You don’t really need much reason to enjoy Filipino favorites like adobo and lechon, but here’s one you can say to yourself when you’re feeling guilty about the carbo-loading: It’s Filipino Food Month!
On Tuesday, the government announced that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has officially declared April “Filipino Food Month,” an initiative that aims to honor our culinary traditions and support farmers and agriculture communities.
We’re not exactly sure how the government plans to celebrate the event, but for us, it’s all about modern Filipino cuisine.
That means forgetting everything you know about Filipino food (including your mom’s recipes) and trying dishes like kare kare on a stick, sizzling sinigang, and palabok negra — we promise you’ll love them.
Alamat Filipino Pub & Deli
Filipino meals are usually served family style, with a huge bowl of rice and various plates of ulam (dishes/courses) lined up at the center of the table, but Alamat in Makati’s hip Poblacion district forgets all that and presents local food in a casual pub setting.
You can pick from their selection of regional longganisas (sausages) (PHP120/US$2.30) for some easy pika-pikas (tapas) or, for something really different, order their kare kare skewers (PHP125/US$2.40), a deconstructed version of the classic oxtail in peanut sauce dish.
Since it’s a pub, Alamat also has an extensive menu of local spirits, wine, and Filipino-inspired cocktails.
Address: 2/F 5666 Don Pedro St. Barangay Población, Makati City
Locavore Kitchen & Drinks
Locavore has been a crowd favorite since it opened in 2014 and it’s easy to see why. Their dishes are creative yet accessible and reminiscent of the food Filipinos grew up eating.
Now with three branches in Metro Manila, the offerings that made people fall in love with them four years ago are still what they’re best known for today.
Don’t miss the sizzling sinigang (PHP495/US$9.50), their own version of Filipino sour soup served on a hot plate, and garlic butter sugpo (prawns) (PHP620/US$11.90).
Address: Brixton Technology Center, 10 Brixton St., Kapitolyo, Pasig City
Forbes Town Center, Burgos Circle, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
G/, Three Central Building, Valero St., Salcedo Village, Makati City
Situated in a refurbished house in Quezon City’s Tomas Morato area is LoLa Cafe, a restaurant that serves Filipino comfort food.
It’s homey and unpretentious but has some of the best modern takes on classic dishes like kimchi kaldereta (PHP395/US$7.58), a tomato-based beef stew with kimchi; keso de bola fries (PHP190/US$3.65), edam cheese with salted egg sauce; and palabok negra (PHP295/US$5.66), glass noodles with squid ink.
Address: 99 Scout Lozano S., Laging Handa, Quezon City
Manam Comfort Filipino
If you can’t pick between classic Filipino and modern Filipino, Manam has got you covered. Their menu is literally divided into “classics” and “twists,” so you can have the best of both worlds.
Their food also comes in three sizes (small, medium, and large), allowing you to control the portions depending on how big your party is.
Our favorites include the crispy pork binagoongan (PHP205 – 645/US$3.94 – 12.39), pork in shrimp paste sauce, and sinigang na beef short rib & watermelon (PHP245 – 775/US$4.70 – 14.88), Filipino sour soup with watermelon.
But if there’s one thing you just have to order, it’s their house crispy sisig (PHP140 – 395/US$2.69 – 7.58), which has been hailed the best in Manila.
Address: Level 1, Greenbelt 2, Ayala Center, Greenbelt, Makati City
G/F, Net Park, 4th Ave., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
G/F, South Wing, Mall of Asia, Pasay City
Upper Ground Floor, Ayala Fairview Terraces, Maligaya Rd. Cor. Quirino Highway, Novaliches, Quezon City
Opening soon: Ground Floor, Parking 1B, Greenhills Shopping Center, Greenhills, San Juan City
As far as regional Filipino food goes, Negros has some of the best. But if you’re stuck in Manila and can’t fly out, Sarsa Kitchen+Bar may be the next best thing.
It’s a bistro that has reinvented Negrense staples like chicken inasal, a type of roast chicken (PHP185/US$3.55), and batchoy (PHP285/US$5.47), noodle soup with pork innards, egg yolk, and chicaron (pork cracklings).
Their grilled sticks, a variety of barbecued meats, are also worth a try. For the adventurous, we suggest the isaw (PHP185 – 210/US$3.55 – 4.03), which is chicken, pork, or beef intestine.
Address: 2/F, UP Town Center, Katipunan Ave., Diliman, Quezon City
The Forum, 7th Ave. Cor. Federacion Dr., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
2/F, Entertainment Mall, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City
109 Rada St., Legaspi Village, Makati City
3/F, Building A, SM Megamall, Ortigas, Mandaluyong City
122 Joya Lofts & Tower, Amorsolo Dr., Rockwell, Makati City
Awarded “The One to Watch” at this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, Chef Jordy Navarra’s Toyo Eatery is perfect for celebrating special occasions.
It has a casual feel but is certainly a fine dining restaurant, particularly known for its tasting menu (PHP2,900 – 3,500/US$55.68 – 67.21).
Standout dishes include the Toyo Eatery Three-Cut Pork BBQ, Grilled Loin and Belly of Bangus (milkfish), and Bahay Kubo (nipa hut) vegetable salad made with all the vegetables in the Filipino folk song it was named after.
Address: G/F, Karrivin Plaza, 2316 Chino Roces Ave., Magallanes, Makati City