Food

Esquire's Best Restaurants of 2022

The dining industry was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. While there were casualties, food businesses remained steadfast, understanding their crucial role in providing a little stability in a shaky world. Today, we are honoring them: the eateries that sustained us, gave us hope for normalcy, and just made us happy.
ILLUSTRATOR WARREN ESPEJO
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There will never be one best restaurant. It will always depend on where you are, how much money you're willing to spend, and even what you're allowed to eat. Then you have to ask yourself other questions: what kind of cuisine are you thinking of? What dish will really, really hit the spot? Is this for a power lunch or a fancy anniversary dinner? Do you want wine with that? How about gin? Are you drunk right now—or were you a few hours ago?

The best food will always depend on circumstance. So, when coming up with this list, we at Esquire Philippines went for the reliables, the ones that never fail—the old guard, the fighters, the innovators, the trendsetters, the comforts, and sometimes a permutation of two or more of those traits.  

Read on for a cravings-based guide to the best restaurants in the Philippines.


Take me home.

When you just want a taste of home but traffic is too bad to get there on time.

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Your home away from home is this nook serving an array of dishes from around the world. As its name suggests, Angel’s Kitchen offers comforting food that elicits a choir of angels in every bite.

Spend on: Baked salmon in aioli potato crust, Hawaiian pork barbecue, beef taquitos, pinakbet rice with lechon bagnet

Touted by many as the best restaurant in Metro Manila when it opened, Friends & Family is Raintree Group's foray into modern Filipino food that marries nostalgia and familiar flavors.

Spend on: Putok batok platter, lechon sinigang, classic crispy pata, birthday spaghetti

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It used to be their three-cup chicken, then their xiao long bao, then more Taiwanese fare was rolled out. It’s hard to pick among a bevy of hard-hitters at Lugang. The bigger the group, the better.

Spend on: Pork xiao long bao, three-cup chicken, beef tenderloin with crispy garlic, clam stir-fried with xo sauce

When one thinks of steak, Mamou is often the first to come to mind. But it’s not just about steak. Mamou is a master purveyor of consistency, excellent service, and unhampered experiences.

Spend on: Barcia strips, Healdsburg’s harvest, Lorenzo’s truffle cream, angus ribeye

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Hatch puts just as much thought into their drinks as they did with their food selections. Enjoy comfort dishes in a stunning garden backdrop—and ask for their daily secret menu.

Spend on: Hatch burger, ube grilled cheese, Easter sandwich


Take me out of here.

When the country gets too much and you're thinking of an exit strategy.

A restaurant with serious pedigree, Duck & Buvette replaces its predecessor to bring Provençal cuisine to the 21st century. It stays true to classic French techniques, simple and steady.

Spend on: Confit of pork belly with egg and rice, 8-hour angus briskets, D&B crispy half-duck confit, crispy potato pave and duck egg

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Old Swiss Inn carries on its grand tradition of traditional Swiss and European fare, from roast meats and carvings to its famous raclette.

Spend on: Pastrami, slow-roast angus beef belly, raclette cheese

The Royal Indian Curry House is a four-storey Indian-Pakistani restaurant that churns out the most jaw-dropping South Asian cuisine. It labels itself as a sports bar, and its luxurious interiors and strongly flavored dishes definitely hit a home run every time.

Spend on: Chicken vindaloo, mutton rogan josh, Goan-style prawn curry

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Cantonese and Szechuan cuisine continues to evolve in Waterfront’s premier and elegant Chinese restaurant Tin Gow. Their All-You-Can-Eat Dimsum is award-winning and a fave of many prominent Fil-Chi clans.

Spend on: Assam prawns, shredded chicken hor soup, Malaysian chicken curry, stuffed eggplant and pork humba with black fungus

The busiest restaurant in D’Mall, Aria Cucina Italiana is the place for pizza, pasta—and when you don’t know what to eat because their menu is huge! Don’t skip the antipasti, like prosciutto-wrapped mango.

Spend on: Calamari impanati, pollo arrosto, seafood pasta, quattro formaggi, prosciutto pizza, tiramisu

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One of Baguio City's most beloved spots, Lemon and Olives offers juicy, flavorful, and hearty Greek dishes for tourists keen on dining in.

Spend on: Saganaki, souvlaki plate, L&O salad

Happy Tummy has built a loyal following since its Ketchup Community days for its comforting takes on Thai dishes.

Spend on: Pad thai, fried tilapia with tamarind sauce, Thai fried chicken


Beyond the food.

When you want to feed your soul, too.

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Just like the trip to this restaurant, a meal at Antonio’s is a journey of surprises. Chef Tony Boy Escalente showcases precision in the smallest details–from flavors to service to ambiance.

