8 Places to Go for the Ultimate Metro Manila Street Food Experience
One of the things Filipinos are greatly proud of is our food. Our taste in food is top-notch, and our love for food is so vast that through the years, we have come up with different ways to enjoy it. Although our notable dishes are something we take immense pride in, the best way to experience the Filipino spirit is to experience Manila street food.
Street food can be found at right about every corner. They often come in food carts that patrol the streets from mid-afternoon to nighttime. But there are those that stand out from the others.
If you’re up for a different street food experience wherein you wouldn’t have to join a crowd of people trying to fight their way into dipping jars, or just want to sit down with your friends with a couple of beers in your hand and have a good talk over our all-time favorite isaw (barbecued pig or chicken intestines) or chicharon (pork cracklings), then you might want to check out these places on our list!
1Mang Larry’s, UP Diliman
Location: Laurel Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City
A classic for the first pick! Mang Larry’s Isawan has already made its name on local news and among the hearts of their customers. Famous for their various delicious grilled street food, this humble stall inside the University of the Philippines in Quezon City has already attracted visitors from outside the campus who just want to try their iconic isaw, tenga (ear), Betamax (congealed pig’s blood), balunbalunan (gizzard), etc. With only just a few pesos, you are already sure to have your fill of an authentic Filipino-isaw experience!
2Isaw Republic, University of Santo Tomas
Location: P.Noval Street, City of Manila
Another famous university is home to one of our finds that’s sure to give you what you’re looking for. The University of Santo Tomas’ Isaw Republic offers you an on-street dining experience where you get to enjoy grilled animal intestines with their well-made, fresh fruit shakes or Milo Dinosaur. If you’re still feeling a bit light in the tummy, they also serve rice meals that are just right for a student’s budget.
In case you are bound for a little more adventure, head down the same street and you’ll find a couple more choices of these grill spots fondly called by the country’s locals the “ihaw-ihaw.” It’s like a night market heaven for Manila street food and your cravings.
Location: 26 Courtyard Building, Sgt. Esguerra Street, South Triangle, Quezon City
If you’re a little bit more concerned about your surroundings when you eat but still want to have that taste of good isaw and barbecue, then Lola Ote is just right for you. More expensive compared to the first two but this place offers you a table and chair setting where you can enjoy their well-seasoned and tender 18” barbecue for just about PHP 135. Groups of people can also eat a set meal of barbecue, isaw, and liempo (grilled pork belly) for a value of PHP 300.
4Skinita Street Foodz
Location: Unit 2 D’Strip Building, 20 United Street, West Capitol, Kapitolyo, Pasig City
Just right from its name you know this place is one chic and go-to hip restaurant for Manila street food. The restaurant’s interior is designed to look like a typical Manila alleyway (eskinita in Filipino) with posters of politicians and movies which will go great on your Instagram feed. They offer quality street food (some with a twist of their own) and your favorite charcoal grilled treats served with their special sauce that can be downed with a beer or two.
Read more on Skinita Street Foodz: Stick to Your Favorites at Skinita Street Foodz.
Location: 87 Maginhawa Street, Teachers Village, Quezon City
Right down the famous street of Maginhawa is another place you should definitely try amongst the vast food choices present in this area. The Grill Queen reigns for its freshly cooked chicken barbecue, isaw delights, and many more. For its quality meat and rich taste, you’re sure to order that extra rice in no time. No doubt this grill royalty has reigned strongly and timelessly over the food kingdom that is Maginhawa.
Grill Queen also has a branch at 40 Bayan Bayanan Avenue, Concepcion Uno, Marikina City.
Location: 77 INDG Building, Nicanor Roxas Street, Banawe, Quezon City
Rapsadoodle, with its name taken from the words “sarap” (delicious) and “doodle,” showcases vibrant contemporary Filipino culture not just on the walls of the restaurant but more so through their food. The place suggests an environment where you and your friends can hang out and share an unli-street platter of fish balls, squid balls, etc. They are also best known for their own take on the pares (braised beef), ice scramble (sweet shaved ice with pink food coloring and evaporated milk), and gulaman (gelatin cooler). It’s rare to find a place where almost everything is satisfying but still right for everyone’s pockets, so be sure to check it out!
Location: 136 West Capitol Drive, Kapitolyo, Pasig City
Known to be a pioneer in the Kapitolyo food strip, Three Sisters is a quaint place that initially served halo-halo (popular Filipino dessert) and pancit (noodles) since the 1940’s. With its traditional Filipino feel, this humble restaurant is said to have served not only the best Filipino dishes since the 40’s, but also the best street food around. Their chicken barbecue and halo-halo are a must try!
Location: Ground Floor Lilac Building, 10 Lilac Street, Concepcion Dos, Marikina City
Just a little way up North, Urban Street in Marikina offers you a variety of street food that’s not limited to just kwek-kwek (hard-boiled eggs with orange batter) and isaw, but also those from other Asian countries such as Singapore and Japan. Your money of around PHP 150–250 will definitely take you on a great adventure of flavors and dining experience. Just a drive away and you’re able to taste the different flavors of Asia!
9BONUS: Ookini Yakitori
Location: Monserrat Street, BF Homes, Parañaque City
If you want to quickly venture out of that Manila Street Food scene, a Japanese yakitori place might suit you well. This hole-in-the-wall in the south is a bit of a find but will graciously offer you one of the tastiest street food experiences in Manila, spiced with a Japanese flair. Since Filipinos are known for having a culture mixed with so many other cultures, Ookini then is as Japanese as it is Filipino.
There are so many things to love about the Philippines. But, when in the country, always try to go out of your way to have a food adventure. With all the food the Philippines have to offer, street or not, a Manila street food adventure could just be one of the greatest adventures you’ll ever have!