Zamboanga City is one of the best places for a foodie! Here are the best restaurants you can find in Zamboanga City.
What makes this city different, you may ask? It has a very lively food scene. You’ll be amazed at the variety of dishes available, from typical Filipino food such as sinigang and lechon to traditional Spanish dishes such as paella and Malay-Indonesia-influenced dishes such as satay. You can also find authentic food from the tribes in the Mindanao region in the city.
Personally, I’d been to a lot of cities in the Philippines and I highly recommend going on a food trip here in Zamboanga City. One of the things that on my first visit here is to eat. I’m pretty sure I gained a few pounds with all the food that I devoured with gusto.
Without further ado, here are the best restaurants in Zamboanga City!
1. Alavar Seafood Restaurant
Alavar Seafood Restaurant is the one restaurant you shouldn’t miss in your visit to Zamboanga City.
It’s famous for its special sauce: the alavar sauce, which is a mixture of coconut milk, chili, garlic and spices. The sauce is served with curacha, a Chavacano term for spanner crab or red frog crab. It’s basically a natural hybrid between a crab and a lobster. Most of the meat of a curacha comes from the body, with little in the spinsters. It is finger-licking good eaten with the alavar sauce.
For the drinks, try their fresh shakes or Zamboanga White, which is made with lychee and pineapple.
Address: 173 Don Alfaro Street, Tetuan, Zamboanga City
Facebook: Alavar Seafood Restaurant
2. Andy’s Satti
Andy’s Satti is one of the go-to places for satti. It’s a regular eatery that lets you enjoy a traditional breakfast in the city.
Satti is roasted meat on a stick, served in peanut sauce with puso (rice cooked in coconut leaves). Satti can be anything from chicken, beef or pork.
When I first ordered satti, it took me a while to realize that what they call satti is the same as satay. The difference from that of its Asian counterparts is that the sauce is thinner and the peanut taste is more subtle. I guess it’s because they literally serve the roasted meat and rice submerged in the sauce.
Another famous satti-han place is called Jimmy’s Satti.
Address: C. Atilano St., Tetuan, Zamboanga City
3. Hacienda del Palmeras Hotel & Restaurant
Hacienda del Palmeras Hotel & Restaurant is one of the top-rated restaurants in Zamboanga City.
This restaurant serves various local Filipino dishes, but the spotlight goes to their famous knickerbocker, a type of dessert similar to halo-halo. It is made with various fruits like ripe mangoes and bananas and jelly, topped with strawberry ice cream. (Zamboanga has its own strawberry plantations.)
I really like the knickerbocker because it’s light and the sweetness of the concoction comes from the fruits, instead of overwhelming sugar as in other desserts.
Address: Pasonanca Road, Barangay Sta. Maria, Zamboanga City
Facebook: Hacienda del Palmeras Hotel & Restaurant
4. Country Chicken
Country Chicken definitely serves more than fried chicken. This classic restaurant is popular for their Filipino-Spanish dishes. Some notable ones are seafood paella, callos with bread, duck stew and vegetable salad served with vinaigrette.
Address: KM 4 Pasonanca Road, Pasonanca, Zamboanga City
Facebook: Country Chicken Restaurant
5. Bay Tal Mal Restaurant
Bay Tal Mal Restaurant is a one-of-a-kind restaurant in Zamboanga City. It serves halal Moro cuisine.
Most notable is latal, a plate consisting of various Tausug dishes. The bowl in the middle is tiulah itum, a hearty beef and goat stew with broth blackened by roasted coconut. Its taste reminds me of papaitan. The other dishes include beef piyassak, beef kulma or beef adobo, chicken piyanggang, chicken kiyaliya, kiyaliya kapaya or nangkah, calamares with sauce, fried fish and sliced cucumbers with sambal. It’s a little overwhelming to try to know every dish, it’s simpler to just eat it and taste each unique flavors. Yum.
If you’re looking for other places that serve latal, check out Dennis Coffee Garden.
Address: Mayor Jaldon St., Canelar, Zamboanga City
Facebook: Bay Tal Mal Restaurant
Barcode is a local favorite which serves Filipino food. It’s a great place to stop by if you’re longing for familiar flavors, at reasonable prices. They are famous for their seafood platter and sizzling plates. For dessert, you can ask for their own version of knickerbocker or a cold dish of banana split.
Aside from its food, Barcode is also frequented by guests who are attracted to its colorful fiesta-like decors and live acoustic band at night.
Address: Paseo del Mar, Valderoza Street, Zamboanga City (2nd branch at Rizal Street)
7. Vista del Mar Restaurant
Save the best for last. Vista del Mar is my favorite restaurant among those we’ve visited.
It’s a seaside restaurant and is part of the Vista del Mar Resort. It’s highly regarded in the city and also has lots of positive reviews online. They serve great Filipino dishes, with lots of fresh seafood. They also serve curacha with their own special sauce.
My favorites here were sinigang, clams, crispy shrimp and of course curacha. I also like their ensadala de chamba, which is a salad with eggplants, ripe mangoes and salted egg. The combinations are unusual but the flavors come together nicely.
I actually like everything that was served here, from the food to the after-meal tea and ripe mango shake. Also, the ambience is perfect because the restaurant has a great view of the ocean.
The owner of the restaurant chatted with us for a bit about the resort and even showed us a practical way of cracking open a curacha — just press it against a durable plate and tadaaa. You can now easily get the meat from the curacha.
Address: Labuan-Limpapa National Road, Zamboanga City
Facebook: Vista del Mar Resort
Another place you should check out is Paseo del Mar. It’s a leisure park near the city center where you can find various restaurants and food stalls. At night, the place lights up and become alive. It’s a great place to have dinner with friends because you have a lot of options (especially if you are on a budget) and there are lots of tables for groups.
I went here on my last trip to Zamboanga. My acquaintances and I had a blast and it was fun to see them try some of Zamboanga’s unique food including knickerbockers.
That ends our list of best restaurants in Zamboanga City! Do you have other recommendations on where to eat in Zamboanga City? Let us know in the comment section below.
What to read next:
Planning a trip to Zamboanga? Here are our articles on Zamboanga:
- Travel Guide to Zamboanga City
- Things to Do in Zamboanga City
- Where to Eat in Zamboanga City
- Zamboanga Hermosa Festival
Places to see in Zamboanga City:
Backpacking in Zamboanga and other places in Mindanao? Here are our guides:
Katherine Cortes is a 30-something freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).