Spend on: Dry-aged grilled angus rib eye, duck leg confit, steak tartare, raclette, dalandan juice

The gorgeous art deco interiors at Blackbird isn't the only reason why the Makati institution is splashed across social media during every anniversary, birthday, or milestone. Chef Colin Mackay fuses Asian and modern European fare to deliver meals that are special events in themselves.

Spend on: Sauteed slipper lobster, lamb rendang, grilled pork belly, the Blackbird burger

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One of Margarita Fores' most upscale dining concepts, Lusso never scrimps on indulgence, from the caviar drizzled atop its Luxe Fries to the free range chicken used to create its chicken veronique. 

Spend on: Diwal spaghettini with bottarga di muggine, demi-pound burger, chicken veronique, crepe mille-feuille

By Circa 1900, Cicada Tapas and Bar offers affordable yet high-class comfort food and a mesmerizing ambiance that brings heritage and art to a whole new level.

Spend on: Sizzling shrimp, squid & chorizo with paprika and garlic, seafood risotto with squid, prawn, shrimp, oregano, chives & turmeric, sizzling callos and lengua Madrid style

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Balik Bukid Farm & Kitchen, a farm-to-table eatery, boasts conscious dining with a local vibe. Settle into vibrantly upcycled wooden furniture, dig into farm-fresh Filipino creations, and catch some live music if you’re lucky.

Spend on: Sinaing sa gata, binalot na adobong dilaw, seafood express

What began as a home kitchen for chef/owner Luigi Barbolla is now a top-rated resto in Boracay. Lanterna specializes in carpaccios, pasta and Italian cocktails. It’s homey and comfortable, surrounded by a garden.

Spend on: Fish and tenderloin carpaccios, beet pasta in Gorgonzola sauce, Greek salad, seafood pasta

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Serving a contemporary (and sinful) take on Filipino dishes from a heritage home, Sau del Rosario's 25 Seeds brings tradition to the 21st century.

Spend on: Crispy pork belly truffled macadamia kare-kare, crispy pork belly stuffed with bringhe, pata time

With Foggy Mountain Cookhouse, Chef Babes Reyes opens his family home in Baguio to diners looking to enjoy his rustic comfort dishes while being treated to a gorgeous city view.

Spend on: Roasted Italian herbed chicken, bottarga pasta, premium artisan ice cream with fresh strawberries in balsamic vinegar and muscovado sugar


Bold and beautiful.

When you need a wake-up call via in-your-face flavors.

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Simple and clean but with a punch of bold flavors—this is the best way to describe the elegance of Azuthai’s Thai offerings. Craving pad thai? You know where to go.

Spend on: Shrimp pad thai, shrimp cake, pandan chicken, pomelo salad

One of the most well-known Greek restaurants in the metro, Cyma remains the go-to of Manila's diners looking to indulge in no-fail Mediterranean flavors and hearty servings.

Spend on: Roka salata, pastisado, lamb gyro, paidakia

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Chef Mikel Zaguirre combines his French culinary background with his Filipino upbringing to resounding success. Think of your favorite Filipino dish. Locavore takes it and amps the flavor 10 times—at least.

Spend on: Kinilaw, fried oyster sisig, squid kare-kare, kimchi + sinigang, sizzling sinigang, sugpo con mayonesa

Filipino food made fun—that's how Manam draws its diners in. When eating out sometimes means taking a break from Filipino cuisine, Moment Group's Manam adds enjoyment and vibrance to local favorites.

Spend on: House crispy sisig, crispy pancit palabok, sinigang na beef short rib and watermelon

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When Chef Niño Laus opened his intimate garden restaurant, he was certainly on the cutting-edge, creating ingenious combinations that sounded intriguing on paper but made sense on the plate. Over 10 years later, his trendsetting ways have proven to be a classic.

Spend on: Wild mangosteen duck, braised shortribs, vegan scallops

Hamada continues to offer diners with a delightful Teppanyaki-style presentation and offers some of the most authentically Japanese dishes in the summer capital.

Spend on: Teppanyaki, sushi boat, US angus rib-eye

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Forget Good TasteCathy's is the local haunt for Chinese eats, a true insider tidbit from those in the know.

Spend on: Buttered chicken, yang chow, lechon chopsuey


Give me something new.

When you want to experience a creative explosion.

Chef Tina Legarda is a master of comfort cookery. At Bamba Bistro, she plays around with fresh ingredients and bold flavors to come up with awe-inspiring dishes not seen anywhere else in the world.

