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Cebu is home to the best lechon in the Philippines. Visitors to the Philippines often make a beeline for Cebu to sample the lechon. Even world-renowned chef, Anthony Bourdain, visited Cebu to try the famous dish.
After arriving in the Philippines to explore the local specialties, we took the first flight to Cebu to try this famous dish.
From our visit to Cebu and combined with local recommendations, we share our 12 favorite places for a truly unforgettable Lechon experience.
Let’s dive into the Cebu lechon, which Anthony Bourdain described as “the best pig ever!”
What is Lechon
Lechon, a beloved dish from the Philippines, is renowned for its flavorful meat and crispy skin.
Lechon means “roasted pig.” The way it is made in the Philippines is with a whole pig cooked on a large stick over a pit filled with charcoal.
Roasting a pig is the traditional way to make lechon, and for Cebu lechon, a roasted pig aged 2-6 weeks works best to provide succulent meat worth savoring as it is less fatty.
The roasted pork belly that hits all the right notes on our taste buds makes this beloved dish even more special.
These roasted pigs are cooked over charcoal-filled pits for 1.5 to 2 hours,
depending on their size, so every bite of meat is juicy and incredibly flavourful.
Cebu whole lechon is a traditional meal for holidays, get-togethers, and fiesta celebrations.
Why is Cebu Famous for Lechon?
Unlike in other regions in the Philippines, Cebu’s lechon is known for its crispy crust achieved through its unique roasting method.
The lechon in Cebu is unique due to the combination of herbs and spices used to marinate the meat before roasting.
The pig is roasted slowly over charcoal and seasoned with lemongrass, bay leaves, peppercorns, and other local ingredients.
Whereas, in other regions, lechon is prepared using only salt and pepper.
The combination of seasonings used in Cebu lechon gives it an
aromatic and flavorful taste that can’t be found elsewhere.
It is then served with a delicious and savory sauce. Sometimes this sauce can be spicy.
And according to some locals in Cebu, “Ganahan ko og init, halang nga lechon!” (I love hot, spicy lechon!)
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: On your visit to Cebu, consider taking a culinary tour and discover the traditional flavors loved by locals. This Cebu Dine Around tour combines the flavors of the land and sea, including a taste of Anthony Bourdain’s favorite lechon.
Our Top 12 Favorites Places For Tasty Lechon in Cebu
In Cebu City Philippines, you’ll find tasty and delicious lechon available at a number of restaurants, local eateries, and markets.
We highlight here our 12 favorite eateries in Cebu to sink your teeth into melt-in-your-mouth pork.
Join locals in praising the crisp and crunchy skin, by saying “Lutong!”
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1. Rico’s “Da Best Gyud” The Best of The Best Cebu Lechon
Rico’s Lechon was our favorite lechon in Cebu.
We visited their Mabolo branch location and were immediately impressed by their kitchen setup, where you can watch your lechon chopped up and prepared.
That evening the “classic” lechon was out of stock. So, instead, we chose their “spicy” lechon at ½ kilo and were not disappointed.
To complement our meal, we also ordered the restaurant’s specialty a “Trio of Seaweed Salads,” which combines lokot, lato, and guso seaweeds with native-fermented vinegar and spices.
What we loved about Rico’s lechon were two things.
The crispy skin was perfectly browned and gave off crunchy sounds with each bite taken.
And the succulent and flavorful lechon, cooked with garlic, leeks, and spices.
The recommended drink to accompany the lechon is the Cucumansi Quencher. This refreshing and iced drink has Calamansi (a typical Filipino lime) and cucumbers. This was a delicious drink to tame the garlicky flavors.
Summing up Rico’s Lechon slogan, “Da Best Gyud,” this is the place to go if you want to experience authentic Cebuano lechon at its finest.
Address: Rico’s Lechon, Unit F-1 Jamestown Mantawi Drive North Reclamation Area, Mandaue City (Fronting Parkmall, Beside BIG Hotel) and 3 more locations in Cebu City
Hours: Open daily 10:00 am – 9:00 pm
Price range: For Medium Platter (2-3 people) P320 – P480, (approx. $5.70 – $8.60 USD)
Pro tip: Takeout box is available at all branches nationwide.
