Unlocking Metro Manila’s best kept hangout spots

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos have become more discerning and adventurous when it comes to finding gastronomic haunts.

The rise of the local food and drink scene best attests to this. It seems that every week, new bars and pubs, restaurants, and food parks open, each one offering a diverse array of food and drink choices and themes. 

For Jehrad Dolino, executive chef and co-owner of Moonshine P.U.B. X Public Urban Bar, this means that the market is embracing not just existing brands, but also new and independent ones.

Dolino tells Rappler: “People are willing to try. Before, there were only a few really good ones. But now in every street or every area, there’s at least one. That’s good for the food and beverage industry in general because people are going to try and [are] willing to step out of their boundaries and try something different.”

Billy Villareal, artist and co-owner of The Minokaua, describes the market as “very well-educated and well-traveled,” and would go out of their way to find hole-in-the-wall places. 

“The crowd is very exploratory, there are so many options and choices, that you can go to something you really like,” he says.

The dynamic Manila drinking culture

Of course, where there’s grub, there are drinks to down all that good food with. A favorite? An ice cold alcoholic brew. (READ: Open Manila: Rediscovering the city)

“Manila has a perfect amalgam of high energy bars and clubs, and laidback and well-curated pubs – making it perfect for any type of drinking occasion,” says Rohit Sakhamuri, Brand Manager for Heineken.

This, adds Sakhamuri, makes Manila “on par with other cities of the world, and truly deserves to be on the map along with other dynamic and exciting locations.”

“The surprises on offer at every turn truly bring out the best of Manila,” he adds.

Get off the beaten path

STANDOUT. Shipyard sits amid the restaurants and KTVs in Malate, serving up good pulutan fare, drinks, and music. Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

STANDOUT. Shipyard sits amid the restaurants and KTVs in Malate, serving up good pulutan fare, drinks, and music.

Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

The current landscape has become so diverse over the last few years. There are now countless gems strewn all over the Metro, offering a wide array of food and brews. 

Take the case of Malate. This district in Manila that was once known as most artistic areas in the city now has the reputation of being a red light district.

Restaurateur Daniel Mabanta remembers: “I grew up going to Malate a lot, my family is from there, essentially. It was once the coolest part of town, and the nightlife capital of Manila. Unfortunately, over the years, things have shifted to Makati, leaving Malate a little neglected,” he adds.

Mabanta recently opened The Shipyard, a restaurant and bar that serves no frills pulutan fare with ice cold drinks. Made of containers and constructed to look like a small food park, Shipyard welcomes folks looking for good grub in a relaxed environment. (READ: Mini-food park The Shipyard opens in Malate)

Through it, Mabanta hopes to help contribute to Malate’s revival.

“There are a lot of great, homegrown concepts out there that aren’t getting the justice or attention they deserve, so it’s good to support these people and give them recognition, whoever they are,” Mabanta says.

Get off the beaten path and explore the world beyond your comfort zones by getting your gastronomic fix in some of the city’s underrated hangout spots.

Trust us – you’ll find a new favorite no matter what you’re into.

Appreciate art and music

CREATIVE SPACE. Aside from offering good food and quality music, Minokaua hopes to revive Malateu2019s art scene. Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

CREATIVE SPACE. Aside from offering good food and quality music, Minokaua hopes to revive Malateu2019s art scene.

Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

If you’re into art and music, visit The Minokaua, just a few blocks away from Shipyard. Named after the giant, dragon-like bird in Filipino folklore that’s said to swallow the moon (and cause lunar eclipses), the two-storey Minokaua is an intimate performing space, gallery, restaurant-bar, and co-working space rolled into one.

The Minokauau2019s second floor also serves as its performance space. Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

The Minokauau2019s second floor also serves as its performance space.

Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

At The Minokaua, you can also meet fellow creative minds and pick each others’ brains over good food and drink. Like Mabanta, Villareal hopes that they would be able to help revive Malate’s artistic scene, too.

