Cheap Restaurants in Manila to Try in 2017
So you’re hungry. Very hungry. And you are running critically low on cash after many weeks of travel, or a Manila shopping spree. Despite being nearly broke, though, you don’t want to settle for a low-quality meal. You want some delicious food from one of the cheaper restaurants in Manila. Impossibly high maintenance? Actually, no!
Metro Manila is full of cheap restaurants with excellent food. Seriously, the quality is so good, Gordon Ramsay might be threatened. From Italian, to Latin American, to Middle Eastern, to good ol’ Filipino food, restaurants in Manila offer super cheap dishes with rich, unforgettable taste.
So fear not, you cheap foodie, because you’ll find culinary heaven at budget prices at these unexpected dining establishments. Here are our top picks for restaurants in Manila that won’t break your budget:
1. MANG RAUL’S BBQ – FILIPINO
Image courtesy of www.tumbnation.com
Mang Raul’s BBQ is a super famous restaurant found in Almazan, Las Pinas City. This dingy-looking barbecue joint always has a ridiculously long line out front. It’s so cheap, 2 barbecue skewers will only set you back $1.
The crowd at Mang Raul’s BBQ is mixed – rich kids with posh cars line up alongside those on a budget. Everyone is just hungry for Mang Raul’s delicious brand of barbecue street food. The waitlist gets so long, you have to take a number and wait for it to be called before you can order. You pick out your raw skewered meats of choice, gather them in a plate, and hand it to the griller. Then you wait a long time. We don’t recommend eating here on a day when you’re in a rush, or already starving, because the long wait (while the heavenly smell of grilled pork wafts overhead) will drive you crazy.
Barbecue vendors can be spotted on every corner in Manila, so what makes Mang Raul’s one of the most popular restaurants in Manila? The Mang Raul menu is nothing new. You’ll find your regular barbecue street food – pork, isaw (grilled chicken intestines), and hotdogs – served unpretentiously from a handwritten menu taped to the wall.
The secret to Mang Raul’s success is all in the marinated sauce. It’s what drives people crazy. The magic sauce recipe is the cause of the daily (and nightly) crowds. It’s what makes hungry customers wait in line for nearly two hours just for a taste. Tables and chairs spill onto the street out front, inviting you to kick back and devour your mountain of skewers. You’ll leave smelling like a barbecue yourself – and you can bet that you’ll be back again soon.
2. FRIULI TRATTORIA – ITALIAN
Hours: 9:30 AM to 12 Midnight
Address: 79-A Maginhawa Street, Teachers’ Village, Quezon City
Image courtesy of tetadventurer.blogspot.com
Craving some delizioso Italian? Maybe some gourmet pizza? What if we told you that for about $6, you could get a whole pizza that tastes like a million bucks?
A “trattoria” is a casual Italian-style eating establishment, and this trattoria is located on Maginhawa Street in Teacher’s Village—Manila’s famous foodie destination. Friuli Trattoria is a tiny two-storey establishment with plain orange and white walls. The interior is no-frills: plastic square tables covered with red-and-white checkered tablecloths, and plastic chairs.
You come to Friuli Trattoria’s for the deals and the food, not the ambiance. The menu includes pasta, pizza, and a few other offerings. The pizza is by far the most famous and budget-friendly dish. Customers keep coming back for best-sellers like ‘The Fromaggi’ (two layers of mozzarella and cheddar with a hint of blue cheese), ‘Margherita’ (herbs and garlic smothered with two layers of mozzarella cheese and topped with fresh tomatoes), ‘Viva Venezia’ (lean ground beef, olives, mushrooms, green bell peppers, and onions), ‘Pancetta’ (bacon with slices of cucumber), and ‘Spiced Romano’ (rich, aged Romano cheese blended with mushrooms, ground beef, and spices). If you weren’t hungry before, you are now.
3. FRANGOS – LATIN AMERICAN
Hours: 11:30 AM to 2 PM, 6 PM to 10:30 PM
Address: 9595 Buma Building, Kamagong Street, San Antonio, Makati City
Image courtesy of dude4food.blogspot.com
Frango means “chicken” in Portuguese, and that’s what Frangos specializes in. If you are a fan of charcoal-grilled piri-piri chicken, then rejoice! For just about $11, you can devour a whole piri-piri chicken. Still too expensive? Opt for a half- or quarter-chicken.
To fill in those of you who are new to the piri-piri chicken craze: the magic lies in the marinade sauce. The piri-piri marinade sauce or seasoning originated from Portugal, and it is made from crushed chillies, onions, lemon juice, citrus peel, pepper, salt, pimiento, tarragon, bay leaves, paprika, basil, and oregano. The chicken takes on a distinctly wonderful, charred flavor. At Frango’s you can pair it with a craft wheat beer (Tropic Haze) for less than $4. We also recommend a side of yellow pepper rice.
Frangos is located in San Antonio, Makati. The feel of the restaurant is minimalist, with a white-and-red façade and overall hints of Portuguese style. The dining area is casual, spacious, and air-conditioned. Wooden picnic-style tables and chairs give the space the ambiance of a Portuegese street joint. There’s a wide open kitchen and an overhead blackboard displaying standard Portuguese fare.
