10 Great Restaurants You Might Not Have Heard About Yet
You don’t need long lines to flaunt great flavors.
(SPOT.ph) There are restaurants that are about to burst at the seams with people. You know them: big names that build anticipation. International. Celebrity chef. Fancy ingredients. Fast food. Sure, some eateries like to open with a loud bang, but others choose to go with a murmur. This isn’t to say that they settle; just the opposite. There’s a modest confidence that doesnt stem from crowds, long lines, or months-ahead reservations. Call them hideouts, underrated-or maybe under-marketed-but these haunts are only some of our go-tos in the city. We’d like to think that their being under the radar is part of the charm.
This list is not ranked.
Facilities Center Building, 548 Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
You're not likely to expect something as serene as this café in the busiest part of Shaw Boulevard. But it's there, hiding in plain sight with a big blue sign in the "Babyland" building, as it’s often nicknamed. It's just as well: Cantina Sicilianita benefits from being a cozy, quiet hideaway, like a secret you want to keep to yourself.
Owner Marky Buhain's passion project offers a unique slice of Sicily with classic croquettes, risotto balls, and the most amazing cannoli-the creamy, flaky Italian treat that started his love affair with this side of Italy.
Must-tries: Cannoli (P130), Arancini (P135)
28 Bayani Road, Bonifacio Global City
Open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Unexpected, bold, and diverse-and it all started in a hole-in-a-wall. Married couple Patrick and Pia Roa knew how to make only lechon kawali and kinilaw, but they also knew that they had to start somewhere. Now, they have a bigger space just off the heart of Bonifacio Global City, and Patrick has expanded his ceviche repertoire to include varieties from all over the Philippines.
Patricio's isn't as loud on social media as others, but they make up for that with flavors that yell and a passion that makes mouths water. No one who's left Patricio's left feeling unsatisfied.
Must-tries: Binakhaw (P250), Kinilaw de Oro (P240), Hawaiian Aji Poke (P210)
Exchange Road corner Jade Drive, Ortigas Center, Pasig City
Open from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Monday to Friday); 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Saturday)
Cubicle dwellers in the area know about the gustatory promises of this small and authentic trattoria, but anyone who appreciates good Italian food deserves to know about Benassi's ravioli. And their risotto. And their tiramisu. The space is modest yet they managed to squeeze a small wood-fire oven in the kitchen-that's how committed they are to serving the real thing. The recipes are from owner Katia Benassi De Guzman's mother, and they’re straight from the flavors of their home in Massa, Italy.
Must-tries: Ravioli Con Spinaci (P350), Al Frutti Di Mare (P380), Mascarpone Cake (P220)
103 J. Abad Santos Street, Little Baguio, San Juan
Contact: 624-1009, 0917-550-1191
Open from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. (Sunday to Thursday); 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. (Friday to Saturday); 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (weekend brunch)
The fact that it's not the usual cuisine is a blessing and a curse. Melting Pot has the unenviable challenge of shaking up a neighborhood that thrives on habit. Still, this industrial nook puts together European-inspired dishes under one roof. Chef Francis Lim plays with classics, making pizza crusts taco-thin, spiking Buffalo wings with strawberries, and reversing the roles of bacon and chicken in a cordon bleu.
If you're looking to shock your palate, you'll find only the most pleasant surprise here.
Must-tries: Choriqueso Nachos (P295), Fish and Chips (P220 to P330), Roast Beef (P320)
188 Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Parañaque City
Open daily from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Greek-Turkish couple Yiannis and Ayse personally man the kitchen so you get only the most authentic Mediterranean flavors. It's a small restaurant-so much so that you might miss it if you're not looking for it-but those flavors are too bold to be kept a secret for long. Who knew that a (gastronomic) trip to Greece only took a few hours of driving?
Must-tries: Beef Kebab (P100), Lamb Chops (P500)
2/F Petron La Vista Gas Station, Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City
Open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Monday to Friday) and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Saturday and Sunday)
You'd never know that there was a quaint English hideaway beside a fast-food joint in a gas station, but that's Royal Piccadilly. It's an adorable café straight out of a Richard Curtis film. The specialty is cakes and they're on full view behind glass windows. We like the approach: The gorgeous edible artworks could tempt even those most averse to sweets. A mix of rustic and shabby chic details makes it a great spot for afternoon tea, and though the 20-seater space seems a little cramped-or intimate-they also have a function room.
Must-tries: Piccadilly Circus Set, Butter Beer
Ronac Art Center, 424 Ortigas Avenue, San Juan
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
What does recess and lunchtime look like for grown-ups? The answer is in Lunchbox. The neighboring Jagnus Design Studio outdid themselves when they created this unassuming nook cozied up by whitewashed wooden panels, plants, and kitsch like upside-down aluminum washing tubs as light shades. Everything on the menu is straightforward comfort food (the kind you'll see in a cafeteria but excellently executed and sans the mystery meat), and served on wooden trays for that "canteen" effect. When put together, the elements bridge nostalgia and trendiness.
Must-tries: Mom's Meat Loaf (P280), Ruben (P295)
Kozui Green Tea
258 B Tomas Morato Avenue, Quezon City
Open from 9 a.m. to 12 a.m. (Sunday to Thursday); and 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. (Friday to Saturday)
Before milk teas and artisan tea emporiums ever became a thing in the Philippines, there was Kozui, a quiet but confident lone stall that's been churning out great tea drinks without fanfare since 2009. Kozui's philosophy is to offer healthy, green tea-based drinks; not all of the beverages here are sweet, in fact, most of them flaunt the earthiness of tea rather boldly. Kozui is a spot for those more discerning with their tea-infused drinks.
Must-tries: Genmaicha Lemon Teaz (P80), Matcha Lemon Teaz (P85)
7431 Yakal Street, San Antonio Village, Makati City
Open from 11 a.m. to 11 pm. (Monday to Saturday)
Chesa Bianca is a quiet hideaway in the middle of bustling Makati. The warm wood, red detailing, and yellow glow are enough to whisk you away to a different space, but when you sample the Swiss cooking, it's confirmed: you just left Makati all together.
A favorite of European expats, this Swiss "chalet" has been around since 2008, and it's precisely the quiet and serene atmosphere-from its status as a secret retreat-that gives that elegant rusticity.
Must-tries: Moite Moite Fondue (P1,750), Veal Sausage (P435)
Pioneer Center, Pioneer Street, Pasig City
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Twenty-eight-year-old Takashi Kawasaki is all about making an impact with his modern Japanese flavors-with prices that are much friendlier compared to most Japanese restaurants. We're talking ramen (simmered for eight hours) for less than P300. His eponymous restaurant is a hint of the Nike-wearing chef's youth: pop tracks (Katy Perry, One Direction) and songs from musicals ("Let It Go") are in Japanese, with a vibe that is energetic yet very chill.
Fronting the checklist of a menu are innovative items such as SPAM in gyoza and deep-fried chicken yakitori. There are no desserts, but treat yourself to a cold Asahi instead.
Must-tries: Seafood Chahan (P85), Hokkaido Miso Ramen (P250), Spicy SPAM Maki (P80), SPAM Gyoza (P80)
Photos by Sasha Lim Uy (Cantina Sicilianita, Benassi, Takashi, Melting Pot), Kara Santiago (Blé), Angelo Comsti (Patricio’s); and from the official Facebook pages of Chesa Bianca, Kozui, Royal Piccadilly, and Lunchbox.