Best of Manila: 50 Great Restaurants of 2017
Our list of the most noteworthy food destinations of 2017.
(SPOT.ph) If there's one thing worth highlighting from the past few years, it has to be the Metro's ever-dynamic food scene. We saw the rise of a lot of homegrown eateries in 2017 that went back to basics, whether they're located in quiet little neighborhoods or set amid the hurry and scurry of the city. Restaurants that focused on comfort classics were king—from luxe and indulgent, to familiar with a twist—while a few international franchises also made their mark. We've listed down this year's most striking dining destinations. Which ones have you tried?
Restaurants are listed alphabetically. This list has been limited to restaurants that opened between November 2016 and November 2017.
See our previous lists:
Amare La Cucina
91 East Capitol Drive, Kapitolyo, Pasig City
Amare La Cucina runs on the principle that less is more without actually feeling like less. Leaning towards traditional Italian food, Amare combines a family-friendly air with a penchant for maximizing every ingredient. For first-timers, their Al Arrabiatta is a winner despite its simplicity, which Italian cooking is really known for. Plus, did we mention the chock-full of crispy, golden bacon atop its al dente fusilli?
Must-tries: Al Arrabiatta, Pizza Con Prosciutto
Hole in the Wall, 4/F Century City Mall, Kalayaan Avenue, Makati City
Chef Nicco Santos of Hey Handsome and Your Local does it again—this time, on a smaller scale. Think Singaporean hawker joint minus the shabby and dingy feel.
Must-tries: Cheese Roti Prata, Beef Nasi Lemak
Read more about Any Any.
B.A.D. Late Night Breakfast Bar
The Palace Complex, 11th Avenue, Uptown Bonifacio
More like a gritty dive bar than homey brunch nook, B.A.D. redefines what an “all-day breakfast place” should be. After all, you’re already having breakfast past morning hours, so why not break the rules further? The
Read more about B.A.D. Late Night Breakfast Bar.
Three Brixton Building, 3 Brixton Street, Kapitolyo, Pasig City
Home-baked goods are easy to come by, but the consistency in freshness and flavor that’s hard to find. Those are two things you’re always sure to get at
Must-tries: Ensaymada, Cheese Cupcake, BXU
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14 Nicanor Roxas Street, Barangay San Roque, Marikina City
Created by young couple Mandy Diaz de Rivera and Chef Mikee Rodriguez, Balestier in Marikina combines the modern, chill vibe of urban Singapore and the homey flavors of the city-state’s street food at affordable price points. Their Laksa Tsukemen is an easy favorite, giving diners a bowl of laksa broth with ramen noodles on the side,
Must-tries: Cereal Prawns, Laksa Tsukemen, Hainanese Chicken
Read more about Balestier.
Bijin Nabe By Tsukada Nojo
2/F S Maison at the Conrad, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City
This Japanese restaurant’s
Must-tries: Bijin Nabe, Chicken Nanban
Read more about Bijin Nabe By Tsukada Nojo.
G/F Estancia Mall, Capitol Commons, Pasig City
A traditional Spanish restaurant isn’t one without Spain’s banner dishes like paella,
Must-tries: Lamb Shank in Chilindron Sauce, Bistro Madrid Gran Paella, Jamon Ibérico
Read more about Bistro Madrid.
D-Strip Building, 20 United Street, Kapitolyo, Pasig City
Chef Mia Capay of Bistro United wants to change how people feel and think about Filipino food. We’d have to give it to her—the chef doesn’t want to change the flavors of her dishes, but rather enhance each ingredient to let it shine. Their Porchetta Kare-Kare, for one, is a scene-stealer, with a chunky slab of pork in the middle of burnt-orange and green hues from the
Must-tries: Porchetta Kare-Kare, Tilapia Ice Cream, Crispy Ribs with Bone Marrow Rice
Read more about Bistro United.
1850 M. H. Del Pilar Street, Malate, Manila
Blocleaf’s quiet, peaceful
Must-tries: Latte, Longganisa Pasta, Avocado Cheesecake
Read more about Blocleaf Café.
