City tours may be customary, but it is definitely more fun to explore a new location through your taste buds. After all, what better way to get to know a place than through its food culture and be able to expose your palate to different flavors? Metro Manila’s up-and-coming food scene has a lot to offer all kinds of foodies—even those traveling alone. Here are some must-try spots where you can satisfy your cravings from day to night.
Start your Day Right
Nothing says “good morning” better than a strong-tasting cup of joe, and you can get one in Commune (Poblacion, Makati City), a café + bar that proudly serves Philippine coffee. Aside from choosing from the available beans, customers get to pick their preferred coffee brewing method—Aeropress, French Press, V60, and Chemex. Save a seat at the long table where you can chat up others as you enjoy your morning brew. Nearby is Bean & Yolk (Poblacion, Makati City) where you can grab some real good eggs and coffee as well.
It’s a quaint and quiet café that has a simple all-day breakfast menu, which, of course, highlights specialty coffee and egg dishes, as the name implies.
For those who want to “eat like a king”, make your way to Café Enye (Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City) to sample its paella brunch plates. A typical Filipino breakfast consists of rice, eggs, and viand and this establishment takes it a notch higher by infusing some Spanish flavors into its dishes. Choose from house-cured Beef Tapa, homemade Daing na Bangus (milkfish), handcrafted garlicky Longganisa, or homemade Corned Beef. Each order includes a choice of egg, Enye rice topped with pickled vegetables, salsa and crispy fried anchovies. You get to feast with your eyes first since these are beautifully plated in a paellera.
Meat of the Matter
It is easy to fall into the trap of fast food chains, and although it gives a quick fix, it is not the best option. Why not slowly sink your teeth into Filipino food? Providore (SM Aura, Taguig City), a casual but classy mall-based bistro, provides both local and western options. It serves Instagram-worthy meals from Merienda plates to main dishes. Eat like a local and go for the Dinuguan and Puto (pork blood stew and rice cake), Arroz Caldo (similar to the Chinese congee), or the fresh Lumpia (vegetable spring roll with sesame peanut sugar). This establishment provides a nice introduction to the local cuisine, not to mention a pleasant ambiance for dining alone.
More Filipino specialties await at Manam Comfort Food (Greenbelt, Makati City) where you can select small servings of traditional fare such as house crispy sisig, which is made with chopped pork jowls and cheek and served on a sizzling plate—it tastes better than it sounds like! There are also different variants of Pancit (stir-fried noodles) and other exciting entrées like Sinigang na, beef short rib and watermelon, overloaded garlicky chicken and pork belly adobo, and seafood bounty Kare-Kkare.
Those who are rather health-conscious can whip up a nice, filling meal at Berde Bowls (Ayala Triangle Gardens, Makati City). This laidback eatery basically has five Pinoy-inspired signature bowls (mushroom monggo kare-kare, baboy oh boy, baka bowl, the manok-out, the bangka) with pre-selected combinations, or you may create your own bowl and choose from among the protein options (e.g. pork, chicken, beef, fish), grains (e.g. white rice, red rice), greens, and toppings. Take a look at the selections behind the counter or ask the server for recommended combinations. It is a perfect place for a quick and nutritious balanced meal.
After Dinner Drinks
Have a nightcap before ending the day. Experience nightlife in the city’s trendiest district, Poblacion, Makati City, where you can go from one watering hole to the next in a matter of minutes. Bar Mathilde has craft beers, including the Mathilde California common or the “steam beer,” the first of its kind in the country. Another go-to place is Alamat Filipino Pub & Deli where you can binge on Filipino spirits like Lambanog (coconut wine) and rice wine, or unique Pinoy cocktails that feature local ingredients. Enjoy these with some pulutan (bar chow) on skewers like Sinuglaw (grilled pork belly and tinapang malasugi ceviche), Betamax (grilled chicken blood with cacao and sea urchin foam). There’s also Polilya, the newest kid on the bar block, which offers signature cocktails with a beer twist, aside craft draught beer from one of the newest craft beer brewers, Engkanto Brewery.
Exploring the city is more fun with food and drink options, some of which are just a stone’s throw away from St Giles Makati Hotel. Remember to come hungry.
When she’s not writing from home, Nikka is out tasting new flavors or setting foot on places she hasn’t been before. A lifestyle writer, she has turned her passion for food and travel into her career. She never takes off her writer’s hat wherever she goes. She is also one of the founders of Writer’s Block Philippines.