6 Restaurants and Cafes You Must Try in Poblacion, Manila's Hipster Nightlife Capital
Poblacion is an artery of different cultures that are both conceptually and gastronomically unique. Home to Manila’s hipster nightlife scene, eating in Poblacion before a night out in the area is a must. It’s easily one of our favorite things about our beloved neighborhood. We’ve always got one eye open for the latest dining spots to pop up in Poblacion, since it's an opportunity to taste the cultures of different countries. Here are personal recommendations from Shaun and me.
Element Boutique Hotel — the casual bistro with meals that transport you to France in every bite
If you asked us our favorite breakfast, it would be from a French bistro called Element Boutique Hotel. They make an excellent Omelette au Fromage. It’s a simple breakfast food, but oftentimes the simplest dishes are the ones hardest to perfect. Each bite is delectable; its creamy and fluffy at the same time. Element is also known for their bread which they make in-house and fresh everyday. As perfect as it is to go along any charcuterie board, it’s so good, we even eat it on its own. Don’t miss out on the healthy salads, fresh pastas, and French classics like knife-cut steak tartare as well! The food from Element — served breakfast to dinner — is always tasty and satisfying.
Good Sh*T — the cafe for an all-day pick me up
Photo: Good Sh*T
Good Sh*T coffee is a staple at the Rafikimono HQ. Every time we need a pick me up, we can always count on their Cold Brew to keep us powering through our workdays. We’re serious: the blend really wakes you up. We also love the horchata, which we’ve found to be the best blend of creamy texture with a cinnamon kick. To have the best of both worlds — caffeine and horchata — ask for a dirty horchata, which is a horchata with a shot of espresso. If you want a sweet treat to go with your coffee, the Nori cookie is addictive. It’s a white chocolate with salty nori flakes. It's a different variant from the usual cookies, but definitely no less tasty. Also, their cheese guava roll is an exceptional pastry with a unique flavor, creaminess and a crunch.
Krapow — not your average Thai restaurant!
Photo: Krapow MNL
Most people quickly count pad Thai as their favorite Thai Dish, but Krapow is a place that, though still distinctly a Thai restaurant, their hero dish is their namesake, Pad Krapow or Holy Basil Stir Fry. Their chef Reggie lived in Thailand for many years, so you can expect to taste authenticity in each bite. Besides the fresh produce and protein, all of the ingredients are shipped directly from Thailand. Does Reggie need six types of fish sauce? According to him, absolutely, that’s how he creates the authentic taste. We like the Green Curry, Chicken Cashew, Pomelo Salad, Kway Teow Kua Gai (Thai Toasted Noodles with Chicken), Lab Moo Woonsen (Spicy Pork Glass Noodle Salad).
It was the first new restaurant that opened during the pandemic so it was always a beacon of hope for us that our beloved neighborhood was going to bounce back. You’ll notice the chefs wearing Rafiki masks as we’ve had a close relationship with Krapow since their inception and it’s just a block away from the showroom. We ate there almost everyday. Lucky for us, they are just down the street from us.
Jumong — no-frills Korean spot for delicious food at great prices
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On the same block as Krapow, we also frequent Jumong, our Korean favorite in the neighborhood. For team lunches or a low-key date night, Jumong always delivers. We love the Cold Buckwheat Noodles called Mul Naengmyeon for its refreshing nature (usually you can see shards of ice in the cup), and the Bossam — a boiled pork shoulder that you make into lettuce wraps. The Galbi Jjim (sweet pork stew) and Osam Bulgogi (sizzling squid and pork in a sweet and spicy red sauce) are our top favorites. Both your wallet and stomach will be happy because their prices are accessible too.
Lunes Everyday Dining — fun, modern takes on Filipino food that's perfect for date night
Date night for us is most nights–while we usually cook lunch and dinner at home–Lunes is a new spot we’re happy to have around when in the mood for creative Filipino food. We just had a dinner date there in the recent past, and were impressed with each course. Think of their dishes as a reinterpretation of classic FIlipino dishes. We were particularly impressed with the Guava Sinigang and Saba ice cream. Tasting it was unreal.
Wantusawa — fresh oysters anyway you like!
Wantusawa is tucked away on Jacobo street. It’s a casual and unpretentious spot mostly known for their oysters flown in directly from Panay Island every morning! Enjoy them either fried, baked, grilled, or raw with a little calamansi or vinegar. Though, there are many dishes that keep us coming back. The mussels in Sake Broth, Tuna Tataki, and Shishamo (pregnant baby fish) are just a few we would recommend. The seafood at Wantusawa are all locally sourced, so you can count on an uncompromising quality when it comes to freshness.
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