Piri-piri chicken is, of course, the main event, but you can also choose from other Portuguese delights. We recommend the roasted pumpkin hummus with bread sticks ($2). Appetizers can be a bit “pricey,” ranging from $4-6, but the selection is appealing: crab croquetas, euro sausage, chourico queijo quesadillas, chourico and roast garlic crostinis, and Frangos wings.
4. MESHWE – MIDDLE EASTERN
Image courtesy of devsite.mb.com.ph
Come to Meshwe to experience some authentic, delightfully tasty Lebanese shawarma. Meshwe is Lebanse for “grilled.” Manila is littered with shawarma joints, and some aren’t bad, but they’re all just replicas of this – the real thing. At Meshwe, you are transported to the Middle East by a chicken shawarma that costs less than $2. It has all the right ingredients: slices of tender chicken, Arabic fries, and pickle slices cocooned in a chewy pita bread smothered in garlic sauce. Careful – that garlic sauce is known to be addictive, and it may haunt you after you leave Manila.
Meshwa also serves the shawarma that’s favoured by Filipinos: tender beef strips sautéed with tomatoes and bundled in pita bread along with thinly sliced onions, fresh parsley, mint, pickles, and tarator (walnut and garlic sauce). Or you can have an unbound version of the chicken shawarma (on a plate, not in a wrap) for less than $4.
Vegetarians, you aren’t left out! You’ll want to try Meshwa’s falafel sandwich: deep-fried ball of mashed chickpeas and Arabic spices, with tomatoes, fries, cabbage, parsley, pickles, and tarator sauce, wrapped in pita bread, all for only $1.50. The hummus ($3) and the appetizer platter ($2) are also to-die-for.
Meshwa is a tiny kiosk found inside the gated Z compound, along with few other kiosks. Its few tables and chairs are usually jam-packed. This quaint, charming, unpretentious joint is the only restaurant in Manila where you can enjoy cheap but authentic Lebanese food under the wide open sky.
5. DRIVE-BY TACO SHOP – MEXICAN
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Drive-By is the ultimate taco shop, and it’s easy on the budget. You can satisfy your Mexican cravings for about $7. Drive-By Taco Shop is located in Parañaque City.
The restaurant is a little shack, so prepare for a tight squeeze if you come with your gang. There is seating for 6 inside and 6 outside. No worries though; the food is well worth the cramped quarters. The menu features tacos, beef nachos, burritos, quesadillas, and other Mexican favorites.
The servings are on the small side, but the quality makes up for the quantity. The richness of the grub will fill not just your belly, but your soul too. You’ll be hooked on this authentic and super fresh Mexican fare, and we guarantee you’ll be back for more.
6. BON BANHMI – SINGAPOREAN
Hours: 7:30 AM to 8 PM
Address: 8390 Mayapis Street, San Antonio, Makati City
treet-food staple. If you know what we’re talking about, we have good news for you! You can relive that culinary experience in Manila.
A banhmi is a baguette-style roll filled with meat—pork, beef, or chicken — and topped with vegetables, spices, and dressing. Bon Banhmi is a hole-in-a-wall restaurant in San Antonio Village Makati. Bon Banhmi sells a wild selection of banhmis for around $2 each! Traditional, vegetarian, special pate, grilled beef, roast pork, chicken—and you can even customize your banhmi to your tastes. Couple your banhmi with an authentic drink straight from Vietnam: the ultra-nutritious and refreshing artichoke tea. They also offer coffee if tea is not your… cup of tea.
Bon Banhmi is a tiny, open space. Like so many restaurants in Manila, it’s totally nondescript and easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention. The place may not have Instagram-worthy decor, but for serious foodies and fans of Vietnamese cuisine, Bon Banhmi is truly a treasure. They also do delivery.
7. BUGIS SINGAPORE STREET FOOD
Hours: 9 AM to 10 PM
Address: 78 N. Roxas Street, Santo Domingo,Banawe, Quezon City
Take a trip to Singapore right here in the Philippines with the authentic Singaporean dishes at Bugis Singapore Street Food! For less than $5, you can try things like seafood laksa and Hainanese chicken in a small, casual, air-conditioned dining establishment in Banawe, Quezon City.
The place looks more like a cheerful beauty parlor than a restaurant. The interior has splashes of colour, a magazine rack, a huge mirror, a tacky wall clock, and a tiled floor. The only things that give away that this is actually a hole-in-the-wall eatery are the posters of the mouthwatering bestsellers. The façade is simple, but once you enter and start eating, you’re transported to the hawker markets of Singapore. Whether you’ve been to Singapore or not, you’ll love this distinct fusion of Chinese, Malay, Indonesian, Indian, and Thai flavors. And if you are tight on cash, this place will be your saving grace.
Bugis Singapore Street Food offers all-day breakfast meals, the famous Singapore laksa, of course, a variety of ramen and noodle dishes, and rice meals—a delectable selection of satay rice, laksa rice, nasi goreng rice, and shrimp fried rice! They also offer teriyaki options, curry, stir-fry, and snacks, like shanghai rolls and butter squid rings. For such a small establishment, their menu is pretty long!
