Two years ago, husband and wife Brian and Hazel Fariñas launched the first “branch” of Fariñas Ilocos Empanada along Visayas Avenue, Quezon City adjacent to the South Star Drug. It started as a five-square-meter booth where passersby snack on their “authentic empanadas” made with ingredients from Ilocos. What was tad surprising was that their children (still in high school) were the ones who posted the idea of opening up this small venture for a tryout. Little did they know that pursuing this business would open them the door to success…and more success to come.

I got an invite here last week and came to visit their restaurant to get an idea of what many of their customers and the media now are raving about. I mean, empanadas are already ubiquitous, thanks to the food carts that have been spreading everywhere in the MRT stations, malls and establishments like a disease. So I wondered what Fariñas Ilocos Empanada’s empanadas can offer more to differentiate from others. Whatever makes their food outstanding? Let’s find out. 🙂

Review of Fariñas Ilocos Empanada (Visayas Avenue, Quezon City)

Ambiance: ★★★☆☆

Out of 10 branches, this is one of the two branches of Fariñas Ilocos Empanada that’s open-air. We were lucky that we came at dinnertime and it was raining so the wind was cold, else I could already imagine the heat. To keep the air ventilated, this restaurant has a fan and a wide entrance that are enough to provide cool environment.

Chairs and tables were neatly positioned. Printed on the wall was Fariñas Ilocos Empanada’s logo and opposite it was a landscape image showing an overview of naimas (simply delicious) empanadas and other food cooked with “zero cholesterol.”

There’s no menu passed on to dining customers but like other fast food chains, their menu is posted behind the counter. It’s a “pay as you order” restaurant and you get to see the empanadas being prepared and fried in front quickly before they are served.

Service: ★★★★☆

The staff were eloquent and they appeared friendly much like the owners who entertained our questions and delivered answers that demonstrated care for both their line of business and their customers. Serve time was quite fast considering that food is cooked upon order.

Food: ★★★★☆

Fariñas Ilocos Empanada’s empanadas are said to be an improved version of the authentic empanadas from Ilocos. The Fariñas family is from that region in the country and they have spent much time and effort in researching and concocting for a more flavorful Pinoy pie based on its original savor. Finally, they came up with five types, each with varied taste:
1. Regular Empanada (PHp 40) – consists of one egg and veggies
2. Special Empanada (PHp 50) – consists of one egg, one longganisa and veggies
3. Extra Special Empanada (PHp 65) – consists of one egg, two longganisas and veggies
4. Super Special Empanada (PHp 80) – consists of two eggs, two longganisas, and veggies
5. Ultimate Empanada (PHp 99) – consists of bagnet, two eggs, longganisa and veggies

I can’t get enough of all these adjectives that are incorporated as part of the names of their specialty empanadas. I thought that it was rather hard to remember that the Super Special has this and this, the Extra Special has this and this, etc. All that’s being changed is the number of eggs and longganisas included to form the finished product. Hahaha. 😛

Eggs can be requested to be either cooked as “malasado” (half-cooked or soft-boiled) or well done. The veggies comprise of balatong (mongo) and grated papaya, and the outer orange shell of the empanada is made from rice powder with achuete (roucou).

We were served with the Extra Special Empanada, and I supposed it’s best eaten with their homemade native chilli with garlic sauce. This empanada can be a meal in itself and there wasn’t anything not to love in all of the finest ingredients used. The crust was crisp and wasn’t as flaky and greasy as other fried food. The flavors of everything in the filling blended as sweet and savory into one complete bite.

After finishing the pocketed treat, next came jostling for our attention was the Pancit Bagnet (PHp 125), a unique bagnet recipe from the north of the Philippines. The pancit was topped with bagnet slices, eggs and vegetables. It was a fine dish that’s been introduced proudly to my taste buds.

Then I learned the difference between bagnet and lechon kawali: While bagnet is boiled and deep-fried pork belly with a well-browned, drier and crispier exterior portion of the meat, lechon kawali is deep-fried at a very high temperature only until the skin is blistered and the meat is lightly browned.

Thirdly, we sampled another dish with a bagnet-y twist: the Ilocos Miki (PHp 115), which was cooked in chicken soup with eggs, bagnet and toasted garlic. It came out delicious yet adding drops of their Sukang Iloko proved to enhance its taste further. If Singaporeans and Malaysians boast their laksa, then we can match it with this soup.

