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Good Restaurants in Manila

I'm looking for some good authentic Filipino, seafood, or a unique dining experience. Anyone know of any places?

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  1. I have never had what I would call a memorable meal in Manila. I think most people stick to the restaurants in the hotels which, at least for me, have always been quite good. I have been taken to a couple of Filipino places along Roxas Blvd (can't remember the names) that were just OK. Lechon (Roast suckling pig) seems to be a big specialty. Good luck

    2 Replies
    1. re: RoyRon

      This is a complete non-answer to the man's question.

    2. Josephines in Makati is about as good as it gets. Mostly eat what my Mother In Law cooks which is quite good . Also , Aristocrat BBQ on Roxas blvd is good

      1. There is a great deal of excellent food in Manila, but you have to know where to get it. Sadly, most Filipinos are not as passionate about food as Singaporeans. But if you can work your way into a food-loving circle, you will not lack for memorable meals.

        My first choice for great local food is the open air Saturday market in Salcedo Village parking lot. When I am in Manila, all my Saturday mornings are blocked off to shop and eat at this market. It starts at around 7:30 a.m., and ends around 2 p.m. There are dozens of stalls selling everything from live fish to fresh tropical fruit to 3 kinds of lechon to all sorts of regional specialties. A lot of it is restaurant-quality food in a street-food setting.

        A word on lechon. The really good stuff has to be ordered whole and in advance from a few places that do nothing but lechon. Places that sell chunks of lechon by the kilo range from bad to bearable. If you have the opportunity--say a party of at least 3 ravenous people--you can go to Casa Armas on Nakpil Street in Malate and order a cochilillo, a whole roast suckling pig. Casa Armas also does some pretty good Filipino-Spanish dishes, seafood paella, tapas, etc. I believe they have a branch on jupiter Street in Makati.

        My favorite Filipino restaurant in Manila is a few doors away from Casa Armas. It's on the ground floor of the Adriatico Arms Hotel, on the corner of Nakpil and Adriatico Streets. If you eat raw fish, the kilawin na tanigue (similar to fish ceviche) is excellent; the gambas al ajillo (prawns in olive oil and garlic) are delicious, too; the prawns cooked with ginger, coconut milk, and bitter melon is the sort of thing that you would get at the home of a very good Filipino cook. You can order pretty much anything here and not be disappointed. (Except for dessert, for which you're better off at Cafe Adriatico, a few blocks away.)

        Oh, yes, the Via Mare Oyster Bar, in the Makati Greenbelt (Building 2 or 3) has very good seafood, too. The oysters here are deliciously prepared, but if you are accustomed to the flavor of cold water oysters, you will probably prefer the Philippine oysters baked. Try the sampler. And the seafood bisque used to be quite nice, too.

        For dimsum, go to the Shang Palace at the Shangri-la Makati. Not as good as the very very best in HK, but better than anything in San Francisco.

        Give these places a try, and I think you will come away with some very good food memories of Manila.

        Happy dining!

        1. pilnut,

          I realy appreciate the long response you wrote back. Thanks a lot and I'll take this information for my trip.

          1. Wow, I'm in Manila right now until Dec. 5th, (we were spared the destruction of the typhoon). For authentic, fine, AND especially unique you can't go wrong with LA COCINA DE TITA MONING. It's located in an ancestral home near the Presidential Palace of Malacañang.

            Website: http://www.lacocinadetitamoning.com/i...

            Note that reservations are REQUIRED and they do not take solo diners (min. 2 persons). You must select your menu in advance when making reservations, which can be done from their website.

            Many Philippine dishes require extensive preparation & cooking, which is why I like the fact that you pre-order your food. I think this is why the Philippine dishes served in restaurants States-side aren't really that great, they don't take the required time to authentically create a dish. Good food maybe, but not great. This is a cuisine which excels when cooked in the home.

            Menus:
            http://www.lacocinadetitamoning.com/m...

