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The Urban Insider's Guide to Bonifacio Global City

by the team
Feb 28, 2020

( More than a century ago, Bonifacio Global City was a military base called Fort McKinley and operated by the United States government. It was acquired in 1902 and served as the headquarters of the Philippine Scouts—a troop of Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers under the command of the U.S. army. The base was turned over to the Philippine government in 1949, and renamed Fort Bonifacio in 1957. By mid-2000s, about 240 hectares was transformed into commercial and residential estates—including the BGC that we know today.

Bonifacio Global City is now home to a number of places to eat, stopovers for shopping and pampering, and a variety of things to do. Here's a handy guide.

Also read:
The Urban Insider's Guide to Poblacion, Makati City
The Urban Insider's Guide to Maginhawa, Quezon City

The Urban Insider's Guide to Salcedo Village

Where to eat in BGC:

Bonifacio Global City always seems to have something fresh to offer to foodies. With new places popping up every few months, there’s just no getting bored at this financial and lifestyle district. We’ve got you covered, whether you’re looking to expand your go-to list or looking for an excuse to go back to BGC, with these 10 tasty reasons.


Shiroi Daichi

PHOTO BY Majoy Siason

Not all ramen has to be heavy—and just because it isn’t heavy, doesn’t mean it can’t be good. That much, Shiroi Daichi proves and more. Taking from the Sapporo style of ramen, Shiroi Daichi touts a ramen broth that’s on the lighter side yet is no less tasty than its fattier counterparts. For a full-bodied yet refreshing slurp, try their Miso Ramen (P450), which carries the full flavor you’d expect from a good miso ramen sans the heft. You’ll also want to try their Vegetable Shoyu Ramen (P400)—don’t let the name scare you away, the soy-sauce base here brings out the best of the veggies’ earthiness. If you’re really looking to fill up, go for the Maze Men (P480), a dry ramen dish packed with tons of rich umami from chashu, seaweed, bamboo shoots, and a soft-boiled egg.

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Shiroi Daichi is at Twenty-Five Seven McKinley, 7th Avenue corner 25th Street, Bonifacio Global City.

George Town Super Steak

PHOTO BY Vincent Coscolluela

Brought in by the same man who brought us Rico’s Lechon and K-Pub BBQ, this steakhouse uses a Mibrasa charcoal oven brought in from Spain, which gives their steaks (and other eats) a distinctive smokiness at a fraction of the time it takes for other charcoal grills. They’ve got a complete array of steaks on the menu, including a good-for-sharing, 800-gram Porter House (P4,350) and a juicy 375-gram Ribeye (P2,329). Want something other than beef? You can alternatively tuck into their Fire-Grill Baby Back Ribs (P650/half, P1,245/full), Norwegian Salmon Fillet (P710), or Vegetable Platter (P465).


George Town Super Steak is at 3/F One Bonifacio High Street, 28th Street corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City.

Brown Café

PHOTO BY Vincent Coscolluela

This milk-tea place hailing from Thailand makes their organic boba in-house—and their lineup includes a collagen bubble you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. Their Royal Premium Milk Tea (P85/cup) is a standout drink with a mix of different kinds of tea (including Assam black tea), while the Thai Tea (P85/cup, P100/bottle) is at par with anything you’d find from Thailand. Don’t miss their Philippine exclusives, including the Ube Latte (P125/cup) with purple yam and strawberry bubbles, and their Cocoa Latte (P125/cup) made with cocoa powder from Davao.


Brown Café is at G/F Serendra, Bonifacio Global City.

