The centrally-located “Atrium” Shopping Center on General Luna Street, contains a parking garage, the Day’s Hotel, a large branch of the Iloilo Supermarket and several restaurants (including a two-story McDonald’s) and shops. The “Home Store” is one of the best places to buy fancy kitchen and household appliances, equipment and accessories. (but also see HERE) The Iloilo Supermarket at the Atrium has the best selection of imported food in Iloilo City — and the best prices. They also stock salad greens and herbs. The seafood is also good but more expensive than at the public markets. We’re so pleased that the Tinapayan Bakery is now producing excellent whole wheat and multi-grain breads, by far the best in Iloilo City. It’s a favorite of ours. You’ll see more expats at the Atrium than just about any other place in Iloilo City.
If you shop at any branch of the Iloilo Supermarket you’ll find it hard to keep its jingle out of your head!
SM City is the mecca, the holy grail of “malling” in Iloilo City. It’s the biggest mall (and the noisiest) in Iloilo. It’s packed on weekends. It provides far more big mall buzz than its Iloilo competitors. I find the acoustics and piped in music to be disorienting, sort of like being trapped in a karaoke bar. Perhaps that’s the buzz they are shooting for.
Still, the selection of shops and restaurants is vast; every food chain, hardware, music, movies, clothing, photo processing — everything.
There is a large SM grocery store on lower level To me, the below grade location of the grocery area has a bit of a mustiness to it. It’s not our favorite.
If you’re driving, SM City can be convenient because they have lots of free outdoor parking. Depending on where you live, it can be two jeepney rides to SM City.
Robinson’s Place, Iloilo City
Robinson’s is a major Iloilo City mall. For me, it has some advantages over SM City. It’s not in a isolated island outside the city proper. Robinson’s is downtown. It’s easy to walk from Robinson’s to the Central Market, the Super Market, banks, restaurants, the downtown Iznart-JM Basa shopping area and all the other amenities of the city. I find Robinson’s be a more enjoyable and little less chaotic and noisy experience than SM City. It does not feel like a big noisy box. Robinson’s has the usual panoply of chain restaurants and retail outlets but not really comparable to SM City. To us, Robinson’s Supermarket is the cleanest in the city. It’s not the cheapest.
Robinson’s has an attached, large, free parking garage so it’s easy to park, leave your car and do all your downtown errands from this central location.
There are many other shopping centers in Iloilo City; Marymart, Gaisano, Gaisano City and so forth but don’t overlook shopping at the public markets, especially the Central Market and the Super
Market where you can buy fresher, better quality food for less. Vegetables in the markets often cost half of what they do in the supermarkets and the quality is much better. We generally drive to the Iloilo Central Market early on Sunday morning. There’s little traffic then and we can park steps away from the market.
The Iloilo Public Market offers meat, seafood, fruits and vegetables. The “terminal” of “super” market near Robinson’s has a bigger, fresher selection and better prices on vegetables. It’s where many vendors in other markets buy their produce to resell.
On our last trip there (9-22-08) we bought
- Very, very fresh Speckled Grouper for P200 per kilo or about $US 2.00 per pound. You pay twice as much in a supermarket. It was so fresh it only smelled of saltwater, not fish. I poached it and served it with a butter-caper sauce. Iloilo is a paradise for seafood lover!
- Broccoli (a luxury food here) P120 per kilo.
- Extra-large eggs P60 per dozen
- Carrots P75 per kilo
- Very nice green beans P40 per kilo
- Potatoes P50 kilo
Also, don’t overlook supporting the traditional downtown Iloilo shopping areas, especially Iznart Street and JM Basa. It’s a bit more adventuresome but you will find bargains and some local color. There’s no question that the big malls, especially SM City has drawn shoppers from downtown. Wanting to see this colorful old historic Calle Real downtown district to survive and thrive, I’m hoping that as the cost of energy and air conditioning rises that rents and prices will rise at the malls, giving the old downtown a new lease on life as a mecca for bargain hunters.
More about Iloilo public markets: /iloilo-public-markets-and-market-days/