Upon landing in Manila after a long time away, you’re sure to crave a taste of home—kare kare, adobo, pancit, the works. Manila is often overlooked when it comes to great Filipino eats, but the nation’s capital is actually home to lots of local gems. A lot of them are casual, unpolished eateries, but that’s just part of their charm. On your next trip to Manila, check out these must-try restaurants.
The AristocratLocation: 432 San Andres Street corner Roxas Boulevard, Malate, Manila City
While this chicken-barbecue institution now has several branches all over the Metro, the OG branch on Roxas Boulevard is worth a visit. The Aristocrat has been serving their signature smoky-sweet chicken barbecue and Java rice for several decades now—starting in 1936—but it’s still a comforting taste of home. Aside from chicken barbecue, order other Filipino mains like kare kare and sinigang.
Bistro RemediosLocation: 1911 M. Adriatico Street, Malate, Manila City
Bistro Remedios is one of the older restaurants of The LJC Group (also behind Fely J’s and Abe), first opening in 1984 at the corner of Remedios and Adriatico Streets before moving to its current location along Adriatico. Decorated like a Filipino ancestral home, Bistro Remedios is the perfect venue for your next family reunion—plus they offer Filipino classics in hefty, shareable servings. Have their signature Sinigang na Bangus sa Bayabas and Hipon Binondo or fresh shrimp sauteed with sliced green chili.
La Scala Museum CafeLocation: 2/F Stargate Building, 1711 M. Adriatico Street, Malate, Manila
Travel back in time with a visit to La Scala Museum Cafe. The cozy cafe is also a museum-of-sorts, with vintage keepsakes like vinyl records, turntables, jukeboxes, movie posters, and vintage Coca-Cola knickknacks from the owner’s personal collection on display. Must-tries are their Paella Valenciana, rich and hearty Caldereta de Cabrito, and Clubhouse Sandwiches.
8065 BagnetLocation: Leon Guinto corner Estrada Street, Malate, Manila City
Get ready for sinfully good, putok-sa-batok meals at 8065 Bagnet. Like their name suggests, the casual eatery is all about crispy-fried, succulent bagnet, which they use in a variety of dishes. Try their Sinigang Bagnet, which will get you crispy pork in a lip-smacking sour soup. The Kare Kare Bagnet with bagnet blanketed in the rich peanut sauce of the classic Filipino dish is also a must-order that might get you ordering extra rice. If you’re on a budget, you’ll especially love that solo meals here only go for P145 to P150.
ManganLocation: G/F Pedro Gil Wing, Robinsons Place Manila, Ermita, Manila City
The varied menu has the classics like Sisig ni Mely or sisig cooked to be crispy and loaded with lots of fresh chili; Kare Kare, Bulalo, and different kinds of sinigang. If you’re dining with a big group of friends and family, you might want to order their platters like the Pritong Paborito platter loaded with fried chicken, lechon kawali, lumpiang shanghai, and more. End your meal with their buttery and fluffy Bibingkang Kesong Puti.
BaiLocation: 2436 Leon Guinto corner Kapitan Ticong Street, Malate, Manila City
This eatery in Malate is a favorite of students, thanks to their affordable chicken meals and other dishes from Dumaguete. Their signature dish is the Bai Sinugbang Manok, which is similar to chicken inasal but slightly sweeter and saucier. You can get your meal with unlimited rice for the budget-friendly price of P145. Pair your chicken meal with a stick of Grilled Isol (or chicken butt) or a bowl of saucy Pork Humba.
Marcelino St. CafeLocation: Manila Prince Hotel, 1000 San Marcelino Street corner United Nations Avenue, Ermita, Manila City
One of the underrated hotel buffets in Manila is Marcelino St. Cafe inside Manila Prince Hotel. The buffet focuses on Chinese-Filipino fare, keeping flavors as homey and familiar as possible. Some of the entrees on their spread are Filipino classics like Kare Kare, Paksiw na Bangus, Kaldereta, and Sinigang, as well as Chinese favorites like kiampong (or sticky Chinese fried rice) and asado. End your meal with their array of desserts like ube cake, mango cake, and bread pudding. Marcelino St. Cafe is also pretty affordable for a hotel buffet: Dinner rates go for P599 NET, from Monday to Sunday.
Mabini’s Kainan-Kapihan-TindahanLocation: Tesoro's Building, 1451 Mabini Corner Rosario Street, Ermita, Manila City
Mabini’s combines the old-world feel of Manila’s historical restaurants with a modern take on Filipino food. Take their signature Seafood Platter Sungkaan—good for four people, the platter includes a generous mix of grilled squid, fried tilapia, butter garlic shrimp, adobong mussels, and more. But what sets this seafood plate apart are the assorted sauces and sides that are served on a sungkaan. Another must-try is the cheekily named Magellan’s Nightmare or steamed lapu lapu with a soy-ginger sauce.
Ramon Lee’s PanciteriaLocation: 538-540 Ronquillo Street, Santa Cruz, Manila City
Practically an institution in Santa Cruz, Ramon Lee’s Panciteria has been cooking up their signature fried chicken for more than 90 years now—since 1929. Their chicken is fried Chinese-style, with no heavy batter but a crisp, deep-fried skin that gives way to juicy meat. Pair your chicken with other Chinese-Filipino staples like Miki Guisado Special and Lumpia Shanghai.
Purple YamLocation: 603 Julio Nakpil Street, Malate, Manila City
Are you up for a classier affair? Make a reservation for a private dinner at Purple Yam. This modern Filipino restaurant in Malate is the local branch of Purple Yam in Brooklyn, New York. The local iteration of the restaurant is located in the house of owner Amy Besa, with Filipino food reimagined by Chef Romy Dorotan: the Beef Mechado Bao, for example, has fork-tender beef braised with tomatoes, then placed on a toasted bao with pickled onions. Their menu changes depending on what’s freshly available, so you have a reason to keep coming back. Just remember to book in advance as dining is by reservation only.
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