Neighborhoods: Taft Avenue
SPOT.ph scours Taft Avenue’s bustling street scene for the best deals in the neighborhood.
Named after former U.S. President and Philippine Governor-General William Howard Taft, Taft Avenue was originally envisioned as the standard of posh, urban living. Today, Taft’s many different faces-the privileged west side, lower-middle class in the east, and slum areas dominating the neighborhood's back roads-prove that the rich and poor can co-exist peacefully, and that’s all part of the charm.
With two railway systems (MRT-3 and LRT-1) passing through the area, Taft Avenue is one of the most accessible neighborhoods around. Major roads like United Nations Avenue, Padre Faura, Pedro Gil, President Quirino Avenue, Senator Gil Puyat Avenue, and Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) also lead to Taft, making it one of the busiest streets in Manila.
For this neighborhood guide, SPOT.ph explores the "greener" side of Taft Avenue. We scouted the best places to eat and chill at the bustling Taft Avenue - De La Salle University area (Pedro Gil to President Quirino Avenue). Who said only students can rule this part of town?
Eat and Drink
Eat and Drink
8065 Bagnet along Leon Guinto street is famous for cooking up bagnet-Ilocos’ original deep fried, crunchy pork-in more ways than one. Sure the Original Bagnet with Rice (also served with mango and bagoong for P100) may never get old, but this charming pork joint has more to offer. Try 8065 Bagnet's Kare-Kare Bagnet (P110), Curry Bagnet (P105), and Binaguongan Bagnet (P105) to get more out of your crispy, albeit high-cholesterol, treat.
Overshadowed by the newer establishments in the area but still worth the visit is Di’ Mark’s, which opened more than 50 years ago. With only a lighted signage outside a gated residential area announcing its presence, Di’ Mark’s is almost too easy to miss. A tip: head to the house found at the end of the compound. The tiny eatery is tucked inside and is now more widely known for take-out and delivery. Order one of the first pizzas from the original menu in 1957: a three-cheese pizza called the Menlo Special.
You can also make your own pizza with a basic mozzarella base and toppings of your choice. The rest of the menu is composed mostly of Italian-American fare, with spaghetti, fettuccini, cannelloni, lasagna, and ravioli. The only Pinoy dish is the beef tapa, served with rice, fried egg, onions, and tomatoes.
Two blocks away is the popular Korean-themed Noriter Café on the second floor of Reyes Building on the corner of Taft and Estrada Street. Popular for being a hangout for college kids, Noriter is literally a playground for young adults with casual interiors, cute curio hanging from the walls and ceiling, and a cozy dining area where you can take off your shoes and sit on the wooden floor. The menu consists of hot coffee, a frappuccino selection, brunch sets, and dessert options from their cake display.
If you’re looking for fine dining food, head to Vatel Restaurant Manila on the rooftop of the College of Saint Benilde (CSB) Hotel. The college’s teaching restaurant for hospitality management students features French-Mediterranean entrees that are not totally alien to the Pinoy palate. Feast on beef bourgignon, Corsican-style lamb stew, and mahi-mahi fillet with a clam-chive sauce. The restaurant flaunts Manila skyline views come dusk.
Hie a few streets away from Taft's college crowd and dine at the Solomon Guest House on the corner of Ayala and Arellano Streets. Run by talented Culinary and Hospital management students of College of Saint Benilde, the menu changes depending on the batch of students tasked to oversee operations. (Open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mondays to Fridays; operating hours on Saturday is 8 a.m. - 2 p.m.)
When the sun sets and you’re up for some drinks and loud music, make your way to Sherwood Place. The two-storey complex houses food carts, restaurants, and watering holes. Chill out while downing beers (local and imported), cocktails, shakers, and fine liquor. Favorite pulutan like sizzlers and pica-pica are also available. The best part? Food and drinks are sold at student-friendly prices.
Rest and Relaxation
Escape the loud city vibe of Taft Avenue and stop by Eye Nail Salon. Relax while you get a Manicure (P130) and/or Pedicure (P190). Special hand and foot care services are also offered like the Spa Manicure (P320), Spa Paraffin Manicure (P640), Spa Pedicure (P400), and Spa Paraffin Pedicure (P770).
Another nail care salon option is Nail Files. Choose from their services under the Pampered Nails (P50 to P200), Spa Indulgence (P200 to P300), Love Your Body Pampering (P150 to P600), Paraffin Bliss (P350 to P450), and Hot Waxing (P100 to P600) categories. Nail Files also has a package guide with 12 packages to choose from.
For waxing needs, try Lay Bare Waxing Salon. For ladies, rates go from P100 to P1,500. For gents, rates range from P100 to P2,000. Services included are Eyebrow Threading (P100), Underarm Waxing (P150/P200), Chest Waxing (P250/P450), Half-leg Waxing (P300/P350), Full-leg Waxing (P500/P550), Full Body Waxing(P1,500/P2,000), Bikini (P250/P300), and Brazilian (P450/P500).
Need a massage? Head to Zensation Spa. For a 1-Hour Full Body Massage (P300), you can choose from Shiatsu, Swedish, or combination. Foot Reflexology is P200 per 30 minutes. Head and Hand Massages are P100 each for 30 minutes. Other services offered include Waxing/Threading (P100 to P2,000), Nail Care (P100 to P300), and Glam Nails (P200 and up).
Artwork by Warren Espejo. Photos by Jean Natividad, Trixie Zabal, from Noriter Cafe’s Facebook account (Noriter Cafe), Vatel Restaurant Manila’s Facebook account.