It’s a well-known fact that Filipinos love to eat. It’s why we have so many restaurants and gastro-pubs popping up in different areas around the metro. And really, no matter what type of cuisine or dish, it’s not hard to find some really good restaurants to choose from.
The weeks leading up to our move, I stopped cooking. I truly had no time and energy to think about what we’d eat. Miraculously the girls wouldn’t run out of food (thanks to everyone who was feeding us and my mom’s trusted helper for just bringing food over). As for me, I had one meeting after another, and they were usually held with food at the center. Many knew I was leaving, and so the question always was, “What food will you miss when you leave Manila? Let’s have our meeting or get-together there.”
I’ve come up with a list of my favorite restos from Manila. They’re places I would recommend to people visiting and staying for a while, and to those like us who’d leave and not come back for quite some time. They’re definitely the places I’d want to eat when we go back for a visit…
1. Cibo – Cibo has and will always be a favorite staple. I’m sure many will agree, it’s the no-brainer default I have. It’s also because the girls love it and ask for it. Jamie has been my date there since she was 9 months old!
There’s no struggle to eat when they know we’re going there. They’re usual orders are the Spinaci Zola, Penne Al Telefono, and a fresh fruit shake. I’d eat the Insalata di Mare (Seafood Salad) and lately, because I was trying to get Sam to eat vegetables, we started ordering the Pomodoro Bruschette. Cibo is easy to find — it’s been in the country for over 17 years and is present in many malls.
2. Wildflour – another instant favorite, and not it’s not because of their Cronuts. Wildflour has some pretty good Mushroom Salad (yes, salad again!). The names of their dishes escape me, but their Foie Gras spread is good as well as their whole chicken dish and steak with rice. I wish I took pictures! For sandwiches, their Croque Madame is pretty decent too. Oh and so is their coffee! It’s always so packed, I was so glad I got to eat there for lunch before we left.
Facebook: Wildflour Cafe + Bakery FortBonifacio
3. Keizo – This was the good Japanese restaurant closest to where we lived, and it was a frequent go to for our Japanese fix. Sam learned to love the Chicken Teriyaki here and Jamie would concede to eating Miso Soup and Gyoza. My husband and I would always get their Salmon Sashimi, Spicy Tuna and Mixed Tempura. The nice part about it was that whether we’d eat it at home or eat it there, we would always call first and say we were coming in 15 minutes. Hence, there was always a zero wait-time.
4. Il Ponticello – The nice thing about Il Ponti is that there’s always something new going on. And I love Italian food, so it’s always on my list of places to eat or have meetings. They have the affordable and filling lunch sets. Now they’ve added the Porchetta, and most recently the Flat Iron Steak. They’re becoming such popular dishes that it’s best to call and pre-order before you go. Then when I went with the #SoMoms the other week, we got to try the Vongole pasta!
Of course I rave about the food, but the drinks are pretty great too! Every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights, a DJ plays. And we enjoy it so much we don’t know how much we drink really. 😉 Nonetheless it’s always ALWAYS, a good time.
Facebook: Il Ponticello Instagram: @newilponticello
5. Sentro 1771 – Sentro and the 1771 group of restaurants is always a classic favorite. They’ve been in the restaurant business for 25 years, which means they’re actually doing something right. My last few meetings and social gatherings were in their newest branch, Capitol Commons. The interiors are bright and spacious, it’s very well done. And the second floor has a lot of space for group functions (with a minimum consumable amount).
Favorites and must haves (apart from their famous Corned Beef Sinigang which is what the girls eat all the time!): Kesong Puti Salad, Macau Chorizo and Tidbits, Catfish Sentro Style, and the Seafood Bagoong Rice. For dessert, DEFINITELY the Coffee Pie and their version of a local cheesecake, the KesoFlan. (I am drooling just thinking about these dishes!)
6. Juju – I discovered this because it was a favorite of the Two Tots moms, and then I became addicted myself! Half salads are quite filling, and you can have them for lunch and dinner. My favorites are their Roast Pumpkin, Crispy Catfish, the Inasal Salad, and the Chicken Caesar. How can you go wrong? It’s a fresh salad (can you tell I’m a salad person?!)! Also very good for digestion.
I’ve also tried their juices, and my favorite is the Alkazest. It’s got grapefruit, pineapple and Coconut water.
7. Mamou – I have to admit I don’t eat in Mamou very often, but we do on special occasions. And we go for their steak.
The weekend before I left, my family and I enjoyed a meal at their Rockwell branch. They’d just turned three years (and their Serendra branch, 7). They asked us if we were celebrating anything and my mom said a despedida. So they gave us this!
Facebook: Mamou Serendra
Now after writing this, I’m hungry. Hungry for all of my favorite Manila eats! At least I have a list to look back on when we do visit. Or who knows, there may be new restaurants to add-on.
What are your recommendations that we add to this list? 🙂