2. CNT Lechon
Going to the mall to eat lunch might sound strange, but it’s quite typical in the Philippines. At CNT lechon, a Cebu-based franchise, dining at the mall is a special treat.
After hearing rave reviews about CNT’s lechon from locals, we headed to Ayala Center Cebu excited to give it a try.
We had already seen the “chopper” working his magic with the pork at the entrance, so when it came to tasting it, our expectations were quite high.
Fortunately, the lechon lived up to its promise and we found it quite enjoyable. The skin was wonderfully crispy while the pork itself was very tender and juicy.
After tasting lechon, we can say it has an earthy, herbaceous flavor, and the texture is remarkably crunchy.
The slight drawback of this local favorite was that there were more bones than meat. Even so, this popular eatery at the mall had a non-stop line of people ordering their meals.
If you ever find yourself at the mall with a craving for some tasty lechon, head to CNT Lechon.
Address: Three locations in Cebu City
- 1377 V Rama Ave, Cebu City, Cebu
- Jose L Briones Street, Lungsod ng Cebu, 6000 Lalawigan ng Cebu
- Food Choice, Ayala Mall Cebu, Archbishop Reyes Avenue, Cebu City
Hours: Open daily, 10:00 am – 9:00 pm
Price: Price range from P200 – P860 depending on the size (approx. $3.6 – 15.40 USD)
Pro tip: Come just before lunch as they serve the best part of lechon on a first come, first served basis.
Zubuchon is one of the most hyped and commercial lechon restaurants. While famous for its marketing, it doesn’t earn the “tastiest lechon” title from the locals.
A nonetheless must-do restaurant we made our way to one of the popular Cebu branches.
Once we got in, we were immediately warmly greeted by the staff. What really caught our eye was the quote from Anthony Bourdain: “Best pig ever” which was boldly hanging on the wall.
Later we found out that Anthony Bourdain had talked about lechon several years before Zubuchon opened its doors.
All this evidence simply left us more curious as to what made their version so special.
While the lechon was certainly good it wasn’t quite up to the local standard. We found it a bit fatty and unfortunately didn’t have the full flavor experience we had enjoyed at other eateries.
Overall, Zubuchon provides a modern and clean experience. It is a nice restaurant to try local specialties beyond lechon.
You can find Zubuchon in various Metro Manila and Cebu branches.
Address: 8 locations in Cebu City and Mactan Island. They also have 4 stores in Metro Manila and 1 in Parañaque City
Hours: Open Monday – Friday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Price: Price of the classic roast pig depends on size, P420 – P1050 (approx, $7.50 – 18.8 USD)
Pro tip: Pair lechon with Kamias shake to balance the richness of the lechon with its sweet and sour flavor.
4. Cary’s Lechon
There’s something truly special about biting into a classic, street-style lechon of Cary’s Lechon.
Cary’s Lechon has the flavors of slow-roasted pork, freshly chopped garlic, chili pepper, lemongrass, and locally sourced herbs.
It’s not surprising locals prefer their traditional lechon making that has been around for generations.
Cary’s Lechon in Cebu is a must-try for anyone who appreciates the flavors of a homemade, rotisserie-roasted pig.
As a local shop that opened in 1963, they truly understand how to make it feel warm and homey.
While the flavor is simple, there’s something nostalgic when you take that first bite.
Be sure to pair it up with their famous spicy soy sauce for an added kick.
Their lechon has a perfectly crunchy and crispy skin, but the real draw of this dish is the flavorful meat that’s been perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of salt and pepper.
Not to mention, it’s best eaten with your hands for an even more enjoyable experience.
Cary’s Lechon accepts online orders, so you can enjoy it whenever you like.
Also, try their roast beef and chicharon bulaklak, a traditional appetizer. They come highly recommended by locals who know what’s good.
