Anthony Bourdain declared Cebu’s roast pig the best in the world. Its crunchy skin and hefty meat is something every food enthusiast has to see and taste to believe. But among all the places to get it, which one reigns supreme?
Few would say that the juiciness of Mila’s in Talisay is the perfect party starter, while others enjoy dozens of versions in the island’s heritage city of Carcar.
For others, Rico’s Lechon takes the cake.
This is definitely a shoe-in for the best food trip in the archipelago. It may be expensive for some, but the delicious dishes in their menu are very worthwhile. This has gained much notoriety all over the country, as shown by the many Rico’s Lechon branches all over the Philippines.
HISTORY OF RICO’S LECHON
Rico’s was founded by Enrico Dionson, a former betting caller in cockfighting rings. Looking for greener pastures, Rico banked on setting up a Lechon business. Without prior experience, or a passed-on family recipe, he attempted many versions until he found the perfect one.
His big break occurred when Joseph Estrada, the former President of the Philippines, asked him to supply some Lechon for his birthday party. This introduced Rico’s to a wider customer group consisting of celebrities and personalities around the country.
Presently, Rico’s remains one of the most iconic restaurants in Cebu, especially when it comes to Lechon.
Cooked just like many traditional roast pigs, their Lechon is stuffed with several herbs and spices, such as garlic and green onions. This is cooked in a rotisserie for over an hour, until the skin turns to its iconic golden brown color.
Rico also claims to be the originator of the iconic spicy Lechon. A bunch of hot chilis are added inside the pig to increase the scoville count of the dish.
You can order both versions via a la carte in their restaurant. Regular Lechon costs275 for a quarter kilo, 445 for half, and 800 for a whole kilo. Their spicy variant is a little more expensive at 295 for a quarter, 475 for half, and 850 for a whole kilo.
You also have the option to order a whole roasted pig from them. The price will depend on the size of the pig, but it would range from4,500 to 12,150 for the original flavor or recipe, and 4,900 to 12,900 for the spicy variant.
The restaurant’s name may be their pièce de résistance, but their arsenal of Cebuano food delicacies is also quite vast. They have a whole selection of appetizers, desserts, and seafood from different parts of the country that can fill up every kind of palette and appetite.
History shows that Filipinos are known for being very resourceful. Filipino food culture and traditions have produced dishes that would have otherwise been leftovers. One of these dishes is the uber famous sisig. This is a very peculiar dish in the Philippines, as it consists of parts of the pig’s face. After the Lechon is cut into smaller parts, its head is then taken and turned into another one of Rico’s best selling dishes.
One of the most famous branches of this iconic restaurant is located at the North Reclamation Area in Mandaue City. Situated near one of the biggest malls in the city, Parkmall, there are many options of public transport for you to get there.
It is also a walking distance from another Mandaue City tourist spot, The Market. This food park is organized by Sugbo Mercado, who are arguably the kings of the food park business in Cebu. This could be a cheaper, yet more secluded option to eat out in the city.
There are other branches of Rico’s in other areas in Metro Cebu. One is in Ayala Central Bloc, and another in Axis Entertainment Avenue in Escario Street, Cebu City.
However, locals will tell you that the provincial areas are the places to be. Lechon is one of the most famous Carcar Cebu delicacies that they sell heaps of it at this Southern Cebu town’s public market. Another place is Talisay City, where they have a festival every year commemorating this scrumptious hunk of pork.
Trying out the local roast pigs should be at the top of a food enthusiast’s list of things to do in Cebu. There aren’t a lot of places in the world that serve this dish better than Cebuanos. Among all the places that serve this delicious meal, Rico’s Lechon stands out because of their bold food offerings. This could be a great place to learn more about the food on the island or to have a hefty and satisfying meal.