Boutique Burger Kitchen
G/F The Fort Strip, 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City
Contact: 0917-893-4913, 964-2050
A great patty could make or break a burger so it’s no surprise that Chef Carlos Miguel poured his attention into creating the best beef patty in his quest for better burgers. The result is a flavorful blend of Black Angus from Nevada, Wagyu from Idaho, and Kitayama Wagyu from Cagayan de Oro. Add sweet and fluffy Hokkaido milk buns, the freshest toppings, and homemade sauces, and you’ll wonder why you ever settled for a burger that's anything less than this.
Must-tries: Classic Cheeseburger, French Flair, Gourmet Burger Steak
Read more about Boutique Burger Kitchen.
79 Katipunan Avenue, White Plains, Quezon City
With “No bad days” written in bright, neon pink lights on the wall, you know only good things can happen at this quiet little nook hidden along White Plains. Take a sip of their not-too-sweet Café Latte while catching up on work to give you an extra energy boost. If you want something a bit sweet and warm, order their Milk + Cookies combo. Or you can also fill up with their snacks like the Salmon to Love, a witty take on crunchy toast topped with smoked salmon.
Must-tries: Café Latte, Milk + Cookies, Salmon to Love
Read more about Common Folk.
If the bright-red geometric patterns on the walls of Epilogue look familiar, it’s because it was designed by the same person behind Kill Bill’s famous Gonpachi. The interiors perfectly complement the Japanese-slash-European menu. It was put together by four Japanese chefs who have trained around the world to perfect their respective specialties, whether it be pastries,
Must-tries: Foie’s Gold, Wagyu Pizza, Dulce de Leche Cheesecake
Read more about Epilogue.
Hole in the Wall, 4/F Century City Mall, Kalayaan Avenue, Makati City
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G/F Shangri-La at the Fort, Bonifacio Global City
Chef Davide Oldani burst into the local food scene with something that seemed almost mythical: A fine-dining course that costs less than a thousand pesos. But that’s exactly what he did at
Must-tries: Cipolla Caramellata, Veal "All'Olio", Lemon Curd
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Goryeo Korean Dining
Restaurant Promenade, U/GF Okada Manila, New Seaside Drive, Parañaque City
This Okada restaurant steps it up a notch by serving premium cuts of beef like a tender prime rib or brisket amid luxe interiors and impeccable service. Besides their mouthwatering Korean barbecue, Chef Hojin Lee whips up a sublime kimchi jjigae that stays true to its traditional Korean recipe.
Must-tries: Dwaejigogi Kimchi Jjigae, Haem Pajeon
Read more about Goryeo Korean Dining.
G/F The Grand Midori, Bolaños Street, Makati City
This Japanese restaurant in Legazpi Village first made waves because of their soy-sauce ice cream, and while the buzz is very much warranted, it’s not the only thing
Must-tries: Chilled Miso Butter-Poached Prawns, Hamachi Kama, Soy Sauce Ice Cream
Read more about
IKOMAI & TOCHI
G/F ACI Group Building, 147 H.V. Dela Costa Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City
If you’re a weekend-market fan, you might have come across IKOMAI & TOCHI on one of your trips to Salcedo Market. Inspired by Japanese street food, this elegant little restaurant in Makati City serves dishes based on Chef Hide Saeki’s heirloom recipes. A bestseller is the Moriawase, an assorted
Must-tries: Tuna Poke, Moriawase,
Read more about IKOMAI & TOCHI.
Jin Joo Korean Grill
5/F SM Aura Premier, C5 Road corner 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City
It’s been hard to keep up with the Korean barbecue joints popping up around town, but Jin Joo is a definite standout. You’ll spend a good hour or two just mixing and matching all the options on their varied menu. They have eight flavors of marinades for your
Must-tries: Jin Joo’s 8 Flavours, Fire Chicken with Cheese
Read more about Jin Joo Korean Grill.
