METRO MANILA OFFERINGS
BEST BARGAINS, BETTER FOOD CHOICES AND GOOD OL’ NIGHTLIFE
From sun up to sun down, Metropolitan Manila is abuzz with excitement. It pulsates like a throbbing heart in the center of the country. Thousands of tourists flock its raggedy-jaggedly streets every year, and some decide to come back again and again. Some even stay here for good and opt to call this gem in the middle of Southeast Asia home.
Regarded often as simply Manila, Metro Manila is comprised of not just the country’s capital city but of several other cities. It is divided into four districts: The Capital District which is Manila; Eastern Manila District that includes Marikina, Quezon City, Pasig, San Juan and Mandaluyong; CAMANAVA District, an acronym of Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela cities; and Southern District consisting of Las Pinas, Makati, Taguig, Pateros, Muntinlupa, Pasay and Paranaque cities.
So, what’s on this side of the metro? Well, as the title suggests great affordable finds, diverse and delectable cuisines, and an energetic night life.
As one of Asia’s shopping mecca, the metro’s shopping centers can rival that of neighboring Hong Kong. For the bargains, variety and sheer number of malls you can go to, Manila is undeniably one of the best places on Earth to shop. Fierce bargain hunters, dress down, gear up and put on your trusty sandals or comfy rubber shoes and let’s start shopping!
GLORIETTA. This popular retail complex offers local and international brands at over 500 shops in a very spacious and easily accessible location in the heart of Makati. Its huge central activity center features special events and exhibits from high-end fashion shows and concerts to bazaars with connective wings to SM Makati, Landmark and the MRT.
GREENBELT. Looking for luxury shops like Lacoste, Nine West and Hermes in Makati? Look no further than Greenbelt malls. Boasting of five interconnected malls that cater to the more affluent denizens (and guests) of Manila, this mall in Ayala Center has an impressive array of high-end boutiques and shops, from internationally renowned brands to well known local designers, for the more discerning shopper.
GREENHILLS SHOPPING CENTER. Located in San Juan City, this shopping complex boasts of over a thousand stores/stalls and attracts quite a good number of bargain enthusiasts. For those who are not brave enough to scour the busy and crowded streets of Divisoria in Manila where cheap goods litter the place, Greenhills Shopping Center suitably allotted a huge portion for the bazaar insidethe Central Plaza; V-Mall which accommodates computer and other retail stores; the Lifestyle Center, an area reserved for sportsbuffs and furniture shops; and for the gadget savvy, Bridgeway Shops.
LUCKY CHINATOWN MALL.This high-end commercial center may seem odd to be seen in Divisoria area. But don’t fret they joined the bandwagon and assigned Building B Annex to showcase a wide array of inexpensive products for wholesale and retail sale. Lucky Chinatown just eased your shopping adventure by giving both luxurious shopping and affordable finds.
MARKET!MARKET! TAGUIG. Shoppers are enticed to both an indoor and outdoor convenience of shopping. The market outside consist of fresh produce, plants and flowers. There’s also a hawker’s food center for the hungry market-goers. For your regular window-shopping spree or grocery errands, head to the main air-conditioned mall.
SM MALLS.SM Supermalls as its tagline aptly put it “We’ve got it all!” Two of its famous branches, Mall of Asia (MOA) in Pasay City and Megamall in Mandaluyong made it to the list of Asia’s largest commercial malls. Both establishments redefined the “mall” experience as it offers a variety of family-friendly leisure activities. With its size and different attractions, Mall of Asia itself has become, not surprisingly, a tourist destination.
For sheer convenience and relative affordability, you simply can’t go wrong here. No haggling skill required in these premises. Every price is fixed. Located in virtually every part of the metro and beyond, these mega shopping centers span the gamut of mall items: from children’s wear, ladies bags and shoes to the latest gadgets and trinkets. These colossal edifices provide shoppers with practically everything they would want under one roof and at relatively affordable prices.
ST. FRANCIS SQUARE.Surrounded by popular and upscale commercial malls, this undaunted Pasig mall prides itself with good quality but cheaper merchandises. The budget-conscious shopper will be in for a real good deal.
