The Frugal Foodie’s Guide to Dining in Manila: Great Meals for P200 or Less
A guide for those who want good food on the cheap.
(SPOT.ph) We love food that gives value for money-and we love it more if it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Whether you're tightening your belt, saving for a European cruise, or just hungry, we've compiled a list of satisfying meals for less than P200.
Manage your expectations accordingly. This isn't fine-dining. In fact, some of the places don't even require silverware. Wallets, enjoy.
The specialty is hand-held food that offers a pretty filling alternative to a regular sit-down meal. Ninety-nine percent of Shawarma Guys' shawarma falls well under our P200 price cap-which is impressive for a restaurant in Bonifacio Global City. They also have kebab meals with chicken and beef options that range between P170 to P190. The guys behind Shawarma Guys have a no-frills approach to food, but who cares so long as it's good-and cheap.
Must-tries: Sisig Shawarma (P140), Breakfast Shawarma (P170), Beef and Chicken Kebab Meal (P180)
Shawarma Guys is at G/F Fort Pointe Building, 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City.
Ramen is still one of the hippest eats in Manila. This isn't the place for Japanese noodles, but it does offer something similar for a much friendlier price. Red Onion's signature Gourmet Beef Noodles fall a little off our price range, but consider this: it's P228 for unlimited noodles and broth. Unlimited. Noodles. And. Broth. You can't get a bigger deal than that. Still, if you're a bit tight-fisted, there are other, more affordable noodle choices and mains.
Must-tries: Sichuan Mala Noodle (P178), Noodle with Lu Rou (P148), Green Onion Chicken (P198), Shi Lin Night Market Pork Chop (P188), Red Onion House Fried Rice (P188)
Red Onion Café is at UP Town Center, Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City.
Their tacos are almost as legendary as the monster they're named after. In fact, El Chupacabra's menu revolves around them; everything else falls under "Other Good Stuff." With over 15 varieties of tacos available-the most expensive being P135-it's like being in a Mexican fiesta. They also have rice dishes and add-ons (like skewers and wings) to really add excitement to your meal.
Must-tries: Steak Gringas (P190), Baja California Fish Taco (P120), Ground Beef (P90), Chicharrones en Salsa Verde (P90), San Francisco-style Lean Pork Sisig on A Hotplate (P175), Super Pork BBQ Stick (P20)
El Chupacabra is at 5782 Felipe Street corner Polaris, Bel-Air, Makati City.
4. Katsu Café
Here, they offer katsu set meals at unbeatable prices. Katsu Café probably charges the cheapest amount for this popular breaded pork, which is traditionally served with miso soup and cabbage salad. With branches strategically situated in bustling neighborhoods around Metro Manila, Katsu Café is already considered a habit by many students and cubicle-dwellers. Their tonkatsu is included in our Top 10 Best Tonkatsu list.
Must-tries: Pork Katsu Set (P195), Chicken Katsu Set (P195)
Katsu Café has branches at Katipunan Avenue corner B. Gonzales Street, Quezon City; 189 Maginhawa Street, Diliman, Quezon City; 86 Maria Clara, Sto. Domingo, Quezon City.
5. 8065 Bagnet
There's charm in this neighborhood hole-in-the-wall-although it's not very obvious. 8065 Bagnet is a tight, bagnet-themed nook that doubles a bit like an art space with doodles, paintings, and calling cards covering the walls. One corner is crammed with tattered novels. It's not the cleanest, it's definitely not the neatest, but it does have one of the most addictive pork bellies in the city: crisp golden skin, crunchy flesh that reveals a soft core. Best of all, a place like this won't charge you anything over P200-including meals good for two people.
Must-tries: Original (P105/solo, P175/for two), Bagnet Sisig (P110/solo, P185/for two), Bagnet Binagoangan (P110/solo; P185/for two). All meals come with rice and soup. Get the Ensaladang Talong, too. It's only P40.
8065 Bagnet has branches at 8065 Estrella Street, San Antonio, Makati City, and Leo Guinto Street corner Estrada, Malate, Manila.
6. Leona Art Restaurant
This April, Leona Art Restaurant decided to put all its other dishes on hold, serving only pizzas until the end of the month. Why? Because they’re offering unlimited pizzas for only P199-a promotion that demands utmost attention. Leona’s pizza-all-you-can happens throughout the year, with announcements made on Facebook. Ordinarily, the savory discs cost between P165 to P300. Come May, your tummy will find satisfaction in affordable goodies like the burrito, spaghetti and meatballs, and mozzarella chicken-all comfortably under P200.
Must-tries: Huevos Rancheros (P125), Mozzarella Chicken (P165), Burrito (P100)
Leona Art Restaurant is at 45 Matimtiman Street, Teachers Village, Quezon City.
7. Pan de Amerikana
The thrill of Pan de Amerikana comes from their whimsical setting: the upside-down country house complete with a Land Rover and bicycle on the ceiling (everything's topsy-turvy inside, too) and the giant chess pieces a la Harry Potter. The husband-and-wife team behind the restaurant hails from Ilocos and Bicol, and they deem their food "Bilocano." The menu is mostly Filipino, with some continental flair, and like true Pinoy hospitality, everything is easily affordable. (The most expensive thing on the menu is the T-bone steak at P195!)
Must-tries: Bicol Express (P60), Liempo (P45), Pinaputok na Tilapia (P80), Callos (P80). Breakfast options are all P65 complete with either rice or pandesal.
Pan de Amerikana has branches at White Plains Avenue, Quezon City, and 92 Gen. Ordonez Avenue, Concepcion, Marikina City.
Photos from A Not-so-popular Kid
8. RAP Steaks and Cakes
RAP's menu was designed for students, but that doesn't mean we hardworking office workers can't partake in their inexpensive lineup of good food. The menu is made up of steaks, cakes, and the in-between. The steaks, in particular, are simple local cuts, thinner than what you'll find in steakhouses, but rich in flavor, and very succulent no matter your preferred temperature. RAP is famous for their heavenly gravy that pretty much makes everything a salty-buttery delight. You know, if money is that tight, just order the rice and douse it in gravy. You didn't hear it from us.
Must-tries: Salpicao (P165), Large T-Bone (P180), Porterhouse (P190), Mud Cake (P68)
RAP Steaks and Cakes has branches at 879 Dagonoy Street, Malate, Manila, and Unit 103 Food Street, Ortigas Home Depot Complex, Julia Vargas Avenue, Pasig City.
Not everything on the menu is under P200, but Wan Chai has pretty good deals and consistently OK execution. We like that, for a Chinese restaurant, it also serves plated meals for those of us who aren't dining with family.
Must-tries: Soy Chicken Rice (P120), Roasted Peking Duck Noodle (P130), Special Congee (P95),
Wan Chai Tea House is at 918 Buenavidez Street, Binondo, Manila.
10. Chubby Chicken
The goal behind Chubby Chicken is to make something that is not too intimidating-and that begins with the prices. This cranny is friendly and laidback, with a corkboard that honors their Top 100 Suki. Chef A-1 Rebueno creates offerings that are heavy on flavor but light on the wallet. The menu is small, but it covers the essential. Chubby Chicken has the creamiest carbonara money can buy. They even have Fanta and Barqs.
Must-tries: Carbonara (P96), One-piece Chubby Chicken with rice (P78), Fish Tacos (P115/two pieces), Chubby Oreos (P76)
Chubby Chicken is at Xavierville Residences, Esteban Abada corner Alvero Street, Quezon City.