Hygiene control is the first issue that comes to mind when you hear the words street and food in the same sentence. But it’s not because they’re not appetizing—let’s face it, half of street foods sold look good and the other half look just plain interesting.
Thanks to these eateries, food stalls, and weekend food markets around, the days of the stigma of tusok-tusok fishball stands or isaw grill stalls being cesspools of Hepatitis A are long gone.
A food haven for call center agents and a great Friday night-out must-try for yuppies, students, and even families, the Banchetto is like a great reward both to de-stress from a hard week’s worth of work and to sample some of the best dishes available in town.
The Banchetto is literally a fiesta till the sun goes up.
(Megatent, Meralco Avenue every Friday and Saturday night from 8 pm until 7 a.m.), Libis
(In front of Shopwise parking lot every Tuesday night from 6 p.m. until 4 a.m.) and Robinson's Place Pioneer
(At the back of Robinson's Pioneer every Wednesday and Thursday night from 8:30 p.m. until 6 a.m.).
You’d think that a midnight food fest like this would be limited to grilled meats, but Banchetto holds a lot more in store—a big treat to call center agents who have endured four whole nights of fast food joints
Though street food is just a small fraction of the menu list, it’s a good midnight snack especially for those who want a taste of Filipino grills. Plus, it’s not limited to just isaw and barbecue—you can also try grilled hotdog, squid, betamax, and more.
But even if all of these seem so appetizing alongside a cold bottle of beer, alcoholic beverages are a no-no in Banchetto. Keep it wholesome with just a whole lot of good food.
On the menu: Indulge in the different cuisines, from Filipino grills, Japanese cuisine, and Shawarma choices to lovely cakes, pastries, ice cream, and bibingka. Most times, Banchetto lasts until 11 a.m. the next day, so if you couldn’t make it to the midnight fun, you can still catch the early train before it completely departs.
The upside here is that the food gets cheaper as the sun rises even higher—so the morning chippers can enjoy the discount.
Foodtrip budget: Even P100 can go a long way at Banchetto, but it usually means that you would have to settle for a complete viand, a few snacks, and maybe one dessert. But since Banchetto has been established as a long-standing Friday night tradition, you can easily try out another meal set come next week.
You never know what new surprise might be hiding in the stretch of Emerald Street on Friday nights.
Want to go on a street food binge for the weekend? How about going organic for a few hours? Need to indulge your sweet tooth? You can do all that and more by dropping by one weekend at the Mercato Centrale.
Mercato Centrale is open every Saturdays and Sundays from 6 a.m. to 12 noon. You can also visit the Midnight Mercato, which is an entirely different food trip experience also every weekend happening from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m.
Where: Bonifacio Global City
House specialty: Since you’re looking for good Filipino street food with a twist, Mercato Centrale has two great bets for an all-time street food trip.
For authentic Filipino street food, you have Lola Diding’s stall. There are many grilled foods to choose from—pork ears, chicken isaw, barbecue, and many more. However, there’s more to Lola Diding’s than just grilled on sticks, because they also have native dishes, including beer’s favorite companion, sisig.
Get transported to the time when you would steadfastly wait and strain to hear the calls of “Tahoooo!” every morning. Tahooo gives a twist to the soy bean custard with tapioca and sweet syrup snack. The chilled taho, Tahooo’s version of the morning treat is a nutritious snack that you can combine with your choice of toppings—from red beans with sago to the fruity almond snack with watermelon balls with lychees and almond flavor.
On the menu: Mercato Centrale is really a hodgepodge of a foodie haven, so you can find several types of gourmet, cuisine, dish, and grub. You can start with salad appetizers care of the vegan organic produce or salads, get your fill of meat with Flamed or Bagnet, then go with just desserts with the famous mochi ice cream.
Foodtrip budget: Judging from the size of Mercato Centrale alone, you might want to load up on some decent cash if only to sample a bit of everything. P1,000 per person may be the safe bet for a night in Mercato Centrale. Want to try out more but it’s past closing time? Not to worry, there’s always next weekend.
Are you a foodie who’s also interested in exploring a different and cultural side of Manila? Can you handle a day’s worth of walking while munching on Chinese delicacies bought hot off the stove? Do you have taste buds that can enjoy and savor just about any type of taste, texture, and specialty?
It’s about you consider on the Big Binondo Food Wok, so you can enjoy a different kind of food trip.
Where: Binondo, specifically Chinatown
House specialty: Since you’ll be exploring Manila’s very own Chinatown, you’d have a taste of the Tsinoy cooking, Chinese specialties with Spanish and Filipino influences thanks to its cultural history.
If you’re a dumpling fanatic, try out Dong Bei Dumplings, which is just along Yuchengco Street. It’s a small Chinese eatery where you can also buy your stock of frozen dumplings to steam or fry up at home. You can also try out their specialties at the store—they have dumplings, fried tofu in special sauce, steamed noodles, pancakes, and more.
On the menu: The Big Binondo Food Wok offers a specific foodtrip roadmap that you will follow. However, if you’re the type who would rather choose your own adventure with your family or friends, you can also explore Binondo by yourself. You can go to the neat esteros to find only the most exotic, authentic, and cheap Chinese food.