Spend on: Artichoke crostini, tindahan ni Maria, French onion mac n’ cheese, le chon sliders

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The ingenuity of chefs Carlos Rodriguez Garcia and Tricia MacDonald shine in Black Pig’s small menu that shows off refined techniques and ingredients via perfect dishes anyone would love.

Spend on: Japanese black cod, beetroot dumpling, beef Wellington

At the Detroit-syle pizza's height of popularity, Crosta Pizzeria once situated in the grittier part of Poblacion led the pack with their signature roni cups and unmistakable branding.

Spend on: Roni Sicilian Detroit-style square pizza, artichoke-stuffed crust

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Chef Josh Boutwood's playground was originally a reservation-only "sophisticated dining" establishment that puts the spotlight on the ingredients, never putting more than three and coaxing out each's maximum impact. When Test Kitchen reopened in 2019, he maintains that credo but turned it into a more accessible and approachable space.

Spend on: Charcuterie

Chef Peter Montemayor’s creative approach to food and drinks is why True Home Bistro is always full. Friday is G&T night—delicious mixes with herbs and chilis. 

Spend on: Pad thai, seafood laksa, tuna tacos, carbonara, chicken satay

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Self-taught chef Dennis Lim transforms a rustic dining room of brick and wood into his workspace as he puts the finishing touches on his own hearty homemade comfort food, served family-style.

Spend on: Caveman's shank

Labeling itself as an "artisan restaurant," tourists come to The Barn to enjoy scenic dining, captivating interiors, and elevated takes on comforting dishes.

Spend on: Smoked etag carbonara, steak platter, truffle fries, bruschetta

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Chef Waya presents vibrant and eclectic dishes from various cuisines, while remaining inclusive for eaters of all preferences with vegan and low-carb options in their menu.

Spend on: Indian butter chicken, Indonesian beef rendang


Small bites, big flavors.

When you don't rely on size for satisfaction.

A corporate executive turned his culinary dreams into reality with Bar Pintxos. From having to explain what pintxos was, this restaurant has become a premier Spanish destination all over the country.

Spend on: Gilda, boquerones uni, bacalao, beef cheeks

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Gallery by Chele is award-winning chef Chele Gonzalez's love letter to the Philippines, as he scours the country and the region for prime ingredients and takes inspiration from the most modest dishes. These are painstakingly assembled in an open kitchen where indoor diners at Gallery can watch as they wait for their next course.

Spend on: Txuleton steak, bites, fired! pulpo, burnt Basque cheesecake

The genius culinary capabilities of chef Bruce Ricketts are on full display at Mecha Uma. Here, he playfully pieces together immaculate ingredients for a one-of-a-kind Japanese dining experience.

Spend on: Tasting menu

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This modern French restaurant is run by Miko Calo and a formidable team that includes Elbert Cuenca, Alain Borger, and RJ Galang. Metronome opened with a mission to appease the higher expectations of Manila's well-traveled.

Spend on: Tasting menu

Recognized as the “Best Restaurant in Southeast Asia” by the IATHR in 2011, Anzani is a go-to for New Mediterranean cuisine and good old-fashioned wine tasting.

Spend on: Tuna carpaccio, poached Chilean mussels, Anzani’s club


Not-too-fast food.

When you want fast food but don't want the guilt.

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Most PH-based Italians would recommend this longstanding eatery. Caruso doesn't call for attention. Instead, it relies on a reputation for classic fine Milanese fare that will never let you down. 

Spend on: Spaghetti scoglio al pomodoro, bistecca ala Fiorentina, ossobuco di vitello alla Milanese

Raintree graciously brought back their famous diner Jones All Day for the 21st century. That fun '50s vibe has matured into an all-day neighborhood bistro that caters to everyone.

Spend on: Mr. Jones Filipino breakfast, Jones seafood tower, katsu dynamite

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Another brainchild of chef Bruce Ricketts, Sensei was a former hole-in-the-wall that has leveled up into an urban dining spot. But the Japanese selection is always dependable, always pleasurable.

Spend on: Salmon skin maki, tuna tataki salad, tempura donburi, hanger steak

Chef Francis Lim's former sandwich place became a Gen Z hotspot in 2020 and a takeout favorite during the pandemic. Tipple & Slaw's menu is mostly comfort food. However simple it may be, it does set a standard for that kind of cuisine.

Spend on: Umami steak rice, shawarma rice, salmon poke, angus beef spaghetti

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Original Tex-Mex recipes are now in the heart of Metro Cebu. Puesto at the Greenery is a love song to those seeking soul food and the occasional Beef Koobideh that helps one get their day going.

Spend on: Beef koobideh, grilled chicken quesadillas, and el grande ribs

Opened in 2020 by an Italian chef smack in the middle of the pandemic, great reviews have made Cesare Ristorante Italiano the new go-to for authentic Italian pleasures among discerning diners.

