The Unique Cuisine of Manila

The Unique Cuisine of Manila

The Unique Cuisine of Manila

The sprawling metropolis of Manila is not just known for its iconic landmarks, bustling city life, and rich history. The city also boasts of a distinct and diverse culinary scene that showcases a unique blend of influences from its colonial past and its neighboring countries. From savory roasted meats to sweet and tropical desserts, Manila’s food scene offers something for everyone.

In this article, we will take a deep dive into the unique cuisine of Manila, including its history, popular dishes, and must-try restaurants, and tourist attractions.

History of Manila Cuisine

Manila’s cuisine is rooted in the Philippines’ rich culinary heritage, which is a fusion of indigenous, Spanish, Chinese, and Malay influences. The Spanish colonizers introduced new ingredients and cooking techniques, including vinegar, tomatoes, and deep-frying. The Chinese immigrants brought their noodles, dumplings, and steamed buns, while the Malays introduced coconut milk, lemongrass, and shrimp paste.

The fusion of these different culinary traditions has resulted in a distinctive cuisine that has evolved over the years and is now recognized as Filipino cuisine. But within the Filipino cuisine, there are still particular dishes that are unique to Manila and its surroundings.

Popular Dishes in Manila

1. Adobo – a traditional Filipino dish, adobo is a stew made of chicken or pork marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic. Every family and restaurant has its recipe for adobo, and it varies in taste and level of sourness.

2. Sinigang – another popular Filipino stew, sinigang is a sour soup made with tamarind or other souring agents. Pork, beef, fish, shrimp, or vegetables can be used as the main ingredient.

3. Lechon – a staple in Filipino feasts and celebrations, lechon is a roasted pig that is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

4. Halo-halo – this refreshing dessert consists of shaved ice, condensed milk, fruits, and toppings like beans, leche flan, and ube. It is best enjoyed on a hot day.

5. Pancit Palabok – a noodle dish topped with shrimp sauce, shrimp, smoked fish, pork cracklings, and boiled eggs. It is a favorite among Filipinos and is often served during special occasions.

Must-Try Restaurants

1. Cibo – a casual Italian restaurant with branches all over Manila, Cibo offers a contemporary take on classic Italian dishes with a Filipino twist.

2. Sarsa Kitchen+ Bar – a modern Filipino restaurant with a playful and inventive take on classic dishes. Must-tries include their sisig, kinilaw, and kansi.

3. Manam Comfort Filipino – a casual dining restaurant that serves Filipino comfort food with a twist. Their sisig, crispy beef short rib kare-kare, and sinigang na beef short rib sa watermelon are all must-tries.

4. Aristocrat Restaurant – a classic Filipino restaurant that has been around since 1936, Aristocrat is known for its savory grilled chicken and other classic Filipino dishes.

5. Café Adriatico – a cafe and restaurant famous for its old-world charm and classic Filipino dishes. The adobo flakes, beef tapa, and chicken relleno are a must-try.

Tourist Attractions

1. Intramuros – also known as the Walled City, Intramuros is a historic fortified city that features old Spanish architecture, cobblestone streets, and landmarks like Fort Santiago and San Agustin Church.

2. Rizal Park – a 58-hectare park that is home to famous landmarks such as the Rizal Monument, the National Museum of Natural History, and an open-air theater.

3. Chinatown – also known as Binondo, Manila’s Chinatown is a vibrant neighborhood that offers a glimpse of Manila’s Chinese heritage. Visitors can visit temples and eat at traditional Chinese restaurants.

4. National Museum of Fine Arts – a museum that showcases some of the Philippines’ most significant artworks and artifacts, including works by national artists like Juan Luna and Fernando Amorsolo.

5. Manila Bay – a natural harbor that offers stunning views of the city skyline, visitors can catch the sunset over the bay and enjoy a leisurely stroll along the baywalk.


1. What is the best time to visit Manila?

The best time to visit Manila is during the dry season, which runs from December to May.

2. How is the transportation in Manila?

Manila has a variety of transportation options, including jeepneys, buses, taxis, and ride-sharing services like Grab.

3. Is Manila safe for tourists?

Crime can be a problem in some areas of Manila, but most tourist areas are safe. Visitors should take precautions like avoiding isolated areas and being aware of their surroundings.

4. Which airport serves Manila?

Manila is served by the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, which has several terminals for domestic and international flights.

5. What currency is used in Manila?

The currency used in Manila is the Philippine Peso.


Manila’s cuisine offers visitors a delicious and unique taste of Filipino culture, from savory stews to sweet and refreshing desserts. With a variety of dining options and a rich culinary history, Manila is truly a food lover’s paradise. And with its many tourist attractions and vibrant culture, Manila offers something for every traveler to enjoy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.