Poblacion Food Crawl in Makati, Philippines

Poblacion Food Crawl in Makati, Philippines

The Poblacion area is trendy. It’s becoming increasingly popular as a food and arts hub in Makati. Cultured but unpolished, hip but a little seedy, it reminds me of what Malate in Manila used to be.

With all the interesting restaurants popping up in the neighborhood, Poblacion has recently been the subject of local lifestyle shows and blog posts. Going on what’s called a “Poblacion food crawl”, people would visit the area and go to as many restaurants or bars as they could in one night. That’s exactly what we set out to do when we stayed two nights at La Casita Mercedes. We wanted to come up with as much material for this post as possible, so we stayed an entire weekend in Poblacion to explore as many restaurants as we could.

To help us decide which places to include, Ren hopped on Zomato and listed down all the restaurants in the Poblacion area with at least a 4.0 rating. In our experience, people on Zomato are the stingiest when it comes to ratings, so we figured it was a good way of narrowing down the field. Here’s what we ended up with.

What is Poblacion?

According to Wikipedia, Poblacion is the old downtown area of Makati and its second most important commercial center, after the Central Business District. Home to City Hall, it’s the first settlement in Makati and has long served as the city’s center of local government.

Apart from a few upscale developments like Rockwell Center and Century City, the area isn’t the most polished. It’s home to the city’s red light district so some parts of the neighborhood are still fairly seedy. Ironically, this is perhaps a big reason for its burgeoning art and food scene.. Ironically, this is perhaps a big reason for its burgeoning art and food scene. According to street artist Dee Jae Pa’este, who’s made Poblacion his home since relocating to the Philippines from California, “there’s something taboo about being in the red-light district, but it attracts creatives and weird people like me.” We can understand its appeal.

As described in our Manila Travel Guide, we think the Poblacion area is the best place to stay in Manila. It’s centrally located, it’s (relatively) safe, and there are plenty of interesting restaurants to choose from. If you travel for food like we do, then going on a Poblacion food crawl is a must. There are plenty of restaurants here to choose from, but according to the Democratic Republic of Zomato, these are the places you should check out.

Please note that we went on the food crawl in July 2017. At the time, all the places we went to had a Zomato rating of at least 4.0. Some have dipped below that since then, but we included them anyway (for now).

El Chupacabra

A few people have come up with these Poblacion Food Crawl lists and it always amazes me how different they are from one another. Considering Poblacion isn’t that big of an area, it’s surprisingly uncommon to find the same place on two people’s lists. One notable exception however, is El Cupacabra. This Tex-Mex taco restaurant is on nearly everyone’s list. As far as I know, it’s a pioneer in the Poblacion food scene and remains one of the most popular and cheapest places to get a drink in the neighborhood.
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

They offer many Mexican-American dishes here like burritos, tacos, and enchiladas. They even give you the option of having their burritos “Mission-style” with Mexican rice, or “San Diego-style” with french fries. Today, we had these delicious street tacos which range in price from PHP 110-170 each.
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

El Chupacabra

Zomato Rating: 4.1 (as of Oct 2017)
Address: 5782 Felipe Street
Operating Hours: 11AM-4AM, Mon-Sat / 11AM-12MN, Sun
Local Beers: Approximately PHP 55 per bottle
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 350 per person for dinner with drinks (CLICK HERE for their menu)

Crying Tiger

Crying Tiger offers Thai dishes and some of the cheapest local beers in Poblacion.
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

They offer many main dishes but we were here to drink so we stuck with their bar menu. These sticks of moo ping or Thai pork bbq can be had for PHP 35 apiece. They were really good.
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

Aren’t these cute? These are fried quail eggs or khai nuk kra ta (PHP 90). They’re fun to eat and a great accompaniment to beer.
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

Crying Tiger

Zomato Rating: 4.0 (as of Oct 2017)
Address: 4986 P. Guanzon Street
Operating Hours: 4PM-1AM, daily
Local Beers: Approximately PHP 55 per bottle
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 350 per person for dinner with drinks (CLICK HERE for their menu)

Empingao!

This was one of the aforementioned restaurants that had at least a 4.0 rating in July 2017 but has dipped since then. They offer Latin American cuisine like Peruvian chicken, mofongo, and Cuban sandwiches.
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

Steamed mussels or choritos a la chalaca (PHP 180)
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

Pollo ala brasa (PHP 210) or Peruvian chicken with chimichurri
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

Empingao!

Zomato Rating: 3.6 (as of Oct 2017)
Address: 5739 San Lucas corner P. Burgos Street
Operating Hours: 4PM-2AM, Mon-Sat (closed Sun)
Local Beers: Approximately PHP 55 per bottle
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 350 per person for dinner with drinks (CLICK HERE for their menu)

Hole in the Wall

Hole in the Wall is a food hall in Century City Mall. Think of it as an upscale shopping mall food court. There you’ll find many stalls serving different types of cuisine. I wrote a post about Hole in the Wall a couple of years ago. Some of the stalls in that post have since closed but the best places are still open.
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

Liberation Shawarma has been here since the start and they have a decent Zomato rating of 3.5 (as of Oct 2017). We had heard about their fried chickpeas so we went and tried them today.
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

These fried chickpeas (PHP 72) are addictive and great with beer.
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

It was nice to see Bad Bird still going strong. Known for their umami fried chicken and waffles, they’ve managed to maintain an impressive 4.3 rating on Zomato (as of Oct 2017).
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

The muy delicioso waffle plate (PHP 350) consisting of two pieces each of their famed umami fried chicken and sweet potato waffles served with miso butter and maple syrup. If I understand correctly, Bad Bird is a Korean-Japanese fried chicken and waffles concept.
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