The Empress Dining Palace

PHOTO BY The Empress Dining Palace

This relatively swanky establishment located at Bonifacio High Street puts the spotlight on Cantonese cuisine, with Cantonese Chef Lam Pui Hung at the helm of the kitchen. Bring the family along for a feast as you’ll want to try a little of everything. Their 41-page menu includes an extensive lineup of appetizers, roasts, soups, live seafood, meat, and more. Start your meal with The Empress Selection (P1,800), a combination of their best-selling roast meats; or get your appetite going with Szechuan Hot & Sour Seafood Soup (P320/person). Go all-out with dishes like The Empress Pork Belly in Special Sauce (P350/person) or the Steamed Clam in Egg Custard (P550/small, P825/medium, P1,100/large). If you’re looking for a treat, you can try Live Lobster Served Two ways (seasonal price), Satay Braised Crab & Vermicelli Served in Claypot (seasonal price), or their classic take on Peking Duck (P1,800/half and P3,200/whole, plus P300 for the second serving and P600 for the third serving).


The Empress Dining Palace is at 7th Avenue, Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City.

Harlan + Holden Coffee

PHOTO BY Ian Santos

Consistent with the eponymous fashion brand, Harlan + Holden Coffee fronts an elegant yet minimalist interior design that puts the eyes at ease—and that’s before you even get your cup of coffee. Unlike other cafés that can induce feelings of work-related frenzy, Harlan + Holden Coffee invites you to take it slow, employing a cashless pay system via an app connected to your credit card. Their house blend—a mix of Brazilian and Ethiopian beans roasted on-site—taste great pretty much any way you take it, but we especially recommend the Cream Latte (P150/short, P170/tall or cold), which can be had with either cow’s or almond milk.


Harlan + Holden Coffee is at G/F One Bonifacio High Street Mall, 28th Street corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City.


PHOTO BY Jericho San Miguel

It’s not easy balancing fine dining with a laid-back atmosphere, but Pinot achieves both with great ease. Think juicy steaks, fine wine, and other modern European eats served with all the flavor—but none of the fuss. CAV’s Chef Markus Gfeller runs the kitchen, and you can go for the tasting menu (P2,600), which includes Grilled Black Cod and Maple Leaf Duck Breast in its courses. Alternatively, you can try one of their 2-course (P1,500), 3-Course (P1,900) or 4-Course (P2,300) prix fixe options—starters include the Lobster and Crabmeat salad and the Goat Cheese Mousse, while mains include the Warm Toothfish Carpaccio and the Rack of Bobby Veal.


Pinot is at The Spa Wellness Building, 9th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City.

Fukuhachi Japanese Dining

PHOTO BY Fukuhachi Japanese Dining

Inspired by konbini (a.k.a. convenience store), this Japanese grocery-slash-eatery offers a variety of snacks, drinks, and light Japanese meals at reasonable prices. If you get hungry while browsing their store aisles, take comfort in their Oyako Don (P288) or Ten Don (P328). You can also slurp away with their Fukuhachi Ramen (P388), which comes complete with chicken karaage in a hearty soy-sauce broth.


Fukuhachi Japanese Dining is at G/F Central Park West, 36th Street corner 7th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City.

Melonpan Ice (SM Aura)

PHOTO BY Majoy Siason

Hailing from Japan, Melonpan Ice is the Philippine outpost of the World’s Second Best Freshly Baked Melon-Pan Ice Cream—a melonpan ice-cream shop from Japan, deemed "second best" only to give way to the master who taught them to make the sandwich in the first place—and it’s made its way from its original Eastwood outpost over to SM Aura. The concept is simple: house-made gelato in a variety of flavors, sandwiched between freshly baked melonpan (Japanese sweet buns) with a crisp exterior and fluffy interior. Aside from their signature Vanilla, Matcha, Chocolate, and Strawberry however, the SM Aura branch also carries an exclusive Lavender gelato variant (P140/one scoop with Gelato Rusk, P250/two scoops with Gelato Rusk, P220/in a Melonpan sandwich, P235/in a flavored Melonpan sandwich)—so yes, it’s worth the visit.


Melonpan Ice is at 5/F SM Aura Premier, C5 Road corner 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City.

