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Homegrown Restaurants and Cafes To Fall In Love With in Metro Manila | go! | Globe
Travel & Food

7 Homegrown Restaurants and Cafes To Fall In Love With in Metro Manila

Nothing hits the spot like a local homegrown restaurant or cafe

Do you know what it’s like to have a craving that you can’t quite satisfy? Have you ever had to wait until the weekend to finally take a bite off a dish you’ve been thinking about for days? Worry not; we know what it’s like. Fortunately, we have some homegrown restaurants that are always willing to take us in—and serve some A+ dishes, too.

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Agimat Foraging Bar & Kitchen

2/F 5972 Alfonso corner Fermina Street, Poblacion, Makati

In case you don’t know what it means, Agimat is defined as an amulet that is used to ward off evil—in this situation, let’s substitute “evil” for “hunger.”

The restaurant specializes in Filipino tapas that make use of local ingredients and fresh seafood. The Pares is beef bone marrow and short ribs that have been braised in Kalamata and served with indigenous potato chips. Then there’s Lumot at Malasugi, which is squid and blue marlin ceviche, served with pomelo and calamansi nyebe.

Of course, you can also give their street food menu a whirl, especially if you’re in the mood for their signature cocktails, too. The drinks look a little intimidating, but you’ll fall in love with them the minute you take a sip.

Bamba Bistro

55 Aguirre Avenue, Parañaque

Quaint spaces have a special place in our hearts—especially when they serve great food in full servings like Bamba Bistro.

Bamba Bistro is a kingdom that believes in elevating street food and is headed by Chef Tina Legarda. You can do the usual salad as a starter, but we urge you to try the Artichoke Crostini instead. The artichoke flower is lovingly placed on top of a ricotta cheese and basil puree-smeared crostini, balancing the flavors perfectly.

Then as your main dish, order the Duck Ravioli. Enjoy the mix of porcini mushrooms, shredded duck and just a hint of truffle.

Bench Café

2/F Bench Flagship Store, 9th Avenue, Bonifacio High Street, BGC, Taguig

For something a little closer to home cooking, there’s Bench Café.

While Bench Café technically mixes traditional and modern cooking techniques, this homegrown restaurant still serves up dishes that you can recognize. A must-try from their menu is the Tinapa Cones, which is basically tinapa mouse and salsa wrapped in homemade crispy lumpia cones. Another is the Binagoongan Cesar with Dilis Salad, which sounds a little strange but the substitution of croutons for dilis and a creamy bagoong and queso de bola dressing works wonders.

For the lunch crowd, Bench Café also has Bench/To offerings. These include a viand, rice and one or two small sides. Our suggestion? The Kaldereta with Inasal Liempo or the Angus Short Ribs Bistek with Inihaw na Pusit and Gising Gising.

Friends & Family

Bonifacio High Street Central, 7th Avenue, BGC, Taguig 

Settled quite comfortably in the space that used to house Rocket Room, Friends & Family gives its diners a nostalgic throwback to dishes that comforted us as children—now served with amazing cocktails.

RELATED: 6 Must-Try Non-Alcoholic Drinks in the Metro

With a focus on Filipino BBQ and Pugon cooking, the specialty of Friends & Family really relies on meat-on-a-stick. The perfect example is their 7 Kinds of Barbecue Isawan Platter, which comes with peanut BBQ and sweet sauce, as well as homemade atchara. Take a bite off the BBQ Pork Tenga, Chicken Skin Inasal, Special Pork BQQ, Isaw Bilog, Isaw Manok, BBQ Betamax and Salmon Belly Inihaw.

Their drinks, as mentioned earlier, are also something to wonder at. That said, the restaurant isn’t called Friends & Family for no reason—they have a selection of shakes and non-alcoholic drinks for anyone of any age to enjoy.


10 Brixton Street, Barrio Kapitolyo, Pasig | Unit 5-7AB Forbeswood Parklane, Taguig | A1-A2 Three Central, Salcedo, Makati | Level 1 S Maison, Mall of Asia, Pasay

Locavore proves that you don’t get to four branches in Metro Manila without serving up some tasty treats.

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Ginataang Kaldereta ❤️

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To anyone that has ever argued that Filipino food needs a major upgrade, we present Locavore, an expert at serving local dishes in a different (arguably more international-friendly) way. The Sizzling Sinigang is the typical sinigang dish, except served with beef short ribs, sautéed French beans, sampalog gravy and garlic confit. It’s a little drier than we’re used to, but the flavors are definitely there.

Then there is the Lechon & Oyster Sisig, a crowd pleaser that ties in fresh oysters and lechon bits with chicken liver mayonnaise, a bit of chili and calamansi. Definitely more than a stone throw’s away from the classic pork variant, but still one that’s worth the order.

Max’s Restaurant

With branches virtually everywhere

Once a family favorite, always a family favorite.

Here’s a homegrown restaurant that needs no introduction: Max’s Restaurant AKA the house that friend chicken built.

The flavor of their friend chicken is known the country-over and is a go-to for anyone that needs their Pinoy friend chicken fix. And really, has anyone found an alternative that pairs better with banana ketchup?

Sarsa Kitchen + Bar

Forum South Global, 7th Avenue corner 25th Street, BGC, Taguig | Frabella One, 109 Rada Street, Makati | 3L Mega A, SM Megamall, Ortigas | Level 2 South Veranda, SM Mall of Asia, Pasay | 2nd Level, Phase 2, UP Town Center, Quezon City

For the simple reason that a homegrown restaurant list would not be complete without Sarsa Kitchen + Bar, the Chef JP Anglo-led cult favorite.

When it first opened, the lines outside Sarsa Kitchen + Bar were long enough to deter even the biggest foodie. But once you sit down on those simple-yet-comfortable chairs, you’re hooked. After all, who doesn’t get a smile on their face when soy sauce, achuete oil, vinegar and calamansi are on the table before you ask for anything—this is, after all, how you know it’s a Filipino restaurant.

The Sizzling Kansi Bulalo is served with creamy bone marrow you’ll want more of (but know you shouldn’t), along with beef and special batwan gravy. But if you’d really like to give those sauces a run for their money, there’s always the inasal Pecho to sink yourteeth into (and get your hands dirty for).

Sweet Ecstacy

Jupiter Street, Makati City | Uptown Parade, BGC | Regis Center, Katipunan Avenue

There will always be a need for late night munching and while fast food is always an option, sometimes you just need something that's a little more hearty yet equally as greasy. This is exactly where Sweet Ecstacy comes in, with their ample-sized burgers and varied sides that anyone will enjoy.

Their classic Cheeseburger is, of course, a great option to take. But in those moments that you need a little something extra, the Grilled Cheeseburger is there for you. With a little garlic aoili thrown in the middle, two grilled cheese sandwiches not-so-humbly housing a juicy patty, there's nothing more that you'll look for (except maybe an order of pickle fries). 

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Enjoy and satisfy your cravings, folks! Or even if you aren’t suffering from a craving, these homegrown restaurants and cafes never fail us. After all, who doesn’t love a good and reliable meal?

Next time you feel a craving coming in, use your Globe Rewards points to pay for your meal! Check out the full list of partners here.

Words Adie Pieraz

Art Alex Lara

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