One warning, though. Some people are turned off by the fact that these eateries are located along an estero (translation: canals). But don’t be fooled by the simplistic appearance of dingy stalls and monobloc chairs—their food specialties pack in a mean punch to the taste buds.
Foodtrip budget: Getting to Binondo can be a tricky thing. Most people would rather commute because parking is not exactly a walk in the park. Since it is located in the heart of Manila, most of the streets are narrow, pedestrians are more preferred than cars.
So make sure that your Binondo food trip is not just about eating there—you should also take home most food specialties, especially the dumplings and pastries. Make sure to save up for this food trip, because you may not be able to go back as frequently as you want.
Most meals, especially in the estero area, range somewhere between P90 to P120. You can already eat a good amount of food for less than P1,000. Again, go for barkada sharing rather than ala carte so you can try out everything.
4. Manila Ice Scramble
When pink stalls reminiscent of the past MMDA color and bearing the name “The Original Manila Scramble” started popping up in malls, everyone became nostalgic. Why does this iced dessert seem so familiar? Then when long queues started forming in front of them at every possible chance, most people started to get curious.
You’d remember "scramble" from back in the day when it was still sold out in the streets, powdered milk toppings and all. Now you’d have to wait in long lines inside malls, since the craze isn’t cooling down anytime soon.
At your favorite shopping centers
, usually in small stalls near elevators, activity centers, or those little nooks and corners
House specialty: Powdered milk and chocolate syrup is still the classic combo toppings for the slushy pink ice of Manila Scramble. The interesting thing about this classic dessert is that the taste of the combined pink ice and powdered milk has managed to stay the same as always—probably minus the much-feared Hepa A and other street food-related diseases.
On the menu: Just like the fro-yo craze, Manila Scramble now offers a wide variety of flavors, mostly consisting of cereals, candy bits, and syrups. If you’re a real fan, don’t hesitate to keep on adding extra powdered milk toppings.
Foodtrip budget: P20
If there’s one screamin’ and ravin’ good thing about this dessert is that at less than P20, you can have your dessert—and at a large size, too. Manila Scramble small cups sell at P7 apiece, the medium one at P10, and the large cup at P17. Talk about a reason to scramble!
5. Mang Larry’s Isawan
When you’re asked to name the best isaw place in town, the answer will pretty much vary depending on the location and city.
But if you’re a dweller, dormer, university student, or just a regular passerby at the Katipunan and Diliman areas, your immediate answer would easily (and always) be Mang Larry’s Isawan.
House specialty: Isaw manok (chicken intestines)
Anyone who has ever been a fan of street food would and should not miss out on Mang Larry’s isaw manok. Despite the small serving, these easy bites pack in the familiar taste of the first isaw you’ve ever tried, minus the unwanted debris and aftertaste that unclean isaw tend to have.
On the menu: While Mang Larry’s Isawan is famous for—obviously—its isaw baboy and isaw manok, you can also try a variety of grilled goods like pork barbecue, betamax, pork ears, chicken liver, and chicken gizzard. They also have soft drinks and water to complete your meal.
Don’t forget your choice of sweet or spicy dipping sauce!
Foodtrip budget: P70
Though the price seems obscenely cheap, the servings at Mang Larry’s Isawan are fairly small. This is actually better because smaller servings means easier and faster cooking. And given the number of customers that they have every day, you won’t be disappointed when you hear your name being called just around five minutes after you paid for your order.
Don’t be surprised (or embarrassed) if you find yourself ordering more than ten sticks of isaw manok in one go—almost all of the people around you might just be doing the same thing. It’s that good.
Every street foodie should try a night out with friends or family at your nearest paluto. Back in the day, when traffic was easier and transportation was far less costly, Parañaque was the hotspot of the original Dampa. Now the city allows you easy access to several Dampa places that are worth a visit.
House specialty: A worthwhile trip to a dampa always means sampling the freshest seafood choices just fresh off the net. But with the many dampa locations sprouting all over Manila, somehow the main essence of dampa—which gives the sense of cooking and eating right by the seaside—has become lost. But this doesn’t mean that the flavor and the whole point of paluto is gone.
There’s also a dampa along Libis, QC just a few hundred meters away from Eastwood. Everything is commendable—fresh seafood, affordable prices, great service, and even the parking.
To enjoy a nearby Dampa experience, you might want to try out the dampa that’s near the Manila Bay. Here, you can find great parking (good for family or barkada eat-outs), lively ambience, and undisputed cleanliness. It’s a cheap treat for great food.
On the menu: This doesn’t mean that the other dampas in Manila aren’t worth the trip. If you want a quick bite of fresh seafood ihaws, you can drop by any of them. But you don’t have to limit yourself to just seafood and shellfish, because some dampas offer a variety of grilled and cooked meats.
Foodtrip budget: Even if you and your friends are on a KKB allowance, don’t go ala carte.
Since Dampas have a paluto concept, it’s best to try out as many entrees and meals as you can. Gather your friends, pool all of your money, and check out which food choices can fit the budget. That way, you can all go back to our heritage way of dining—salu-salo.