MEALS FOR GROUPS. Enjoy a cold bottle of beer with Minokaua fare like beef riblets, chili bombs, and Sisig Minokaua Rice. Other specialties include the Solar Eclipse (spicy rice cooked with siling labuyo), Lunar Eclipse (paella negra), and mussel pots. Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

MEALS FOR GROUPS. Enjoy a cold bottle of beer with Minokaua fare like beef riblets, chili bombs, and Sisig Minokaua Rice. Other specialties include the Solar Eclipse (spicy rice cooked with siling labuyo), Lunar Eclipse (paella negra), and mussel pots.

Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

“If you can’t find your market, then you have to create your market. What we’re trying to do is we’ll operate this, and see what market embraces Minokaua,” Villareal says. “We need to present to the market that there’s a need to listen to live music and to collaborate with people in terms of art and music.”

Chill and chow

CHILL. Tas is best experienced from dusk onwards, when the lights are all turned on. Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

CHILL. Tas is best experienced from dusk onwards, when the lights are all turned on.

Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

If you’re looking for a place you can hang out at after work, visit Tas, a rooftop bar and restaurant in the burgeoning BF Homes food scene. According to Karina Jaranilla, one of Tas’ business partners, the name was derived from the Tagalog word taas (upstairs).

Tasu2019 bar area. Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

Tasu2019 bar area.

Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

The South is known for its friendly, laidback vibe where everyone seemingly knows everyone, and Tas certainly fits the bill. Yuppies, college students, families, and even owners of other restaurants and bars from around the neighborhood come to hang out.

SKEWED. Tasu2019 specialties include a sampler platter of different skewers and their signature u201cpizzasu201d like Liempo Bacon on Margherita and Steak Salpicao on Pesto, best enjoyed with their homemade chili and garlic sauces. Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

SKEWED. Tasu2019 specialties include a sampler platter of different skewers and their signature u201cpizzasu201d like Liempo Bacon on Margherita and Steak Salpicao on Pesto, best enjoyed with their homemade chili and garlic sauces.

Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

“It’s not very competitive especially because we’re known as a roof deck. There are other restaurants that serve other things. It’s not a direct competition, it’s more of a friendship,” Jaranilla says.

Relive a bygone era

RUSTIC. Moonshineu2019s rustic interior is inspired by the Prohibition Era in the 1920s. Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

RUSTIC. Moonshineu2019s rustic interior is inspired by the Prohibition Era in the 1920s.

Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

Originally from Jupiter St. in Makati, Moonshine now sits right in the middle of the bustling Ortigas Central Business District. The new location is bigger, more inviting, and livelier – a far cry from its speakeasy concept before. Like Mabanta and Villareal with Malate, Dolino hopes to help revive “forgotten” Ortigas with Moonshine.

Moonshineu2019s bar area. Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

Moonshineu2019s bar area.

Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

Moonshine was inspired by the Prohibition Era, when the US government placed a ban on alcoholic substances. “The creativity, the never-say-die attitude [by the people back then], that’s what we wanted to capture [with Moonshine],” Dolino says.

FILIPINO WITH A TWIST. Moonshine offers old favorites with a twist in its menu like Smoked Kinilaw, Lamb Shank Caldereta, Beef Short Rib Sinigang, Crispy Kare-Kare and Dolinou2019s own fried chicken, JFC. Try their secret Danggit and Salted Egg Pizza, too! Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

FILIPINO WITH A TWIST. Moonshine offers old favorites with a twist in its menu like Smoked Kinilaw, Lamb Shank Caldereta, Beef Short Rib Sinigang, Crispy Kare-Kare and Dolinou2019s own fried chicken, JFC.

Try their secret Danggit and Salted Egg Pizza, too! Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

Despite its name, Moonshine wants to be known as a neighborhood pub. It puts importance on serving sumptuous Filipino favorites with a twist that can be enjoyed by the families, office workers, and barkadas that frequent it.

Hang out with like-minded creatives

HOLE-IN-THE-WALL. Habanero sits along Cubao Expou2019s rows of quaint and quirky shops. Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

HOLE-IN-THE-WALL. Habanero sits along Cubao Expou2019s rows of quaint and quirky shops.

Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

Habanero fits right in with Cubao Expo’s hip and creative scene with their knack for experimenting with food and drinks. Named after one of the hottest chili peppers in the world, Habanero serves Filipino dishes and cocktails that pack a spicy punch.

Habanerou2019s bar area. Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

Habanerou2019s bar area.

Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

Husband-and-wife owners Pia and Ryan Dimapilis are big fans of habanero and saw its flavor-enhancing potentials. To control the heat, Ryan, also Habanero’s head chef, employs a distillation technique that separates the heat from the flavor. They then use the final product in their sauces and marinades, as well as their signature Habanero vodka.

HEARTY. Habanero offers dishes infused by the habanero chili peppers like the Mussels Sisig Pizza, Oysters Sisig, and Lechon Habanero. Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

HEARTY. Habanero offers dishes infused by the habanero chili peppers like the Mussels Sisig Pizza, Oysters Sisig, and Lechon Habanero.

Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

Sa area na ito, friendly ‘yung mga tao. May pupunta dito mag-isa, pero mamaya may mga kasama and kausap na sila (Here, the people are friendly. You’ll see someone go here on his own, but later on you’ll see him already hanging out with other patrons),” Pia says.

More to discover

UNEARTHING GEMS u2018For me, a hidden gem is a place where the beer is cold, the food is passable, and most importantly, the music is good and melodic.u2019 Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

UNEARTHING GEMS u2018For me, a hidden gem is a place where the beer is cold, the food is passable, and most importantly, the music is good and melodic.

u2019 Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

This list barely opens Metro Manila’s throve of hidden gems. A lot more awaits to be discovered, and Mabanta encourages people to “have an open mind.”

“It’s human nature to have, as they would say in the United Kingdom, ‘your local’ the default place you go for food or drinks. But after a while routine gets boring and variety is fun. Variety is the spice of life. And this is totally relevant in the F&B scene,” he adds.

#OpenManila and be rewarded

DISCOVER AND BE REWARDED. Unlock Manilau2019s hidden gems and get a chance to win trips to cities of the world. Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

DISCOVER AND BE REWARDED. Unlock Manilau2019s hidden gems and get a chance to win trips to cities of the world.

Photo by Pauee Cadaing/Rappler

International premium brand Heineken challenges the public to take the Open Manila Challenge! All you have to do is visit participating bars, take a picture with the Open Manila sign and post it on your Instagram, and tag @heineken_ph.

You can win prizes like Heineken shirts, passport holders, and bags, and even a chance to win a trip to Amsterdam, London, and other cities of the world!

Visit www.heineken.com/ph/openmanilachallenge to see the full mechanics and list of participating venues.  – Rappler.com

Special thanks to Daniel Mabanta (Shipyard), Billy Villareal (Minokaua), Karina Jaranilla (Tas), Jehrad Dolino (Moonshine), and Pia and Ryan Dimapilis (Habanero) for helping make this pub crawl possible.

You may visit these bars and restaurants at the following addresses: 

THE SHIPYARD MALATE
578 Gen. Malvar St.
Malate, Manila
Opening hours: 6pm-3am daily

THE MINOKAUA
1951 Adriatico St.
Malate, Manila
Opening hours: 5pm-2am for the restaurant-bar, up to 7pm for the co-working space
*Minokaua is currently on soft opening and is set to fully open by end of June

TAS ROOFDECK
3/F 31 Aguirre St.
BF Homes, Parañaque City
Opening hours: 6 pm-2am (Tuesdays-Saturdays), 6 pm-12 (Sundays)

MOONSHINE P.U.B. X PUBLIC URBAN BAR
Retail L005-006, The Sapphire Bloc
Sapphire cor. Onyx cor. Ortigas, Garnet Rd.
San Antonio, Pasig City
Opening hours: 11 am-3 am (Sundays-Thursdays), 11 am-5 am (Fridays-Saturdays) 

HABANERO BAR AND KITCHEN
Cubao Expo, General Romulo Ave.
Araneta Center, Cubao QC
Opening hours: 5 pm-1 am