UG/F City of Dreams Manila, ASEAN Avenue corner Roxas Boulevard, Parañaque City
The interiors of this picturesque restaurant at City of Dreams are inspired by the hutongs or narrow alleyways of Beijing, which is why it comes as no surprise that their food is a reflection of the dishes that abound in mainland China. Jing Ting’s noodles are made fresh daily by Chef Yang Chen Fei. At the far end of the diner is the kitchen where you’ll see him work his magic—but what will thrill you more is the food. Sample their Shanxi Noodles with Minced Pork and Eggplant, or al dente noodles blanketed in a savory meat sauce.
Must-tries: Mushroom Pork Dumplings, Shanxi Noodles with Minced Pork and Eggplant
Read more about Jing Ting.
Kiss the Tiramisu
Three Central, Valero Street, Makati City
Must-tries: Original Tiramisu, Matcha
Read more about Kiss the Tiramisu.
2/F Uptown Mall, Uptown Bonifacio
Walk down the streets of Dotombori and you just might stumble upon a cool
Read more about Kushikatsu Daruma.
Kyo-to Kaiseki Restaurant
G/F 199 C. Palanca Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City
You don’t come across a lot of kaiseki restaurants in the Metro, which automatically makes Kyo-to special. But it isn’t just that—the culinary prowess of Chef Ryohei Kawamoto should also be lauded. The Japanese chef ensures that the food that goes on every plate is top-notch, from freshness and quality down to presentation. The beauty of Kyo-to is that every visit gives you a brand new experience as its five- to seven-course meals heavily depend on the ingredients they have on hand. A word of advice: The best seats are at the counter.
Read more about Kyo-to Kaiseki Restaurant.
G/F World Plaza, 4th Avenue corner 31st Street, Bonifacio Global City
Wildflour’s younger sibling is already becoming a star in its own right. Standouts on their menu are the sumptuous Filipino-inspired rice bowls, based on the ones served at L.A.-based
Must-tries: Sisig Rice Bowl, Blueberry Pancakes, Cassava Cake
Read more about Little Flour.
B7 Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City
We’ll always love ramen but it’s high time we put the spotlight on a different kind of Japanese noodle: The udon. Marugame Udon (known as Marugame Seimen in Japan) is a master of the dish, getting the firm-yet-chewy texture of perfectly hand-stretched wheat flour noodles down pat. The noodles shine even when soaked in the beefy broth of their signature Beef Ontama Bukkake Udon, retaining a delightful chewiness. Marugame Udon doesn’t just stop at serving you perfectly cooked noodles either, letting you in on the full Japanese udon shop experience with a self-service counter and your choice from golden-fried skewers to pair with your bowl.
Must-tries: Beef Ontama Bukkake Udon, Curry Udon, Gyudon Rice
Read more about Marugame Udon.
G/F Alabang Town Center Corporate Center, Muntinlupa City
Set against a backdrop of the robots that filled your childhood (and Bender from Futurama), Mr. Roboto serves up sushi plates that are a mouthful with how sizable they are. You’ll be amazed at how they seamlessly put together squid ink with sushi rice and how their choice of sauces—like tuna and teriyaki sauce—make a lip-smacking, savory taste. Head chef Danni Ramos received training from the famed Le Cordon Bleu in San Francisco but she and manager David Mendoza are determined to give Japanese food a refreshing new twist with their own take on known favorites.
Must-tries: Nori Nachos, Mr. Roboto Maki, Steak and Uni Nigiri
Read more about Mr. Roboto.
Mulberry Door by nawwTy’s Kitchen
G/F 8 Forbes Town Center, Burgos Circle
This is one of the prettiest garden-themed restaurants in the city. Opened by Trish Panlilio of The Gourmand Market, Mulberry Door boasts a menu that’ll make your brunch dates brighter with their dressed-up classic dishes. “This is luxe comfort food,” says Trish’s son and co-owner, Matteo Panlilio. Don’t leave without trying the Matteo’s Lamb Burger with Homemade Taro Chips, which boasts a juicy lamb patty topped with Emmental and blue cheese in between toasted croissant buns.
Must-tries: Flan by nawwTy’s Kitchen, Matteo’s Lamb Burger with Homemade Taro Chips
Read more about Mulberry Door by nawwTy's Kitchen.
