandan (screwpine) beverage.

Soon, the smoke and aromas from the charcoal grills and deep fat fryers will engulf the air, signaling snack time. Stop at a snack stand with a deep fryer (you might have to elbow your way through), where large jars of liquid are front and center. These are dipping sauces, a quintessential pairing to the deep-fried snacks. Some of the most popular include a brown sweet chili sauce made of soy sauce, sugar, chopped garlic, onion, and chili, thickened with cornstarch, and a sweet vinegar sauce with chopped onions and chilies.

As for the snacks, kwek-kwek (quail eggs) and tokneneng (chicken or duck eggs) are dipped in an orange tempura-like batter and deep-fried. Flat, round balls made out of cuttlefish, shrimp, chicken, and fish are also cooked in the hot oil. In the early days of the street food scene, ball carts were communal: you’d get a stick, pick up your choice of balls and fried things, and dip the sticks into the jars of sauces. When double dipping was flagged as a food safety issue, vendors began offering small disposable paper plates.

Other examples of deep-fried street food are kikiam, ngo hiong (spring roll of ground meat, vegetables, and bamboo shoots), calamari, crablets, frog legs, cracklings (pork, or fish), tugnas (pork fat), okoy (battered bean sprouts, squash and baby shrimp), bananQ / kamoteQ (caramelized bananas or sweet potatoes), turon (caramelized banana and jackfruit spring rolls), carioca (caramelized glutinous rice flour with coconut shreds) and isaw (more popularly barbecued but intestines or offal are also deep-fried).

You’ll likely need some coconut to alleviate the burning from the sauces. A wooden push cart is parked up ahead and you raise a pointer finger to signal one order of the magical fruit. The vendor hacks a cold coconut with a bolo (or itak, a machete) right then and there. Some meat is carved out to add a chunky layer to the drink. Sarap (yummy)!

Filipino Pork Barbecue

Unlike its Western namesake, Filipino pork barbecue’s marinade consists of calamondin, soy sauce, banana catsup, vinegar, and a lemon-lime soda that acts as a tenderizer. The sweet and sour marinade and smoky piquancy imparted by the charcoal combine to create a delicious combination of flavors. The meat is skewered and grilled over charcoal and constantly basted with the marinade, then served immediately.

Charcoal-grilled pork barbecue is best enjoyed when dipped in a vinegar dipping sauce consisting of vinegar, pepper, chili, ginger, garlic, and onion sauce. It’s sold in a typical barbecue stall set up: a food stall with an umbrella and charcoal grill.

Making the Philipines Holidays Complete

Come the holidays, Filipinos flock to church for a midnight or early morning mass to prepare for Christmas day. Stepping out of the church, the aroma of warm bibingka greets church-goers. The devout are enticed to partake in a tradition of eating bibingka or hurriedly bringing one home to their family.

The fluffy, cake-like treat is cooked in a terra cotta clay pot lined with banana leaves, over and underneath hot charcoals. It’s made by soaking rice called galapong in water or coconut milk overnight, grinding it with a mortar stone, and preparing a secret batter of coconut milk and sugar. The batter is poured into the pot, a garnish of red eggs (salty preserved duck or chicken eggs), and kesong puti (traditional white cheese made from Carabao’s milk) is added, and then it’s returned to the grill for a few minutes more. It’s served with butter, muscovado sugar, and grated coconut. Many Filipinos feel nostalgic about eating bibingka as they reminisce about holiday traditions, warmth, and spending time with family.

Philippine street food, much like street food in other parts of the world, is part of an underground economy. It’s affordable, satisfying, and abundant in its variety, and exploring it is an adventure. Few things can top a gustatory Filipino street food dining experience.

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Find Local Filipino Shefs & Meals

If you’re a lover of authentic Filipino food, made in the traditional Filipino way, order some home-cooked Filipino food from our local community of Shefs — every cook is food safety certified and earns a meaningful income selling their homemade dishes.

Find your local home-cooked Filipino food today!