The question, “san tayo kakain?” is a difficult one—it’s particularly dangerous when it comes from your hangry S.O. So it’s best to have a cheat sheet of restaurants in Manila that have reliably tasty food and the romantic ambience to boot. Whether you want to impress on a first date or just want to treat your special someone to a memorable night out, we round up some of Manila’s most romantic restos.
Gallery By CheleLocation: 5/F CLIPP Center, 11th Street corner 39th Street, Bonifacio Global City
Gallery By Chele is elegant without feeling stuffy. You can choose from their three-course or five-course tasting menus or go ala-carte. Standouts are the Breakfast Bites, dainty pieces of salty-garlicky longganisa, rich quail egg, and a pinch of tangy atchara to break through the punchy flavors; and the Pulpo Inasal or tender octopus that’s cooked inasal-style, for that distinctive smokey char and sweet-savory flavor.
BlackbirdLocation: Nielson Tower, Ayala Triangle Gardens, Salcedo Village, Makati City
When it comes to romantic restaurants, Blackbird remains top of mind. For one, the restaurant, which is inside the control tower of the former Manila International Airport, keeps its old Art-Deco design—with floor-to-ceiling windows and an elegant navy-and-white color scheme, it’s easily one of Metro Manila’s most beautiful restos. But, it’s not all looks at Blackbird; feast on their Lamb Cutlets with Potato Gratin or go for Prawn Scotch Egg with coconut sambal on betel leaf.
The Test KitchenLocation: G/F One Rockwell, Rockwell Drive, Rockwell Center, Makati City
The Test Kitchen has shifted away from tasting menus to an a la carte menu. Everything on the menu is imaginative and tasty—but you absolutely have to order the Bread, a sourdough loaf with phenomenal crusty-on-the-outside, pillow-soft-on-the-inside texture paired with fresh butter. It’s huge, too, making it perfect for sharing.
a manoLocation: Power Plant Mall, Lopez Drive, Rockwell, Makati City
For authentic Italian cuisine, head to a mano. a mano means made by hand, which refers to how they make all their pasta and pizza by scratch. Get the Cacio e Pepe, with al dente De Cecco spaghetti tossed in sharp Pecorino and black pepper and served inside an edible parmigiano reggiano shell for extra richness. A dish we’re sure you’ve seen all over your Instagram feed is their Pollo Al Burro, a sinfully good fried-chicken dish that’s sizzling in butter and fragrant with rosemary.
LemuriaLocations: The Plaza at Arya Residences, McKinley Parkway, Bonifacio Global City and 5 Julieta Circle, Horseshoe Village, New Manila, Quezon City
Lemuria promises fine French and Mediterranean food in a homey, charmingly romantic setting. Some of Lemuria’s signatures include their savory Beef Bourguignon with fork-tender beef stewed in a spiced wine sauce and their sinfully rich Foie Gras Trio. Pair your dinner with wine from their extensive selection to up the romance even further.
Talisay The Garden CafeLocation: 44 Maginhawa Street, Teachers Village, Quezon City
Romantic doesn’t have to mean dark, industrial-inspired aesthetics or grand banquet-style spaces—they can be cozy, bright and open spaces like garden-themed Talisay. Get the flavor-packed Chicken Pianggang, with the char of burnt buko strips adding extra depth to the spice-rich black curry sauce. Their signature Paella Mixta, with rice made flavorful by seafood broth and sofrito, is also sure to make your date extra memorable.
12/10Location: 7635 Guijo Street, San Antonio Village, Makati City
If you and your date crave alone time away from the crowds of Manila, head to hole-in-the-wall 12/10. The menu is contemporary Japanese—choose from their curated tasting menus or make your own. Not only are their food incredible, but they’re super Instagram-worthy, too: like the Octopus Croquette, with golden-fried, katsuoboshi-breaded balls stuffed with gooey gorgonzola and tender octopus bits on a bed of squid-ink puree.
LamparaLocation: 5883 Enriquez Street, Poblacion, Makati City
Even Poblacion has its fair share of restaurants perfect for cozy dates—though as you could very well expect from this hip district, Lampara has a dash of cool to its vibe. You can choose to have your dinner inside the cozy resto with distressed walls and mismatched retro chairs, or hang out at their breezy veranda. Start your dinner with Tofu, with the silky tofu jazzed up by salty pork floss, crisp pork bits and zesty pickled onions. The Veal Steak meanwhile is their version of caldereta, with tender veal cheeks on a bed of tomato puree, then topped with crunchy potato strips and a sprinkling of carrot powder.
Toyo EateryLocation: The Alley at Karrivin, 2316 Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City
This modern Filipino restaurant tucked away at The Alley in Karrivin is easily one of Metro Manila’s best restos—they’re one of the best in Asia, too, with Asia's 50 Best Restaurants ranking them at number 43. Light wood fixtures with lots of greenery and an intimate vibe makes it one of the Metro’s most romantic restos, too. Go for their Set Menu: The Toyo Eatery Silog 2.0, a flavor-packed rice bowl with a runny egg and bursts of saltiness from bits of crispy fish skin is an easy standout.
MetronomeLocation: G/F The Grand Midori Makati, Bolanos St., Legaspi Village, Makati City
Paris is the City of Love so it makes sense that modern French bistro Metronome by Joël Robuchon-trained Chef Miko Calo is one of the Metro’s most romantic restos. You can build your own dinner with the menu of a la carte small plates, though we recommend treating yourself to the tasting menu for the full experience. If you do end up ordering small plates, get the Egg, a symphony of textures from the rich 64-degree egg, and the tender mushrooms, to the crispy lumpia-wrapper strips. From the main course, go for the Duck Magret, hardly gamey and impossibly flavorful, paired with a velvety potato puree.
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