By Shen Mascarinas
Take a break from your usual food spots and make some belly space for the recent additions to Manila’s culinary scene. Resist the urge to eat at your favorite restaurants again, and you just might be rewarded with new delicious finds. Get out of your comfort zone; it’s about time you introduce your taste buds to new flavors.
And don’t worry, we’re here to make sure that risk pays off. Here are 8 standout newbies that will surely keep your appetite excited this March.
8. Buen Comer Poquellas
Mapagkawanggawa corner Mahabagin Street, Teacher’s Village, Diliman, Quezon City
0927 628 5241 | Facebook
Open Wednesday to Saturday from 4pm to 11pm
Budget for two – P250
Maginhawa’s streets are already decked out with culinary gems to begin with, but much to foodies’ delight, a hip and eclectic Mexican cantina recently joined the mix. People who live nearby are already frequenting this sidewalk food joint for its cheap, scrumptious and fusion Mexican grub. Aside from the ever-changing chef’s special, Buen Comer only features 8 menu items, but you can be sure that each one is packed with flavor. For first-timers, don’t miss out on Buen Comer’s Nacho Potato Crisp, Kare Kare Burrito and Longanisa Soft Taco.
7. Bread & Botany
2F The Prime, J. Elizalde corner Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Paranaque City
0917 881 5225 | Facebook
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 11am to 12mn
Budget for two – P600
Bread-lovers, search no further—Bread & Botany has arrived to liven up the sandwich game and more. Sandwich classics, always done with an interesting twist, are definitely the stars at this café. Expect none of the frozen stuff; they only use fresh ingredients to make their deliciously creative sandwiches. Take the Mr. McEgg, a spin-off of McDonald’s McMuffin, for example. Imagine homemade bread glazed with maple syrup then perfectly toasted, filled with Canadian bacon, egg, cheese and caramelized onions.
Look forward to exciting sides to go with your sandwiches, too. The Kyuchumi Fries and the classic of Kyuchimi Fried Chicken are sure palate-pleasers. Representing Botany from the café’s name, don’t leave without trying at least one of their 10 crazy variations of gin and tonic.
1F The Sapphire Bloc, Sapphire Road, Ortigas, Pasig City
(02) 246 9069 ext: 796, 0927 507 2795 | Facebook
Open everyday from 11am to 2am except Mondays (11am to 1am) and Sundays (11am to 10pm)
Budget for two – P1,300
With the unfortunate goodbye of Sunshine Kitchen at BGC comes the new beginning of The Sapphire Bloc in Ortigas. Chef Tanya Chua teamed up with celebrities Geoff and Gabby Eigenmann to give the well-loved classics from Sunshine Kitchen a different home with new and even better dish company.
Familiar dishes like the Chicken Pot Pie Soup and the Truffled Mushroom Pizza can now be ordered alongside hearty dishes like the 24-Hour Brined Pork Chop, 6-Hour Slow Roast Porchetta and Squid Ink Aglio Olio. While The Stockpile’s a lovely place for brunch up to dinner, try visiting it after hours as well, and you won’t be disappointed.
5. Happy Garden Café
Sunshine Place, 56 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air, Makati City
(02) 261 0115 | Facebook
Open Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 8pm | Sundays from 8am to 3pm
Budget for two – P1,200
May it be from their restaurants or their catering, the caliber of Bizu’s food is so established that it almost needs no more explanation. As for their latest project called the Happy Garden Café, you can get excited about the same quality, but on a healthier route.
At Happy Garden Café, you’ll actually enjoy eating healthy and organic food as the dishes are packed with flavor and made with premium ingredients. Just some must-tries are the Flower Salad with Carrot Dressing, Prawn Cake and Soft Shell Crab, as well as the Korean Beef Stew served with cauliflower rice.
4. Taqueria 101
101 Dona Soledad Avenue, Better Living Village, Don Bosco, Paranaque City
0917 722 5225 | Facebook
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 3pm to 1am
The genius brains behind famed Locavore created a new food spot that southerners are already freaking out about. Tacqueria 101 is a passion project by Chef Mikel Zaguirre and his family, which is apparent in the handmade dish components, exciting flavor combinations and warm service. Whether you’re from the south or not, you have to try the taco joint’s innovative take on Mexican cuisine.
For appetizers, the Nacho Fundido and Elote won’t disappoint. Follow it up with their Oxtail Soft Taco, Tacqueria Burger and Hanger Steak. Finish strong with the Churro Popcorn or the Sizzling Banana Pudding (or both).
3. Pound by Todd English
B3 Bonifacio High Street, 9th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
(02) 617 8633, 0977 858 8633 | Facebook
Open everyday from 11am to 11pm
Budget for two – P800
At Pound, an elegant restaurant reminiscent of the ‘20s Prohibition era serves as the ironic background for trying to fit delectable burgers in your mouth with some ounce of grace. You can pretend to be a classy lady or gentleman, and use forks and knives for as long as you can. After the first bite of the Pound Burger, however, it won’t be a surprise if you roll up your sleeves, put your napkin on your chest and get dirty.
How else can you fully enjoy a beef patty with foie gras and foie gras mousse, caramelized and crispy onions, mustard relish, lettuce and tomato? If you’re more of a chicken sandwich kind of foodie, then the T.E. Crispy Chicken Sliders will make your belly happy. As for sides, the Truffle Risotto Tater Tots and Tempura French Beans will definitely complete your meal.
2. Un Cuenca
Molito Commercial Complex, Alabang, Muntinlupa City
(02) 815 4811 | Facebook
Open everyday from 11am to 10pm
Budget for two – P1,200
Missed the fantastic fine-dining at Lolo Dad’s? The delicious magic of Chef Ariel Manuel is finally back in the form of Un Cuenca. This time the focus is on Spanish cuisine, featuring premium ingredients that are simply prepared, but done very well. Un Cuenca specializes in cochinillo, a smoky and crisp Pugon lechon, so a visit isn’t complete without trying that dish. For other sure-pleasers, get the gambas, boquerones and angulas.
1. Atelier Vivanda
If you have a special occasion coming up this March, a feast at Atelier Vivanda is absolutely the perfect place to celebrate it. Treat yourself to the expertise of Akrame Benallal, a French chef that earned his first Michelin star just six months after his restaurant opening and got his second star just a year later.
Experience the classic combination of meat and potatoes in its most moan-inducing form. Their smoked beef aged for 50 days, for example, sets the casual dining spot miles apart from similar restaurants.
Spotted other new kids on the Manila culinary block? Sound off below with your awesome finds!