Filipinos have some of their best moments in restaurants, where they celebrate important occasions in their life. Baptisms, birthdays, graduations, and even weekend family gatherings are held at the family’s favorite restaurant. In fact, some restaurants have grown so respected that they have fed at least three generations of Filipinos. Some have altered their names, others have updated their interiors, but their flavors have remained essentially unchanged.
Here are some of the vintage restaurants you can find in Manila:
Grand Cafe 1919
In 1922, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) occupied the structure, which is today a charming cafe. Grand Cafe 1919 offers a wide selection of cuisines to satisfy even the most sophisticated palates. Part of the restaurant’s name comes from the year it was initially constructed. It has high ceilings, elegant furnishings, and stone walls in Binondo.
Ambos Mundos Restaurant
“Ambos mundos” means “both worlds” in Spanish. The Ambos Mundos Restaurant was called appropriately since the foods offered here are mostly a fusion of Filipino and Spanish cuisine. In 1888, a Spanish immigrant named Gaudinez opened the Ambos Mundos Restaurant on Palanca Street in Recto, Manila. This restaurant, described as the “Oldest in the Philippines,” provides the famed paella ambos and the famous afternoon snack asado roll.
Aristocrat (Roxas Boulevard)
The Aristocrat Restaurant began modestly in 1936. Aling Asiang of The Aristocrat was the first to introduce food trucks to the Philippines. Their chicken was once sold through the windows of an old Ford van on Dewey Boulevard, now Roxas Boulevard. Aristocrat has been and will always be a family favorite, with its spread correctly defined as “Food fit for Royalty.”
Cafe Juanita, located on West Capitol Drive in Kapitolyo Pasig, has long been a local favorite. Despite the area’s restaurant development, this business continues to fill up and provide outstanding Filipino food to its customers. Enjoy its quirky touches and visual pleasures owing to its varied and outrageous Asian-inspired décor.
Ma Mon Luk (1920)
Ma Mon Luk, built by a Chinese immigrant in 1920, specializes in mami and siopao. Though he began selling variants of the soup in Binondo and opened a tiny store there, the restaurant grew to include two branches that still operate today in Quiapo and Quezon City. Since 1948, his primary restaurant on Quezon Boulevard and Banawe Street has served hundreds of mami and siopao meals daily.
Boy Ching Woo Restaurant (1939)
The Boy Ching Woo Restaurant is known as the “oldest Chinese restaurant in Caloocan City.” It contains standard menu items, yet the food tastes great. The buttered chicken and lechon con tokwa are the two most famous meals. The method of cooking the chicken and the lechon’s vinegar dip must be crucial. Whatever the hidden components are, they are likely to please anyone’s palate, especially a Filipino’s!
Ilustrado is a fine dining Filipino-Spanish restaurant operating since 1989 within Intramuros, the old walled city. Theirs was the original Lourdes Church, the last significant church built by Spanish friars in Intramuros. The place provides authentic Filipino-Hispanic meals that would make any Ilustrado proud. The back-alley structure is reminiscent of Spanish-era Filipino houses.