Food

Best Filipino Restaurants in Metro Manila

Esquire's favorite Filipino restaurants.
IMAGE Mesa Facebook Page / Kai Huang
Comments

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

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

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.  

Esquire Recommends:

  1. Deconstructed Adobo
  2. Crispy Squid
  3. Bonete

Rural Kitchen of Liliw, Laguna is at 6060 R. Palma, Makati City

2| Abe

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.)

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Esquire Recommends:

  1. Sinigang sa Ube
  2. Crispy Plapla
  3. Knockout Knuckles

Abe branches

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.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Esquire Recommends:

  1. Corned Beef Sinigang
  2. Fried Kesong Puti
  3. Crispy Adobo Catfish Flakes

Sentro 1771 branches

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.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Esquire Recommends:

  1. House Crispy Sisig
  2. University Fried Rice
  3. Watermelon Sinigang

Esquire Recommends (Manam Cafe):

  1. Chorizo Ensaymada
  2. Crispy Tadyang
  3. Calamansi Tart

Manam branches

5| Mama Rosa

IMAGE: Jadrienne Ho

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.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Esquire Recommends:

  1. Gising-gising
  2. Sinaing na Tulingan
  3. Kinilaw na Isda

Mama Rosa is at 9 East Capitol Drive, Kapitolyo, Pasig City.

6| Locavore Kitchen & Drinks

IMAGE: Kai Huang

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.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Esquire Recommends:

  1. Sugpo con Mayonesa
  2. Hot and Sour Oxtail Sisig
  3. Sizzling Adobong Baka sa Gata

Locavore branches

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.)

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Esquire Recommends:

  1. Tinapa Cones
  2. Bangus a la Pobre
  3. Pork Belly Sinigang sa Mansanas

Bench Cafe is at Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City; Greenbelt 3, Makati City.

8| Mesa

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.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Esquire Recommends:

  1. Ostrich Salpicao
  2. Crispchon
  3. Crispy Tilapia.

Mesa branches

9| Sarsa 

IMAGE: Idge Mendiola

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.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Esquire Recommends:

  1. Isaw
  2. Sarsa Batchoy
  3. Inasal Sisig

Sarsa branches

10| Friends & Family

Blogs and newspapers have already deemed this Raintree establishment as the best Filipino restaurantif not, the best restaurantof 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.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Esquire Recommends:

  1. 7 Kinds Barbecue Isawan Platter
  2. Pinoy Birthday Spaghetti
  3. Ube Champorado

Friends & Family is at Bonifacio High Street Central, Taguig City.

11| Lampara

IMAGE: Kai Huang

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.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Esquire Recommends:

  1. Duck
  2. Pork
  3. 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.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

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.

Aristocrat branches

Comments
View More Articles About:
About The Author
Sasha Lim Uy
Managing Editor, EsquireMag.ph
Sasha eats to live and lives to eat. For five years, she handled SPOT.ph's food section and edited the last two installments of its Top 10 Food books. She also recently participated at the Madrid Fusion Manila as curator.
View Other Articles From Sasha
Comments
Latest Feed
 
Share
There's more to the procedure than a wax and a rip.
 
Share
Material things excite us for a short time, while memories brought by experiences linger.
 
Share
Creator Mike Flanagan says The Haunting of Bly Manor is much more terrifying than Season One.
 
Share
Congress is set to look into the BSP's lifting of a ban on ATM fee hikes.
 
Share
"Climate Services" looks like a sector of the economy entirely made up of people with no consciences at all.
 
Share
 
Share
It also makes perfect sense to invest in not just a refrigerator, but a food preservation system that will keep food as fresh as possible.
 
Share
 
Share
A new reveal about his relationship with Anakin has huge implications.
 
Share
It seems something seriously foul is afoot at SHIELD headquarters, circa 1970.
Load More Articles
Connect With Us