Places to Eat in Manila
Many people have this misconception that Manila food scene is quite poor; at least there’s nothing special a foodie could write people back home about. But we beg to differ. Food is an inherent part of Filipino culture and this is evident now more than ever. Last year Manila along with other cities in the country saw a huge boom in food parks and experimental desserts. With this trend showing no signs of slowing down, now it is an exciting time to be a foodie in Manila.
Let's start our gastronomic adventure with the ubiquitous street food. If your tummy can take just about anything then go ahead and indulge, otherwise proceed with caution. Most of the time you can find an abundance delicacies sold from food carts outside schools, churches, markets, parks or bus terminals where your PHP30 can already go a long way. Try banana-q, fish balls, kwek-kwek (quail egg), isaw (chicken intestine), betamax (congealed pig's blood ), adidas (chicken feet), and of course, the notorious balut.
If you'd rather sit down and grab a beer while having a go at it then we recommend heading to Mang Larry's in UP Diliman. Your PHP50 can get you several sticks of grilled chicken gizzard, pork, chicken and pork intestine or liver, pig's ear, and chicken ass. Doesn't sound very appetizing but there should be a good reason it's always been a big hit among the locals, don’t you think so?
Locals will always tell you that the best way to sample authentic Pinoy dishes is to get invited to someone's home. If you're not that privileged then you can simply reserve a table at Romulo Cafe – a heritage restaurant that pays homage to the late journalist, soldier, and foremost Filipino diplomat Carlos P. Romulo. We really like the mono-chromatic black and white interior as well as the memorabilia wall. Make sure to try their Bagnet Pakbet (PHP205), monggo soup (PHP135), Tito Greg's Kare-Kare (PHP460), Flying Tilapia (PHP360) and Suman Latik (PHP70). Currently, the restaurant has three branches: Tomas Morato in Quezon City, Jupiter Street in Makati, and Market Street in Ayala.
Seafood galore in Seaside Dampa located in Macapagal Boulevard in Pasay – and you just cannot go wrong with it. The concept is pretty straightforward, you get the freshest seafood from the wet market then proceed with your loot to the nearby restaurant to have it cooked the way you like it. The market itself can be chaotic with the vendors trying to make a sale but also presents a very good opportunity for photography enthusiasts. The prices don't vary that much so don't stress yourself out by trying to haggle.
Western and International Food
Manila is definitely a cosmopolitan city, so you can pretty much eat anything your palate desires in Manila but if we have to recommend just one place, it would have to be the Spiral Buffet (Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Roxas Boulevard, Pasay). It is an international buffet with no less than 21 ateliers or stations including Japanese, Filipino, Asian Noodles, Thai, French, Indian, and many more. It certainly doesn't come cheap at PHP4,092/pax with alcohol or PHP3,378/pax w/o alcohol ( please check their website for the most up-to-date rate ) but it's all worth it.
Cafes and Coffee Houses
Forget Starbucks when you're in Manila and head over to Corner Tree Cafe (150 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air, Makati). This is a vegan cafe but don't let that intimidate you. There's a wide selection of dishes that vegan and non-vegan alike will enjoy. They even serve wines, local beers, and cocktails! The ingredients they use are mostly organic so it's understandably a bit pricey. Expect to shell out approximately PHP500 to PHP1,000.