Eating in Manila is a real treat; there’s a full range of international and Filipino cuisine on offer, and budget eats available on every street corner and in every mall in the form of vast food courts. Filipinos are big fans of fast-food franchises, with national chains such as Jollibee, Chowking, Mang Inasal (with unlimited rice) and Max’s (for fried chicken) dotted all over the city. You should also pay a visit to one of the ubiquitous Goldilocks (wwww.goldilocks.com.ph) stores, purveyors of the best polvoron (peanut candy) and cakes since 1966.
The old walled city of Intramuros doesn’t have many restaurants, but those it does have are mostly in old colonial buildings and are significantly more atmospheric than anything beyond the walls. For cheap eats, try the stalls (plates from P45) within the walls on the eastern edge of Intramuros or in nearby San Francisco Street, in an area known as Puerta Isabel II.
Ermita and Malate
Almost everyone who dines out in Ermita and Malate does so either in one of the big hotels or in the area around J. Nakpil Street and Remedios Circle, where most of the restaurants are small, intimate and not owned by big corporations. Bear in mind that J. Nakpil is a fickle, faddish area, and restaurants come and go.
Binondo and Quiapo
Binondo has no fancy restaurants and no bistros or wine bars; people come here for cheap, nourishing Chinese food in one of the area’s countless Chinese restaurants or hole-in-the-wall noodle bars. Binondo and Quiapo also have a number of bakeries that are known in the Philippines for their hopia, a sweet cake-like snack with a soft pastry coating and thick yam paste in the middle. You can load up with Chinese snacks, dried squid and other packed foods at Bee Tin Grocery, 735 Ongpin St (daily 7.30am–7.30pm).
Makati is the best place in the city when it comes to quality and variety of restaurants, with most options in or around the Glorietta or Greenbelt malls, or Burgos Street further north where there are a growing number of Korean and Japanese places. Bonifacio Global City, to the east, is an emerging destination for mostly high-end restaurants.
Ortigas and Greenhills
The malls at Ortigas and Greenhills are chock-full of small restaurants and fast-food outlets, while most of the budget stalls surround St Francis Square Department Store at the back of SM Megamall.
Quezon City is a burgeoning alternative to Makati and the Manila Bay area for restaurants and nightlife. Most of the restaurants are on Tomas Morato Avenue, which runs north and south from the roundabout outside the Century Imperial Palace Suites hotel.
To get to Quezon from the south of the city (from Malate and Makati, for example) you can take the MTR and get off either at Kamuning station or Quezon Avenue station, a journey of about 25 minutes.