The Top Thing to Eat: Manila


Traditional Filipino Dishes

Now that you're in Manila, you may be wondering what are the must-try dishes that truly represent the rich flavors of Filipino cuisine. Look no further, as we've rounded up the top traditional Filipino dishes that you should definitely try during your stay in Manila.

Adobo: The quintessential Filipino dish

When it comes to Filipino cuisine, adobo is a staple that you shouldn't miss. It's a savory dish made with meat (usually pork or chicken), marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and spices, then simmered until tender. The combination of tangy and savory flavors makes it a true Filipino comfort food.

Sinigang: A sour and savory soup

Sinigang is a popular Filipino soup known for its distinctive sour taste. It's made with tamarind or other souring agents, combined with a variety of meats (pork, beef, shrimp) and vegetables. The sourness of the soup is balanced with the fresh flavors of the vegetables, resulting in a delicious and comforting dish.

Lechon: The famous roasted pig

No Filipino celebration is complete without a lechon, a whole roasted pig that is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The meat is seasoned with a mix of spices, stuffed with aromatics, and slow-roasted until perfection. It's a centerpiece dish that showcases the culinary expertise of Filipinos and is often served during special occasions.

By trying these traditional Filipino dishes, you'll get a taste of the flavors and culinary heritage that make Filipino cuisine truly special. So make sure to indulge in these mouthwatering dishes during your time in Manila!


Street Food Delights

When it comes to experiencing the vibrant and diverse food scene in Manila, you can't miss out on the street food delights that are sure to satisfy your taste buds. Here are some must-try street food options that will take your culinary adventure to the next level.

Isaw: Grilled chicken intestines on a stick

If you're feeling adventurous and want to try something unique, then Isaw is the street food for you. These grilled chicken intestines on a stick are marinated in a flavorful sauce and then grilled to perfection. The result is a savory and slightly chewy snack that locals can't get enough of. Don't let its unconventional nature scare you away, as Isaw offers a taste experience like no other.

Balut: A fertilized duck embryo

For the more daring food enthusiasts, Balut is a must-try street food in Manila. This famous Filipino delicacy consists of a fertilized duck embryo that is boiled and eaten right from the shell. Although it might sound strange, Balut is actually a delicious and nutrient-rich snack that locals swear by. Just give it a try, and you might discover a surprising new favorite.

Kwek-kwek: Deep-fried battered quail eggs

Craving something crispy and flavorful? Look no further than Kwek-Kwek. These deep-fried battered quail eggs are not only visually appealing with their bright orange color, but they also pack a punch of deliciousness. With a crispy exterior and a soft boiled-egg center, Kwek-Kwek is a popular street food snack that offers a delightful combination of textures and flavors.

So, when you find yourself exploring the bustling streets of Manila, make sure to indulge in these street food delights. They are not only a delicious part of Filipino cuisine but also an opportunity to immerse yourself in the local food culture and experience the true flavors of Manila.


Modern Filipino Fusion Cuisine

If you find yourself in Manila, be sure to indulge in some of the city's top culinary delights. From traditional Filipino dishes to modern fusion cuisine, there is something to satisfy every palate. Here are a few must-try dishes that will take your taste buds on a delightful journey.

Sisig: Sizzling pork dish with a twist

Sisig is a popular dish that originated in the Philippine city of Angeles. It is made from parts of the pig's head and liver, seasoned with calamansi juice, soy sauce, and chili peppers, then served on a hot plate. What sets this dish apart is the addition of unconventional ingredients like mayonnaise and egg. The combination of crispy and savory flavors makes it a true culinary gem.

Halo-Halo: A refreshing dessert with mixed ingredients

Halo-Halo is the perfect way to beat the Manila heat. It is a refreshing dessert that consists of a mix of ingredients such as crushed ice, sweetened fruits, jellies, beans, and topped with creamy leche flan and ube ice cream. The combination of textures and flavors creates a delightful symphony in every bite.

Chicken Inasal: Grilled chicken marinated in local herbs and spices

Chicken Inasal is a classic Filipino dish that originated in Bacolod City, known as the “Inasal Capital of the Philippines.” The chicken is marinated in a flavorful combination of local herbs, spices, and vinegar, then grilled to perfection. The result is tender and juicy chicken with a distinct smoky flavor that is sure to leave you craving for more.

So, whether you're a foodie looking for unique flavor combinations or someone wanting to experience authentic Filipino cuisine, these dishes should definitely be on your list when exploring the culinary scene in Manila.


Seafood Specialties

When it comes to dining in Manila, seafood is a must-try. Whether you're a seafood lover or not, you won't want to miss out on these delicious specialties. Get ready to tantalize your taste buds with these mouthwatering dishes!

Grilled squid: Tender and smoky grilled squid

If you're a fan of seafood, then you have to try the grilled squid in Manila. The squid is perfectly cooked, tender, and smoky, making it a flavor-packed delight. Served with a soy-based dipping sauce, this dish is a favorite among locals and tourists alike.

Sinigang na Hipon: Sour shrimp soup

Sinigang na Hipon is a delightful sour shrimp soup that will warm your heart and soul. Made with fresh shrimp, vegetables, and tamarind broth, this dish has a tangy and savory flavor that will leave you craving for more. Enjoy it with a bowl of steamed rice for a satisfying meal.