            Note that the menus are divided into Classic & Filipino. I find the Classic selections to be more Spanish-Filipino, while the latter is more "native." I highly recommend Filipino Menu 1 for your needs.

            They also have tasting menus, which are more of the "Classic" dishes.
            http://www.lacocinadetitamoning.com/t...

            Prices are quoted in Philippine Pesos, these past couple of days the exchange rate has been around 49.70 Ph. Pesos to 1.00 US$.

            Note that it's not near the major hotel areas, so you will need to take a taxi (a minor deterrent for Chowhounds!)

            2 Replies
            1. re: Mr. Roboto

              Mr. Roboto is absolutely correct in saying that the best Filipino food is cooked at home. tk467's mother-in-law's food is almost certainly better than Josephine's and Aristocrat's, which are, well, big chain restaurants, and not representative of the best of Filipino cooking any more than Chili's and TGIFriday's are of American cuisine.

              I haven't been to Tita Moning's, though some friends, who recommended it highly, were supposed to take me there a couple of years back. (Ironically, I think it was a typhoon that changed our plans. Tita Moning's is in an area that tends to flood during heavy rains.) I did get to try their bread pudding, and it was delicious.

              One more excellent restaurant which I had forgotten to mention, is Circulo, at the corner of Pasay Road and Paseo de Roxas in Makati. If you are willing to eat pork, their version of sisig (seasoned minced pork cheeks with skin--and maybe ears and muzzle--grilled to a crisp) is killer stuff! The beef belly is also delicious, though very rich. Lots of other yummy things on the menu, including dessert. Just ask the manager or waiter what the regulars order:)

              1. re: pilinut

                I was staying within walking distance to this restaurant, it's actually spelled "EL CIRKULO", here's their website:

                http://www.elcirkulo.com/

                Very good restaurant, however it's more Spanish. Also, please note that it's on Pasay Road, which is the old street name, and everyone still refers to it as such, even on El Cirkulo's website. The current street name is ARNAIZ Ave., however all the drivers still refer to it as Pasay Road.

                Gotta run, I'm typing this right now at the Manila Airport, heading for Taipei.

            2. Try Fat Michaels restaurant. Tiny place in the downstairs living room of the owner's home, but the food is quite good.

              2 Replies
              1. re: jaballiv

                Hi, I've heard of this place, but I'm not really sure where it is...Can you give directions as to how to get to Fat Michaels? Thanks! :)

                1. re: makanhound

                  i used to go to Fat Michaels a lot when we were living in Manila. it's in Makati but not in the commercial district, from South Superhighway headed South turn right to EDSA, then right on Evangelista, it will be on your left side. sorry for the very general direction setting but that's all I recall about it. however, i can't really see Fat Michael's as representative of authentic Filipino cuisine, i would rather spend a whole saturday morning grazing at the Salcedo market, which covers a fair amount of regional food representation.

              2. I like Pantalon on Manila bay (just down west of the US embassy.) You can pick your own seafood and go nuts. It's not 4* food, but it's a really fun place where you can get serenaded by the staff as you sit on a deck jutting over the water.

                1. I just got back from a 4-day visit to Manila, but I did manage to have several very good meals, most of them at a new commercial complex in Makati, Serendra. (Actually, I almost always have very good meals in Manila, thanks to friends and family who are as passionate about food as I am.)

                  First night out, dinner at Cantinetta, a new Italian place in Rockwell Center, which I would rate merely good. Prosciutto and mango to start--mangoes being the must-have fruit in the Philippines. Spaghetti a la vongole, nicely done, with white wine and lots of very tasty, very fresh Manila clams, which seem to be more intensely flavored on the western side of the Pacific. Black tiger prawns in a cognac and cream sauce: decent, but unremarkable.

