When someone asks you where you can find the best Filipino food in town, there’s only one answer: “My house”. But especially in the bustling and traffic-ridden streets of the city, it’s undoubtedly more convenient at times to dine out than at home. These are just some of the best restaurants in Manila that serve some straight-up great Filipino food, almost rivaling mom’s cooking or giving their own twist. Which one are you trying next?
Virtually every Filipino restaurant strives to offer Filipino food with a twist, but nobody does it like Manam. The restaurant offers Filipino classics and beloved dishes given a twist, side by side. Manam gives customers different choices on portions and puts their own spin on plating.
Must-try: House Crispy Sisig, Sinigang na Beef Short Rib & Watermelon
Looking for a chill night out? Of all the gastropubs that have hit the metro as of late, no other establishment embodies the word quite like Tipsy Pig. The popular nighttime joint has a seriously great-tasting menu, offering the best of Filipino comfort food with Western influences by Chef Rainier Barbers. Their food may be bar chow-friendly, but they’re certainly not secondary to the drinks. In fact, most of our visits to Tipsy Pig have been strictly for the food — drinks to follow.
Must try: Belly Good Sisig Tacos, Tokwa’t Belly 3 Way
This Kapitolyo import, which once incurred heavy waiting lines at its first location in Pasig, has been making waves even with its expansion to Bonifacio Global City, and with good reason. Chef Mikel Zaguirre has offered creative takes on Filipino food mixed with French techniques. “Locavore” refers to a diner who eats food that has been grown or produced locally, which the restaurant champions. You’ll find local farm-to-table ingredients as well as local brews on the menu.
Must-try: Sizzling Sinigang, Lechon & Oyster Sisig
For balikbayans, no trip is ever complete without a visit to the famed Aristocrat — plus points if it’s at its original location on Roxas Boulevard. Aristocrat has been around since the 1940s and is undoubtedly an iconic force in the Philippine culinary scene, best known for its Chicken Barbecue which is unparalleled to this day. As they say, no matter the size of your budget, you can dine like an Aristocrat.
Must-try: the classic Chicken Barbecue with Java Rice and Java Sauce, Pork Ribs Barbecue
Throughout the years, the LJC Group has consistently been at the helm of some of the country’s most well-known Filipino restaurants, and Bistro Remedios is no exception. Standing in its original location along the Remedios Circle in Malate, Bistro Remedios (formerly known as Ang Bistro sa Remedios) serves humble Kapampangan cuisine in a chic bistro setting that is undoubtedly Filipino. If you have any foreign guests over, Bistro Remedios serves as the perfect introduction to Filipino cuisine, without much of the gimmicks that you normally see in traditional restaurants.
Must-try: Pork Humba
What happens when you put an entrepreneur and a politician together? They create one of the most memorable Filipino restaurants, that’s what. Mesa Filipino Moderne is the brainchild of restaurateur Enrico Dee and Senator Kiko Pangilinan, serving elevated versions of Filipino fare.
Must-try: Boneless Crispy Pata, Pinatayong Manok
When you’re dining at any of Chef Florabel Co-Yatco’s restaurants, you know you’re in for quite an experience. Crisostomo, described as “turn-of-the-century Filipino dining”, serves Filipino food with a sophisticated twist, with the menu items named after different characters from Jose Rizal’s novels.
Must-try: Paella Filipino
Owned by Happy Ongpauco-Tiu, Pamana is a heritage restaurant serving heirloom recipes, passed down from generation to generation. Descended from the clan behind Barrio Fiesta, one can only expect great things from Pamana. You no longer have to make the trip to Tagaytay to get a taste of their food, as Bistro Pamana has also opened in Legaspi Village in Makati.
Must-try: Kare-Kare Boneless Pata and Crispy Tadyang, Nilasing na Mangga
Kapitolyo residents know that Cafe Juanita is something of a gem in the neighborhood. Even if they’ve opened along Burgos Circle in BGC, their Kapitolyo location is still worth a visit with its quirky, kitschy interiors that give off a homey, eclectic East Asian vibe. The food is undoubtedly Pinoy, though, featured internationally on Time Magazine and on Anthony Bourdain’s website.
Must-try: Beef Caldereta
It’s no doubt that the late Nora Daza remains to be a local culinary icon, the Philippines’ Julia Child of sorts. Her legacy lives on with her son Sandy Daza, also a celebrated chef in his own right, with the restaurant Wooden Spoon, which serves some of Nora’s most beloved dishes.
Must-try: Adobo Flakes
Consistently rated as one of the top Filipino restaurants in Manila, Sentro 1771 was included in the Miele Guide in 2008. Come in not just for the food, but for its cozy yet sophisticated interiors, perfect for catching up with old friends.
Must-try: Sinigang na Corned Beef, Rated GG
If you don’t mind making the drive to Tagaytay, Balay Dako should be worth the visit, the latest restaurant by Chef Tony Boy Escalante of Antonio’s fame. Whereas Antonio’s provided an intimate fine dining experience with European flavors, Balay Dako (Negrense for “big house”) is warm and homey, serving family-style Filipino dishes at more affordable prices.
Must-try: Pinakbet na Kanin at Lechon Kawali, Chicken Inasal
While Balay Dako is south of Manila, you’d have to drive north of Manila to get to Bale Dutung, located in the culinary haven of Pampanga. At Bale Dutung, you’re not just a customer; you’re a guest as you’re treated to Chef Claude Tayag’s talents in his own home. Bale Dutung made it as one of the top restuarants in the 2009 Miele Guide, and was even featured by Anthony Bourdain himself. Remember to make a reservation ahead.
Must-try: Kare-Kare Lamang Dagat
What other restaurants have we missed? Let us know your favorites in the comments!