Where to eat in Zamboanga City | Curacha Crabs and more at Alavar Seafood Restaurant


No visit to Zamboanga City is complete without sampling Alavar Seafood Restaurant's Curacha — a giant deep-sea spanner crab half the size of a human face — drowning with the restaurant’s signature Alavar sauce. Eating it can be both satisfying and messy at the same time. Using your bare hands, crack the shell open to expose the thick and juicy meat inside, then glaze it with Zamboanga’s famous culinary sauce and viola. You’ll be surprised at how many crabs you have licked and sucked clean in the end.

Mishy Co

Fortunately for me, in the three instances I visited Zamboanga, I experienced dining at Alavar Seafood Restaurant on two occasions. The first one was during the 2017 Savores culinary festival and the most recent was during our Zamboanga Peninsula media trip just last month (September 2021).

Mads Miraflor

What makes the "curacha con salsa Alavar" an unforgettable dish, other than the sheer size of the curacha crabs, is the Alavar sauce. Unique only to this restaurant, the Alavar sauce is a family heirloom recipe originally concocted by Maria Teresa Camins Alavar —the matriarch founder of this now iconic culinary establishment — in the early 1970s. The Alavar sauce is a blend of crab roe paste, coconut milk and various secret spices.

Marky Ramone Go

Due to the popularity of the Alavar sauce, the restaurant sells it in packets and can be paired deliciously with other dishes like steamed prawns and lobsters as well as other sautéed proteins.

Celine Arenillo

During my first time to Alavar’s, we fine dined over platters of prawn curry, grilled tuna jaw, dinuguan cooked Chavacano style, paella and pinakbet Chavacano and the main star, the curacha con salsa Alavar. It was indeed an epicurean joy that made my first visit to Zamboanga City more memorable. 

Alyana Bromeo

I recall that same gastronomic delight when I stepped foot inside the restaurant for the second time. This time around, a buffet set-up awaited us. With a selection consisting of baked imbao, grilled tuna, beef rendang, fried shrimp, vegetable salad and their signature dish of course, I immediately filled my plate and ate with gusto. Let’s just say, I returned for another serving. And another.

Erika Zepeda

Maria Teresa Camins Alavar and her husband Jun soon handed the secret recipe to their daughter Marissa Alavar Alfaro before she took over managing the restaurant. So, it came as no surprise when after our satisfying lunch, Teresa's grandson Jomari Alfaro, who is a chef himself, demoed to us the procedure of preparing the famous Alavar sauce but without revealing the secret ingredients.

Sandra Santiago

After we finished our plates, we bid goodbyes to the staff of Alavar’s. Walking out of the restaurant, I felt like my hunger is already satisfied for the rest of the day. I also took with me another savoring experience of feasting on one of Zamboanga’s culinary icons: the Curacha con Salsa Alavar”. I wouldn't mind coming back for the third, fourth, fifth time and so on, when I visit Zamboanga City again and again in the future. It would be my pleasure leaving a mountain of curacha crab shells on my plate and on the table again.