Best Filipino Restaurants in Metro Manila
How do you define a good Filipino restaurant? Do you go to the places that master home cooking or do you prefer those that play with classics to offer you something completely novel? Do you even go out looking for the best Filipino restaurant when you know that the adobo at home is pretty darn amazing?
What makes a good Filipino restaurant?
Finding the best Filipino restaurant in Metro Manila is a difficult task, so we chose our favorites, from big dependable chains to quiet corners that dish out the most outstanding squid dish. If you're looking for Filipino food outside your home, these are your best bets. (This list is not ranked.)
1| Rural Kitchen of Liliw, Laguna
This tiny 30-seater restaurant in Makati features the decades-old recipes of Lola Fidelidad, re-created by her grandson, 32-year-old Justin Sarabia. Rural Kitchen puts forward the culinary stylings of Laguna, highlighting the province's stellar natural produce. Sarabia, a French Culinary Institute alum, understands that good Filipino food respects tradition, but his background allows him to amplify flavors, making everything in the menu not just good but great. Despite its unassuming location and even more reserved marketing strategy, Rural Kitchen has caught the attention of the world. It was featured in The Daily Meal's list of Asia's 101 Best Restaurants, ranking at no. 64 in its list.
- Deconstructed Adobo
- Crispy Squid
Rural Kitchen of Liliw, Laguna is at 6060 R. Palma, Makati City.
Do we even have to explain why Abe is here? Since it opened in Serendra in 2006, the LJC restaurant has become a favorite among Filipinos for its straightforward selection of Kapampangan dishes. This chain has developed a reputation of dependability and family-friendliness. If you're stumped about where to enjoy your next Sunday family lunch, you can never go wrong with the great Filipino food here. (Good to know: LJC also operates several other commendable Filipino restaurants like Bistro Remedios, Fely J's, and Lorenzo's Way.)
- Sinigang sa Ube
- Crispy Plapla
- Knockout Knuckles
3| Sentro 1771
Sentro 1771 is the first restaurant to successfully create commercial modern Filipino cuisine. Its corned beef sinigang is legendary and has been copied by many other Filipino restaurants. We love how Sentro skips the Filipiniana kitsch in favor of high-end sophistication (though the prices are incredibly reasonable for their portion sizes) in its venues. If you've ever wondered why you should eat Filipino food in a restaurant instead of at home, Sentro 1771 is your answer.
- Corned Beef Sinigang
- Fried Kesong Puti
- Crispy Adobo Catfish Flakes
4| Manam and Manam Cafe
First, we have to commend The Moment Group for creating a space that allows the friendless Filipino to eat their bulalo in peace. Manam's extensive menu is not only classified into Classics and Twists, it also offers three portion sizes, with the smallest perfect for those who want to dine in a Filipino restaurant without second cousins around. Manam Cafe, with its new line of desserts and pastries, is Manam's newest incarnation for the coffee crowd. Its sensitivity to the needs of modern diners as well as its fresh vibe makes us certain that Manam will continue to be one of the best Filipino restaurants in the years to come.
- House Crispy Sisig
- University Fried Rice
- Watermelon Sinigang
Esquire Recommends (Manam Cafe):
- Chorizo Ensaymada
- Crispy Tadyang
- Calamansi Tart
5| Mama Rosa
While modern Filipino is a catchy theme among Filipino restaurants in Manila, this quiet Kapitolyo eatery pushes that cozy, homespun atmosphere. Named after owner Ticks Dula Laurel's mother, Mama Rosa first opened in Quezon City in 1999, but closed after seven good years. It reopened in 2016, right in the middle of Metro Manila's restaurant boom. A meal at Mama Rosa is akin to a lovely family dinner. The fact that Ms. Laurel's dishes all come with its own story merely adds to its charm.
- Sinaing na Tulingan
- Kinilaw na Isda
Mama Rosa is at 9 East Capitol Drive, Kapitolyo, Pasig City.
