Nowadays, I can’t stand eating in malls and fast food joints. Eating out in big name chains and regular restaurants in commercialized areas just seems so expensive. I always prefer eating in homegrown neighborhood establishments, which are usually family-owned, and offer good and affordable food.
Looking for alternative dining destinations instead of malls? Here are some of the best neighborhoods and food streets around Metro Manila with top 5 recommendations per area. Take note that a lot of these places are mainly residential areas, so traffic and parking can be a bit of a problem. To counter this, we usually just walk or bike when we explore other neighborhoods for food-trips.
MAGINHAWA & MALINGAP STREET
Teacher’s Village, Quezon City
I may be biased because I live in the area, but Teacher’s Village in Diliman, Quezon City has become an extremely popular destination for food trips now. It seems that every week, a new restaurant opens up along the long stretch of Maginhawa Street from Philcoa to V. Luna Extension and has spread to surrounding side streets like Malingap and Magiting. There are several board game cafes and a LOT of food parks in the area, making it popular with the student crowd.
MY TOP 5 RECOMMENDATIONS:
- Z Compound (Meshwe’s Beef Shawarma Plate, Falafel, Hummus)
- Friuli Trattoria (Tre Formaggi & Margherita Pizza)
- Tomato Kick (Seafood Marinara Pasta, Skewers, Fajitas)
- Roberta’s Flavours of Asia (3-Way Appetizers: Tawilis, Catfish mango salad + Gising-Gising combo, Pad Thai)
- Griddle (Steak, Lime Pork Belly, chicken wings)
READ MORE: Maginhawa: The Eat Street
PROS: Laid-back vibe, good food, lots of choices, food parks offer variety, budget-friendly prices.
CONS: Traffic. Limited parking. Lack of bike parking. The new buildings are killing the neighborhood vibe of the place. It can get crowded during weekends.
- Estimated budget per person: P200-P400 each
- Nearest MRT/LRT: MRT Kamuning / LRT Anonas
- Best place to park: Street (if you’re lucky). Adjacent or parallel side streets and buildings with their own parking lots.
Another popular neighborhood foodie destination is Barangay Kapitolyo, Pasig. While the nearby Capitol Commons has a lot of upscale restaurants and bars, the stretch of East Capitol Drive and nearby streets like Brixton and United Street have more budget-friendly options that offer everything from comfort food, desserts, to international specialties. My personal favorites here include Silantro Fil-Mex Cantina, CAB Cafe and RUB Ribs & BBQ. I heard there’s also a newly opened food park in the area called Gastropark Kapitolyo Food Park.
TOP 5 RECOMMENDATIONS FROM Pinas Muna:
- Wooden Spoon
- Grande Torino
- St. Patrick’s Pub
READ MORE: Best Restaurants in Kapitolyo
PROS: Good ambiance. Restaurants with clear concepts and “Instagrammable” interiors.
CONS: Parking. Some restaurants are a bit pricey. Can get crowded during weekends.
- Estimated budget per person: P300 – P500
- Nearest MRT/LRT: MRT Edsa-Shaw / Boni
- Best place to park: Pioneer Centre Supermart or Ace Water Spa
Marikina is not only the shoe capital of the Philippines, it’s also a great destination for foodies. You can find a lot of unique cafes scattered in different parts of Marikina such as Industriya Marikina, Rustic Mornings and Mama Chit’s. However, if you want to focus on only one area, a lot of hip new restaurants are concentrated on Lilac Street, Rainbow Street and Sapphire Street in Concepcion Dos. We’ve only tried Some Kind of Wonderful Cafe (SKOW) there, but plan to explore the rest of the area soon.
TOP 5 RECOMMENDATIONS FROM All Over Marikina:
- Brad & Pit’s Rib Shack (try their Rib Mountain with Burrito Rice)
- Cookie Mug (cookie shots with caramel, or milk, or chocolate)
- Mandi’s Grill Grub (Crispy ribs with bechamel sauce)
- Chubbie’s Qcina (pancit con lechon!!)
- Mogu Tree Noodle House (laksa with cheese please!)
READ MORE: Marikina Food Tour: Exploring Lilac Street
PROS: Homey restaurants. Budget-friendly options. Some bike-friendly establishments.
CONS: Traffic, parking. Some restaurants are hard to find. It’s easy to get lost if you’re not familiar with the place. One way streets.
- Estimated budget per person: P200 – P400
- Nearest MRT/LRT: LRT Santolan
- Best place to park: Street. Restaurants with their own parking spaces.
While a lot of the restaurants are scattered around Mandaluyong, there are several interesting ones along Boni Avenue, San Rafael and San Joaquin Street in the Plainview area surrounding the Mandaluyong City Hall Complex and concentrated in N. Domingo Street (formerly Libertad). Photo of Kanto Freestyle below was taken from their Marikina branch, but they also have one here (as well as Kapitolyo).
