River Farm, a Worthwhile Pitstop in the North

Written by GDS

If you’ve ever been to the surf town of San Juan, La Union in full swing, especially during a major event such as the Labor Union Festival, it’s no surprise to anyone if “Party Capital of the North” becomes recognized as another moniker alongside its “Surfing Capital of the North” title. According to one of our sources employed in the local government, more than 4,000 tourists flock to the province of La Union whenever there’s a big event. Every year the rate of tourists that come to visit doubles, and the one-kilometer strip of restaurants in Brgy. Urbiztondo is sure to get crowded.

While some are drawn to the frenzy of the parties, naturally, some do shy away from it; seeking instead the solitude of less crowded restaurants, surrounded by nature as its ambiance. For some people, it becomes unbearable to be trapped together with other tourists from the city. Sometimes, all one has in mind is to find a nice, quiet, and relaxing getaway holiday with one’s family.

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Located approximately 4.5 kilometers from the beloved surf town of San Juan is one of two agri-tourism sites in the whole province, River Farm.

The restaurant is festooned with floating huts often filled with diners. This spectacle is viewable along the national highway. Before passing by the Baroro Bridge (if you’re coming from San Juan), River Farm is hard to miss. Most of their customers are people who are on long road trips, particularly those who are traveling north to visit Vigan, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte. The restaurant has also become a popular pitstop for weekend surfers, as well as surf instructors and their students on trips to other surf spots located in Bacnotan, Taboc, and Darigayos.

And why shouldn’t they be? Apart from giving you the chance to feast on freshly caught Golden Tilapia, the view is an experience in itself. If you’re lucky, you get to see a variety of flora and fauna that is quintessential in Philippine provinces. You definitely won’t get a view like this in the city. To top it off, the restaurant also offers an in-house boat tour. Groups of up to 25 people can avail of the boat tour for a memorable while cruising down the river.

Hearty Cuisines Available Only at River Farm!

An All-Filipino Meal for One

River Farm’s Farmer’s Rice meal is good for individual servings. For just P190.00, you get their signature golden tilapia, served with liempo, nilagang okra, soup, and a glass of iced tea. The pork used for the liempo is sourced locally. This means that all the ingredients for this dish are guaranteed to be served fresh.

Appetizers, Anyone?

Crispy Fried Pako  

Locally sourced fern fried tempura-style. Make sure to order this as starters.

Pako Salad

The Pako Salad topped with tomatoes, onion, and cucumber is another best seller.

River Farm Specials

River Farm Medley

A complete meal which everyone will enjoy. This platter is a fusion of meat and seafood.

Boatman’s Delight

Though our best pick is River Farm’s Golden Tilapia, the tuna, together with seashells and shrimps, is a must try.

West Philippine Sea

Your visit to River Farm is not complete without ordering their best selling Golden Tilapia. The variety of their tilapia, which is entirely raised in their fish pens, is the Mozambique tilapia.  Fresh and organic, the fish are raised in suspended nets-- a technique to prevent the fish from coming in contact with the river bottom to improve their taste. This may be the best tilapia you’ll find in San Juan, La Union!

The Story Behind River Farm Restaurant

The River Farm story is passed from father to son. Kuya Cesar, who lives just a few steps away from the river bank, raised his family by the river just like the generations before him. His grandfather, for example, used to tell him tales of how Philippine guerillas laid out traps for the occupying Japanese forces along the main road. For Kuya Cesar, the river was where he holds his fondest memories.

Kuya Cesar recalled the time his father took the family for a stroll alongside the river when he was just 6 years old. What differentiates this walk from the countless others was an offhanded remark his father made. Almost casually, his father mentioned that they were blessed to own the land that they had as it would always provide them with something to eat. As well as being close to a river, they were also surrounded by vast rice fields and vegetable farms. 

Kuya Cesar’s dedication to River Farm is uncanny. During his interview, he was beaming with pride as he told us about the restaurant’s humble beginnings. Blessed with the land he inherited from his family, he took the advice of his father to put up a restaurant. Starting out with a small staff, Kuya Cesar and his wife were hands-on from the beginning to this day.

Now, his whole family works together in the restaurant, which to him, is the key ingredient to running a good business. The success of River Farm is also a testament to their commitment to the local community by providing economic opportunities to farmers and fishermen.

River Farm is located at Km 282 Baroro, La Union, Bacnotan. They are open from 8:30 AM to 9:00 PM daily.