G/F Estancia Mall, Capitol Commons, Pasig City
If you’re always torn between wanting Japanese and Korean food, Nikuya at Estancia Mall is a godsend as it melds everything you love about both cuisines. K-barbecue? Check. Donburi? They have it. Owner Grace Lee says she was inspired by her travels to Tokyo, where she would try a lot of Japanese-Korean fusion restaurants. You don't have to go far as you're sure to get the best of both worlds at Nikuya.
Must-tries: Yukwhe, Karubi Charcoal Grill
Read more about Nikuya.
G/F UP Town Center, Diliman, Quezon City
Chef Baba Ibazeta-Benedicto makes dining at Nono’s a feast of comfort food. It’s definitely the place to go to if you’re looking for a taste of home and they even added an all-day breakfast selection to cater to your cravings. No Filipino menu is complete without fried chicken and the boneless Nono’s Homestyle Fried Chicken is a crisp and juicy must-try. And of course, a visit to Nono’s isn’t complete without trying one of their delightful dessert options and their famous Nono’s Chocolate Oblivion takes the cake.
Must-tries: Mac n’ Cheese, Nono’s Homestyle Fried Chicken, and Nono’s Chocolate Oblivion
Read more about
45 J.P. Rizal Street, Kalumpang, Marikina City
Malaysian food isn’t that mainstream yet, and you might be surprised to find that one of the best ones serving the cuisine is an open-air eatery in Marikina. With an open kitchen and a hawker stall-like counter, PappaRam has a simple, unpretentious appearance that belies the excellence of their Malaysian menu. Chef
Must-tries: Nasi Goreng USA, Sambal Prawns, Crispy Man Tao With Condensed Milk
Read more about PappaRam.
Persephone – A Seasonal Kitchen
120 Jupiter Street, Barangay Bel-Air, Makati City
Seasonal menus may sound absurd given that the Philippines has only two seasons (besides, most of the country’s produce is available year-round). But Persephone is a "seasonal kitchen" in that it constantly updates its menu, promising you something new with every visit. Their colorful dishes are as eye-catching as their floral murals; take, for example, the Tapsilog. Although it sounds deceptively simple, a bowl of it almost looks like a local bibimbap with garlic-confit rice, spicy steak strips, kimchi, and pickled vegetables.
Must-tries: Fishballs, Inadobong Atay Udon, Tapsilog
Read more about Persephone – A Seasonal Kitchen.
Ping Pong Diplomacy
3/F SM Aura Premier, Bonifacio Global City
Conspicuously lacking any bright-red walls or golden dragon décor, Ping Pong Diplomacy lets you know from the get-go that they aren’t your typical Chinese restaurant. Their Mapo Tofu isn’t the usual chunks of tofu swimming in a fiery red sauce, but velvety soya custard that covers the bottom of the pot; Taiwanese chicken chops are reinvented as the
Must-tries: Crispy Eggplant With Fragrant Sauce, Mapo Tofu, 5-Spice Steak And Eggs
Read more about Ping Pong Diplomacy.
Plank Sourdough Pizza
1/F S Maison at the Conrad, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City"
Hidden inside sibling restaurant Baker & Cook (which also carries delicious bread and pastries—including an incredibly moist carrot cake), Plank Sourdough Pizza undoubtedly serves one of the best pizzas in the Metro. The magic all starts in the sourdough crust—
Must-tries: Pizza Number 2, Pizza Number 3
Read more about Plank Sourdough Pizza.
5658 Don Pedro Street, Poblacion, Makati City
Poblacion continues to be a rising food-and-drink destination, and
Must-tries: Four O'Clock Flights, Blame It On The Heat, Zen Chicken Nuggets
Read more about
5/F SM Aura Premier, Bonifacio Global City
We all grew up falling in love with RACKS’ fall-off-the-bone ribs and now it’s time to give its cool, younger sibling a chance, too. Their wide, teal and orange-colored space is the perfect place to gather your friends for a get-together because they also have a foosball table and some card games like “Cards Against Humanity” to liven up the night. While RACKS’ Mother sauce will forever be the OG of barbecue condiments, Rackshack ups their sauce game with four new flavors: Hoisin, Carolina Gold, Kansas Style, and Spicy Mother.
