Why Poblacion is Manila’s hottest neighbourhood

This former red light district has been taken over by hipsters, craft beer, and cool hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Here are some of the best places to eat, drink and hang in Poblacion, Manila.

  • Serene Lim
  • November 2018

The backstreets of the booming business district of Makati used to be an eyesore with a less than reputable image. Not anymore. Gentrification has resulted in a complete makeover, and Poblacion now hides many independent restaurants and bars waiting to be discovered. To help you get started, we’ve put together five spots you can’t miss.

1. OTO

It’s marketed as Manila’s first listening room, which in this case means that a third of OTO opens in new windowis dedicated to the playing and listening of a carefully curated collection of vinyls. The music’s good but the real draw here is the cocktails. After all, David Ong of The Curator — number 25 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2018 — is the mad genius behind the drinks menu.

2. Polilya

Polilya opens in new window is run by Ian Paradies, the man behind local craft brewery Engkanto. Here, you get to taste Engkanto’s full range, including its Double IPA, and seasonal offerings like Calamansi Ale. The vibe is casual, so feel free to rock up in your shorts and slippers.

Wantusawa Oyster Bar.

3. Wantusawa Oyster Bar

No surprise here — oysters are the star of the show at Wantusawa Oyster Bar opens in new window. But not just any oysters ... Aklan oysters that are air-flown daily to the restaurant. Have them fresh, grilled or baked for SGD $1.30 a pop. Beat the current record of 82 oysters at a seating and your name goes up on the board.

4. Wicked Dogs

When a place has giant swings and a neon sign that says “We serve beer that’s colder and cheaper than your ex”, you know it’s essentially designed to be a playground for adults. The hotdogs at Wicked Dogs opens in new window are ridiculously overloaded with toppings. Our favourite is the Tijuana Bacon Dog — a bacon-wrapped frankfurter, chilli con carne, cheese sauce and a sunny side up. You know, just in case the meal wasn’t rich enough.

Taqueria Seta.

5. Taqueria Seta

Once you enter the nondescript residential gate that hides Taqueria Seta opens in new window, you’re in for an explosion of colours and flavours. The menu is filled with artery-clogging goodness. Think Taco Ng Ina Mo, a deep-fried burrito served with Habanero sauce and pico de gallo; or Seta Fries, a mountain of fries topped with the eatery’s signature cheese sauce, chorizo and an onion sauce.