                  Lunch the next day was at an old favorite, which still passes muster, the Good Earth Tea Room in Fort Bonifacio. Delicious prawns in a crab tomalley sauce, fried stuffed eggplant, and crab claws in a sweet chili sauce. Dinner was at Ame in the Serendra Complex. Proper Filipino food! Kare-kare (oxtail stew), fried catfish with buro (fremented rice sauce), and tiny deep-fried shrimp. This is probably one of the best choices for traditional Filipino food in the city.

                  Next day, lunch at Serendra again, at a Thai restaurant called Silk. A pomelo and shrimp salad would have been perfect, with a bit less sugar. But the Pad Thai and snapper with red curry on a banana leaf were excellent. I particularly remember the way the aroma of the seared banana leaf permeated the fish and contrasted with the curry. Dessert (Manila has arguably the best desserts in Asia) was taken in stages, cupcakes and chcolate tart at Miss Desserts, followed by very thick hot chocolate, date bars, and lemon squares at Mary Grace's.

                  A final meal at Serendra for the trip, dinner at Hossein's Persian Kebab. Six of us shared a platter of assorted kebabs (chicken, beef fillet, prawn, minced beef and grilled tomatoes) and a side of roasted lamb ribs, very simply seasoned, but tender and very flavorful nonetheless.

                  Pre-departure lunch was at El Circulo, mentioned below, and it was every bit as good as it was three months ago. The "sisig" , on the menu as "cabeza de cerdo" was stupendous. The fried calamares, heavily coated in batter, were a small disappointment. But the lamb ribs (we wanted to compare with Hossein's) were moist and tender. (I'd give a very slight edge to Hossein's) Desserts were a tasting of 3 tea-infused ice creams--very nice, and as good as any I've had in fancy San Francisco places--and a Filipinized banana split: four halves of caramelized fried bananas, and large scoops of chocolate. banana, and mantecado (faintly buttery) ice cream.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: pilinut

                    Did you mean Abe in Serendra Complex? I was there just after xmas 07 and it's quite awesome! I tried the lamb adobo, fried catfish with with buro and other dishes I can't quite recall but all good. The crickets sauteed with tomato and onion was exceptionally delicious!

                    1. re: SqualorMTL

                      You're right! It's Abe, not Ame, that has very good Filipino food. I remember the catfish with buro (fermented rice, if I'm not mistaken) was very nice. Haven't tried the crickets there, though.

                    1. Try Seafood Market and Restaurant along J. Bocobo Street in Ermita. It's the best seafood restaurant in town! You won't regret it.

                      1. My fave Manila restaurants (though I haven't been to the city for more than 2 years now) are:
                        1. Chef Ariel Manuel's Lolo Dad's Restaurant, near Remedios Circle;
                        2. Chef Fernando Aracama's Uva at Greenbelt; and
                        3. The very generous buffet at Kamayan in Makati. In fact, I love everything about Kamayan - the ethnic decor, the strolling buskers & how they encourage us to eat with our hands!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: klyeoh

                          Update: Was in Manila last X'mas. Gawd, Kamayan had deteriorated somewhat into a very noisy, family-style restaurant. Gone were the elegance & exotic atmosphere of yesteryear, only to be replaced by a noisy spectacle with harsh, bright lights.

                          Luckily I was able to find a couple of alternative and very nice spots for Filipino food: Fely J's in nearby Greenbelt 5, and Sentro 1771 in Greenbelt 3.

                        2. Another favorite of mine is Trellis (40 Matalino St. cor Kalayaan Ave. Quezon City / Taguig City). Authentic Pampanga cuisine and the sisig is to die for! It's a great place to hang out and relax with a big (or small) gang over many bottles of ice cold San Miguel Pilsens (the hell with San Mig Light, tastes like water!) and some wonderful food. The prices are quite reasonable too. I miss that place *sigh*

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: SqualorMTL

                            Hi Chowhounds,
                            I am bringing some friends from overseas to Tagaytay volcanoes, for an afternoon visit. After the short trek, some good food is definitely in order ! Can the Chowhounds suggest something nearby or on the way back to Manila ? I would like the dinner to be really nice, and really special, because it's our final evening together. Can you please make some recommendations, and if possible, a phone number too.
                            Thanks to all in advance.