Milk Trade is a newer addition to Hole in the Wall. They offer Chinese steamed milk desserts and eggettes, and have an impressive Zomato rating of 4.0 (as of Oct 2017). We had this eggette with steamed milk set for PHP 150. It was delicious.
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

Hole in the Wall

Address: Level 4, Century City Mall, Kalayaan Ave
Operating Hours: 11AM-10PM, Sun-Thurs / 11AM-12MN, Fri-Sat




Hummus Elijah

Ren and I both love Mediterranean food and Hummus Elijah is probably one of the most authentic restaurants we’ve been to so far in Manila. You can tell from its largely Middle Eastern clientele that this place is the real deal.
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

Of course, we had to get an order of their signature hummus Elijah (PHP 150 – small, PHP 250 – large).
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

Dan Barmatz contributed an article on Israeli sabich for our National Dish Quest. I’ve been wanting to try it ever since so I was pleased to find it here (PHP 180). A sabich is a pita bread sandwich made with fried eggplant, hummus, hard-boiled egg, and salad. It was delicious and healthy.
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

Locals who enjoy cooking Mediterranean food will be pleased to know that Hummus Elijah carries many different types of spices as well.
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

Hummus Elijah

Zomato Rating: 4.3 (as of Oct 2017)
Address: Second Floor, Commercial Building, 7850 Makati Avenue
Operating Hours: 9AM-3PM, daily
Local Beers: Approximately PHP 90 per bottle
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 300 per person for dinner with drinks (CLICK HERE for their menu)

Pura Vida

Pura Vida is located to the right of Z Hostel and serves Costa Rican food. We didn’t stay long enough but it looks like they play live music here as well.
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

Chicharrones con yucca (PHP 220) or pork rinds with cassava is apparently a popular bar food in Costa Rica.
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

We ordered this casados (PHP 350) because it was described on their menu as being a “typical Costa Rican lunch”.
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

Pura Vida

Zomato Rating: 4.0 (as of Oct 2017)
Address: Don Pedro Street
Operating Hours: 6PM-2:30AM, Mon-Sat (closed Sun)
Local Beers: Approximately PHP 75 per bottle
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 400 per person for dinner with drinks (CLICK HERE for their menu)

Royal Indian Curry House

We were super excited to try this place. I love Indian food and Royal Indian Curry House (or RICH for short) has one of the highest ratings we’ve ever seen of any restaurant on Zomato. They did not disappoint.
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

Ren always orders biryani but this was the first time we’ve ever had Hydearabadi biryani (PHP 599). Hyderabadi biryani is a form of biryani from Hyderabad, India. It’s typically served in a vessel sealed with dough.
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

Break through the dough to get to the delicious biryani inside. I’m not as partial to biryani as Ren, but this was by far the best biryani I’ve ever had in my life. Made with lamb and served with a side of yogurt, it was absolutely delicious.
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

No matter how many items an Indian restaurant has on its menu, you can be guaranteed that I’ll be ordering just one of two dishes – murgh makhani (butter chicken) or chicken tikka masala. Today, I went with the murgh makhani (PHP 439). Yes, it was every bit as scrumptious as it looks below.
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

Few things give me more joy than dipping pieces of naan bread (PHP 119) in curry. I love it. We enjoyed this restaurant so much that we’ll definitely be coming back. I’ll go for the tikka masala next time.
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

Royal Indian Curry House

Zomato Rating: 4.5 (as of Oct 2017)
Address: 5345 General Luna Street
Operating Hours: 12NN-5AM, daily
Local Beers: Approximately PHP 90(?) per bottle
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 700 per person for dinner with drinks (CLICK HERE for their menu)

Tambai

Tambai is one of our favorite places to visit in Poblacion. They’re one of the cheapest places for local beer in the area and their yakitori sticks are the perfect bar food. Of all the establishments here, this is the one place we always go back to on every return trip to Poblacion.
Poblacion Food Crawl, Makati, Philippines

Tambai

Zomato Rating: 3.9 (as of Oct 2017)
Address: 5779 Felipe Street
Operating Hours: 5PM-12MN, daily
Local Beers: Approximately PHP 55 per bottle
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 300 per person for dinner with drinks (CLICK HERE for their menu)

Conclusion

Filipinos love to eat so the restaurant landscape is always changing. As frequently as new places open up, perhaps just as many close down. As described, Poblacion is a trendy area so you can expect many more restaurants to pop up in the neighborhood in the coming years. I’ll be sure to update this list as often as I can.

Please be advised that these weren’t the only restaurants with at least a 4.0 Zomato rating in July 2017. We have limited stomach space so we could only visit so many over one weekend. Food is a subjective experience so I encourage you to do some exploring of your own and find the restaurants that appeal to you. Discovering these little hole-in-the-walls is half the fun. To help you in your search, I suggest downloading the Zomato app. It’s free to use and will let you know about all the restaurants in the area. Just type in “poblacion” to find out what’s here.

To better understand the Poblacion area, you can check out the itinerary I made on Sygic Travel. It’ll show you exactly where these places are on a map. They’re all walking distance from one another so you never have to hop into a car to go from one place to the next.

I hope this whets your appetite and inspires you to go on a Poblacion food crawl. Thanks for reading and have an awesome time traveleating in Poblacion!

For more Manila travel tips, check out our First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Manila, Philippines (from a local)

The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Manila, Philippines (from a local)

JB Macatulad

JB Macatulad

JB is one half of Will Fly for Food and its chief itinerary maker.  He's the one to blame for all the crappy photos and verbal diarrhea on this blog.  Don't listen to him.
JB Macatulad


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