Manila is bustling with fun and activities in almost every street corner. Places for eating and drinking in Manila are countless: first-class restaurants and 5-star hotels stand side-by-side with equally delicious local bars and food kiosks. The first places in mind for the best foods and drinks are Makati, Malate, Taguig and Quezon City. These cities around Manila (that make up Metro Manila along with other nearby cities) are not very far away from each other.
Sadly, however, traffic is terrible, especially on weeknights. Even main highway EDSA is turtle-paced during rush hour.
Makati is Manila’s business and financial center. Bars, hotels and restaurants here cater to the socialites. Malate’s bars are less expensive and sophisticated, as well as Taguig’s. Manila’s top bar, the Embassy Bar and Restaurant, is located at the Global City in Taguig. Meanwhile, Quezon City is Manila’s equivalent of Hollywood since all the TV networks and movie productions are based there. It is not uncommon to bump into local movie stars or TV personalities as you dine and drink in Quezon City bars.
Here are some things you should keep in mind when planning to eat and drink around Metro Manila.
The most common dishes are mostly international. Chinese, Italian and Thai foods are commonplace and very affordable. If you are hankering for a taste of something that is truly Filipino, the best bet is to eat at your Filipino friend’s home. Fine dining at a top restaurant is a good experience for tourists, but eating among friends and neighbors in a friend’s house, garden or front lawn is perfect immersion and a lot of fun.
Furthermore, although there are restaurants that showcase Filipino cooking, their menu is always coupled with international cuisine. Try dining at Barrio Fiesta, Kamayan, and Singing Cooks and Waitress, where you enjoy fine dining while being serenaded by the cooks, waitresses and even security guards. The food is as great as the singing, if not better. Whatever Filipino restaurant you end up visiting, be sure to try the Adobong Manok, Litsong Baboy or Baka, Pinakbet, and Sisig.
As you eat, keep in mind that it is generally not offensive to eat with your hands or to raise a foot on your seat so that your knee touches the base of the table. Filipinos are fun-loving and casual folk, and eating is one of the things they most love to do. When desiring a good drink, again the best way to do it is at your friend’s home with a case of San Miguel Beer with pork sisig on the side.
After eating in a restaurant, it is okay to split the bill if prior arrangement has been made.
Typically, the person who made the dinner invitation is the one who pays the bill. To signal the waiter for the bill, form a tiny square in the air using your thumb and index finger. This is the generally accepted gesture for, “Check, please.” As for leaving a tip, know that the tip is not based on percentage but on how much you enjoyed the food and service. At regular restaurants, it is fine not to tip.
Finally, keep in mind that eating and drinking in Manila is best done with friends. The most popular and fun way to end the night is with drinks and a round of songs inside a videoke bar.
Filipinos love to sing and give a performance, which is why videoke and karaoke bars are a hit.