The best food experiences in Manila

From traditional fare to regional specialities, this is your guide to experiencing the capital’s best Filipino food.

A traditional Filipino buffet spread with rice and assorted dishes laid out on banana leaves. Image credit:
  • Jetstar
  • October 2023

Often called the original fusion food, Filipino food is a melting pot of Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and even Pacific Islander flavours. Here’s your guide to best ways to experience this unique cuisine in Manila.

Eat your way through Binondo, the world’s oldest Chinatown

A 400-year-old neighbourhood, Binondo is dubbed the oldest Chinatown in the world. Today, it’s home to a plethora of Filipino-Chinese businesses, including eateries featuring Tsinoy cuisine – a unique fusion of Chinese and Filipino flavours. One of the best ways to get a taste of Binondo is on The Big Binondo Food Wok – a 3.5-hour guided walking tour that takes you through hidden alleys and to hole-in-the-wall gems to try Tsinoy classics like lumpiao and pancit.

A group photo of people in the Big Binondo Food Wok tour group behind an assortment of preserved foods in large containers. Image credit: Old Manila Walks
Venture through Binondo’s thriving local food scene with other food enthusiasts.

Discover Manila’s growing modern Filipino food scene

A new generation of young Filipino chefs are bringing home their culinary experience from top fine-dining restaurants around the world. The goal? To celebrate and elevate Filipino flavours and ingredients through innovative interpretations. One of the restaurants championing the modern Filipino food scene is Toyo Eatery, helmed by chef Jordy Navarra, who previously worked at The Fat Duck in the UK. The eatery’s menu is built upon Navarra’s personal memories and passion for fostering relationships with local farmers and artisans.

A kamayan spread of Filippino dishes laid out in on small dishes on banana leaves. Image credit: Toyo Eatery
Indulge in inventive contemporary Filipino food at Toyo Eatery.

Feast on fresh local seafood at Dampa Seaside Market

Seafood has always been an important source of sustenance in the Philippines. And in Manila, the Dampa Seaside Market is one of the best places to try it. The market is filled with paluto restaurants – casual eateries where you choose your own seafood and how you want it cooked. Do as the locals do, and choose some bangus (milkfish) to be grilled or fried.

A grilled bangus, also known as milkfish, served on a banana leaf, on a table with other dishes. Image credit:
Try bangus, also known as milkfish, the national fish of the Philippines.

Snack on street food at the Quinta Market and Fishport

One of the oldest public markets in the Philippines, the Quinta Market and Fishport is deeply connected with Manila’s food culture and history. Halo-halo, the unofficial national dessert of crushed ice, purple yam and mixed fruits, is said to have been invented here. And the nation’s largest chicharon chain, R Lapid’s, had its humble beginnings here as market stall. Today, the market continues to be a mecca for affordable local food, so follow your nose to the food court and you can’t go wrong.

Close-up of glass dish containing traditional crushed-ice, fruit and yam dessert. Image credit:
You had me at halo-halo.

Try the local specialties of Quezon Province

Filipino cuisine is hyper-regional, with each region’s food culture shaped by its local produce, cultural influences and history. A great place to try localised versions of Filipino dishes is Quezon Province, known as a foodie’s haven. Here, pancit, a widely available noodle dish in the Philippines, is made with the indigenous Lucban Miki noodles. And the local version of Filipino-style sausages, longganisa, have a distinctly garlicky, sour flavour, and are best eaten with fried rice and pickled green papaya.

Hanging strings of longganisa, Filipino sausages. Image credit:
These Quezon-style sausages are sold everywhere.