Where to find Manila's best local food

Taste-test the most popular foods in the buzzing capital city of the Philippines.

Sentro 1771 is one of the best restaurants to discover Filipino cuisine
  • Rina Diane Caballar
  • June 2019

Part of having an authentic experience at your destination is trying the region’s traditional dishes. Get out of your comfort zone in the Philippines and dig into flavoursome Filipino fare at these local favourites.

Sentro 1771

The European-inspired interiors and warm wood hues make you feel like you’re dining in a Filipino home but this restaurant opens in new window is located in the modern lifestyle district of Bonifacio Global City (BGC). Sentro’s corned beef sinigang is a bold take on the classic – tamarind broth, an array of local vegetables and corned beef cured and stewed in-house. Enjoy it with rice and fresh buko (coconut) juice.

Abé

Rattan-backed chairs and curved lounges are set against artist Emilio “Abé” Aguilar Cruz’s paintings and sketches in this iconic BGC restaurant opens in new window. Their mutton and lamb adobo, a quintessential Filipino dish, veers away from traditional chicken or pork but the popped garlic gives it that signature taste.

The classic dish lamb adobo is a must-try at Abé
The classic dish lamb adobo is a must-try at Abé.

Bodega Kitchen and Bar

Channelling fun and nostalgia with its blue walls, red plates, booth tables and assortment of old knick-knacks, this cool kid on the block of Salcedo Village in Makati puts a modern twist on conventional Filipino fare. Try Bodega Kitchen and Bar’s opens in new window sinarabsab – grilled pork belly on top of grilled eggplant, drizzled with bagoong (shrimp paste) and sour cream and served with a side of green mango and tomato salsa.


Manam

High ceilings, bright lights and neutral tones give Manam opens in new window in Makati’s Greenbelt shopping centre an airy, spacious feel. Enjoy the bold yet comforting flavours of local cuisine with their crispy version of sisig, made with minced pork jowls and cheek (the crumbed tsitsaron, or deep-fried pork rind, helps the dish live up to its name), washed down with a cold San Miguel Pale Pilsen.

Manam offers authentic flavours in an airy modern space.
Manam offers authentic flavours in a contemporary space.

Rico’s Lechon

Hailing from Cebu, where the late Anthony Bourdain said you can find the “best pig ever”, this popular lechon (roasted pork) place opens in new window recently opened a branch in the SM Mall of Asia. With its colourful leaf-print wallpaper, you can pretend you’re savouring the taste of succulent roast pig and its crispy skin in the comfort of your own tropical home. Don’t miss their spicy lechon.