Spend on: Tortelli/ravioli, burrata, risotto ossobuco

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La-ud recently revamped its menu. Its a la carte servings are for sharing while the buffet is exceptional for its price. You can dip in Hue Hotel’s huge swimming pool before or after your meal.

Spend on: Baby back ribs, pinakbet, grilled chicken/pork, four-cheese pizza 


Tale as old as time.

When you want to forget the present and go back to happier times.

Chef Jessie Sincioco is one of the chefs who built the foundations of local gastronomy. Her namesake restaurant serves topnotch French dishes amusingly named after friends and family.

Spend on: Grilled Chilean sea bass with goose liver, pasta a la creme with truffle, chocolate gateau a la Teddy Keng

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Can you believe that the best sisig in town comes from this Spanish restaurant? But beyond that best-seller, Cirkulo dishes out some of the Metro’s most delectable tapas and paellas.

Spend on: Cabeza de cerdo, paella montana, slow roasted US beef belly, warm white chocolate bread pudding

Everyone in Davao has a Dencia’s storyit’s that kind of place. Opened in the 1960s, today Dencia’s continues to serve comforting bowls of lugaw that always bring back childhood memories.

Spend on: Arrozcaldo, lugao goto, tokwa’t baboy

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Tola treats you to a cross-country culinary feast encompassing classic Filipino dishes and Davaoeño favorites. Bonus: You get to feast away in a beautifully restored heritage house built in 1929.

Spend on: Ang bulli, chicken pyanggang, inihaw na panga ng malasugi

Everybody's Cafe shows us exactly why Pampanga is the food capital of the Philippines. With its heritage mainstays and relatively exotic menu items, this Kapampangan classic is always worth a pitstop.

Spend on: Adobong camaro, adobong batute, morcon, caldereta

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Named multiple times in the Miele Guide, Hill Station never fails to impress with its bygone era-lodge ambiance and cuisine of international flavors.

Spend on: Hill Station green garden salad, salpicado, paella negra

Craft 1945 pays homage to "old Baguio," retrofitting an old heritage home while serving local brews from Baguio Craft Brewery.

Spend on: Paella Valenciana, gambas chorizo


I want my Happy Meal.

When you just want to be a kid again.

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An institution since 1997, Cibo put Chef Margarita Fores on the map and is the cornerstone of her Italian culinary empire that includes Lusso and Grace Park.

Spend on: Spinaci zola, penne al telefono, linguini alla ghiotta, gamberetti shrimp

Is there any room for improvement for classic Filipino dishes? Milkyway Cafe shows the way by employing exceptional ingredients and precise techniques to turn classic even more heartwarming.

Spend on: BBQ spareribs, lumpiang ubod, U.S. bistek Tagalog, halo-halo

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Delicious food right beside one of Cebu City's most loved tap rooms? Say less! Sal's Kitchen has some of the most beautiful selection of burgers, tacos, and shrimp poppers in the city. 

Spend on: House burger, cheeseburger deluxe, pollo taco, sausage plate with chimichurri

Zubuchon's roasted pig proves that not all lechon are created equal. Stuffed to the brim and roasted with precision, this lechon is the true gold standard. 

Spend on: Zubuchon original, Zubuchon boneless, monggo, grilled scallops

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Looking to go from dinner to drinks? Huckleberry’s your guy. It guarantees a lip-smacking Southern US feast, plus whips up mean cocktails to make the merriment last longer.

Spend on: Southern fried chicken with corn muffins, shrimp and crab muddy mac & cheese, beignets à la café du monde with hot chocolate dip

Sunsets are best at Diniwid Beach—it’s quieter, you can watch the locals pull in their boats at the end of the day. Mama’s Fish House specializes in seafood but its most famous dish is crispy bagnet. 

Spend on: Crispy bagnet, grilled mahi mahi, chicken adobo, tuna rolls 

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Tucked in the quiet neighborhood of Bakakeng is Ozark Diner, serving up authentic American Southern food based on Chef Kevin Mize's upbringing in Arkansas.

Spend on: Nashville fried chicken & biscuits, not your granny's meatloaf, hot fried chicken sandwich, savannah seafood & grits

Samgyupsal is everywhere now—but outdoor KBBQ in cool weather has its own charm, and Korean Palace raises the bar with its meat selections and well-curated side dishes.

Spend on: Unlimited KBBQ


Burn baby burn.

When you need to keep the acid reflux at bay.

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Earth Kitchen started as a showcase for local agricultural produce, but it's come into its own as a farm-to-table eatery with imaginative combinations and unfailing flavors.