                            1. re: yvonne_cheong

                              Antonio's in Barrio Neogan a few kms from the main road in Tagatay is a wonderful place. The setting is beautiful, rustic and elegant at the same time. The food is very well prepared. (My only complaint is an excessive reliance on imported ingredients.)

                              I found this blog entry that might help:

                              http://anton.blogs.com/awesome/2006/0...

                              Have fun!

                              1. re: yvonne_cheong

                                Antonio's in Tagaytay is pretty good. Don't worry about the "imported ingredients" comment made earlier, as that's how the restaurant's cuisine are supposed to be executed with. Afrer all, the menu is generally western-influenced, i.e. Australiam/European/American, and it'll be very difficult for Antonio's to find locally-grown sources for their truffle-based foods, Chilean Sea Bass, Autralian Lamb amd US Prime Angus Steaks dishes. The restaurant is quite hard to find, and you may want to ask for directions when you make your reservations ( 63917-899 2866; 0464130975; 046413105.

                                There are other restaurants within the vicinity, especially at Tagaytay Highlands County Club where they have a steakhouse with some decent selection of wines. You'll have to have a member of the Highlands within your party in order to get in and dine at the restaurant.

                                Along the way from Tagytay to Manila, the only area that I can think of where you may find some nice dining establishments is in Alabang Town Center or at the nearby Westgate. The restaurants that I know of in the area are not in the same fine-dining level as, say Antonio's, but they generally are family-friendly and decent. Examples are Cafe Adriatico (Westgate), Omakase (Town Center), Outback (which I believe is part of the Outback steakhouse chain here in the US), and a ton of others. You may want to google them f you are interested.

                                eg

                                1. re: Elvis Goldberg

                                  I am in Manila at the moment (about to head off to Delhi) and have been lucky to be shown around by my filipino relatives for the last week

                                  The food here is so different from the rest of my trip in this region but it is an undiscovered treasure. Savoury and deeply delicious.

                                  They love pork and they love food with a crunch

                                  For restaurants, try places like Sentro in Greenbelt 3 for Sinigang ( they bring you a cup of the broth to try first so you can see if you want it more sour with tamarind)

                                  Try Abe in Serendra for Arubong (crickets) or Kare Kare ( oxtail cooked with peanut sauce

                                  Try The Milky Way Cafe (above El Cirkulo on Pasay St) for Pata ( fried pork knuckle)

                                  The Via Mare Oyster Cafe in Greenbelt is another great place and does a bagnet salad that I am still craving

                                  Make sure, if you are there on a Saturday to go to Salcedo market in Makati and try the BBQ skewers of pork and the Lechon from the Cebu area which comes without the sauce ( like Texas BBQ they say, if you need sauce on it there must be something wrong with it)

                                  Try Kalawi(sp?) the ceviche made with bangus fish

                                  Try sisig, the dish Filipinos crave with beer

                                  Try fried hito (mudfish - I think) wrapped in fresh crispy mustard leaves spread with Balo Balo ( fermented rice with dried shrimp)

                                  Try "filipino caviar" whcih is incredibly addictive crab fat.

                                  Try the adobo, but find one where they don't use soy sauce which I was told in no uncertain terms is "the lazy man's way" of getting the right colour and taste.

                                  Try the paco fern salad topped with salted duck egg and, obviously try the lumpia which need to be hot from the pan.

                                  Try the smokey bitter Tsokolade Eh! served at Cafe Adriatico and have a drink in the lobby of The Manila Hotel, one of the grand old Colonial hotels of the region

                                  Desserts are more bland but I particularly liked the Tibokibok I was served when I visited the home of Claude Tagay, a food writer from Angeles, Pampanga. It is like a flan made from creamy caribao milk topped with coconut cream cooked down until dry and crunchy

                                  I disagree about the Filipinos not being passionate about food. my relatives at least seem to talk about little else and there seems to be no such thing as a quick meal with dish after dish being brought to the table and discussions about the perfect way to cook trad Filipino dishes going long into the night.