TOP 5 RECOMMENDATIONS FROM Miss Backpacker:
- Kanto Freestyle
- Chef Arch’s Lime 88
- Tabing Ilog
- The Food Cathedral
- The Deli at Shaw
READ MORE: Where to Eat in Mandaluyong
PROS: Laid-back vibe. Budget-friendly options. Unpretentious atmosphere.
CONS: Traffic, parking. The area is prone to floods even if it doesn’t rain. Roads being constructed around Mandaluyong City Hall make getting to the area a hassle.
- Estimated budget per person: P300 – P500
- Nearest MRT/LRT: EDSA Boni
- Best place to park: Street (if you’re lucky). Don’t bring a car.
Chinese New Year isn’t the only time to head to Binondo, Manila’s own Chinatown. Home to some of Manila’s oldest restaurants and small family-owned establishments, this cultural enclave offers authentic Cantonese food and history on the side. In fact, Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks offers a walking and eating tour called the Big Binondo Wok all year around (which I’ve participated in twice). Navigating the narrow alleys is best done on foot to avoid getting stuck in traffic and to work up an appetite.
MY TOP 5 RECOMMENDATIONS:
- Dong Bei Dumplings (kuchay and pork dumplings, deep-fried scallion cakes, tofu Burger, xiao long bao)
- New Po-Heng Lumpia House (lumpia)
- Sincerity Cafe & Restaurant (fried chicken, oyster cake)
- Cafe Mezzanine (Kiampong, stir-fried tofu, wintermelon tea)
- Eng Bee Tin Chinese Deli (take-out goodies, crispy mikiron)
READ MORE: Food Trip: Binondo
PROS: The authentic hole-in-the wall establishments, budget-friendly prices and old-world charm.
CONS: Limited parking, traffic, crowds. Some restaurants (like Estero Fast Food) are kind of scary if you have a weak stomach.
- Estimated budget per person: P300 – P500 per person
- Nearest MRT/LRT: LRT Carriedo Station (walking distance)
- Best place to park: Lucky Chinatown Mall and then walk to the area.
San Juan City
For those who find the commercialized restaurants in Greenhills Shopping Center too expensive, Little Baguio in San Juan City offers a lot of alternatives. P. Guevarra and Wilson are jampacked with Chinese restaurants while side streets are lined with interesting cafes and pubs catering to residents. I haven’t really explored this place yet, but we recently tried Balkan Express, one of the few places that serves Serbian food in the city.
TOP 5 RECOMMENDATIONS:
- Hong Kong Eat Fresh
- Balkan Express
- Cafe Ysabel
- Little Store
- Yen Yen Taiwan Street Food
PROS: Interesting food choices, unique cuisine.
CONS: Limited parking, traffic, some of the streets are a bit dark and scary at night. Pricey food compared to other neighborhoods.
- Estimated budget per person: P400 – P600 per person
- Nearest MRT/LRT: Ortigas / Santolan-Annapolis
- Parking: Street.
Poblacion is the old downtown area of Makati and its second most important commercial center behind the Makati Central Business District. The area is a major tourist hub with two upscale malls: Rockwell Center and Century City. But for those looking for dining destinations with more character, the streets of Polaris, P. Burgos and Makati Avenue have a lot of restaurants and night clubs to choose from. The whole area has a red light district vibe and is very vibrant because of the number of boutique hostels and expats living in the area.
TOP 5 RECOMMENDATIONS:
- El Chupacabra
- Le Cafe Curieux
- Tambai Yakitori
- H & J
- The Filling Station
READ MORE: The Secrets of Brgy. Poblacion Food Street by Our Awesome Planet
PROS: Interesting food choices. Cool vibe at night. Feels like you’re in a different country. Lots of beer available.
CONS: Traffic. Parking. Pricey food and drinks compared to other neighborhood joints (but still generally cheaper than malls).
- Estimated budget per person: P400 – P600 per person (more if you’re drinking)
- Nearest MRT/LRT: MRT Buendia
- Best place to park: Power Plant Mall or A. Venue Mall.
BF Homes, Paranaque
For those based in the South, Aguirre Avenue in BF Homes, Paranaque seems to be the most hip neighborhood to eat. I have not explored this area because it’s just too far from where I live, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about the restos from residents of Paranaque, Las Pinas and Muntinlupa. The area is home to lots of unique, family-owned restaurants and well-known chains like Conti’s and Tito Chef (which eventually branched out) and trendy restaurants you can only find here like The Girl + The Bill and Magnum Opus Fine Coffees.
Aussie Lamb Paella from Tito Chef’s branch in Microtel Acropolis (I haven’t been to the one in BF yet)
TOP 5 RECOMMENDATIONS from James (@killrfillr):
- Fat Butchiks
- Smoking Joint
READ MORE: 16 Restaurants to Explore in BF Homes
Got any other suggestions for the best neighborhoods for food-tripping? Let me know in the comments section.