Spend on: Fresh mushroom soup, pumpkin and kesong puti, beef kebab, roast chicken

This restaurant is among the pioneers of the local farm-to-table movement. From the get-go, Green Pastures has always championed sustainable feasting with emphasis on locally sourced produce.

Spend on: Korean fried cauliflower, straciatella, hot cheese shrimp roll, gochujang cheeseburger

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Rhea Rizzo created Mrs. Saldo's, her refined jungle of a restaurant, to answer a call that had been a long time coming. The classically trained chef gave up her career to prioritize her family, but soon found herself returning to the fold after watching Gaggan Anand's Chef's Table episode. She then emailed the Thailand-based chef for a job opportunity where she received further training. In honor of her kids, she designed her private-dining eatery to be inclusive while her menu is diverse, representative of the places she's learned and the journey she's been on.

Spend on: Beef Wellington, lamb curry, vegan ban xeoh

Plants are front and center at this dairy-free, meat-free, egg-free, vegan-friendly spot. Clean Cafe’s burgers, pizzas, and munchers will have you going, “So good, I can’t believe it’s plant-based!”

Spend on: Tempeh burger, cauli burger, pesto pizza, lasagna

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A farm-to-table experience, Bistro Lokal offers a vibrant take on Asian flavors and Filipino dishes with Cordilleran dishes.

Spend on: Laing pebbles, crispy bagnet in binagoongan sauce, ube cheese pandesal


Keeping it on the down low.

When you don't want others to find out your secret hideaway.

Who would have thought that a band of millennials could muster enough skill and talent to revolutionize Filipino food? Every intricate dish that comes out of Hapag’s kitchen emboldens Filipino pride.

Spend on: 8-course tasting menu

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If you want quality Japanese fare, make a beeline for the wood-paneled interiors of Kazunori. In true Japanese fashion, culinary artisans were brought in to perfect every item on the menu.

Spend on: Saito's Special, uni cream spaghettini, kaisen chirashi, kakiage

La Spezia is a neighborhood Italian haunt run by twentysomething chefs with big dreams of challenging the local restaurant scene. With endless creativity and a no-cutting-corners attitude, they're able to create mindblowing plays on Italian classics.

Spend on: Burrata, spaghetti alla carbonara, spaghetti con ricci di mare, bistecca rib-eye, stinco de agnello 

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Adaptability and fine, fine food keep M Dining at the top of its game over a decade since it opened. The kitchen is headed by New York-trained Tom Bascon who gave the place and menu a refresh, focusing on a produce-driven approach and playing with Asian flavors. Former chef Tippi Tambunting took on the managerial reins.

Spend on: Foie gras terrine, super prime rib special, tripe and merguez stew, ricotta ravioli

Caterer and private chef Ani Cortez challenges the arguably sated palate of Kapampangans by creating innovative Japanese and European tasting menus set in a hidden location.

Spend on: Lobster sando, poached Hokkaido oyster  

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Tourists will love 113 Wagner and its charming garden setting, with dishes that taste as good as they look. Remember to reserve in advance.

Spend on: Farm fresh food set including neptune's catch linguini pasta and sous vide UK grass-fed striploin steak

Café by the Ruins' charming, old-world vibe remains timeless and worth repeated visits in the City of Pines. It is a particularly notable spot for breakfast.

Spend on: Crispy tapa, kamote bread, champorado


Carb your enthusiasm.

When only carbs can save your day.

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When brick-oven pizzas were just gaining mass consciousness, Gino’s Pizza had already established a cult following. Rightly so because their crustsand their masterful flavor combinationsdeserve no less.

Spend on: Burrata, SMEGG pizza, BOMB pizza, salted egg pasta

Dishing out good vibes since the ‘70s, Pancake House is everyone’s favorite destination for no-frills, all-day comfort food. The pancakes, waffles, fried chicken, spaghettialways a good decision.

Spend on: Blueberry pancakes, spaghetti with meat sauce, classic pan chicken, best taco in town

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A former hotel chef pursued his own path by opening a high-quality Italian restaurant in a gas station. It's an amusing story, but the pasta at Va Bene is seriously good. Since then, Chef Massimo Veronesi has opened more branches, exposing more Filipino diners to truly authentic Italian pasta.

Spend on: Chicken Milanese, black-ink pappardelle, gnocchi gorgonzola

The whiff of freshly cooked bibingka, vibrancy of the pancit luglog, chatter of old regulars, delicateness of a cool guinumis. Dining at Via Mare is a sensory experience always to be treasured.

Spend on: Pancit luglog, bibingka, puto bumbong, crispy pork binagoongan

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Homemade and hand-tossed pizzas are what it’s all about for Tavolata. The interior design of the restaurant is stellar but the food paired with Italian liquor steals the entire show.