Address: 6-D, 6000 Sanson Rd, Cebu City
Hours: Open 24 hours
Price: Around P600 for one kilo (approx. $10.7 USD)
Pro tip: Try their roast beef and chicken as well
5. Kuzina Guadalupe
Kuzina Guadalupe is a popular and renowned lechon spot in Seaside SM City Cebu.
Famous for their boneless lechon belly, they are known to serve meaty, juicy, and crunchy pork skin at affordable prices.
Despite being highly praised by loyal customers, Kuzina Guadalupe still has some drawbacks. The lechon bones sometimes aren’t chopped well, which can be irritating when eating.
Aside from its mouth-watering lechon pork belly, Kuzina Guadalupe is also known for their grilled Tuna Panga (tuna jaw), marinated with the perfect balance of spices and flavors.
Kuzina Guadalupe offers excellent dishes at unbeatable prices.
With generous servings of juicy and crispy pork and freshly prepared grilled Tuna Panga, it’s no surprise this restaurant is a favored spot.
Go for the beloved lechon and try some seafood dishes as well.
Address: M. Velez St. and SM Seaside City, Cebu City
Hours: Open daily 10:00 am – 6:30 pm
Price: Ranges from P200 – P800 depending on size (approx. $3.60 – 14.30 USD)
Pro tip: Try their delicious seafood dishes
6. House of Lechon
House of Lechon is an upscale restaurant in the Philippines offering an exceptional dining experience.
Offering an elegant dining experience with Filipino-themed decor, you’ll be impressed the minute you walk in.
What sets the House of Lechon apart is its famous lechon.
Lechon at the House of Lechon is crispy and tender. It’s served with a special sauce made from the strips of the meat when roasted.
Beyond classic lechon, you’ll also find lechon prepared in various ways. From lechon sisig dishes to hinumba, and paksiw versions.
House of Lechon also serves other popular Filipino dishes such as Kinilaw, a fish or seafood dish marinated in vinegar and spices.
You can also try the popular dinuguan, a savory pork stew cooked with pig’s blood, or Pinakbet, a vegetable and pork dish.
With its exceptional food and classy atmosphere, it’s pretty popular. If you want to eat at the House of Lechon, go early or make a reservation first.
Address: Acacia St and Don Jose Avila St., Cebu City
Hours: Mon – Fri, 11:00 am – 9:00 pm; Sat and Sun, 10:00 am – 9:00 pm
Price: Portion of lechon P275 (approx. $4.90 USD)
Pro tip: Go during the off hours for quicker service (2:00 pm – 5:00 pm)
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: If you are looking for a taste of culture and lunch at the House of Lechon, consider this private Cebu and Lapu Lapu city tour. It’s a full-day tour with free hotel pick up to several historic sites in Cebu and Lapu Lapu city. You’ll visit Magellan’s Cross, the Heritage of Cebu Monument, Mactan island, and much more. The most delicous part is the lechon Cebu lunch at the House of Lechon.
7. Ayer’s Lechon
Ayer’s Lechon is a popular lechon restaurant in the Philippines and has been around since 2009.
It is known to have delicious lechon that is tasty, flavorful, and not too salty.
Ayer’s Lechon has an herbaceous flavor due to the herbs and spices used to marinate the pork before roasting it.
Some locals, though, find that the skin of Ayer’s Lechon isn’t as crunchy as it should be. And there are more bones and fat in the meat than expected.
The key to enjoying the meal is dipping lechon in vinegar, which helps enhance the roasted pork flavor.
Ayer’s Lechon is budget-friendly, allowing you to savor the roasted pig without spending too much on your meal.
Plus, you also find a wide variety of other authentic Filipino foods. Try ginataang kalabasa or squash in coconut milk, or liver afritada, a delicious liver stew cooked with tomatoes, and much more.
Address: Gate 777, Banilad Road across Cebu Country Club, 10 more locations in Cebu City
Hours: Open Sun-Wed, 10:00 am – 9:00 pm; Thur – Fri, 9:00 am – 9:00 pm
Price: Price per kilo is P900 (approx. $16.10 USD)
Pro tip: Their spicy lechon is a must-try
8. Se Ben’s lechon
Se Ben’s Lechon has been serving locals in the Philippines since 2002 and is known as one of the most underrated lechon restaurants.