TIENDESITAS in PASIG. With an open-air setting, it is a hub for local quality products. Owned by the same company as alfresco shopping Greenhills, it houses an array of tianggeor bargain type stalls and stores very similar to that in Greenhills and Divisoria but under a literally “native” roof. Designed to cater to the more upscale classes but with surprisingly within-your-means prices, Tiendesitas’ edifice resembles the native Filipino hut but with modern conveniences.
168 MALL. Conveniently located in Divisoria, a real treasure chest of everything you might need and not-really-need-but will-buy-anyway, at almost rock-bottom prices. This wholesale and retail shopping center is definitely a must visit place especially for seasoned bargain seekers whose haggling skills willbe put to the test.Best time to be there is in the morning where the stores are just about to open. By noontime, you would know you have to leave with your loot bags by the number of people you’re literally rubbing elbow with.
One great thing about being in Metro Manila is the proximity tofood outlets----whether a fast food joint or a local eatery serving home-style cooking. But if you are tired of the usual KFC chicken meal and feeling less adventurous in trying out the side-street food stalls, here are a few restaurants we have compiled that will surely delight your taste buds.
Splurge a bit and treat yourself in…
Isabelo. Address: 11 Isabelo Mendoza Street San Roque Marikina City. The restaurant serves sumptuous Italian culinary pleasure. Owner and chef Portia Baluyot turned a portion of their family’s compound into a rustic garden restaurant. Her specialties include meat dishes which are pugon-cooked using traditional wood-fired oven: Roasted Pork Crackling and Beef Bourguignon. The young lady chef can whip a delectable full-course meal including her signature refreshing sherbet for dessert. Being a private venue, Isabelo maintains its ‘by reservation only’ arrangement.
Van Gogh Is Bipolar. Address: 154 Maginhawa Street Quezon City. Clinically-diagnosed as bipolar like the artist Van Gogh, restaurant owner Jetro Rafael was initially just in search for natural remedies for his condition. Later on when he found out about certain foods which triggers a person’s good disposition, he began working on his concoctions and culinary experiments. Thanks to his friends who coaxed him to share this type of diet to the public, Van Gogh Is Bipolar was launched. His home basically transforms into a quaint laid-back restaurant at night. As interesting as the owner, the food served here is named after famous personalities with this condition. Some of which include: Axl Rose’s Egg Shot, Larry Flint’s Cabbage Experience for salad, Jim Carrey’s Sardines with organic rice; President Clinton’s Meal (Grilled Aussie Lamb Chop), Mel Gibson’s Darkest Sin for drinks.
Cupcakes by Sonja’s. Address: First Level Serendra Piazza 11th Avenue Taguig City. Renowned for starting the cupcake craze some seven years ago, Sonja Ocampo is apparently not resting her laurels as she recently opened her second branch in Glorietta 2 Makati City. Aside from the assorted cupcake flavors, Sonja’s offer equally delightful and sinful desserts: Chocolate Chip Cookies, Crack Pies, Whoopie Pies, and Bars
Spiral Buffet Restaurant. Address: Sofitel Pasay City. This much-raved about buffet restaurant displays a total of 21 wide-ranging food choices which they call ateliers. A chef behind every food atelier can interact with the diners. He can briefly discuss the menu of the day. Spiral has definitely set a high standard in buffet dining experience.
Tito Chef. Address: Adelfa Street President’s Avenue BF Homes Paranaque City. A definite must try according to the locals in the south district. Serves International dishes.
Pipino Vegetarian Food. Address: 38 Jupiter Street Makati City. Vegetarian or not, feast on the delectable meatless dishes. Their healthy food selection is extended to their dessert offerings---all egg-free and dairy-free. A row of vegan cupcakes in various flavors and cookies are lined up near the service counter ready to be served. And to top it all off, they serve home-made ice cream!
Even with a tight budget (maybe after a series of shopping), you can still indulge at these restaurants…
Pan de Amerikana. Address: 92 General Ordonez Street corner Maroon Street Marikina Heights, Marikina City. From a small-time bakery selling huge tasty wheat bread and ensaymadas, Pan de Amerikina
Charlie’s Grind and Grill. Address: along Kapitolyo, Pasig.Big.Juicy.Thick.Burger.Patties. Enough said.