Spend on: Pork Milanese, Creekstone Farms prime black angus, margherita pizza, crab garganelli

Fig & Berry is a relative newcomer from the same group that brought us dessert haven Cioccolo. This restaurant ventures into less casual dining to bring us an upscale bistro with masterfully prepared and tender meat dishes.

Spend on: Roast beef with pomme puree and vegetables, apple brined pork tomahawk with apricot glaze, karubi beef with kimchi fried rice

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While Amare Cucina has managed to branch out of Baguio, a visit to their original home base and the brick-oven pizzas is a must.

Spend on: Gorgonzola pizza, truffle pasta, quattro formaggi spinach dip


Pls forgive me.

When you want to make it up to your partner.

Grace Park, Margarita Fores' farm-to-table restaurant, started a revolution of conscientious dining in the Philippines. 

Spend on: Organic scotch eggs, orechiette, muscovado beef belly, cauliflower clam chowder, cuatros leches

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Heartwarming Korean fare made for the Filipino market is the name of Korea Garden’s game. That beef stew, the bibimbap, the japchaesent straight from eomeoni’s kitchen.

Spend on: Kalbi jjim, kimchijeon, Korean fried chicken, nakji bokkeum

Meats the Argentine way? This steakhouse is the go-to when you want beautiful, grilled beef (parilla). La Cabrera has the crowdpleasers, but it's a pro in employing more unusual cuts that are bursting with flavor.

Spend on: Entrana, cuadril, or ojo de bife

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The closest thing to a getaway to Bangkok without paying for airfare is a meal at People’s Palace. The food is authentic, the ingredients are fresh, the ambiance is luxe, and the wait staff is competent.

Spend on: Thom kha gai, som tam, khao soi gai, Thai tako

Found literally on one of Cebu’s highest peaks, Top of Cebu is a no-brainer for anyone who wants delicious Cebuano dishes paired with breathtaking views of the metro and a romantic ambiance.

Spend on: Sizzling sinigang, gambas, malunggay healing tea

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Rainforest Kichene is perhaps chef and restaurateur Vince Garcia's boldest dining concept with a selection of savory menu offerings that are never a miss.

Spend on: Salt-crusted lechon belly, signature paella

Canto is beloved for its ribs, but for those who want a more refined experience, their newest venture Loop offers Canto favorites in a more elegant setting.

Spend on: Beef ribs, canto burger, lomo ribs


Baby bucks.

When shopping ate up your food budget.

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Krapow owner Reggie Prospero has all but perfected Thai street food in his humble Poblacion joint.

Spend on: Pad krapow moo sub, pad pak boong moo krob, tom yum goong nam sai

A trip to Davao isn’t complete without sampling the seafood. For that requisite seafood binge, you can’t go wrong with Yellow Fin Seafood Restaurant, which is well-known for fresh catch prepared in flavorsome ways.

Spend on: Tuna tail adobo, sizzling seafood platter, tuna laing, greaseless fried chicken

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You’ll often find it full with digital nomads having Vietnamese coffee, while lazy dogs Chilli and Miel sniff around for a pat. It’s friendly, homey, and beloved by locals.

Spend on: Chicken/pork adobo flakes, overnight oats, picadillo, chicken curry, monggo

What's Pampanga without its synonymous sisig, and what's sisig if not made from JunJun's Restaurant, the institution that many of us grew up alongside.

Spend on: Sisig, pork barbecue, chicken barbecue 

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Tucked in an old house, Chaya is one of the locals' go-to places in Baguio for some bang-for-your-buck contemporary Japanese fare. 

Spend on: Cold tempura soba, sashimi variety, chicken teriyaki salad

A must for anyone visiting Cebu. The Oriental Spice Gourmet offers authentic and delicious Malaysian food and a unique dining experience—the owner, himself guides you through the menu!

Spend on: Char kwetiau, nasi goreng, roti, and noodle pad Thai


Leave me alone.

When you don't want anyone to see how big you bite.

 

Touted as shrines for ramen, Mendokoro and its sibling Yushoken serve piping hot bowls of comfort for any weary pilgrim. 

Spend on: Shoyu ramen, tantanmen, gyokai tsukemen, gyoza

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This proudly homegrown brand challenges established Japanese restaurants at their own game. Since 2011, Yabu has consistently kept people lining up for their perfectly cooked breaded meat cutlets. More importantly, the quality has remained unchanged.

Spend on: Mechi katsu, curry katsu set, classic oyakodon

Dedicated to avid fans and travelling, the Banana Pancake Trail offers dishes that anyone would find when going through the same Southeast Asian backpacking route it was named after. 