Must-tries: Groupie Platter, Crack Fried Chicken
Read more about Rackshack.
Raging Bull Burgers
G/F Shangri-La at The Fort, 30th Street, Bonifacio Global City
If fancy dining is to Raging Bull Chophouse and Bar, then casual, laid-back meals are to Raging Bull Burgers—the former’s younger (and more badass) brother. Where the Chophouse and Bar
Must-tries: Raging Wagyu, Mighty Beast, Usual Suspects
Read more about Raging Bull Burgers.
Food on Four, 4/F SM Aura Premier, C5 Road corner 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City
Whenever you go to a food court, you’re probably already resigned to the thought that you’ll be ordering either fast food or something that will just be heated again to make it seem fresh. Well, Rico Rico is here to change that. The same people behind Churreria La Lola and Tomatito are bringing you delicious Spanish food without breaking the bank. You’ll be more than satisfied with their huge servings of classic Spanish favorites like paella and croquetas.
Must-tries: Carne Paella, Negra 2.0, Chorizo Croquetas
Read more about Rico Rico.
G/F Net One Center, 3rd Avenue corner 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City
Admit it: The sound of French cuisine makes you feel slightly apprehensive. Chef Marc Aubry proves that French food doesn’t have to be snooty through his latest brainchild, Sagana, where he introduces the flavors of France in a casual, homey setting. Besides serving up classic French dishes and desserts, Chef Marc incorporates all-local and fresh ingredients into his recipes. This is one restaurant you won't easily forget.
Must-tries: Clam Marinière, Mille-Feuille
Read more about Sagana.
Shaburi Japanese Shabu-Shabu
4/F Uptown Mall, Uptown Bonifacio
Contact: 978-2481, 805-2932, 0917-708-3930
There’s something about being able to cook your own food at a restaurant that makes the dining experience extra satisfying. Shaburi takes it up a notch with their unlimited meat plates and a wide selection of broths, sauces, and appetizers. While you’re sure to be full from the huge hotpot serving, try to leave some space for the other rice and sushi options that are just as good.
Must-tries: Wagyu Rice, Hot Miso, Special Wagyu
Read more about Shaburi Japanese Shabu-Shabu.
G/F Ayala Malls The 30th, 30 Meralco Avenue, Pasig City
Korean barbecue fanatics are in for a treat at Sibyullee, Sariwon's hipper, younger sibling. This cheerful and bright nook at Ayala Malls The 30th was created to remind you of Myeongdong and Itaewon’s vibrant street-food scene. Make sure to try their Galbi Cheese BBQ, a comforting dish made of sweet barbecue-glazed beef short
Must-tries: Galbi Cheese BBQ, Volcano Kimchi Fried Rice
Read more about
G/F Net Park Building, 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City
“Souv” comes from the word “souvlaki,” or skewered grilled meat. The restaurant is run by Chef Robby Goco, who’s known for tried-and-tested homegrown restaurants like Cyma and Green Pastures.
Must-tries: Lamb Salad, Meat Platter, Tirokefterri, Greek Yogurt in EVOO & Sea Salt
Read more about
St. Louis House of Fine Ice Cream & Dessert
Unit C3-104 Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City
Don’t be fooled by the name
Must-tries: Leg Ham Baked Eggs; Chicken, Mushrooms, Spinach, And Cheese Crepe; Churros
Read more about St. Louis House of Fine Ice Cream & Dessert.
The Broken Oven
Industrie Food Loft, City Golf Complex, Doña Julia Vargas Avenue, Pasig City
This stall at City Golf’s Industrie Food Loft offers Filipino favorites with quirky interpretations—like putting sisig inside a rice ball. The premise of the unassuming food stall is simple, but with the budget-friendly prices and the mouthwatering options, you’ll say goodbye to your diet in no time.
Must-tries: Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Rice, PB+C Sandwich, Sisig Kaninballs
Read more about The Broken Oven.
