Manila Eats: Poblacion Restaurant Crawl

With so many restaurants to try in Manila and not enough time to try them all before I leave, a friend suggested that we do a food crawl of Poblacion, a neighbourhood that’s become a gastronomic destination for Manila’s hip and hungry.  I’ve always favoured sharing several items on a menu rather than ordering individual entrees.  And when I’m at a place where I have to order my own entree, I have to make sure that no two people orders the same dish so that we can all try as many dishes as possible. Ok fine, I mean I.

So the idea of a food crawl was right up my alley.  Eat at different restaurants and try different cuisines to complete a meal?  Yes please!  So with waze in Vince’s hands the other night, he led us and a bunch of hungry friends down the path of all the offbeat and hidden gems that have cropped up in between homes, hostels, and girly bars.  The mostly casual eateries there have a street-food-hole-in-the-wall type feel pulsing with a hipster vibe.  Many of the restaurants are carved into existing homes, if not fully occupying them, but they are still outnumbered by residential homes lodged above, around and in between.  The restaurants shine brightly like neon signs behind the veil of trees guiding us as we zig-zagged through the small streets in this gritty, charming neighbourhood.

1st stop:  Bucky’s

We tried the following:
1. Fried Chicken/Mashed Potatoes
2. Cheese Fries with Ragu
3. Swedish Meatballs/Potato Salad
4. Original Brownie

What I would order again: Cheese Fries, the Swedish Meatballs, and their brownies (they have quite a few flavors, though I only tried the original).

2nd stop: Yalla Yalla Express


We tried the following:
1. Beef Shawarma Wrap
2. Chicken Shawarma Wrap
3. Hummus with Homemade Pita Bread

What I would order again: Beef Shawarma and Chicken Shawarma but with rice the next time.

3rd stop: Oto


We tried the following:
1. Chicken & Waffles
2. Salpicao
3. Cheese and Tofu Sticks

What I would order again: Chicken & Waffles and the Cheese and Tofu Sticks.

4th stop: Holy Smokes

This was our final and last stop and undeniably the best of the night.  We had barely any room left in our stomachs (or so we thought) but as soon as the meats came out, all hands started reaching for the food and before we knew it our plates were licked clean.

We tried the following:
1. Wagyu Beef Brisket
2. Beef Ribs
3. Pork Ribs
4. Mac & Cheese
5. Cajun Rice
6. Coleslaw
7. Blue Cheese Coleslaw
8. Mashed Potato
9. Turtle Pie
10. Chocolate Malt Brownie Ice Cream by Milk and Honey Frozen Desserts
11. Old-fashioned Ginger Ale by Stanford & Shaw Brewing Company

What I would order again: Wagyu Beef Brisket, the Beef Ribs, all of the sides, Milk and Honey Ice Cream, the Ginger Ale (which they also sell at Toby’s Estate and Salcedo Market and at Bucky’s), and the TURTLE PIE.

There are so many more restaurants that we didn’t have the chance to try.  If you’re in Manila or making a trip to Manila, a visit to Poblacion is definitely a must.  Here are and CNN’s food guide for what to eat in Poblacion.  But just use it as a guide and explore because it’s even more fun to just venture out there and have a taste of a little bit of this and a little bit of that at whichever resaurant you pass that meets your fancy.

Tip: Best to go with friends with bottomless stomachs.

– SS



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