Food & Drink

The Best New Openings in Manila 2019

As pleasing to the palate as they are to the eye, these are the Philippine capital’s most dazzling new restaurants and bars.

the best of Manila; the best of 2019

Horse Drawn Carriage parking in front of Malate Church Manila. Photo by JoyfulThailand/Getty Images Pro/Canva

By Stephanie Zubiri

Dec 1, 2019

THEY SAY YOU eat first with your eyes—and in the case of Manila’s hottest new dining dens, the adage was never truer. Bold interiors add the magic ingredient, from Art Deco and golden glitz to industrial chic and vintage vibes. As pleasing to the palate as they are to the eye, these are the Philippine capital’s most dazzling new restaurants and bars. 



High ceilings, Art Deco glamour and plush velour banquettes set the stage for French “bistronomie” dishes made with luxe ingredients. Don’t miss Robuchon-trained chef Miko Calo’s uni pasta with ikura or her more-butter-than-potato mash that’s as velvety as the bar stools.; dinner for two from P4,000.

La Picara

A tropical take on Spanish flavor best describes both the food and the interiors of this tapas joint. Vibrant walls adorned with birds of paradise, patterned tiles and natural wood make this a fun place for sundowner sangrias paired with modern Latin and Filipino-inspired bites.; dinner and drinks for two from P2,500.


Just a few meters away from his beloved Mecha Uma omakase spot, ultra-talented chef Bruce Ricketts has re-opened Sensei with a fresh new look and menu. Minimalist interiors act as a perfect backdrop to the expertly made sushi and modern Japanese dishes.; food and drinks for two from P1,500.

Southbank Café and Lounge

With its polished cement, dark walls, warm wood and geometric accents, this craft coffee joint embodies the paradox of industrial warmth. Enjoy hearty dishes such as a BBQ pulled-pork eggs Benedict or come from 7 a.m. for brunch and a cappuccino.; breakfast for two from P1,500.

The Spirits Library

Living up to its athenaeum name, vintage lighting and forged-iron details make this bar feel like an academic haunt. Behind the bar is an impressive display of rare bottles that offer to elevate your IQ—inebriation quotient.; drinks for two from P1,000.

The Den

Step into the world of a modern Suzie Wong in this red-lit, opium den–inspired speakeasy. Cocktails read like ancient chinese elixirs: Violet Lotus, Opi-Yum. Find it at Shang Palace inside Makati Shangri-La.

+63 2 8814 2580; cocktails for two from P1,000

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