The Test Kitchen
9780 B&C Kamagong Street, San Antonio Village, Makati City
Contact: 403-5953, 0917-304-1570
With years of experience as The Bistro Group’s executive chef, Chef Josh Boutwood has finally found the perfect opportunity to flex his culinary muscles at a place he can call his own. The Test Kitchen is his playground, allowing him to whip up practically anything he wants—think of it as a reflection of Chef Josh’s spontaneous and fun character. The restaurant’s six- to eight-course tasting menu changes depending on the season and availability of ingredients. Walk-ins aren’t recommended as the restaurant only opens upon request, so have your seats reserved before trying this charming 20-seater restaurant.
Read more about The Test Kitchen.
30th Street corner 11th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City
Contact: 805-7840, 0915-588-4803
Opening in the last stretch of 2016, Tomatito closed the previous year with a bang. The Shanghai-based tapas bar plays with the intersection of Spanish and Filipino flavors to create fun and imaginative bites that also ooze alluring sexiness. Their signature Pulpo ala Tomatito is a certified stunner with mini skewers of octopus, baby potatoes, Iberian ham, and smoked paprika arranged on a ceramic octopus tentacle-shaped plate, each stick covering a broad spectrum of textures and flavors, from sweet to smoky and simply lip-smacking good.
Must-tries: Chicharron y Salmon, Bombas de Jamon, Pulpo ala Tomatito
Read more about Tomatito.
Level 2, S Maison at the Conrad, SM Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City
Not all matcha is created equally, a fact that Tsujiri is happy to drive home. With 15 decades of matcha expertise under their belt, this Japanese chain is more than qualified. Real high-grade matcha, unlike regular green tea, is earthy and slightly bitter, but also produces a pleasantly sweet aftertaste. It’s a flavor profile you can best appreciate in
Must-tries: O-Matcha, Tsujiri Sundae, Yuzu Citron Ice Blended
Read more about Tsujiri.
317 Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City
Katipunan has been blessed with a lot of coffee places fit for the busy bee who’s always on the go. But Tyler’s Café is one of the few that will actually want you to stay with their sweet French Toast Brulee that come with slices of bananas and pineapples under a generous serving of whipped cream and syrup. For something savory, order their drool-worthy Brisket and Eggs, which is a tender beef brisket that comes with garlic rice that’s cooked in beef fat.
Must-tries: French Toast Brulee,
Read more about Tyler’s Café.
20 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air, Makati City
Classy but homey is the theme at
Must-tries: Chicken Skin-Wrapped Roasted Bell Peppers, Risotto Parme-Tartuffo, Steak Palermo
Read more about
11th Avenue corner 38th Street, Uptown Bonifacio
Stepping inside this neon-lit, funky mural-laden bar at The Palace Complex will give you major throwback vibes. Their '90s-themed music is set to give you that New York dive-bar feel, while their well-curated drinks menu and tasty bar chow will make you say “yes, please!” Yes Please is that bar where you can just sit back and enjoy the night. Best part? Dancing isn’t a requirement.
Must-tries: Caramelized Spam Musubi, Squid a la Pobre
Read more about Yes Please.
Unit 4 Victoria Brixton Plaza, 1 Brixton Street, Kapitolyo, Pasig City
Ready your appetite (and your cameras!) for a delightful experience with Asian cuisine. Yuan doesn’t limit itself to the usual Japanese, Chinese, and Korean food because you can have a taste of South and Southeast Asia as well. Chef Kel Zaguirre makes the brightly colored joint a delicious playground full of contrasting flavors that actually work.
Must-tries: X.O. Tonkatsu MaLing Fries, Ribeye with Wasabi Chimichurri, Matcha Dream
Read more about Yuan Asian Bistro.
Talisay Street, San Antonio Village, Makati City
Contact: 800-5706, 809-0149
It was emotional. We couldn’t contain our excitement when news broke that Zubuchon was finally, finally opening in Manila. Now on their second Luzon branch (with a third one in the works), both restaurants provide the same dining experience as their Visayan counterparts. In fact, they even transport ingredients straight from Cebu to get the
Must-tries: Zubuchon Spicy Lechon,
Read more about Zubuchon.