10 Must-Try Holes in the Wall

No one can resist the thrill of unexpected discoveries. Have you tried these out-of-the-way places yet?

Having a list of places to go to for good food other than the "more accessible" restaurants is a handy thing to have for all kinds of foodies. Som's and Fat Michael's in Makati and Charlie's Grill in Barrio Kapitolyo have become popular for those looking for dining alternatives that fall under the radar. From small family-run restaurants to unexpected discoveries, we list down 10 hole-in-the wall spots–unpretentious, out-of-the-way places–in Manila that are worth going to:



SPOT.ph's Holes in the Wall Gallery: Click for more photos

1. Cookbook Kitchen
Address: 8 Socorro Fernandez Street, Mandaluyong City. Tel. No. 724-3595
Price range: P250 to   P300 per person

Go for: Parmesan crusted white fish (P240), a serving of tender, baked fish with a rich parmesan sauce, served with rice; and the CBK Chicken (P290), chicken stuffed with ham and cheese that can be shared by two.

Why it's worth going to: Cookbook Kitchen's simple and straight-forward dishes make it almost like visiting a relative's house where you are always served good food. Chef Gen Capati and wife Liza's home-style cooking makes the search for this resto, which is tucked in between houses in the residential area of Mandaluyong, worth the drive.


How to get there: From Shaw Boulevard, go straight towards the Starmall side. Turn right on Torres Street, right before Nissan Shaw. At the end of Torres Street, turn left on Araullo. Turn left on Socorro Fernandez Street and Cookbook Kitchen will be on the left side.

2. The Frazzled Cook
Address: 916 Luna Mencias Street, Mandaluyong
Go for: Herbed Chicken Salad with Basil Vinaigrette (P275), tasty roasted marinated with fresh lettuce and tangy vinaigrette ; Lengua with Mushrooms and corn (P350), tender lengua strips served with side vegetables and your choice of siding: French fries, mashed potatoes, garlic rice, plain rice, or saffron rice; Shrimp and Squid Croquettes (P275), Pizza Caprese (P270), with tomatoes, grated cheese and kesong puti slices on top of a crunchy crust; and Pancake ala Mode (P180), buttery pancakes with a dash of cinnamon powder and served with vanilla ice-cream on top
Price range: P300 to P350 per person

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Why it's worth going to: Chef Jude Mancuyas' menu has its gems. Some dishes are so-so but some are worth going back for. The cozy and homey ambience draws in repeat customers while the interiors, which mingles kitschy touches and mismatched furniture, reflect the shabby chic décor of Fat Michael's, an older hole-in-the-wall spot with the same chef and owners.

How to get there: From EDSA Southbound, turn right on Shaw Boulevard. Turn right on Torres Street and go straight until you see Araullo Street on your left. Turn left on Araullo Street and turn left on Luna Mencias. The Frazzled Cook is on the left side.


3. Hunan Lutong Bahay
Address: 6404 Camia St. near Rockwell, Makati City. Tel. No. (0915) 425-2972
Go for: Hot Pot Chicken (P400), with tender braised chicken in a mixture of spicy and aromatic stew; Gongbao (P180) diced chicken with stir-fried chili peppers and peanuts
Price Range: P200 to P300 per person; dishes can be shared by two

Why it's worth going to: The food is cheap and cooked Hunan-style. The owners, a couple from Hunan, China speak little English and lord over the kitchen of this apartment-turned-restaurant with no signboard outside and only parallel parking available outside. The menu, which is a compilation of photos of the dishes, lists mostly stewed or braised and spicy, just the way it is cooked in Hunan. Spice levels can be adjusted (just inform the servers) and rice is eat-all-you-can (you can ask for rice refills in the kitchen).

How to get there: From EDSA Southbound, take a right on Estrella Street. Turn right when you see Gumamela Street on your right. Turn left on the first corner (Camia Street), Hunan Lutong Bahay will be on your right: a white apartment unit, just beside the unit with the red lanterns outside.

4. Min Sok Restaurant
Address: 5655 Don Pedro St. Poblacion, Makati City
Go for: Sam gyupsal (P260), tasty grilled pork strips and Bibimpap (P250), Min Sok's version is spicier than most
Price Range: P300 to P350 per person

Why it's worth going to: Nothing spells authenticity more than the foreign nationals who eat at the place. Min Sok, owned by a Korean couple, is a no-nonsense place sans décor where most of the patrons are Korean nationals. Aside from your order, you are served nine appetizers all for free, which include kimchi, tofu, spicy radish and fish cakes. Most dishes are good to share so a filling meal is only around P300 per person.


How to get there: From Rockwell Drive, turn right on Kalayaan Avenue. Turn right on Don Pedro Street (there's a Mini Stop at the corner) and Min Sok Restaurant will be on your right.

5. QiZia Café
Address: SDS Medical Center Compound, Katipunan Ext. cor Pio del Pilar Street, Concepcion II, Marikina City. Tel. No. 489-0760
Go for: Seafood Pesto Pizza (P130) a 10-inch tasty thin-crust pizza even its small shrimps; and Grilled Chops (P130), with tender and seasoned meat.
Price Range: P100 to P200 per person

Why it's worth going to: For a city known more for their shoes than its restaurants, Qizia's affordable and quick-fix dishes are a cheapskate and a diner-on-a-budget's best friends. Unassuming, quiet and tucked at the back of the SDS Medical Center Compound, the resto with both an air-conditioned area and a smoking area, is easily a spot worth going to for a quick fix for hunger pangs.

