La Union

When in La Union: 3 food spots to try

Gelo Gonzales

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When in La Union: 3 food spots to try


Screengrab from Rappler video

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LA UNION, Philippines – There’s no shortage of food places to try in the north’s surf capital, La Union, as its beaches have become home to creative food ideas, some of which come from Manila transplants looking to settle into the slower-paced beach life. 

But because there are so many choices, some of which could be expensive, it could get confusing. So we’ve picked three that might want to try out. 

Doner Papa

Hungry after a morning of surfing? Doner Papa serves a huge doner about the length of 1 human face for P250 that will really get you fueled up right away. “It’s a complete meal” as one of the owners Migs tells us, with the usual wrap veggies, and there’s a falafel option for P220 as well. 

Food, Bread, Sandwich Wrap
MIXED MEAT DONER. Screengrab from Rappler video

Rice and hummus plate options are available too, and it’s from the same people behind the popular brunch place Masa By Barefoot. The serving is big enough that most can split the doner in two, and save the other half for pre-dinner merienda. 

And a quick origin story for the resto: Swiss-German Adie, who also co-owns the place with wife Lea, wanted a taste of home, a taste of Europe – and that means, doners, full meals in an easy-to-grab-and-eat wrap serving perfect for the active lifestyle. As for the name, at a drinking session, a silly moment about the rum brand Don Papa eventually turned into Doner Papa.

Food, Food Presentation, Bread
FRIES AND FALAFEL, Screengrab from Rappler video

Migs and Lea come from culinary backgrounds in Manila, but like some of the transplants in the area, were drawn in by La Union’s beach life and community.

To get there, the biggest landmark nearby is the Monaliza surf resort. From the road, facing Monaliza, it’s to the right.

Tap here to follow Doner Papa on Instagram.


Looking for comfort home cooking? Try Miryinda’s kare-kare either with beef or pork (P250) or just the veggie option for (P160). And then get a serving of their pancit for P140, which is enough for two if it’s just a side. 

Food, Food Presentation, Plate
BEEF KARE KARE. Photo by Gelo Gonzales/Rappler

A merienda place that serves kare-kare? That’s because its owner Gale started this as a home operation back in Manila, serving banana bread and pancit. Together with husband Jeric, they expanded to kare-kare, a dish that’s a tradition in Gale’s family, and has now become a hit in La Union for its hearty flavor and fair price. The food’s also been a hit on TikTok, helping drive sales to the restaurant. 

Food, Noodle, Pasta
PANCIT. Photo by Gelo Gonzales/Rappler

The banana bread a la mode for P120 is good too. 

It’s in the area of San Juan surf resort, on the non-beach side. A signage for “Tagpuan Sa San Juan” is your marker, leading to a small street going in, and then you turn on the first right. Best to go on foot as the street going in is narrow for cars. 

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Tap here to follow Miryinda on Instagram.

Halu Ice Cream 

If it’s a treat you want to remember, and tell your Manila friends about, that’s Halu ice cream. It’s coconut-based, and what that means is, it’s a lighter affair than most traditional store-bought ice cream, but with an enhanced flavor, says one of the owners, Sab. 

They have a lot of flavors, served in a variety of ways (cone, mochi, float, buns, or french toast) but their best-sellers are Lemon Haze and Strawberry Blossom. In our visit, our favorite was the P210 Strawberry Blossom served on kamote donut, which is sourced from Masa By Barefoot, while the refreshing Lemon Haze Float for P220 will perk up your taste buds. 

Food, Food Presentation, Bread

Sab says her goal in life, together with her partners Trixie and Jessica, is to spread some happiness. A interior design graduate, Sab knew that she eventually wanted to get into food, and ice cream making was something she’d learn at a young age, learning a craft via the old-school way: with a book. So ice cream, it was. 

She says, with her happiness mindset, they’ve been able to build a local following, helping support the business when the tourist crowd is thin. 

Even the name comes from a place of happiness. Sab’s mom had always greeted them with a “Halu!”

They only use fruits that are in season because that’s when they’re most delicious. They are constantly experimenting with new flavors, and currently have 16 non-vegan flavors in their menu. Oh, and they have pet-friendly ice cream too!

It’s right on the main road so it’s easy to spot, and find on Waze/Maps, and have parking as well.

Tap here to follow Halu on Instagram.

BONUS: Alpas La Union

We’re not featuring Alpas as a food spot here as we weren’t able to find the time to check out what they offer, but if you want to stay at a place that’s more serene, head to this Bacnotan spot co-owned by Hale’s Champ Lui Pio, a few minutes away from the busy surf shores of San Juan. 

Serenity gives way to sonic treats on certain nights though as Alpas has become a local hub for regular gigs, with OPM girl group BINI most recently gracing the mini amphitheater-like venue, following previous nights featuring bands like Urbandub and Mayonnaise. –

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Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.