Carinderia: a Filipino’s Eatery


Filipinos enjoy food a lot. They’re known to make tasty dishes.

Carinderias seem to be everywhere. May it be a busy rural area or the city; these local eateries will be easy to spot.

What is a Carinderia?

Carinderia is a local eatery in the Philippines. They serve different viands or ulam. These dishes are paired with a cup of rice on a plate.

Filipino favorites are served in lines of pots or food pans. Sinigang, Adobo, Giniling, Monggo, and Menudo are the ulamsor dishes that are usually available.


Where can you usually find them?

There will be at least one near busy places. This could be near schools or near work places like offices, business establishments or construction sites. It’s easy to spot them because most of these eateries are by the roadside.

You’ll see one set up in these busy places. People need a place to eat and sure enough, they’ll be there.

What does it look like?

Carinderia can be built from native materials and look like a hut or kubo, or they could be a small concrete building. Tables and chairs are set up inside and a line of Filipino favorites are displayed in covered pots and food pans for you to choose from.

There are variations of carinderia like the travelling carinderia. They set up a wooden stall where they display the pots and food pans. Then they put chairs and tables for customers.

It’s hard to miss. You’ll know it’s a Carinderia with their signature display of pots and food pans lined up for you to choose from.

You can eat in a group and occupy a whole table or if you’re alone, you can share a table with other people eating.

How does it work?

Choose from the dishes that are displayed. Don’t be afraid, it’s okay to open the lids and take a look inside. That’s one way for you to know what ulam is inside.

A person behind this line of pots and food pans will serve the ulam of your choice. Feel free to ask them if you’re unfamiliar with the dish you are looking at.

It’s usually a “Pay as you order” kind of thing in a Carinderia. Once you’ve chosen what you like, the people in charge will serve the ulam in a bowl or on a plate together with a cup of rice. You pay before you take a seat.

Want more rice? A cup of rice is commonly ₱10. Pay for that extra cup of rice and they’ll give you another, no problem.

You’ll find spoons and forks in a container near the display of dishes, the counter where you pay, or near a water dispenser.

Once you finish eating, someone will clean the table for the next person.


What about the drinks, you say? A Carinderia will have free water in water dispensers or you can ask the people who work there for ‘service water’. All Carinderias are supposed to have free water for the people who eat there.

Not a fan of their water? The eateries have a drinks cooler where you can choose soft drinks and bottled water. Some have other drinks like bottled juice. Whatever you see in the drinks cooler are the only available beverages. Sometimes, bottled drinks are lined up over or beside the food pans so you can see which drinks are available.

How much will eating in a Carinderia cost?

It depends on which part of Philippines you’re in. But eating in a Carinderia hovers just below ₱100 a person.

A bottle of soft drinks or water is often around ₱15. A cup of rice is around ₱10. Ulam costs around ₱30, depending on what kind of ulam. Some ulams are priced at ₱70 or ₱50. You can ask the person in charge how much they are, they will just tell you.

These prices aren’t uniform for all local eateries.

In some places far from mainland or from the city, prices can get higher. Delivery of ingredients and products can be difficult for faraway places, making these products more expensive than that in cities or mainland.

When are they open?

Carinderias are ready to serve food as early as 9am. Although some eateries open earlier.

They close up for the day when all the ulams are finished. Some close around 6pm, and some even later until 8pm. There are a few 24hr eateries.

Most of the time, they don’t open in holidays.


Don’t hesitate to ask about the food or how much they cost. People who work in Carinderias are welcome to questions about their eatery. Like: Where are the drinks? How much are they? Where can I find the spoons and forks? May I have another cup of rice? What is this ulam called? What is it made of?

Filipinos are known for their hospitality. They’ll answer. Some can be talkative. Some will answer briefly. If you’re nice, they surely will give time to answer.

If you want to taste Filipino dishes, these local eateries will give you an array of choices.

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