Fariñas Ilocos Empanada does not have desserts available, however you can have a pack of camote chips (PHp 75) or garlic chichacorn (PHp 105) to snack on. Between the two, I liked the sweet potato chips more as they were firm, thin and light. 😀

Price for Value: ★★★★☆

In sum, the empanadas are definitely the star here. I have yet to visit a Fariñas branch that’s closer to home to make a better judgment on their food. At this point, I guess I can say that the best thing about these succulent hand-held food is their diversity, something Ilocos can offer to Manileños. 😀

Fariñas Original Ilocos Empanada - Visayas Avenue
56 Visayas Avenue Project 6, Quezon City
For inquiries, contact 0917 817-3146
Date Published: 09/16/2013
15 / 20 stars


56 Visayas Ave., Project 6, Quezon City (12noon to 10pm)
140 Kalayaan Ave. cor Mayaman St., Diliman (10am to 8pm)
Maysilo Circle, Mandaluyong City (11am to 10pm)
Lansbergh Condominium, Tomas Morato (11am to 10pm )
Short horn corner road 20, project 8, Quezon City (11am to 10pm)
77 Stotsenburg, 10th Ave. Caloocan City
58 Katipunan Road, White Plains (12noon to 11PM)
West Avenue


Health and technology freak. Food and lifestyle blogger with a large appetite for food and travel.

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28 Responses

  1. lalalapatricia

    I bumped here awhile ago and akala ko ung pang sauce pang lagay sa hair haha anyway if you know ‘pastil’. It’s a muslim food here in our city. It looks the same with the empanada though I love empanada din! 🙂

  2. PW

    How I wish I could get a taste of Iloco empanada. It’s so popular now but I’ve never had the chance to actually sink my teeth into one. 🙁

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      I don’t think it’s very popular in the city now because I myself have not heard of it until I received the invite haha. I still consider Ilocos empanada as rather new here but one that successfully is inching its way to the customers’ taste and interest.

  3. Gil Camporazo

    It seems I get used to resto, foodies, fast foods, among others of this review. I long to want to try them on how they do differ from each other like the ambiance, the food, the service, and the price.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Conclusion – This is an establishment that sells quality ingredients and healthy creative dishes, which exclude copious amounts of oil, meats and other harmful ingredients. It is time we go back to basics, and “House Fariñas” does that perfectly.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      I’ve never been to White Plains and I don’t know just how to get there. If ever I’d crave for their empanadas again, I’d go to the E. Rod branch. The taste would be consistent, at least that’s what I hope.

  4. Marie Michel

    My!! I’m seriously craving…and I hadn’t eaten dinner on purpose! lol. Empanada is very flexible…ha! I’d want one with so many chicken in it 😀 and the bagnet, lutong!Crackkkkk! 😀

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Oh are you on a diet? This one is not for guilty pleasure because the food here won’t get you fat anyway. 😛 Yeah their empanadas are different from what I have been used to. I thought they taste somewhat like lumpia toge.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Now I’m reading recipes online and wonder if I can also make a good version. 😛 I think I should one day go to Ilocos to try the authentic Ilocos empanadas and test how tasty this specialty really is.

  5. ralph

    zero cholesterol cooking, now that’s something… really love empanadas… i would really love to try the place, as their prices are reasonable. Yahweh bless.

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yup, that’s the right word – reasonable. I was also intrigued by their “zero cholesterol” cooking oil. How can there be such as thing? I don’t know. Anyway, all oils except coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil are good for fighting high cholesterol as part of a heart-healthy diet.

  6. papaleng

    I am a true-blooded Ilocano and the Farinas and I came from the same hometown in Ilocos sur. That said, I am too familiar with how original Ilocos empanada taste.Naimas ading. Sana yun din ang lasa na ini-offer nila sa place. Hopefully, we can drop by the place and try their Ilocos Miki and Pancit Bagnet.

  7. Steph of Traveliztera

    Awww… I’ve never tried an Ilocos empanada, and I would love to try this when I go home sa Pinas!

    Very interesting story about how everything started as well!

    Love your review, and sobrang ito una kong hahanapin pag uwi ko hehehe!


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