Top 10 Free Appetizers

Sometimes, it’s really true when they say the best things in life are free.


( A good appetizer can make or break your meal. A promise of what’s to come, it opens you up to the gastronomy ahead, like rolling a red carpet to make way for the star. Or sometimes it’s just a pawn to distract you from bad service. But when they’re complimentary-not to mention unlimited, as is often the case-we can’t ask for too much. There are some restaurants though who go above and beyond the requisite adobong mani or kropek. They understand how these tiny, free saucers of goodies reflect on their brand and cuisine. We picked the best of them. Hit the comments section for your favorites.



10. Spatzle

This new German Euro-market sells more than sausages. Actually, their salty crisp chips, obsessive and addictive, they don’t sell at all. Homemade and beautifully seasoned, this little bowl is only a preview to the flavorful feast ahead.


Spatzle is at Shangri-La East Wing, Shangri-La Plaza, Mandaluyong City

Note: 2nd’s serves kamote chips.



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9. Stacy’s
This little eden is a place for breakfast, daisies, and anything pink. Tying their cutesy theme with their cuisine, you’re always assured of something pretty on your plate-even if it’s just a bowl of rice toppings. The daintiness starts with the appetizer: a mug of popcorn, pretzels, and just heart-warming happiness. The popcorn isn’t always straight from the popper, but it pushes hunger pangs back effectively, anyway.

Stacy’s is at Capitol Greenstreet, Quezon City, and Rizal Drive, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

Note: ’Cue Modern Barbecue also serves chili-spiked popcorn while Cafe 1771 serves butter popcorn.




8. Tao Yuan
These sweet and savory peanuts make the ordinarily satisfying adobo version of local Chinese restaurants who haven’t quite kept up with the Hong Kong norm of braising their legumes seem boring. Larger than average and sticky sweet, it "dulls" the boredom of waiting for the first course with the challenge of eating them with chopsticks.

Tao Yuan has branches at Resorts World, Newport City; Greenbelt 3, Makati City; Lucky Chinatown Mall, Binondo; and Robinsons Magnolia, Quezon City.

Photo by Jin Loves to Eat



7. Jay-J’s Inasal
Dessert comes first at JJ’s Inasal. Though not consistently served as a free appetizer, the kind waiters who do remember offer tiny pieces of turon for that sweet tease in the palate to complement the tangy flavorful inasal that’s yet to come. If you’re not overly anxious for your chicken, try saving it for the end of your meal so you won’t have to shell out for dessert.


Click here for a list of Jay-J’s Inasala branches.

Photo by Bacon Tuna Melt



6. Italianni’s
An appetizer that needs no introduction, Italianni’s bread and olive oil-balsamic vinegar combination has its own cult following. The Tuscan bread, which is commonly mistaken for foccacia, is baked fresh every day, and (usually) served warm as you contemplate the desirable menu. Crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside, this basket is only a precursor to the buffet of carbs that you’ll feast on at this Italian restaurant. It’s unlimited, but try to exercise some control. You’re there for the pasta, not for the bread, after all...aren’t you?

Click here for a list of Italianni’s branches.





5. Kabila
Kabila uses favorite Filipino snacks and serves them in tiny portions just enough to pique the appetite for the flavorful and filling smorgasbord ahead (unless you only came for the free appetizer). The tri-bowl tray features two different kinds of nuts and crunchy shing-a-ling.

Kabila is at Greenbelt 4, Makati City.



4. Bulgogi Brothers
In true Korean fashion, Bulgogi Brothers serves an assortment for their appetizers. Slices of corn on the cob, unshelled quail eggs, chunks of the sweetest sweet potato. The servers aren’t always generous with refilling, but if you’re friendly enough, they’ll slip in another sweet potato or two.

Bulgogi Brothers has branches in SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City, and Greenbelt 5, Makati City.

Photo by Shoot First, Eat Later




3. Edgy Veggy
We have to admit that there’s a certain "bird food" quality to Edgy Veggy’s vegetarian trail mix. The type of snack that you’ll want to keep eating, we wish this medley of crushed noodles, rice crispies, and nuts didn’t stop at the start.

Edgy Veggy is at Brixton Street, Kapitolyo, Pasig.



2. Kanzhu
A very, very close second, these fish-skin chicharon are not the prettiest looking things, but they are crunchy, habit-forming snacks (especially when you know that you can buy them separately to take home). It’s not very different from crispy chicken skin, but it features that extra brine that makes it super lip-smacking, enough to just whet your appetite for Kanzhu’s famous hand-pulled noodles.

Kanzhu has branches at Prince Jun Condominium, Timog Avenue, Quezon City; Citiplace, J. Abad Santos Street, San Juan; 104 Nodison Center, Marcos Highway Marikina; SM Super Center, Pasig City




1. Peking Garden
We can pretty much guess how Peking Garden’s famous wanton crisps came about: the supply manager made a mistake in his computations and the resourceful chef decided to make the most of it. Alas! Spicy fried wanton chips that are so addicting, we won’t be surprised if customers visit only to have it. While our account may or may not be true, it’s interesting how this unlimited appetizer has joined the likes of roast duck and hakao in Peking Garden’s list of must-tries.

Branches at Greenbelt 5, Makati City; Trinoma Mall, Quezon City

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