6| Locavore Kitchen & Drinks
If you meet the owners of Locavore, you'll understand why every item on their menu is an intense food trip for the taste buds. They're loud, proud, and fun, just like their dishes. Chef Mikel Zaguirre, who's been heading the kitchen since the franchise began in 2014, knows how to expound the flavors of Filipino classics with French technique. His signature shallots-cherry-tomatoes-and-garlic confit is used to great effect on several of Locavore's dishes. When the restaurant first broke into the Filipino restaurant scene, it became famous for its headlining Sizzling Sinigang, and five branches later, Locavore has proven that it's no one-dish wonder.
- Sugpo con Mayonesa
- Hot and Sour Oxtail Sisig
- Sizzling Adobong Baka sa Gata
7| Bench Cafe
Bench Cafe is relatively new in the scene, but of all the things that makes it different, we have to highlight its price points. If we were handing out prizes for best Filipino restaurants, we're giving this one the gold for cash value. And with Chef Carlo Miguel at the helm, you'll have no problem eating here every day. (Save the fried dishes for Sundays though.)
- Tinapa Cones
- Bangus a la Pobre
- Pork Belly Sinigang sa Mansanas
Bench Cafe is at Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City; Greenbelt 3, Makati City.
Mesa is another favorite when it comes to innovative Filipino food, and its loyal following always assures it a place on best Filipino restaurant lists. Its inventive style makes it appealing to staunch traditionalists and food adventurers.
- Ostrich Salpicao
- Crispy Tilapia.
Chef JP Anglo puts Negrense cuisine at the forefront with his chain of Sarsa restaurants. Try visiting any branch and you'll always find a wait list. That in itself is a testament to Sarsa's appeal. Chef JP likes to hit the refresh button on Filipino flavors and he's one of the few talented chefs who can reinvent a dish, while still keeping its culinary integrity. The chain also mixes up the menu every six months, keeping patrons on their toes.
- Sarsa Batchoy
- Inasal Sisig
10| Friends & Family
Blogs and newspapers have already deemed this Raintree establishment as the best Filipino restaurant—if not, the best restaurant—of 2018. Here, Chef Kalel Chan and Martin Wisniewski play around, not only with Filipino dishes, but with actual Filipino culture. They have a checklist of classics, but their winningest dish, for example, is a fun hot-red "Pinoy Birthday Spaghetti." Paying tribute to the Korean invasion in Manila, they even serve a squid-ink japchae. Their light-hearted and delicious take on Pinoy diner food pulls them away from the pack.
- 7 Kinds Barbecue Isawan Platter
- Pinoy Birthday Spaghetti
- Ube Champorado
Friends & Family is at Bonifacio High Street Central, Taguig City.
The young lads behind Lampara have a dream: to spark a revolution that would change Filipino food. It's a tall order, but they're doing a great job in their cozy glass-enclosed eatery in Poblacion. The savvy chefs experiment go beyond traditional braising to coax out the flavors in their ingredients. What's most impressive in Lampara is how well they understand Filipino sensibilities. On their path to introduce contemporary Filipino stylings to the local palate, they're taking slow but deliberate (and definitely delicious) steps, drawing crowds with familiar flavors before introducing them to something bigger and bolder.
- Melon Milk
Lampara is at 5883 Enriquez Street, Makati City.
More Best Filipino Restaurants
The One Outside Manila: Balay Dako
It's difficult to write about best Filipino restaurants without including Chef Tony Boy Escalante's Balay Dako, but it's a little out of our reach. Nonetheless, when you want to take a balikbayan relative to a great place, remember that Balay Dako is a Tagaytay icon and a Filipino food institution.
Balay Dako is at Tagaytay - Nasugbu Hwy, Tagaytay.
The One That Breaks the Rules: Toyo Eatery
Chef Jordy's award-winning Toyo Eatery channels Filipino cuisine without being literal. This restaurant takes local ingredients and makes them shine so bright, it can't help but attract international headlines. To make most of this experience, we recommend you get the degustacion.
Toyo Eatery is at The Alley, Karrivin Plaza, Chino Roces Extension, Makati City.
The One That is Classic: Aristocrat
Aristocrat survived the war so we're pretty sure it can weather any storm. As one of the country's oldest restaurant chains, Artistocrat is so much a part of our everyday lives, it goes beyond lists.