A spread of Alavar’s various seafood dishes. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

At first glance, the large crimson crabs are enough of an enticing dish to lure you in. Add to that the thick copper-colored sauce that coats them, giving the crustaceans a copper luster. 

Then again, it’s the rich savory aroma of Alavar’s Curacha con Salsa de Gata de Alavar that really pulls you in to take a bite—as expected from the restaurant’s signature dish.

Curacha crabs have a wider and longer carapace, which holds more white meat than regular crabs. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Zamboanga City’s Alavar Seafood Restaurant is a long staple for local and traveling seafood lovers. Its deep roots in the city along with its signature sauce has made the establishment synonymous with local cuisine, with its diverse menu of seafood, regional delicacies, and even take-home sauces.

Alavar’s red fish marquee fronting its Tetuan location. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Founded in 1970 by Miguel and Teresa Alavar, the restaurant started as a simple carinderia (informal food stall) which grew into one of the city’s most recognizable spots. After all, the red fish marquee on its entrance makes it unmissable along Don Alfaro Street in Barangay Tetuan.

Once inside, the restaurant features old hacienda-style interiors with prominent wooden fixtures and capiz shell windows. The restaurant offers both indoor and al fresco dining, as well as private and function rooms.

The restaurant’s open dining area with hacienda-style decor. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Classic Chavacano chow

Alavar’s special Seafood Cake. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Of course, the first dish we have to talk about is their Curacha Crabs. Alavar’s Specialidad de La Casa (house specialty), large deep-sea crabs that have more meat than the usual alimango. What distinguishes Curacha crabs is its wider and longer carapace, which holds most of its white meat. The deep-sea crabs are also known for their shell’s bright red color even before they’re boiled and served.

You can choose from a variety of sauces to coat the crabs with, most notably with its Alavar sauce. Other sauces include curry, garlic butter, and chili sauce. Depending on the size of crab you want or whatever is available that day, prices can range from Php1,500 for four medium pieces to Php1,700 for two large pieces.

The crab’s white meat pairs well with the richness of the Alavar sauce. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

But the crabs only account for half of the restaurant’s specialty dish. The Alavar Sauce is what completes the experience with its rich creaminess. The full recipe for the sauce is a long-kept family secret, but to assume by taste are hints of coconut milk, taba ng talangka, and garlic. 

With its versatile flavor, most of Alavar’s bestsellers are seafood dishes drenched in the sauce. One highlight of this is the Locon con salsa de Alavar (Php980) which is a serving of shrimp doused in the specialty sauce. You can also take home some Alavar sauce for pasalubong for Php450 (1kg) and Php200 (500g).

Marisco en La Horno, baked clams cooked with garlic.Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

To round out your feast, you can have your Curacha Crabs with other bestsellers such as the BBQ Chicken (Php135) and the Asao Bariga de Blue Marlin (Php480), or grilled Blue Marlin belly. Another highlight is their Marisco en la Horno (Php235), a baked clam dish cooked with fried garlic that brings out the shellfish’s savory juices.

No meal is complete without rice, and Alavar provides a wide selection. You can opt for plain white rice (Php25 for single scoop or Php125 for platter) to allow the crabs to shine. But if you’re looking for more flavor in your rice, you can order their Canon de Cangrejo (Php215), which is a savory bright crab-laced rice that can feed three to four people.

The crab rice goes well with other seafood dishes such as calamares fritas and the grilled blue marlin belly. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Alavar Seafood Restaurant’s main branch is located along Don Alfaro Street, Tetuan, Zamboanga City. The restaurant is accessible by tricycle from any point in the city.

Travel safely!

All tourist destinations in Zamboanga City have health and safety protocols in place to protect locals and visitors alike. Everyone is expected to comply by wearing face masks, regularly washing their hands, and practicing physical distancing.

To check out up-to-date information regarding local destinations that are open and the safety protocols and requirements needed for each location, you may visit philippines.travel/safetrip or download the Travel Philippines app at app.philippines.travel or the Google Playstore.