10 No-Fail Places for Filipino Desserts in Manila
Here's where to take your balikbayan guests!
(SPOT.ph) No meal is ever complete without dessert. In Tagalog, they call this sweet end to lunch or dinner panghimagas. Filipinos love sweets, as evident in some of our most popular dishes (Hello, Pinoy-style spaghetti and pork tocino!), and we typically always have something delightfully sugary to cap a meal. No wonder the country has hundreds of Filipino desserts to choose from—and it’s great news that more and more chefs are experimenting with native delicacies. Make your way to these sweet spots when your sugar cravings strike—we’ve listed some places with great Filipino desserts in the Metro.
Manam Café is the younger sibling of Manam, whose claim to fame is their watermelon sinigang and crunchy sisig. But what’s new at Manam Café, aside from their youthful décor that features fun pop art and vintage Filipino ads, is their decadent Pinoy desserts that mix traditional with modern. The Choco-Nut Tart (P235) will remind you of your favorite childhood choco-peanut treat, while the Calamansi Tart (P220) has a delicate yet crisp crust filled with a creamy, gooey, and tangy center. For more familiar flavors, the Ube Sticky Roll (P115) or the Tsokolate Sticky Roll (P115) is a fun take on Western sticky buns. There’s also the Frozen Mango Brazo de Mercedes (P265), a literally cool take on the classic merienda.
Manam Café is at 3/F SM Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City.
Your parents might be more familiar with Via Mare, which first opened in 1975. For many people, it’s the go-to for kakanin and classic Pinoy merienda, and Via Mare seems to have the recipe for success when it comes to timeless Filipino comfort food and native delicacies. Some of their must-tries are the Bibingka with Laguna Cheese and Salted Duck Egg (P170), a fluffier and richer take on the bibingka and a strong contender in our Top 10 Bibingka list. Their Puto Bumbong (P100) uses grated cheddar (P30) for extra creaminess or grated quezo de bola (P40) for a salty bite, complementing the dessert’s natural starchiness. These rice cakes are available all year round and not just during the holiday season!
See a list of Via Mare branches.
For decades, Sentro 1771 has been known for their innovative takes on Pinoy homecooked meals. Their Corned Beef Sinigang, for example, has been a go-to for many, young and old, with a rich and sour broth to complement the fork-tender corned beef and fresh veggies. Whether you’re here for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you’ll most probably end up capping off your meal with one of their sweet items. Their wide array of Filipino desserts might overwhelm you, so we’ll help you narrow down your choices: Try the ones that feature seasonal tropical fruits, such as the Fried Suman and Mangoes (P180), which uses sweet, fresh Philippine mangoes that go perfectly with the deep-fried merienda staple. Their Buko Sherbet (P80) is another worthwhile palate cleanser that you’ll want to keep to yourself after the first refreshing bite.
See a list of Sentro 1771 branches.
Lola Café doesn’t just offer great pasta dishes with fun Filipino twists, but they also have a laid-back ambience to complete your dining experience. Their monochromatic interiors are punctuated by sleek light fixtures and nostalgic framed photos and prints. Although located north of the Metro, those who live far from here would find that it's worth the drive—it’s one of QC’s best-kept secrets after all. Aside from their savory dishes, they have Filipino-inspired desserts that’ll hit the right spot, especially for sugar addicts. The Banoffee Pie (P175), with banana, custard cream, and candied nuts, is a homier version of your usual commercial favorite. Other worthwhile items are the Cheesecake (P220) with salted latik and bukayo; Mango Pavlova (P160), which has a chewy meringue topped with mango; and Pinoy S’mores (P230), made with tablea chocolate, Choc Nut graham, toasted marshmallow, and peanut butter.
Lola Café is at 99 Scout Lozano Street, Laging Handa, Quezon City.
