The thought of lining up for something, whether it’s for your turn to board the MRT or a seat in a restaurant, is not something any decent Metro Manileño looks forward to. But the proof of the pudding is in the queuing, and trust us, these six spots are worth queueing for.
TIM HO WAN
G/F SM Mega Fashion Hall, SM Mega Mall, Mandaluyong; +63 2 4708836. Daily 12nn-9pm.
SM Mega Fashion Hall’s newest tenant is imported from Hong Kong where it enjoys a reputation for being the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant. All its branches there and in Singapore have massive queues, and it’s the same here. Tim Ho Wan serves up dim sum fare, and one or two rice dishes. Don’t let the snack-size portions deceive you, though. It can and will fill you up.
What to eat: The baked pork buns (PHP145/3 pieces) are the bestsellers but to be honest, we find them too sweet, so have them as a meal ender. Don’t miss out on the prawn dumplings (PHP160/4 pieces) and vermicelli roll with pig’s liver (PHP150/2 pieces).
Average wait time: 30 minutes to an hour, longer on peak periods.
Hot tip: You can get seated faster if you’re dining as a group of four. They also have a few tables for two. (Read: 10 things you need to know about Tim Ho Wan)
KANTO FREESTYLE BREAKFAST
6A 1st Street, Bgy Kapitolyo, Pasig City; +63 2 4002268. Daily 24/7.
Not only do you have to wait in line for a table at this corner carinderia located in a re-purposed garage, it takes at least 20 minutes to get your order delivered. It’s a unique proposition: Western-style breakfasts for less than PHP100 and gourmet-ified Pinoy dishes like dried fish served with white cheese and pesto sauce. There’s also brewed coffee served with a sprinkling of cinammon powder, though we’re not too hot about that. What’s hooked us is the creative energy in the kitchen: think Choc Nut with ganache topped with tuyo flakes. Who the hell does that in a carinderia?
What to eat: Get your ‘silog fix somewhere else and instead go for fluffy pancake with Oreo cookie butter (PHP90) or French toast with bacon and eggs (PHP90). There’s also eggs benedict (PHP90) that’s poach-perfect.
Average wait time: 15 minutes, less in the early morning.
Hot tip: Late mornings are very busy. If you ever find yourself hungry at 3am, you know where to go.
RUB RIBS & BBQ
64 Sct Rallos, Bgy Sacred Heart, Quezon City; +63 2 5012799. Daily 11am-12am.
Not to cast doubt on their hotness, but if this restaurant wasn’t the size of a doll house, we’re pretty sure there won’t be that snake of a queue outside. That said, the bright red walls, eclectic artworks and tight space makes dining at this two-storey churrascaria an amazing communal experience. Upstairs can seat 20 people while downstairs, where they grill the meat, can accommodate four diners. Be warned: the sweet smell of BBQ wafts in the air like nobody’s business.
What to eat: Start with the pepperoni melt (PHP170) and top it with baby back ribs (PHP195 for four, PHP350 for two, PHP650 solo) that come with sides (get spiced fried rice or garlic spinach and mushroom).
Average wait time: 45 minutes to an hour.
Hot tip: Reserve for a table or come between 2pm and 5pm.
THE SNACK SHACK
Roces cor JP Laurel Sts, Area 2, Bgy UP Campus, Diliman, Quezon City; +63 915 2599495. Mon-Sat 11:30am-7:30pm.
There’s no aircon nor ambiance, and it’s just a couple of chairs on the street, but the burgers at Snack Shack make all these inconveniences worth it. The patties are homemade and the burgers are freshly grilled, so you’ll need to wait around 20 minutes for them to prepare your order. While waiting, amuse yourself by checking out the community board filled with amusing messages written on Post-It notes.
What to eat: Quarter-pounder with cheese (PHP70) or half-pounder with double cheese (PHP135) and throw in a Currywurst (PHP190).
Average wait time: 30 minutes to file and pick up your order.
Hot tip: One word: pre-order or call for delivery (minimum order of PHP300 plus PHP40).
5782 Felipe St, Bgy Poblacion, Makati; +63 2 895 1919. Daily 11am-2am.
If you grew up eating hard taco shells topped with grated cheddar cheese, it’s time to move on. The tacos here are served on a bed of two soft corn tortillas: one to wrap the filling, another for what’s left behind. Fair warning: the serving portions are tiny so you could end up racking a huge bill, as the tacos are really addictive. (Read: Guide to Bgy Poblacion in Makati)
What to eat: Carne asada (PHP95) and spicy goat (PHP150) tacos.
Average wait time: 30 minutes from 6pm onwards, because it turns into a drinking hotspot.
Hot tip: Local beer is PHP35 per bottle from 2pm-7pm. If you’re just after the food, come before the office crowd arrives.
TRI-MO SHAWARMA CO
Bristol Street, Lagro Subdivision, Fairview, Quezon City. Daily 3pm-2:30am.
Who lines up for shawarma, we wonder. In Fairview, they do, and we’re told it’s not for lack of anything else to do in that side of town. Rather it’s because their slow-roasted meat is really tender and flavorful, and the shawarma is packed tight. Some diners come all the way from Parañaque (crazy, huh). During peak hours, you grab a queue number to place your order.
What to eat: Special beef shawarma with cheese (PHP75) or Sizzling Shawarma.
Average wait time: 10-15 minutes.
Hot tip: Come before 5pm. For directions, check their Facebook page.