Food District Signatures on 5th

PHOTO BY Majoy Siason

Food hall-type establishments are all the rage these days, and for good reason. You’ve got a plethora of choices all under one roof, so there’s something for pretty much everyone. This food hall is brought to us by Foodee Global Concepts, the same brains behind Tim Ho Wan, Mesa Filipino Moderne, and others—so you can expect great, tasty eats at price points that allow you to treat yourself every day. You’ll find an eclectic mix of stalls offering all kinds of food, from snackables like Potato Corner and Mama Empanada, to heavier mains from Zark’s Burgers and Hawker Chan, and even to desserts from and Llaollao.


Food District Signatures on 5th is at L/G One Bonifacio High Street, PSE Tower, 5th Avenue corner 28th Street, Bonifacio Global City.

Here’s where you can shop, workout, and get some me-time in BGC:

More than a vast dining scene and a colorful nightlife, BGC is also where you can indulge in some retail therapy, get pampered, and start a fitness journey. The neighborhood is studded with shops that are worth checking out, places where you can get a much needed R&R, and workout studios that’ll help you achieve your fitness goals.

Frankie & Friends General Store

PHOTO BY Joshua Dizon

This Instagram-worthy store is a treasure trove of cool finds from homegrown brands. You can shop all things local, from beauty items, footwear, jewelry, totes, and other fashion pieces at Frankie & Friends General Store. They also carry eco-friendly essentials, perfect if you want to start living a more sustainable lifestyle. If you ever need to buy last-minute presents, you’ll find great gift ideas here, too. 

Frankie & Friends General Store is at 2/F SM Aura Premier, Bonifacio Global City.


PHOTO BY habitat

Feel like giving your home a makeover? European furniture brand Habitat carries a wide range of beautifully designed home products, from their functional furniture pieces to exquisite lighting to kitchen essentials to home accessories and statement pieces—it has everything you need to build an effortlessly chic home. 

Habitat is at 3/F Abenson, 5th Avenue corner 28th Street, Bonifacio Global City.

Art Bar

PHOTO BY Vincent Coscolluela

Both budding and expert artists will agree that Art Bar is a haven for all things art. The first branch opened in Serendra and occupies two whole floors, so you’ll want to allot some time for you to scour through all the items the store has to offer. Shop from brands lik Pébéo, Sennelier, Winsor & Newton, Caran d’Ache, and more. Art Bar also has an area where they hold workshops once in a while. Plus, coffee lovers can enjoy a cup of joe at Toby’s Estate located on the ground floor of the store.  

Art Bar is at G/F Serendra Piazza, Bonifacio Global City.


PHOTO BY hamleys

Want to be crowned Best Tita by your nieces and nephews? Just take them to Hamleys at Central Square. The British toy store stocks some of the coolest toys, from LEGO, Barbie, Hello Kitty, Peppa Pig, and more. They also carry some cool activity sets perfect for artsy kids, from coloring books to art kits. Plus, the little ones can opt to play with some of the toys in store!

Hamleys is at UG/F Central Square, 5th Avenue corner 30th Street, Bonifacio Global City.


PHOTO BY manos

For those looking for some quiet me-time, Manos is right up your alley. It’s situated in a secluded location, so you’ll feel like you’re far away from the busy neighborhood without having to leave it. Inside, nature-inspired interiors will instantly put you in a relaxed mood. Spoil yourself and go for their Premium Spa (P900) treatment which includes soak, scrub, cleaning, massage, and polish or buff for both hands and feet. Manos also has a mini bar where you can enjoy some refreshments before or after your treatment.

Manos is at Unit 2-I Crescent Park Residences, 30th Street corner 2nd Avenue, Bonifacio Global City. 

The Mandara Spa

PHOTO BY the mandara spa

Feeling stressed? Unwind at The Mandara Spa where you can treat yourself to their Signature Massage (P1,050)—a 75-minute full-body massage that features relaxing strokes with heat pad therapy to help loosen tight muscles. They also make use of a special blend of aromatic oils that may lull you to sleep even if you want to savor every relaxing stroke. They also offer other treatments, like Swedish, Hilot, Body Scrub, and more.

The Mandara Spa is at Unit 318 McKinley Park Residences, 3rd Avenue corner 31st Street, Bonifacio Global City.