Baked Tahong: Baked mussels with cheese and garlic

For cheese and seafood lovers, Baked Tahong is a must-try. This dish features plump and juicy mussels topped with a mixture of cheese, garlic, and breadcrumbs, then baked to perfection. The result is a cheesy and flavorful treat that will surely satisfy your cravings.

Next time you visit Manila, make sure to try these seafood delicacies. Whether you prefer grilled squid, sour shrimp soup, or cheesy baked mussels, you're in for a delicious culinary adventure. Bon appétit!


Unique Food Experiences

When you're in Manila, be prepared for a delicious culinary adventure! This bustling city is known for its diverse and flavorful cuisine that will surely satisfy your taste buds. Here are some top food experiences you shouldn't miss:

Dampa: Fresh seafood market and dining experience

If you're a seafood lover, then Dampa is a must-visit destination for you. Located in Pasay City, Dampa offers a unique experience where you can handpick your fresh seafood from the market and have it cooked on the spot by the neighboring restaurants. From crabs to shrimps, clams to squids, the options are endless. Don't forget to try their famous “paluto” style of cooking for an authentic local taste.

Jollibee: The iconic Filipino fast-food chain

No trip to Manila would be complete without a visit to Jollibee, the most famous fast-food chain in the Philippines. Known for their crispy fried chicken, spaghetti with a sweet twist, and signature peach mango pie, Jollibee has become a beloved Filipino icon. It's not just about the food, but also the warm and welcoming atmosphere that will make you feel like a part of the Jollibee family.

Kamayan Feast: Traditional dining with bare hands

For a truly unique dining experience, try the Kamayan Feast. Kamayan means “to eat with your hands” in Filipino, and this traditional style of dining allows you to savor a variety of dishes served on a banana leaf. From grilled meats to seafood, rice to vegetables, you can enjoy a feast with your bare hands, immersing yourself in the rich Filipino culture and flavors.

So, when you're in Manila, don't miss out on these top food experiences that will surely leave you craving for more. Whether you're indulging in fresh seafood, enjoying the iconic Jollibee treats, or experiencing the traditional Kamayan Feast, your taste buds will thank you for the unforgettable culinary journey.


Desserts and Sweet Treats

If you have a sweet tooth and find yourself in Manila, you're in for a treat! The capital city of the Philippines is known for its delectable desserts and sweet treats that will satisfy any craving. Here are some must-try delicacies:

Ube: Purple yam delicacies

Ube, or purple yam, is a staple in Filipino desserts. You'll find a wide variety of ube-based treats in Manila, from traditional rice cakes to ice cream and even pastries. The vibrant purple color and unique flavor of ube make it a favorite among locals and tourists alike.

Bibingka: Traditional rice cake

Bibingka is a traditional Filipino rice cake that is usually enjoyed during the Christmas season. Made with rice flour, coconut milk, and topped with salted egg and cheese, this warm and fluffy dessert is a must-try in Manila. You can find bibingka being sold along the streets, especially during the holiday season.

Mango Float: Layers of mangoes, cream, and graham crackers

If you're a fan of mangoes, you have to try the mango float. This refreshing and creamy dessert is made with layers of ripe mangoes, whipped cream, and graham crackers. It's a popular dessert during the hot summer months in Manila and can be found in many cafes and dessert shops.

So, if you find yourself in Manila, make sure to satisfy your sweet tooth by trying these delicious desserts and sweet treats. They are not only tasty but also a delightful way to experience the unique flavors of the Philippines.



In conclusion, Manila offers a diverse and vibrant food culture that is sure to satisfy any palate. From traditional Filipino dishes to international cuisines, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this bustling city. Whether you're a foodie looking to explore new flavors or a traveler seeking an authentic culinary experience, Manila has got you covered. So don't miss out on trying these top dishes during your visit to Manila.

Frequently Asked Questions about Manila's food culture

  1. What are some must-try Filipino dishes in Manila?

Some must-try Filipino dishes in Manila include adobo (a savory meat stew), sinigang (a sour soup with meat and vegetables), lechon (roast pig), and halo-halo (a refreshing dessert made with shaved ice, fruits, beans, and other toppings).

  1. Are there vegetarian or vegan options available in Manila?

Yes, Manila offers a variety of vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants and dishes. You can find plant-based versions of Filipino favorites like tofu sisig and vegan adobo, as well as international cuisines that cater to a plant-based diet.

  1. Where can I find street food in Manila?

Street food stalls can be found in various parts of Manila, particularly in popular markets and night markets such as Binondo Chinatown and Mercato Centrale. Here, you can indulge in street delicacies like balut (developing duck embryo), fish balls, and isaw (grilled intestines).

  1. What are the best seafood options in Manila?

Manila is known for its fresh seafood offerings. You can enjoy dishes like grilled seafood platters, kinilaw (Filipino ceviche), and crispy pata (deep-fried pork knuckles) at seafood restaurants and eateries along Manila Bay or in the coastal areas of the city.

Remember to explore the vibrant food scene in Manila and savor the unique flavors this city has to offer!

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