It’s a food moment hardly anyone saw coming: 57-year-old homegrown fast food chain Tropical Hut experienced a massive revival over the last few days after one viral tweet unleashed a wave of nostalgia among former regulars who frequented them in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Now, Tropical Hut is experiencing an unprecedented rise in sales both among old-timers and new fans tantalized by the social media trend — so much so that the chain has announced that it is hiring new staff to keep up with the sudden demand and that it is experiencing supply shortages in selected products.
No marketing stunt can beat good old nostalgia. If Tropical Hut fever has you hankering for more good old-fashioned grub, here are some more oldie-but-goodie establishments that are still around and worth revisiting (spoiler alert: lots of chicken joints on this list).
When people think of the best fried chicken in the Metro, they normally think of the usual suspects such as Jollibee, McDonalds, KFC, or even Ministop. Yet one brand that you may not have given a second thought to is Kipp’s Chicken. Opened in 1981, Kipp’s went from being one of the most beloved fried chicken brands to falling into obscurity. Today, a shadow of Kipp’s former glory remains at a single stall in the food court of SM Megamall — yet its most loyal patrons say that Kipp’s is still as good as it was some 40 years ago.
‘80s and ‘90s kids who grew up in the province know all about Cindy’s, then the go-to birthday place for every child. While the chain had its fair share of establishments across Metro Manila, its crowning glory is arguably its expansion into smaller cities and towns in the Luzon area long before Jollibee did. While customers continue to buy loaves of bread from Cindy’s, the chain was once famed for its pork or chicken barbecue, pancit palabok, and spaghetti combo.
To further induce nostalgia, here’s an old catchy Cindy’s commercial from the ‘80s:
House of Minis
There is something special about visiting House of Minis branches, with their tablecloth-draped tables and servers in vests, that still offer seriously good bang-for-your-buck steaks. They remain steadfastly old-school so while you’re unlikely to find A5 Wagyu here, you can still definitely enjoy Filipino-style steak dishes such as tenderloin tips, steak a la pobre, and their porterhouse steak.
Tom Sawyer’s Krispy Fried Chicken
Tom Sawyer’s is another fried chicken joint that enjoys cult classic status. First opened in 1981 by the Aurelio family, Tom Sawyer’s Fried Chicken was a hit in Metro Manila, expanding to as many as 20 branches until its last branch in Greenhills closed in 2003.
The beloved chicken brand reopened its doors in 2014 in a tiny spot in Tiendesitas where it still serves its classic Southern-style fried chicken that everyone loves and remembers. Here, they let you choose between white and dark meat (we humbly prefer dark meat), and you can have your fried chicken with flavorful Hickory Rice and cornbread.
When was the last time you ate at Burger Machine? Its 24-hour outdoor camper stalls dotting the city are still around, selling its insanely affordable range of burgers that massively appealed to college students, workers on both day and night shifts, and party animals winding down after a night at the club. While some of the most sought-after variants include the Longganisa Burger and the Chili Burger, there is one other menu item that is underrated and sans rival: a creamy and nutty meringue layer cake that hits all the right spots.
Why a delicate dessert is served at an outdoor burger joint is beyond us, but it is worth the try anyway.
Wendy’s is still alive and kicking, though it has admittedly fallen behind other major fast-food players such as Jollibee, McDonalds, KFC, and Burger King. Its salad bar was arguably its best feature and worth the trip on its own. Other notable items include their Baconator, the Macaroni Salad, and their Frosty dessert.
What’s better than a chicken joint? One that serves chicken in a variety of different ways. A mainstay in mall food courts, World Chicken has managed to maintain loyal patrons across its five branches and takeout hubs. World Chicken lets you customize your chicken and carb pairing: choose between classic, inasal, jerk or teriyaki, and from an even wider variety of sauces and sides. We’re partial to the classic version paired with the mornay cheese or tarragon, as well as pesto pasta and mashed potato.
Once one of the country’s most popular pizza chains, Magoo’s Pizza introduced square pizza shapes to the local scene when it arrived on Philippine shores in 1977. Yet the brand has since fallen on hard times: from countless branches, the brand has dwindled to five branches — stalls located inside other establishments —, with five active outlets based on their website along Eastwood, Makati, Q-Plaza Cainta, EDSA Starmall, and PTX. Once you get a chance to try Magoo’s, you can check out some of their most popular choices include Famous Combination, Cowboy’s Choice, Zesty Spaghetti, and Pizza Dog.
An airport fixture, Kopi Roti continues to cater to the jetlagged in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport with their comforting coffee bun and kaya toast sets that come with soft-boiled eggs and coffee or tea. While Kopi Roti is down to two branches in Katipunan and Tomas Morato in Quezon City, they offer deliveries for those missing a taste of Singapore-style breakfast.
One of the most popular dim sum stalls around, Hen Lin opened in 1983 and pioneered selling dim sum in stalls, which was only offered in sit-down restaurants at the time. Despite the flourishing of other quick-service dim sum brands over the years, Hen Lin has continued to outlast other competitors with its classic offerings. Don’t miss out on their siomai, mami noodles, chicken feet, and cuapao.
A mainstay in malls, Jamaican Pattie’s stalls have long catered to those looking for a quick yet filling bite to eat with pastries stuffed with meat and other fixings. Some of its most memorable flavors include Original Beef, Cheezy Beef Pinatubo, and Beefy Mushroom.