Stelton Dermascience

PHOTO BY stelton dermascience

Whether it’s time for your monthly facial or you simply want to try a new treatment to show your skin some TLC, Stelton Dermascience is worth checking out. They offer a variety of facial treatments, like the Pimple-Free Facial (P800), which deep cleanses your skin and extracts impurities while preventing further breakouts. This treatment comes with a special mask that absorbs excess oil while soothing blemish-prone skin. Other treatments the offer include Revitalizing Facial (P500), Dermascience Facial (P2,000), and Hydrajet Facial (P2,500).

Stelton Dermascience is at One Bonifacio High Street Mall, 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City. 

Elev8 Lagree Fitness Studio

PHOTO BY elev8 lagree fitness studio

The easiest way to describe the Lagree workout is that it’s like Pilates, but on steroids. The workout requires the use of a Megaformer, where you’ll spend 45 minutes sweating, shaking, and burning up to 800 calories per session. Elev8 Lagree Fitness Studio offers high-intensity, low-impact, full-body workout that will strengthen your core and help you improve your balance and flexibility. The key is to go as slow as you can…but don’t be fooled—it’s not as easy as it sounds. 

Elev8 Lagree Fitness Studio is at 9/F Unit 1, Ore Central, 9th Avenue corner 31st Street, Bonifacio Global City.

Mindful Movement Asia Pilates Studio

PHOTO BY mindful movement asia PILATES STUDIO

Been wanting to practice Pilates but not sure where to go? For BGCdwellers and workers, there’s Mindful Movement Asia Pilates Studio (which ranked second on our Top 10 Pilates Studios list, BTW). First timers can enjoy a complimentary session so you can try it out first before committing to a package. Do note that your first session will be focused on learning all the basics, so don’t expect an intense sweat sesh right off the bat. When it comes to amenities, they’re complete from lockers to shower rooms to changing rooms, which is great if you have somewhere else to be after your session. 

Mindful Movement Asia Pilates Studio is at 15/F Ecotower Building, 32nd Street corner 9th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City. 

Kerry Sports


Looking for a gym that’ll actually make you want to workout? Kerry Sports might just be what you’re looking for. This all-in-one fitness studio features all the essential gym equipment for a full-body workout and it boasts a lot of space so you won’t have to run into sweaty people when moving from one place to another. Kerry Sports also offers group fitness classes including yoga, Pilates, spinning, boxing, and martial arts. They even have basketball, squash, and tennis courts available for use. A Ride Revolution branch also opened inside the gym, so you can join fun (and intense!) spinning classes there, too.

Kerry Sports is at 5/F and 6/F Shangri-La at the Fort, 30th Street corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City.

Try these fun things to do in BGC:

Aside from towering condos, restaurants, and wellness centers, Bonifacio Global City has a lot of things to offer if you're looking to spend some time in the neighborhood. Here are activities to check out when you finally get out of the house after staying indoors and binge-watching all night (or all week).


Unleash your inner child at The Mind Museum

PHOTO BY Christa I. De La Cruz

The Mind Museum is a good excuse to "kidnap" your cute nieces and nephews for a day, or—you know—have an excuse to gawk at some cool interactive displays. Your inner six-year-old will love the humongous dinosaur and whale fossils, aside from all sorts of other exhibits that make science come alive. 


The Mind Museum is at J.Y. Campos Park, 3rd Avenue, Bonifacio Global City. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Immerse in local art at the BGC Arts Center

PHOTO BY Vincent Coscolluela archives

BGC Arts Center, which opened in 2017, is now a go-to spot for artists and art enthusiasts in the Metro. Inside, you can catch a musical or a play at the 400-square-meter Globe Auditorium; run into actors rehearsing their lines in one of the classrooms; or witness how performing artists transform a small space into a different world at the Zobel de Ayala Recital Hall. Lounges and halls in the three-storey building can also be easily converted into galleries. Step outside and you can hang out at the sprawling Alveo Central Plaza or the open-air Sun Life Amphitheater. Make sure to be on the lookout for exhibit openings and theatrical runs to fully experience this artist playground.


