Where to Eat in Ilocos: Irene’s Vigan Empanada

On our trip to Vigan, we asked our driver/tour guide Kuya Henie where we could get a good Vigan empanada. He immediately suggested Irene’s Empanada along Calle Crisologo. Since he’s a local and we trust his judgment, we decided to have our merienda at the place. (If you’ll be looking for it, note that the stall also goes by the name Brick House Diner’s.)


Their specialties are empanadas and okoy, but they sell rice toppings too of popular Filipino viands like tapa, tocino and of course, longganisa. Notice that Vigan Empanadas are paler in color compared to those in Batac and Laoag. I believe the fillings are the same across the board (longganisa, egg and papaya), but Vigan Empanadas do not use atsuete, thus they don’t turn bright orange.


We got what we came for and ordered Irene’s Special Pork Empanada (35PHP). The empanadas served to us were freshly cooked — we can tell because they were still warm and very crispy. They were served with a small container of Ilocos vinegar, which complemented the empanada very well and gave each bite an extra kick. I noticed the vinegar tastes different than what I’m used to: it’s not overwhelmingly sour and quite garlicky, which I liked. I also appreciated that the empanadas were served on ratan plates (with a banana leaf even!) and not just on haphazard paper plates.


My verdict? I really loved the meaty flavor of the empanada here at Irene’s! They don’t skimp on the longganisa and there’s a perfectly cooked well-done egg inside each one. Each bite was a revelation: “so… this is what an authentic Vigan empanada tastes like!”


I have tried empanadas before from food kiosks in Manila promising “authentic Ilocos empanadas” but none of them even comes close to this! Hell, I even had an empanada full of cabbage (!!!) and tasteless ground pork dripping in oil once.

If like me you’ve had an Ilocos empanada from a pretentious food stall before, please don’t judge empanadas by that experience. It’s unfair for the empanadas (haha)! Give empanadas a second chance and visit Irene’s. I’m positive you’ll end up loving them!

Irene’s Vigan Empanada
Location: Calle Crisologo, Vigan, Ilocos Sur

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