                                  It takes getting out of the hotels and out and about to try it, but it is really worth the effort.

                                  A really fun city to spend time in and certainly to eat in

                                  S

                                  1. re: Simon Majumdar

                                    Thank you for that great post , Simon--and for recommending specific dishes and restaurants. I'm so glad you were able to see and taste the Manila I know with people who sound like MY relatives. Were you able to visit any places outside the city? You said the magic words: "pork" and "crunch". Did you have occasion to have a whole lechon, or just the one at the Salcedo market?

                                    1. re: pilinut

                                      Thank you

                                      I did get out of the city to Angeles, but only for the day. well worth the trip to Pampanga though

                                      Here are some pictures on my blog.

                                      http://majbros.blogspot.com/2008/02/m...

                                      I had lechon at a few places but only bits hacked off the whole beast

                                      S

                                      1. re: Simon Majumdar

                                        It might also be useful for people to look at this website

                                        eatingasia.typepad.com

                                        It is the best website I have seen on food from the region and the author was kind enough to send me a host of suggestions for Manila including the sinigang at Sentro, the crab fat, Tsokolade Eh! and Pata at The Milky Way cafe

                                        Well worth a look

                                        S

                                        1. re: Simon Majumdar

                                          Good posts, Simon. Also, nice photos.

                                          The sinigang at Sentro in Greenbelt 3 is a something that I always look forward to whenever I m in the Makati area. It's actually called "Sinigang Corned Beef" and the re-fill of the delicoius broth makes it such a worth worthwhile lunch.

                                          eg

                                    2. re: Simon Majumdar

                                      Thanks, Simon for your list! I will certainly use it as my guide.

                              2. I have to agree with the poster who said that the best Filipino food is that which is found in the kitchens of Filipino friends/relatives who are good cooks, especially if s/he knows regional specialties or learned to cook from older generations. That said, Sentro at Greenbelt 3 is a sort of Filipino-fusion place that is very good, especially the aforementioned corned beef sinigang. For straight, no-frills Filipino food, you can always try restaurants like Barrio Fiesta or Kamayan.

                                1. Try Cafe Juanita in Pasig. Very different experience and good Filipino food.
                                  Best bagnet I've had and also yummy kare-kare!
                                  Did a review on it below :
                                  http://whiffandasip.wordpress.com/200...

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Whiff and a sip

                                    I agree! Cafe Juanita in Pasig. they now have two branches within walking distance of each other because they are almost always full house. Good food and interesting decors!!

                                  2. The best filipino restaurants are the ones you'd have a hard time entering, the hole in the wall restaurants have proved that great dishes doesn't have to come from a 5 star chef. Places like aysee's is famous for their sisig and Aling Lucing's which looks like they only serve squatters.

                                    I do agree that the safest place for visitors is to just eat at a hotel like Shang-ri La or Mandarin Oriental. It's just the norm there.

                                    I just love eating @ Antonio's in tagaytay, the food is amazing (i miss that 1 kilo ribeye and push it down with a dalandan shake) and the ambiance is quite relaxing.

                                    Lolo Dad's serves high end filipino dishes. Quality is top notch and the layout of the restaurant is very modern.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: JMan604

                                      While I agree with Antonio's as a good destination restaurant, I dis-agee about Lolo Dad's.

                                      Simplicity and understated elegance is not the norm at Lolo Dad's. Lolo Dads is so over the top that every ingerdient that is available is just piled up on top of one another on every dish, as if attempting to find something in there that will please the diner.

                                      eg

                                      1. re: Elvis Goldberg

                                        I do agree they pile it up like the filet with bone marrow but interior is very simple...maybe im used to restaurants in Vancouver, L.A. & Vegas.