Spend on: Shrimp pad thai, hokkien mee, pad kee mao, ch? giò

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Order some pasta, pair it with coffee, and have the loveliest time in this plant-bedecked, yellow-and-brick house-turned-restaurant tucked away in a residential village. And don’t forget the dessert when you’re at Lara Mia Cafe & Bistro. 

Spend on: Bianca verde pizza, seafood marinara, purple haze (ube crack cake), affogato dream with house-made gelato

A 14-seater ramen bar in Baguio, Agara Ramen serves umami, classic, and authentic ramen bowls in the city.

Spend on: Karai miso tsukemen, tonkotso shoyu, karaage

Having survived a big move from an iconic address to a noticeable rebrand, Iguana's has consistently served mouthwatering Mexican fare for decades.

Spend on: Faheeta boreeta, enchilladas del norte


Flying high.

When the size of the bird matters.

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When family gatherings call for big plates, Peking Duck immediately comes to mind. A franchise from Hong Kong, Peking Garden brings authentic Northern Chinese meals to our shores and allows us a taste of its namesake duck and other umami-filled dishes.

Spend on: Shark's Fin Soup, Peking duck, Buddha Jumps Over the Wall, prawns with salted egg

A perfect day in Boracay will always consist of a Spicebird meal, a comforting assembly of piri-piri hard-hitters matched with a troop of bold flavors. 

Spend on: Piri-piri chicken board, chicken skin, double happiness sundae

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New to town, Wu Xing introduces an extensive dim sum menu and the juiciest Peking duck the province has seen yet.

Spend on: Traditional wood-roasted Peking duck, crispy soft tofu with hoisin sauce, roasted pork belly 

The G1 Hotel in-house restaurant has a small menu, but the wings alone are worth the visit. The buffalo wings have a smoky depth to their tangy flavor.

Spend on: Buffalo wings, salted egg wings

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Originally located in what locals call Koreatown, Boom Chicken pioneered the saucy and succulent Korean fried chicken that's been a long-standing go-to.

Spend on: Original fried and spicy sweet chicken, rice cake breast


One of each.

When you want to order everything on the menu.

Lagrima is the taqueria Manila deserves. The specialty of the house: no-frills, honest-to-goodness tacos filled, topped, and smothered with all that is good in this world.

Spend on: Carne asada tacos, shrimp tacos, super nachos, vegan horchata

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Tsukiji stands out amid trendier places for its unapologetically classic take on Japanese cuisine and its reverence for fresh seafood, much like its namesake. 

Spend on: Special daimyo chirashi sushi, special mixed sashimi, red bean ice cream

The quintessential brunch spot and neighborhood bakery whose claim to fame was initially its cronuts in 2013 has cemented its place as an all-arounder. Wildflour dishes out options for every meal of the day—from fresh pastries for breakfast to after-meal cocktails and beyond.

Spend on: Kimchi fried rice and steak, squid ink pasta, double cheeseburger

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Your Local spells hip to a T. But beyond the cool vibes this restaurant gives off is a mission to reintroduce Asian fusion comfort food to discerning Filipino diners. So far, so good!

Spend on: Feel good chicken, chili crab bun, torched salmon donburi, lamb rendang

Nothing beats meat when it comes to simplicity and pure deliciousness. Luckily for many Cebuanos, the best rib-eyes, pork chops, and steaks in town can be found in Luzern Steakhouse.

Spend on: St. Moritz porkchop, USDA ribeye steak, USDA tenderloin steak, chicken cordon blue

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Tiny Kitchen used to be tiny—literally. Now, it commands a sprawling yet still homey space that families and big groups flock to for festive paella and other richly flavored Spanish creations.

Spend on: Paella valenciana, paella negra, gambas al a jillo

Now back at its original location and opening a new one in Station 1 soon, Sunny Side Cafe first made its name for its fluffy pancakes and Kitayama beef tapsilog, but its menu now includes pizzas and calzone.

Spend on: Roesti, Kitayama tapsilog, bacon and egg bun, tuna salpicao, rose and lychee pancake

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Chef's Home serves up great Asian fusion cuisine, a must-try in the summer capital.

Spend on: Curry laksa, nasi lemak, roti canai with boneless chicken curry


Staff meal.

When your boss asks for suggestions on where to treat the team.

Rambla boasts itself as an open kitchen and a prime cocktail bar. But a better experience comes when their food is allowed to speak for the caliber of culinary prowess dedicated to each plate.

Spend on: Spherical olives, jamon iberico and cepes air baguettes, empanada de foie y pina, cochinillo paella

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Purveyor of the best of Spanish cuisine and wine, Terry's Bistro introduced its signature paella to Manila's food scene and we have never been the same.        

