Road Trip Eats

Dear Reader, if you have read this blog before you know my life revolves around food… and we also love road trips. We have only flown once as a family in The Philippines and that was before we had our last son. We are a definite road trip family mostly because it is affordable and of course we like it. However, if Google says four hours to our destination we always plan on seven hours. I know, it’s ridiculous but it’s how we do road trips apparently. With great errors I have finally started to get the hang of preparing food for our long drives. There is only so much McDonald’s one can stand. By the end of the trip I almost have an aversion to those dang golden arches.

Just the usual, sitting in traffic on EDSA and starving. Yes, yes we all know traffic is bad in Manila but it can get pretty bad on those little roads when travelling by car. I am learning to be more prepared.

Here are some of my tips to help you road trip like a boss through Luzon.

Carbohydrates! Don’t be fooled with all the rice this country consumes, they also have delicious carbohydrates and my personal favorite is pandesal. First created in the 16th-century Spanish Era, pan de sal is the gift that keeps on giving.

Our personal favorite is the Malunggay Pandesal found south of the metro in the provinces. The sales girl works 24 hour shifts and sleeps onsite ensuring that the bread is always fresh! There are sometimes working hot chocolate or coffee machines. There is also usually packets of warm drinks you can buy to make your own and eat with the pandesal. Mmmmasarap!

Pandesal pa more! I obviously just cant get enough.

Recently on our drives to and from Lake Pandin we finally tried bibingka and I am so very happy. Bibingka is natrually gluten free and is a rice cake mixed with coconut milk and cooked in banana leaves and coconut husks for charcoal. They often have salted egg in them, which unfortunately I am not a huge fan of but I still really enjoy this roadside treat. Make sure to get them hot!

Embrace the roadside food stalls! Do not fear the unknown. My rule is that if it was cooked over fire right there how many germs can it really have? Ha!
The coconut husks create the perfect shield for heat and smoke. I love how resourceful Filipinos are. Look at the repurposed stove, metal tray, sticks and coconut. Brilliant!



Word to the wise: when in Baguio drag your butt to Cafe By The Ruins and eat their camote bread and massive pandesal with hot tsokolate. You’re welcome! If you find a baked good while traveling find out when their batches are fresh and schedule a pickup or delivery. We brought this box home to Manila with us.

Whenever the time comes we have to move on I think I will miss the scenes while driving in this country. Is there anything more vibrant than Filipino produce? If you need that veggie or fruit fix pull over and buy some from the roadside stand. If our travel is more than a few days we will often shop the local wet market for a more economical price and fresh produce.

A super easy and pretty unexciting (to be safe!) Filipino dish is Chicken Inasal. It is chicken marinated in a mixture of lime, pepper, vinegar and annato then grilled over hot coals while basted with the marinade. We ordered this just last weekend because we did not want to eat McDonalds. The restaurant was presentable and clean so we pulled over. For 80 php you can’t beat the value. *I wasn’t able to grab a photo of this but rotisserie chickens are super common on the national highway through the provinces. We sometimes pull over and just buy a whole chicken. For reals.

IMG_6222Sort of random but packed with protein and super filling are hard boiled eggs. If you can’t prepare your own don’t worry, 7-11 usually carries them and they are located right near the cash register. IMG_6206Fruit, the nectar of the gods. Filipino fruit is so juicy and full of flavor. A great tip, fruit stands will peel and cut your fruit right there for you. If you need a healthy sweet fix pull over and get that dragon fruit, mangosteen, watermelon or pineapple.

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I first bought sineguelas while I was waiting at a traffic light. They taste like a mix between a sour green apple and a grape. Traffic stop purchases do not always pan out but this one certainly did. I highly encourage trying something new, it may save you in a pinch.
Ah, refreshing buko juice. This is the ultimate sign of a vacation.

I had no idea what sorbettes (Filipino ice cream) was even two years ago. Luckily, a friend taught me how to pronounce it and the deliciousness of it all.

This is a sorbettero and he is awesome, obviously. Here he is making an ice cream sandwich with monay (another amazing Filipino bread!) and sorbettes.
It is always a good time driving through our AirBnb neighborhood. I stopped while driving to pick up a few cones and accidentally got cheese ice cream. I can’t believe I am typing this but it was good! I know, I can’t believe it either. *Also, these people are thinking, “Who is this crazy white chick!?”
Cheers! Ube, queso and tsokolate are the typical Filipino flavors and they are tasty. I promise.

Local favorites are always a good choice to try and pick up for pasalubong while traveling. Suman is Filipino sticky rice and comes in the yellow wrapped leaf. Super yummy either sweet or savory.

When we were in Bolinao last year I had read all about binungey, a rice cake made in bamboo. It wasn’t my favorite but I did love finding a local favorite and trying it. IMG_7955Most Filipino restos always have turon (fried banana), lumpiang (essentially an egg roll) and suman. These are your safety nets but are also so so delicious. I am starving now!

I am no expert and am learning as I go but I hope this helps. I know how hard it can be when everyone is starving and you are in a foreign place. Please share other tips or ideas you have in the comments.

A few more tips:

  • Pack one extra meal when traveling as you never know how long it can take.
  • Healthy options: cut up vegetables, fruits and hard boiled eggs, rotisserie chicken.
  • Meals you can make from ingredients are 7-11: tuna fish sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and if you have a kitchen, spaghetti!
  • When all else fails, buy your kids happy meals. HA!

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Next time you are driving through Pampanga try Tupig, it’s a rice cake made with coconut milk and sugar wrapped in banana leaves and cooked over coals. You’ll find it in all the roadside stalls along the National Highway.


  2. cheaca says:

    This post made me hungry. But more than that, I have found nyself perusing through your previous and somewhat way back posts. I enjoy reading about how you’re enjoying the Filipino culture. It’s refreshing, genuine and heartwarming. 🙂


    1. amber says:

      Ah thank you Ericka. Sorry about the hunger, hihi. Thanks for reading. Love my pinoys.


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