                                        I would like you guys to try La Nouva in this small stripmall in forbes (across santuario de san antonio & besides rustan's). It's probably the best italian restaurant i've ever tried, very clean and bursting with flavor. It's on par with Puck's or Battali's restaurants.

                                    2. what are the price points for any of these places?

                                      1. I heartily recommend Bangus Restaurant. Quite simply, one of the best Filipino restaurants in Manila. Too many choices, I suggest you just check out www.bangusresto.com and see some of their specialties. Masarap talaga dito.

                                        1. Historically, it's been difficult to operate a great Filipino restaurant in Manila as the local elite tend to have fantastic cooks at home and prefer to dine out on other cuisines (Chinese, Italian, Japanese, etc.) But there are a few exceptions.

                                          The restaurateur Larry Cruz has been the vanguard of Filipino cuisine and I grew up on his stellar, but now defunct Ang Hang restaurant. Larry established many other restaurants and one of his most recent ones is the aforementioned ABE in Serendra at Fort Bonifacio. Here you will find very authentic and very good Filipino food. Sadly, Larry passed away not too long ago, but someone in his family must be responsible for a new restaurant called LORENZO'S WAY in Greenbelt 5 in Makati. I have not been there yet, but I am told that it features Larry's greatest hits.

                                          Greenbelt 5 is a mall that was created to feature Filipino restaurants, fashion designers, furniture and home accessory producers so it is definitely worth visiting. It is also host to one other restaurant worth mentioning. TERRACE AT 5TH features the best dishes from some of the most prominent families in Manila. I've had a Marinated Beef Short Rib there that was truly excellent. It's in a airy setting facing the gardens of Greenbelt. When I eat there, I feel like I'm eating at a friend's house, except I get a bill at the end of the meal of course.

                                          Simon also mentioned SENTRO, which is in nearby Greenbelt 3. The Corned Beef Sinigang is amazing, as are many of the other dishes. I remember having an excellent fish curry dish. I haven't been there in years (shame on me) but I will make it a point to go next week.

                                          On Pasay Road/Arnaiz Road, there is MILKY WAY, also previously mentioned. This place is consistently mentioned as the best place to try Filipino staples such as Crispy Pata (pork knuckle) and Pansit Luglog (rice noodles in shrimp fat). The building is a multiplex of restaurants owned by the Gamboa family and they run the top Japanese restaurant in town, with sushi flown in from Tokyo's Tsukiji market twice a week. There is also a good Thai restaurant and a Spanish restaurant that serves an awesome Sisig (sizzling pork cheek) that pilinut describes in this thread. If there is one thing you should try during a visit to Manila, it should probably be Sisig.

                                          1. For filipino food, I would go Aristocrat for the BBQ Chicken (or sister restaurant Alex III), Jerry's Grill at Timog area or Promenade,Greenhills (pork sisig or tuna sisig or bangus sisig), Lolo Dad's for a more upscale environment and for buffets, try the Spiral buffet at Sofitel or the Sunday Crossover Brunch at Dusit (crossover being that you can actually grab your plate and switch over to one of the 3 eating establishments in the hotel and get from the buffet there).
                                            Chinese food is also plentifully good in Manila. You won't go wrong at Gloriamaris' Seafood (for dimsum or otherwise).

                                            1. XO46 Bistro Filipino is a new place in Makati (Valero Street, Salcedo Village) that showcases the best of Philippine cuisine in an elegant, old world atmosphere. I definitely recommend this place! I took my family to dine at XO46 the other night and had a fantastic experiene. Bangus Salpicao, Callos and Kare Kare were spectacular. Dishes from Bicol were excellent as well.

                                              The proprietors of XO46 are junkies for Filipino cuisine and culture and the food and service is a definite reflection of that. Food follows "Village Cooking" recipes using old fashioned methods and organic ingredients which I truly appreciate. Service is first class. I also loved theLemongrass Drink

                                              Manila finally has a restaurant to showcase its cuisine. We will definitely be coming back.

                                              Andrew
                                              Vancouver, Canada