Dek A Thai. Address: 5955 corner Fermina and Enriquez Streets Kalayaan Avenue Poblacion Makati City. Born to a Filipina mother and Thai father, Matthida or fondly called Feb owns two branches of Dek A in Makati. Serving mostly office workers and residents in the Central Business District, this hole in the wall restaurant sources ingredients directly from Thailand. And with a Thai as cook, how authentic can this resto be.
Sieg’s Diner. Address: Dona Soledad Avenue, Better Living Paranaque. A variety of Western and Asian dishes, Sieg presents guests with a fine dining feel at reasonable cost. This family-friendly place can be crowded during the weekends, so it is best to visit on a weekday.
Le Ching Teahouse. Address: Greenhills Shopping Center. Serves authentic Chinese cuisine with an old downtown Manila flare.
Once the sun sets, the city lures you either to party the night away like it’s 1999 or simply to take pleasure in a drink or two in an intimate ambience.With all its bars and hang-out places, you’ll be spoiled for choice!
B-Side Manila. Address: The Collective 7274 Malugay Street San Antonio Village Makati City.
A great venue for art rock and alternative music followers.
Hard Rock Café. Address: Levels 3 and 4 Glorietta 3 Ayala Center Makati. This American A safe choice for those who on the lookout for good music, hefty food servings and a fine wine selection.
Conspiracy Bar. Address: Located along Visayas Avenue, Quezon City. If you want to listen to good local music and prefer a relaxing and homey place, then head to Conspiracy Bar where Pinoyartists- newbies and veterans alike- converge, recharge and breathe in fresh ideas. Owned by individuals from the local creative industry, these comrades did not only set aside a music room where live performances are held, but also put up a regular art exhibition for seasoned and up and coming visual artists. After soaking up some local music, dine and strike a conversation with the ‘conspirators’ at the garden café.
70’s Bistro. Address: 46 Anonas Street Project 2 Quezon City. The virtual bastion of Filipino folk/rock for decades now, 70s Bistro can be aptly compared to the storied CBGBs of New York and the fabled Blackhawk Bar. Boasting of an eclectic mix of folk, rock, reggae and alternative, this bar has been the go-to place of the bohemian set (and rockers) when they want to enjoy the sounds of homegrown legends like Noel Cabangon, Lolita Carbon and Asin, Cookie Chua, and the like in a more intimate and visceral setting.
Hobbit House. Address: 1212 Arquiza Trade Center M.H. del Pilar Street Malate Manila. As homage to JRR Tolkien’s book titled Shire, this unique placeemploys vertically challenged people for their staff as waiters and barkeeps to give the illusion that you are actually having a drink in the very tavern that Frodo, Sam and the gang frequent. Even the main door has been designed for anyone over three feet tall to have to crouch down if one wants to pass thru and experience a night with the ‘wee people’. Apart from the ambiance, the warm and friendly staff draws patrons—local and foreign. They now also have a franchise in Boracay.
Anthology. Address: 1786 M. Adriatico Street Malate Manila. Formerly Hard Rock Café Malate, this bar is a sanctuary for those stuck in the new wave and heavy metal era.
Republiq. Address: Unit 8, Second Level, Newport Mall, Resorts World Manila, Newport City, Pasay City. With world famous DJs, the high class amenities and great services, this well-known elite club sure knows how to lure its nocturnal patrons.
Prive Luxury Club. Address: Unit C, The Fort Strip (Fort Entertainment Complex), The Fort, BGC, Taguig. Includes mash up, house and electro music. This swanky venue regards itself as the country’s first true boutique nightclub.
With vibrant people and a thunderous heartbeat, Metro Manilacalls out to you like an addiction you just can’t shake, an intense itch you have to scratch and a rabid song in your head you just can’t stop humming along to. “Manila, Manila, I keep coming back to Manila. Simply no place like Manila,” so the song goes and it rings true every time.