It’s easy to feel at home at Pamana, where the cozy space is decorated with gilded mirrors, framed portraits, and knickknacks from the past. It’s a nice place to bring visiting friends or balikbayans since the restaurant specializes in Filipino cuisine. Save room for dessert so you can sample their Batangas Pinoy Fondue (P220) that has puto, suman, and kutsinta served with thick, hot chocolate. If you prefer something cooler, go for the Ginumis with Panucha Ice Cream (P130), homemade panutsa (raw coconut sugar) ice cream, or the Crispy Langka Turon at Ube Sorbetes (P120), which has purple yam-flavored ice cream. Best to share so you can get a little taste of everything.
Pamana is at 147 Mother Ignacia Avenue, South Triangle, Quezon City.
“Pino” means fine in English, and that’s what the restaurant’s dishes are all about, serving more than just traditional Filipino food. This homegrown establishment cooks up a wide assortment of local favorites with vegetarian options to boot. We’re sure you wouldn’t mind the extra calories you’ll get from their Tablea Cheesecake (P185)—dreamy chocolate cheesecake made with tablea de cacao; or the Fita Tiramisu (P185), coffee-soaked Fita biscuits layered with cream-cheese custard. Care for something more old-fashioned? There’s the Pandan Leche Flan (P125), a custard dessert that’s infused with light pandan flavor.
Pino is at 39 Malingap Street, Teachers Village, Quezon City.
Those who remember Nora Daza would be happy to know that her recipes live on through Wooden Spoon, a restaurant created by her son, Chef Sandy Daza. Wooden Spoon fuses together the nostalgic flavors of your favorite home-cooked meals with contemporary cooking styles. At this casual eatery, you’ll find a selection of local treats like the Pandan Crepe (P163), where their delightful green, pandan-flavored crepe is stuffed with ube ice cream, fresh mangoes, and sprinkled with crunchy pinipig. For something different, trythe Sago Cake (P89), featuring tapioca with palm-sugar dressing and pinipig topping, which will remind you of taho minus the soya. One more item worth sampling is the Reyna Blanca (P89), a refreshing block of coconut custard topped with—you guessed it—pinipig.
Wooden Spoon is at P1 Power Plant Mall, Rockwell, Makati City.
One of the more dependable Filipino restaurants in the Metro is Abe, which serves mostly Kapampangan cuisine. The restaurant flaunts a casual and classy setting where you can meet family and friends when you’re hankering for some true home cooking. Linger after lunch or dinner for their local delicacies such as their traditional Halo-Halo (P175), but chocoholics won’t be able to resist the Choco Eh! Fondue with Fried Suman (P275), where you can dip their homemade sticky rice in rich chocolate sauce. The best-selling Sikreto ni Maria Clara (P185) is another dish you shouldn’t leave without trying—it’s a simple but heavenly dessert that pairs suman with mango, vanilla, or macapuno ice cream.
See a list of Abe branches.
Provenciano was originally a bungalow home transformed into a restaurant that highlights Philippine regional cuisine. Their elegant native décor will instantly set the right mood for an authentic Pinoy dining experience. Their Filipino-style ice cream, Sorbetes ng Bataan (P135), is served with a wonderful pili tart that’ll leave you wanting more. Plus, you can choose from flavors like yam, corn, jackfruit, and coconut. If you like kakanin or rice cakes, you’ll love the Palitaw sa Latik (P110), or glutinous rice boiled and simmered in sugar palm syrup and served with coconut cream and latik. They’ve also got the best bibingka in town, as seen through our most recent Top 10 Bibingka in Manila list!
Provenciano is at 110 Maginhawa Street, Teachers Village, Quezon City.
Zubuchon rose to fame when Anthony Bourdain claimed that they have the “best pig…ever!” But there’s more to the Cebuano eatery than just lechon. Yes, their roasted pig has the power to lure you in, but you’ll also stay for their desserts. Zoom in on the Ube Cheesecake (P110), which features pure ube jam in a creamy, homey cheesecake. If you still can’t decide which dessert to get, there’s always the Zubuchon Dessert Platter (P250), a platter of leche flan, biko, budbud kabug (millet seeds stewed in banana leaves, coconut milk, and sugar), and ripe mango. There’s no better place to pig out!
See a list of Zubuchon branches.