They specialize in creating a unique flavor that differentiates them from similar companies like CNT and Rico’s Lechon.
Se Ben’s Lechon is highly sought after for its well-balanced fat-to-muscle ratio, making it both juicy on the inside and crisp on the outside.
Additionally, with the right level of saltiness and flavor, this lechon stands out among its competitors.
It is also praised for its great taste and affordability, as it’s edging out more prominent lechon brands in terms of price.
While the shop is small, it has maintained its taste and quality over the years. This has made it one of the local’s favorite places to get their fix for Filipino-style roasted pig.
Moreover, you can expect each serving of tasty lechon to be unique compared to other eateries. This is because each pork belly cut is carefully prepared before roasting at Se Ben’s Lechon.
Address: G/F Gaisano Country Mall Food Court, Banilad, Cebu City and GND Building, Panagdait (Near Sykes), Mabolo, Cebu City
Hours: Open Mon-Thur, 9:00 am – 8:00 pm; Fri- Sun, 9:00 am – 9:00 pm
Price: Lechon belly for 10 people is P1550 (approx. $27.70 USD)
Pro tip: They also accept orders and deliver nationwide.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: Pinakbet is a popular and easy-to-make Filipino dish. Try our Pinakbet Ilocano Recipe: How To Make Easy To Cook Filipino Pakbet
9. Eli’s lechon Cebu
Eli’s Lechon Cebu is a destination for all things delicious and home to some of the best tasting lechon.
Their main specialty is the traditional and authentic lechon Cebu.
The lechon is prepared with an original recipe to ensure its flavor and crunchiness.
The skin is extra crispy, making it a perfect complement to the flavorful meat that lies underneath.
This combination of flavor and skill makes Eli’s Lechon Cebu genuinely mouth-watering.
The best way to enjoy this dish is by pairing it with dinuguan, poso rice (hanging rice in palm leaves), and atsara (papaya relish).
This trio of Filipino favorites brings out the flavors of the lechon even more.
Locals who recommended Eli’s Lechon Cebu described it as a place to taste the authenticity of flavors in each bite.
You want to savor the experience at Eli’s Lechon Cebu.
Eli’s Lechon Cebu delivers daily around Cebu and all the way to Manila, keeping you close enough to authentic lechon.
Address: 1111 Leyson Street, Talamban, Cebu City, Cebu
Hours: Open daily, 7:00 am – 7:00 pm
Price: Price per kilo is P800 (approx.14.30 USD)
Pro tip: Go on Sunday and order per kilo
10. Cebu’s Original Lechon Belly
The experience of eating boneless lechon at Cebu’s Original Lechon Belly is especially noteworthy.
The flavorful meat on the belly side is incredibly tender and juicy that it practically melts in your mouth.
The lechon skin is also wonderfully crispy and flavorful, adding extra depth.
If you prefer some heat with your lechon, you can try their famous spicy lechon, which adds a kick to the classic flavors.
Not only do they offer a variety of lechon dishes, but they also have other signature dishes, such as beef stew, that are simply delicious and abundant with beef chunks.
Eating lechon using your hands (with plastic gloves) allows you to savor every bit of flavor.
You can dine outside on the open-air terrace, and if it’s too hot, there’s closed-off seating upstairs.
Prices at Cebu’s Original Lechon Belly are surprisingly affordable. And the menu offers a wide range of chicken dishes you can also try.
Address: Several locations in Cebu City
SM City Cebu Supermarket Food Area, NRA, Cebu City
Werpa Food Park, Punta Princesa, Cebu City
Maxwell Hotel (G/F), N. Escario Street, Capitol, Cebu City
SM Consolacion Food Court, Consolacion, Cebu (Opening Very Soon).
SM Seaside City Supermarket Food Area, SRP, Cebu City
Mabolo Commissary, Gochan Compound, Mabolo, Cebu City
Hours: Most locations open daily 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Price: Price per kilo for original lechon is P940 (approx.16.8 USD), spicy version P999 (approx.17.90 USD), portions for P120-P135 (approx. $2.20-$2.40 USD)
Pro tip: Best paired with puso or rice wrapped in leaves
11. Alejo’s Lechon
Alejo’s Lechon is a Cebuano favorite that flies under the radar.
