Is Manila worth the visit?

Travelers to the Philippines typically whisk in and out of the capital and head straight to the beaches.

Manila is an overwhelming and overcrowded city. A tourist new to the city without any local network can easily get lost and leave with negative impressions.

While chaotic in areas of the metropolitan, Manila is a city worth exploring and with the advice from locals, you can discover the best of what the city has to offer.


Manila Food Guide and More, Part 1: Markets and Local Filipino Restaurants

For food lovers, the capital has outdoor markets promoting local farmers, cooks, artisans, and artists. Food markets appeal to locals, expats, and visitors alike.

Philippine culture craves for imported brands. Manila welcomes the latest craze of international restaurants, like Din Tai Fung, Ippudo Ramen, etc.

But, inquisitive travelers to the Philippines want to discover the local cuisine. Luckily for such travelers, today’s restaurants are defining and redefining Filipino cuisines from the everyday eats to the high-end.



Salcedo Saturday Market
One of my favorite markets showcasing 1) local produce directly from the farmers, 2) cooked local and international specialties from chefs and cooks who test the local market before a brick & mortar development, and 3) artisan crafts, such as wood carved tableware perfect for souvenirs
Address: Jaime C. Velazquez Park, Salcedo Village, Makati
Saturdays, 6am to 2:30pm

Legazpi Sunday Market
Another one of my favorite markets with a similar vendor list as the Salcedo Market
Address: Rufino corner Legazpi Streets, Legaspi Village, Makati
Sundays, 7:30am to 2pm

Farmers Market
I have yet to go to this wet market, but it’s the place international chefs are taken to when they first visit Manila
Self-guided tour map
Address: General Araneta, Cubao, Quezon City
Daily, 24 hours

Market! Market!
Connected to a mall, the outdoor market sells local produce and souvenirs in kiosks categorized by the provinces around the country. If you enjoy walking, you can explore Market Market and SM Aura, walk through to Serendra, and then all the way down through BGC High Street. Map
Address: McKinley Pkwy, Taguig
Daily, 10am to 10pm


Local Filipino Restaurants

For traditional, family-style Filipino dining
Abe has classic dishes and interpretations from their family generations of recipes
Must try
Knockout Knuckles for a huge plate of Crispy Pata, fried pork knuckles
Kinilaw for the Filipino version of ceviche
Recommended locations
 G/F Serendra, Retailer Area, BGC, Taguig City
Phone: 856-0526 / 856-7696 / 0917-552-2060
Business Hours:
 Monday – Sunday
 / 11:00 am – 3:00 pm / 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
 2/F North Veranda, Entertainment Mall, SM Moa, Bay Boulevard, Pasay City
Phone: 556-0608
Business Hours: 
Monday – Sunday / 11:00 am – 11:00 pm

A casual Filipino restaurant from a local celebrity chef specializing in grilled and barbecued meats
Must try
Inasal Chicken Wing
Inasal Tofu
Twice-Cooked Pork Belly
Locations & Hours / 11am to 11pm
BGC: 7th Ave cor 25th St. / Tel. 866-0912 / 09270-706-0773
MOA: 2F South Veranda / Tel 0915-307-1426
Makati: 109 Rada St., Legaspi Vill. / Tel. 754-9943

The menu is split into two sides for classic Filipino dishes on one side and modern twists on the other side
You can also choose the sizes of the dishes, from small to large – great for everyone from couples to big groups
Must try
Any of the “Paboritos”, meaning “Favorites
Recommended location
Manam Fort
4th Avenue, 27th St., G/F Net Park Bldg, BGC
Phone: 332-9390
10am to 10pm

Max Fried Chicken
Fast, casual Filipino-style fried chicken
The chicken is fried without a batter, while the meat is moist and the skin is crispy
Must try
Spring Chicken



Uber is reliable and cleaner than any taxi. Plus, it’s affordable with the market rates. From Makati to the airport (about a 20-minute commute) I typically pay about $5.

Be weary of Friday rush hour traffic, especially on payday weekends (every 15th and 30th of the month). Traffic between 5pm-8pm will likely be painful and horrendous

For more local food recommendations and a city guide, check out my guest post articles:
5 Best Filipino Restaurants in Metro Manila
City Guide: Manila

Part 2 of my Manila Food Guide features reservations-only dining experiences, my favorite international restaurants, and museum recommendations.


Abe Restaurant. Kinilaw na Tanigue. Ceviche of tanigue belly (local white fish) washed in palm vinegar, coconut milk, and spice. Awaken your palate with this local appetizer. The acidity and spice are mildly mellowed from the smoothness of the coconut milk which brings the Southeast Asian experience into every bite
Abe Restaurant. Knockout Knuckles. Traditional fried crispy pata (pork knuckles) with blistered skin adding to the crunch of every bite. Pork and rice are staple foods in the Philippines. While many restaurants offer crispy pata, Abe’s standout version is packed with tender meat beneath the crispy crackling skin
Sarsa Kitchek. Pak Pak Inasal. Grilled chicken wings with a charred finish. The forte of Sarsa is there grilled selections, from chicken, pork, and even tofu. The flavor of the marinade and the char of the grilled are infused through every bite
Sarsa Kitchen . Pinakbet. Local vegetables with taba ng talangka (crab roe), crispy tofu, and XO sauce. As a health conscious eater, it is admittedly difficult in Manila to find a plate of vegetables that is not overcooked. The vegetables at Sarsa are cooked just right with a crunch and depth of flavor
Manam Comfort Filipino. Fresh Lumpiang Ubod. Fresh spring roll filled with ubod (hearts of palm). A classic, traditional appetizer, side dish, and afternoon snack. This fresh vegetable crepe roll is typically filled with hearts of palm, shrimps, and pork
Manam Comfort Filipino. Seafood Bounty Kare-Kare. Crab, prawns, tanigue (local white fish), squid, and mussels with house-made vegetable ukoy (tiny local shrimps) fritters. Kare-kare is traditionally a beef stew made in a peanut-based sauce. Manam’s version lightens the stew with a beautiful array of local seafood


Want more suggestions? Day trips from Manila, more to eat and see, anything! Contact me

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