BGC Arts Center is at 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City.

Appreciate some street art 

PHOTO BY Toto Labrador Archives

BGC takes pride in being a walkable city, not only because of its carefully planned walkways but also because of the murals that fill otherwise-bare walls and parking areas. Spot masterpieces by international artists like Bunnie Reiss and Andrew Schoultz adjacent to proudly Pinoy murals by local talents like Trip 63 and Archie Oclos.


Play a soccer game or two at Turf BGC

PHOTO BY Mari Tirazona
Football Manila / FAcebook

If you've always wanted to learn how to play soccer, you can drop by Turf BGC in the evenings for games hosted by Football Manila. You can also rent the whole court for other team sports like futsal, flag football, and ultimate frisbee.


Turf BGC is at 9th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City.

Make your American Ninja Warrior dreams come true at Pretty Huge Obstacles

Touted as Asia's largest indoor obstacle course facility, Pretty Huge Obstacles boasts up to 100 challenging obstacles. Rates start at P800 for one full day of access to monkey bars, high walls, swings, and rings plus guidance from a coach. Get ready to run, jump, hang, leap, and other verbs you wouldn't think would be included in a workout session.


Pretty Huge Obstacles is beside SM Aura Premier and inside the parking lot of DusitD2 The Fort. It is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Go jogging at Track 30th

Running spaces, especially ones with a bit of green and where you don't have to worry about being chased by stray dogs, are hard to come by in the Metro. And BGC's Track 30th has everything you need for a good run: a 300-meter paved path, an exercise lawn for warming up and cooling down, and a meditation garden for finding your Zen. There are even street art installations for when you want to stop and smell the flowers—metaphorically.


Track 30th is at 30th Street, between 7th and 9th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City. It is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. 

Check out the latest in Philippine contemporary art 

Since it opened in 2016, Provenance Gallery at Shangri-La at the Fort has featured notable local artists like Andres Barrioquinto and Anton del Castillo. It is owned by Joanna Preysler-Francisco and Raul Francisco, who partnered with art consultant and manager Derek Flores. 


Provenance Gallery, 2/F Shangri-La at the Fort, 30th Street corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City. 

Sing your heart out in a KTV and restobar 

Whether you're nursing a broken heart or just want to sing your stress away, Rock Star KTV and Restobar is a fun option. This karaoke venue lets you rent themed rooms—from the Beatles Suite (P300), which has a huge print of the band's famous Abbey Road photos, to the Prince Premier Suite (P750), which can accommodate up to 20 people. 


Rock Star KTV and Restobar is at 5/F SM Aura, Bonifacio Global City. It is open from Friday to Saturday, from 3 p.m. to 4 a.m.; and from Sunday to Thursday, from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. 

Listen to "on-demand" poetry 

At BGC, poetry isn't just something you read in books or listen to during spoken-word nights. You can also listen to artfully crafted verses from what looks like a giant periscope rising from the ground. The first "Manila Poetry Jukebox," as it is called, was invented by Ondrej Kobza and a gift from the former Ambassador of the Czech Republic Jaroslav Olsa Jr. Reminiscent of a music jukebox you would find in bars of the past, it lets you play a poem at the press of a button (coins not required!). It offers a selection of poems by Czech and Filipino poets, translated and voiced by local writers and artists. The local selection includes works by Gemino H. Abad, Virgilio S. Almario, Mikael Co, Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta, and many more. 


The Manila Poetry Jukebox is at One Bonifacio High Street Park (across the Mind Museum), 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City. 

Go for a fun workout at Ride Revolution 

Dance to a hip playlist while on a stationary exercise bike. Yes, we're talking about a spinning workout. For P500, you can sign up for a trial class and work on those legs and arms in a 45-minute ride. Who says you can’t stay fit and have fun at the same time? 


Ride Revolution is at Kerry Sports Manila, 5/F Shangri-La at the Fort, 30th Street corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City.


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