How to get there: From Aurora Boulevard, go straight towards Marcos Highway and turn left on Bonifacio Avenue. Go straight past the Marikina River to Sumulong Highway and turn left on Katipunan Extension. SDS Medical Center will be on your right, just after the corner of Pio del Pilar Street.

6. Poco Deli
Address: 21 East Capitol Drive, Barrio Kapitolyo, Pasig. Tel. No. 664-0519
Go for: US Steak Sandwich (P180), thin slices of U.S. Beef, mozzarella cheese, dressing sandwiched in a New York bagel; Four Cheese Pizza (P300); Sausage and Cheese Platter (P280 single/ P450 double); wines and deli items
Price Range: P300 to P400 per person


Why it's worth going to: Cozy, quaint and quiet, this small deli, located inside a busy neighborhood easily quells cheese and wine cravings without the noise and bustle of malls and commercial areas. With only five tables, they serve pasta, pizza, sandwiches made with Mickey's Deli cold cuts and sausages, desserts, Dave's Frozen Yogurt and wine.

Poco Deli offers free wifi until 5 p.m. and street parking is limited outside.

How to get there: From EDSA Northbound, take a right on Pioneer Street. Go straight until you see East Capitol Drive on your left. Go straight past Charlie's Grill and Poco Deli will be on the left side (with a green signage outside).

7.   Za's Café/ Hizon's Bakery
Address: 1197 Jorge Bocobo corner Arquiza Streets, Ermita, Manila. Tel. No.
524-8790, 536-3993, 536-1733
Go for: Grilled ensaymada (P95), fluffy and smothered in butter and drizzled with cheese; Lemon meringue pie (P1,150/ slice P180) and hot chocolate (P75).
Price Range: P200 to P250 per person

Why it's worth going to: The adjoining bakery and café is steeped in history. The spot is a favorite of actor Dolphy and National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose, the latter often seen ordering his favorites: hot chocolate and ensaymada. Unassuming and simple, the place remains the same: dimly-lit and homey, still serving good food and delectable pastries.

How to get there: From Taft Avenue, turn left on Padre Faura. Turn right on J. Bocobo Street. Za's Café/ Hizon's Bakery will be on the left.


8. Yutaka Izakaya
Address: GF Unit X Aurora Arcade, Aurora Blvd, Quezon City. Tel. No. 713-6558
Go for: Sashimi set (P180), comes with miso soup, rice and three kinds of sashimi; Omakase set with 10 pieces of yakitori (P170)
Price Range: P200 to P300 per person

Why it's worth going to: Catering mostly to UERM students and those who work and live in the area, Yutaka Izakaya offers affordable and satisfying Japanese food. With only three booths and around six tables, this small spot is hardly a date place with the interiors devoid of any Asian décor.   The limited menu lists the usual soba, maki and rice meal sets, with the most expensive items only skewing to the 300-peso mark.

How to get there: From EDSA Southbound, take a right turn on Aurora Boulevard and go straight past Gilmore. Yutaka Izakaya is on the right side, just before Central Colleges of the Philippines High School.

9. Ye Dang
Address: 88 Meralco Ave. (beside the Metrowalk Complex), Pasig City. Tel. No. 636-1461
Go for: Grilled Pork Spare Ribs (P250), Japchae (P300)
Price Range: P300 to P400 per person

Why it's worth going to: Owned and managed by Korean expats, the chefs and cooks at Ye Dang know their stuff - from the assortment of free appetizers to the main dishes. The interiors are done in dark brown with light wood accents and a grill cooktop and exhaust for every table, relieving worries about the stench of grilled meat sticking on your clothes. Ye Dang, which is located beside Metrowalk, is not the most obvious dining choice when driving around the area, but surprisingly churns out good Korean food.


How to get there: From EDSA Northbound, turn right on Julia Vargas Avenue. Go straight and turn left on Meralco Avenue, Ye Dang is on the right side just before the entrance to the Metrowalk Complex.

10. Little Ongpin Panciteria
Address: Maysilo Circle, Mandaluyong City. Tel. No. 747-3565; 100 A.T. Reyes St., cor Aglipay St. Mandaluyong. Tel. No. 534-6469
Price range: P100 to P200 per person
Go for: Bihon guisado (P100 medium/ P160 large); pancit canton (P100 medium/ P240 large)

Why it's worth going to: It's all about the pancit at Little Ongpin. That and feeding four pancit-hungry people all for under P300. Little Ongpin's pancit is served hot with the noodles cooked just right and mixed in with the flavorful ingredients. Whether dining in or stopping by to grab some takeout food, Little Ongpin is a respectable joint for affordable and yummy grub.

How to get there: From EDSA Southbound, turn right on Apo Street going towards Mandaluyong and turn left on Boni Ave. Go straight until you get to Maysilo Circle where the Mandaluyong City Hall is. Little Ongpin is just beside JRDQ Auto Center the right side.

SPOT.ph wants to know: which other hole-in-the-wall places should we visit?

Photographs from Cookbook Kitchen, Poco Deli, purpleportal.blogspot.com, Daniel Lampa (Ye Dang), Simon Dizon (Ye Dang),Hizon's Bakery.

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