What’s the best way to thank your balikbayan relatives for giving you Spam, bottles of lotion and boxes of chocolates as pasalubong? Treat them out to a Pinoy meal, of course! But where to take them? We rounded up the best restaurants for devouring all-Filipino grub. Make sure to include at least a couple of these places in your balikbayan’s itinerary.
Awesome things are brewing at Brian Tenorio’s KKK Coffee. Take your balikbayan relatives to the branch at Maginhawa Street and enjoy the charming Filipino interiors. Coffee here is simple and authetically Pinoy. None of the single-origin, third-wave brouhaha. It’s something even your parents will enjoy! KKK Coffee is perfect for afternoon merienda! We recommend the favorites Kapeng Pandan and Kapeng Labuyo. KKK Coffee, 154-A Maginhawa St, Quezon City. Daily 4pm-10pm.
Industriya is an homage to the once booming shoe industry of Marikina. The restaurant used to be a shoe and leather factory, but it has now been transformed to a dining and events place with an industrial look. With it’s upcycled, hip vibe, stepping inside the restaurant is a delight. It is spacious, and the interiors are very interesting, the shoe theme is evident in the tiny details around the place. They have a 12-page menu filled with Pinoy, Japanese, American and Italian favorites. Try their crispy pata (PHP695) or their FIlipino longganisa plate (PHP225). 23 M A Roxas St, Calumpang, Marikina; +63 2 6329225. Daily 10am-10pm.
You cannot go wrong with the oldest bakery in Quezon City. Now 77 years old, this landmark at at the corner of K-1st and Judge Jimenez Streets still continues the tradition of making good bread using old-fashioned techniques. The bakery is now under the management of newspaper columnist Wilson Flores, but they’re still using old methods in baking the well-loved best-sellers. 43 Judge Jimenez corner K-1st Streets, Quezon City; +63 2 9292216. Daily 7am-12am.
A meal is never just a meal at Balaw-Balaw. The place showcases Filipino art along with the dishes they offer. The even more interesting part? They serve exotic dishes like crocodile sisig, fried frogs, kamaro and beetles. For those looking for a regular Pinoy meal, they have a wide range of Pinoy seafood and beef dishes. We recommend the group platter for small gatherings. 16 Doña Justa Street, Angono, Rizal; +63 2 6510110. Daily 10am-10pm.
Our local craft beer industry is young, but it’s growing at a pretty steady rate. As an advocate of good drinks, The Bottle Shop helped elevate the beer-drinking culture in the country. This well-loved watering hole offers a wide variety of beers from local microbreweries like Craftpoint, Katipunan Craft, Baguio Brewery and Katipunan. Drinking craft beer is a good way to introduce Pinoy flavors to millennials. How does a pandan ale or champorado stout sound? G/F Tritan Ventures Building, Paseo De Magallanes, Magallanes, Makati; +63 2 8956175. Daily 1pm-2am.
Sizzling sinigang (PHP475)? It sounds weird, we know. But this fun and refereshing take on the classic Pinoy dish has made Locavore a neighborhood favorite in the Kapitolyo area. The rest of their menu is equally interesting. They have pakbet rattatouille (PHP270) and lechon mami (PHP150). They have a wide selection of bar chow and drinks too, so it’s a good place for happy hour conversation. 10 Brixton Street, Bgy Kapitolyo, Pasig; +63 917 6218909. Daily 11:30am-2:00pm, 5pm to 10pm.
Victorino’s is an old spacious house converted into a restaurant serving classic Pinoy dishes, mostly Ilocano. It’s very homey but diners will still feel special because of the excellent food and service in the restaurant. There are so many items to choose from! We recommend the poqui-poqui and the squid dishes. For dessert and take-home snacks, there’s a corner bakery selling Henry Sison’s creations. You can’t go wrong with her cashew sansrival (PHP110) and mango chocolate tort (PHP220). 11th Jamboree St, Diliman, Quezon City; +63 2 9228558. Daily 7am-10pm.
There’s nothing like a refreshing scoop of good gelato to beat the Philippine heat. Make it even more Pinoy with interesting concoctions from Bono. Try pili di Giacomo, the latest addition to their menu of exciting flavors. They also have the award-winning mango ube symphony and taho flavors. They come up with interesting, experimental flavors every once in a while, so be on the lookout. G/F Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall, Ortigas; +63 2 6314214. Daily 10am-10pm.
9. For the health conscious: Enchanted Garden
Enchanted Farm Cafe along Commonwealth Avenue is a good option for those who want organic, locally-grown, 100% healthy produce. This hidden gem is an advocacy cafe led by Gawad Kalinga. Enchanted Farm supports social enterprises that provide livelihood for FIlipinos. Grab an Enchanted Burger (PHP150) with 80% vegetables and 20% meat. It’s also a good place to buy souvenir items and gifts with a Pinoy touch. We suggest the Theo&Philo chocolate in manggang hilaw. 463 Commonwealth Avenue cor Feria Road, Brgy. Matandang Balara, Quezon City; +63 917 8483597. Daily 10am-8pm.
10. For the lover of lechon: Pepita’s Kitchen
Pepita’s Kitchen is a great way to welcome balikbayans back home. In here, every meal is a feast. Dedet dela Fuente is a genius in the kitchen, and she’s always coming up with exciting lechon and degustation concepts. Pepita’s Kitchen recently received international attention when Adam Richman raved about their lechon on his Facebook page. In honor of Adam’s visit, Dedet introduced Richman’s Degustacion. By appointment only, call for details: +63 2 4254605.