It’s located at the Labangon Public Market and is only available for takeout.
Amongst Cebu City locals, it’s well-known for top-notch lechon and its unbeatable ratio of meat to skin.
Every bite is a delight. From the chunky, tender, juicy pieces of meat in the lechon leg and belly to the crispy skin that seals in all the flavor.
With each order, you can expect your lechon to come with a hint of lemongrass, making it even more aromatic and delicious.
If you are lucky enough, you might find bits of lamas mixed in with your lechon.
The lamas are aromatic spices and herbs that are typically stuffed inside the cavity of the lechon while cooking, adding an extra hint of flavor to each bite.
Even without a physical store, Alejo’s Lechon doesn’t stay around for long.
Locals get to the market early to get their hands on one of these delicious lechons before they all run out.
Their savory combination of flavors makes it worth seeking out, even if you have plenty of other nearby options.
Not only are their prices affordable, but they also offer superior quality roasted pig compared to others.
Address: Barangay Labangon Public Market, 132 Katipunan St, Cebu City,
Hours: Open daily 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Price: Price per kilo approx P800 (approx. $14.30 USD)
Pro tip: Ask if you can get your order with the aromatic lamas spice and herbs for even more flavorful indulgence.
12. Carcar Lechon at The Market
Carcar City’s lechon is located inside the Carcar City Public Market. It’s the go-to place for flavorful and affordable lechon.
The food stall section in the market has a dedicated area where you can buy some of the best lechon in Cebu City.
What’s great about walking through this section are the vendors and stalls offering free samples of crispy pork skin.
The lechon here is always cooked to perfection. Crispy on the outside and packed with tender, flavorful meat inside.
Part of what makes this Carcar lechon stand out is the pork drippings that are mixed with the lechon making it even more flavorful.
The great thing about lechon in this public market is that it guarantees freshness without breaking the bank.
In addition, you’ll also find other traditional Filipino dishes you can add to your meal.
There is no specific vendor or stall within the market that is famous for their lechon. The reputation of having some of the best lechon in Cebu goes to all the vendors in the lechon section.
As you wander through this section, stop at the vendor with the best-tasting sample of crispy skin. Or, order small portions and try a few different stalls.
Address: 4J4W+4P5, Carcar City, Cebu
Hours: Open daily, 5:00 am –10:00 pm
Price: Price of lechon per kilo is around P600 (approx. $10.80 USD)
Pro tip: Carcar Public Market is located about 1-hour away from Cebu City and it’s worth the drive
If your travels take you to the Philippines, you have to taste Cebu lechon. And, the good news is that you don’t have to order the whole roasted pig to try lechon.
You can order it by the kilo and taste the delicious crunchy skin with the unique flavors and seasonings.
Cebu has a reputation as the Lechon Capital in the World. And, even though you’ll find lechon available throughout the country, the best tasting lechon is found in Cebu.
On your Cebu visit, try lechon at different places, and don’t fall for the marketing hype. If you have limited time in Cebu and can only try Cebu lechon once, we recommend Rico’s lechon.
This roasted pig and Filipino delicacy should not be missed.
Have you had Cebu lechon before? Please let us know what you think of it in the comments below.
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Claire is co-founder of Authentic Food Quest and a lover of simple and exquisite cuisine. Since 2015, with her partner, Rosemary, she has been traveling the world as a digital nomad, creating content about local food experiences.
Her advice from visiting 45 countries and more than 240 food cities has been featured in Lonely Planet, Business Insider, Honest Cooking, Food Insider, and Huffington Post. She has also co-authored three books, including one in collaboration with Costa Brava Tourism.
An ex-mechanical engineer, Claire is responsible for SEO, keeping the website running, and the fun food & travel videos on YouTube.
When Claire is not eating, she can be found running or cycling. Find out more about Authentic Food Quest