Spend on: Seafood paella, black paella, chorizo Terry on piggy back, chistorrado

Ahfat Seafoods Plaza is a long-standing institution in Davao City dining. This bustling Chinese restaurant reliably churns out hot and tasty plates that keep it firmly in the hearts—and palates—of locals.

Spend on: Green seafood soup, pata tim, steamed crab with garlic

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Only three months old, Salsa Fusion has been packing in the crowds with its Mexican-Spanish-Filipino fusion food. Beautifully plated; tasty, big servings.

Spend on: Porchetta bagnet, huevo benedicto, paella de mariscos, nutella con saba empanada

Part-Korean grill, part-rooftop steakhouse, Marriott's Smoki Moto not only plates a memorable Australian Angus Rib Eye, but has positioned itself as a no-fail option for special occasions.

Spend on: Wagyu rib eye steak, LA grill

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The Manor may be the most popular hotel in Baguio, but Le Chef can stand on its own merits. Come in for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and enjoy its European offerings.

Spend on: Baked baby lamb rack herb de Provence, pan-fried goose liver & glazed apple salad, chef Ricky's pesto


Too cool for school.

When you need something to warm you up.

Three words: corned beef sinigang. It's Sentro 1771's most popular dish and it sort of overshadows everything else. Sentro 1771 is an innovator in modern Filipino cuisine and its most impressive balancing act is subverting convention without lambasting tradition.

Spend on: Corned beef sinigang, Rated GG, fried kesong puti

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For a satisfying bowl of ramen in a low-key locale, head to the 12-seater Taichou Izakaya. Scoot into the bar or sink into the tatami and slurp to your heart’s content.

Spend on: Hell ramen, kumamoto, okonomiyaki, karaage

Azure specializes in Asian cuisines so you can do a culinary tour in one meal. It’s chef Raj Chouhan’s laksa that has people coming back—and the gorgeous views of Crimson’s private beach.

Spend on: Laksa, ahi tuna poke, dragon and spider rolls, salmon chahan

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Yes Pho, a Vietnamese joint, is big on flavor with dishes like pho and spring rolls made better by fresh Baguio produce.

Spend on: Special pho, bun cha, fried egg roll


Awe and wow.

When you want to be left speechless.

A mainstay on many international restaurant lists, Chef Jordy Navarra's Toyo Eatery continues to promote a higher level of Filipino dining. Its unique approach centers on using native culinary techniques from local kitchens and churning out inventive fare.

Spend on: Tasting menu

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Another product of Colin Mackay's talents, Sala's timeless French menu offers all the elegance and meticulous detail of the cuisine without the pomp.

Spend on: Tasting menu

Jason and Irha Atherton's Spanish tapas restaurant is a destination for both locals and tourists. While The Pig & Palm’s menu is outwardly a marriage of classic and modern Spanish flavors, there's an obvious nod to Cebu (Irha's hometown) through the use of native ingredients.

Spend on: Slow-cooked shortribs, poached red grouper, basil sorbet

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The island's top fine-dining resto, Dos Mestizos, is chef Binggoy Remedios’ tribute to the Spanish dishes he grew up eating. Veggies are grown in Remedios' own farm in Caticlan.

Spend on: Blue-cheese croquettas, paella negra, Aklan oysters, salpicao, manchego platter, steaks

Seasoned chef Claude Tayag's culinary skills put Pampanga on the map when he reinvented beloved heirloom recipes—think lola's kare-kare—and presented them anew at Bale Dutung. 

Spend on: Ensaladang pako, kare-kare dagat, lechon 5-ways

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You're in for a unique Baguio dining experience with Baguio Mountain Man and his roof deck kitchen where his culinary delights are created on a huge fire pit.

Spend on: Kinuday, onion jam, watercress, and apple on kamote bread; Baguio chicken rice

If getting a taste of Cordillera cuisine is on your list, then Farmer's Daughter is a great place to start, especially for those new to the food.

Spend on: Sungo guisado, kinuday, pinikpikan, pinuneg

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Chef Josh Boutwood's reservation-only eatery is where you go when you want to excite your senses. He offers a sensory-provoking, interactive dining experience that truly pushes the boundaries of the local culinary landscape.

Spend on: Tasting menu


Esquire’s Best Restaurants Team

Editor: Sasha Mariposa
Associate Editor: Idge Mendiola
Writers: Cheekie Albay, Sam Beltran, Hannah Lazatin, John Sitchon, Tanya Lara
Layout artist: Rachel Munsayac

Discover the best of culture, business, and style from Esquire Philippines. Visit Quento for more stories and subscribe to our YouTube channel for new videos. 

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