Eating & drinking Manila

Manila is a heaven for food lovers and has endless eating options from trendy restaurants to affordable food courts preparing dishes from around the globe that will delight your taste buds. All of the major fast food chains have many outlets throughout the city that will satisfy your appetite for a quick snack.  Unlike in other big Asian cities street food is not abundant and the food hygiene is questionable and best avoided by travellers.

Manila is littered with watering holes serving cheap, but tasty local beer to patrons.The most offered brands are San Miquel and Red Horse. Expect to pay 50-80php for a bottle of beer in a bar. Coffee is also becoming more popular and the large coffee chains, such as Starbucks are everywhere in the city. There is a wide range of espresso based coffees, including iced variants, but prices are not cheap and vary between 90php to 180php . Tap water is not recommended to drink and bottled water is cheap.

Food court Manila

Below is a selection of bars and restaurants that we have tried and tested.

The Aristocrat is a long standing institution with branches all over the city and serves 24 hours a day authentic Filipino dishes. Long standing favorites are the chicken and pork barbecues. The main branch is located on Roxas Boulevard in Malate while other branches are located inside major shopping malls in Manila like Robinsons, SM Mall of Asia, SM Manila and SM City San Lazaro. A 3-piece chicken barbecue meal will just cost you 195php while a  2-stick pork barbecue meal is priced at 175php. Visit their website: www.aristocrat.com.ph

Pier One is a comfy bar and grill restaurant with several branches in Manila serving Filipino and international food, the most conveniently located is their branch on Roxas Boulevard and in The Fort Square. Its a good place to have a couple of beers and some reasonable priced food. At night it turns into a bar dancing. Website: www.pierone.com.ph

Another restaurant and bar is Gerry's Grill, with slightly less atmosphere then Pier One, but still a good place to taste some Filipino food and drink some beers. Gerry's Grill is best known for their sizzling pork sisig which is usually served with egg on top and spiced with calamansi and hot sauce. Best to go with their sisig is a warm cup of garlic rice and a fresh fruit shake. One plate of their sizzling sisig only costs 175php and is already good enough for 2-3 persons. 

Recently, Gerry's also decided to open Kusina ni Mang Gerry, which in the Filipino language literally means Kitchen of Gerry. It is Gerry's Grill take on fastfood restaurants with affordable value meals listed on its menu. A hefty serving of chopsuey, kare-kare with rice and soup will only cost you 135php as well as their sisig rice good for one person. For the meantime, Kusina ni Mang Gerry only has 2 branches in the Philippines. One is located in the new Lucky Chinatown Mall in Binondo Manila while the other one is inside the Harbor Point Mall in Subic. 

Gerry's

For the regular Gerry's Grill restaurant, branches can be found in most malls in Manila. Website: www. gerrysgrill.com/ ph/

Authentic Japanese noodles are the specialty of the Shinjuku Ramen House with two branches in Makati.  They are offering a huge selection of mouthwatering Ramen and you can choose between small and regular size portions, where the small portion is really enough for 1 person.  Further on the menu are also recommended dumplings and a range of sushi. Single meals go for 10 USD. Website: www. shinjukuramenhouse.com

When passing through the gates of Lolo Dad's restaurants you enter a lovely courtyard with a view of the restaurant and open kitchen. On the menu are international dishes with some French influences combined with an extensive wine menu. The branch in Malate has the best atmosphere and courtyard view, while the Makati branch is more sober stylished for business people. Bring enough money or a good stuffed credit card and expect to pay at least 50 USD per person. Website: www. lolodads.com

Located on a pier in Manila bay just off Roxas Boulevard and next to the US embassy is the popular Harbor View restaurant. Fresh seafood is the specialty here and  you can select your own lobster from one of the aquariums.  The atmosphere is welcoming and the food is good, but can be expensive at 10-20 USD per person and will cost more if you order fresh fish. Website: www. harborview-manila.com

Italianni's is a nicely decorated restaurant with a cozy atmosphere serving tasty pizza's and pasta's. There are several Italian desserts like Tiramisu and   Panna Cotta on the menu that is well-worth trying. The food is reasonably priced -  a pizza will cost between 10 and 15 USD and pasta's go for similar prices. The place is located In Makati - Greenbelt 2 and popular with expats. Website: www. italiannis.com. ph

For classic Spanish tapas and wines try the Barcino Wine and Tapas bar and restaurant . Besides tapas, you can enjoy other Spanish dishes like Seafood Paella and various kinds of pasta. The bi-level restaurant includes a dining area, lively bar and outside patio that is cooled by fans.  This place is also located in Makati - Greenbelt 2. Website: www. barcino.com. ph

Hotel Buffets:

If you are willing to spend a few more pesos for some hotel buffet dining, most, if not all of the luxury hotels in Manila have their own buffet restaurants that they are proud of. It may not come cheap compared to the usual eat-all-you-can restaurants since it’s located within a hotel, but it is a definite must-try if you’re in the country since it’s usually more extensive, carefully prepared and has an ambiance you cannot beat. Prior reservation is highly recommended at least 2 days in advance since hotel buffets can be pretty full especially during the weekend.

Market Cafe Hyatt Regency Hotel and Casino Manila 1588 Pedro Gil corner M.H. del Pilar, Manila 245-1234 [email protected] 

Buffet Hyatt Manila

Quantity is not always quality, the saying that best fits the buffet restaurant of Hyatt Regency Manila which is the Market Café. Although their spread is less extensive than that of competitors buffet restaurant like Manila Hotel’s Café Ilang-Ilang or Sofitel Hotel’s Spiral, Market Café is unique in its own way. Unlimited local drinks including local beers are included in the rates, where guests can just take as much drinks as they want in the refrigerator that is within the dining area. There is also a dimsum area, Japanese area and pasta area, where guests can choose what kind of pasta they want to eat. If you think you had enough and wants to skip dessert, think again because they also have an assortiment of sugar-free cakes for guests to enjoy.

Cafe Ilang-Ilang Manila Hotel One Rizal Park 0913 Manila 527-0011 www.manila-hotel.com.phCafe Ilang Ilang Manila

One of the hotel buffet restaurants with the most extensive spread is Manila Hotel’s Café Ilang-Ilang. Because it is so extensive, you will have a hard time choosing what to eat. Everything just doesn’t look good, but it tastes good as well. What makes it unique aside from its wide selection is that dishes are separated into different stations. There is a Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Italian and Filipino station that offers a unique design and ambiance depending on its representation. Fresh pastas, bread, cheese, sushi are all available to your hearts content. For dessert, they also have a gelato section aside from the fresh pastries and cakes that they serve. Drinks like coffee are included in the rates but not fruit juices.

Dad's is nonetheless the most popular its great buffet .it offers a wide variety of Filipino, Chinese and Japanese dishes.

Dad's buffet

Price for the buffet is 15 USD. Located in Ayala Center - Makati. Website: www. kamayansaisakidads.com