8. 8 STREET BITES – AMERICAN
Hours: 10 AM to 10 PM
Address: Second Floor, Sky Garden, SM City North EDSA, Quezon City
8 Street Bites is an all-American diner within a major shopping mall at SM City North EDSA. The hip, colorful, and modern interior and pop music playing in the background make for an inviting scene. It feels like stepping into a New York City casual restaurant. With burgers, nachos, chicken, fries, pasta, steak, barbecue, and sandwiches on the menu, it’s a haven for mouthwatering American comfort food.
Repeat clients gush over the chicken tenders, ‘Street Fighter’ chicken fingers with fries, and bacon n’ cheese macaroni. Actually, they basically rate the entire menu as amazing, filling, and easy on the budget. You can get a proper meal here for only about $5.
8 Street Bites has two restaurants in Manila, so if you are nearer to SM City Manila, Ermita, 8 Street Bites you can try that branch.
9. SODAM KOREAN RESTAURANT
Hours: 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM, 6 PM to 10 PM
Address: 17 J. Abad Santos Drive, Little Baguio, San Juan City
For only $7, indulge in Korean buffet at this restaurant tucked away on a semi-hidden, narrow street in San Juan City. Yes, this is a feast for the hungry. You’ll love this cheap but remarkably high quality Korean grill – one of the best-kept-secrets of all the restaurants in Manila. Fill your belly with Korean grilled beef and pork strips and other delights to your heart’s content. The buffet is laid out for lunch and dinner.
The cleanliness of the place and the efficiency of the staff are also impressive. The small casual dining restaurant is almost always packed to the brim, so it’s better to make reservations before you go. The owners are Korean, which explains the authentic Korean dishes and taste. Get ready to eat lots of pork belly, beef, rice, and – of course – kimchi!
10. SUZU KIN- JAPANESE
Image courtesy of www.tripadvisor.co.uk
Suzu Kin is a small Japanese restaurant tucked away in a very old ancestral house in Kamagong Street, San Antonio, Makati. It has been serving classic, delicious signature Japanese dishes for 20 years now. It is easy to miss the restaurant, so you have to really keep an eye out for the very small white signboard. They don’t need to call any more attention to the place because Suzu Kin is already a legend. Japanese food-lovers from all over Manila flock to it.
The interior is old but very clean. There’s not too much ambiance in this hole-in-the-wall, but it has its own charms. The cheap dishes (half the price of usual Japanese restaurants in Manila) are shockingly delicious, fresh, and high-quality for the price.
The signature dish is the Ebi Tempura. Tempura fans (and who isn’t a tempura fan?), you won’t taste anything better anywhere else. Suzu Kin serves up creamy, generously-sized prawns and they don’t cheat you with any excess batter.
Another Suzu Kin bestseller is their miso soup. It’s one of the best miso soups in the Philippines, or maybe even in the whole of Asia. It’s also white, rather than the usual brown. The Sukiyaki is also something worth trying: sweet broth with slices of tender beef, glass noodles, tofu and vegetables. And then there’s the chicken katsu, oyster teppan, ten don, maguro sushi…. with all the excellent choices, it’s really hard to decide!
11. ME LOVE YOU LONG TIME – THAI & VIETNAMESE
Image courtesy of en.yelp.com.ph
Who doesn’t want to be loved for a long time, after all? For those of you who haven’t come across this phrase before, “Me Love You Long Time” is a classic bit of dialogue from Stanley Kubrick’s film “Full Metal Jacket,” a Vietnam war saga. And this Me Love You Long Time is a delicious, cheap restaurant in Manila.
This concessionaire in Maginhawa Street’s famous food park offers Southeast Asian dishes— mainly Thai and Vietnamese. So if you’ve been backpacking Southeast Asia for quite some time now and got a taste of the best cuisine in each country, you can find them all here. Anyone can afford a feast in this little shack of amazing Southeast Asian dishes.
Yes, this is the best place in Metro Manila to satisfy your Pad Thai cravings for less than $3. Pad Thai is a popular Thai dish—chewy noodles slathered in sweet & sour sauce, thrown in with tofu, egg, sprouts, peanuts, onions, carrots, and parsley. They also have fresh spring rolls for about $2 – the best-seller on the menu. This scrumptious snack is filled to the brim with bacon and shrimp, vegetables, and vermicelli, and comes with a peanut-and-chilli dipping sauce.
For about $1, you can also enjoy their sweet, milky Thai iced tea! It’s quite unforgettable. Some other great, cheap selections from the mneu are the pho, banh mi, chicken satay, banana roti, nam tak moo, street food platter, and Thai chicken curry. Me Love You Long Time will make you fall in love with Southeast Asian cuisine – for the first time, or all over again!
12. THE LOST BREAD – DESSERTS, CAFÉ
Image courtesy of looloo.com
Lost Bread might be the name of this café, but this place is really all about milkshakes. They’re known as the best milkshakes in Manila! Spiked milkshakes for the adventurous adults and delicious classic ones for kids (and kids at heart). The milkshakes pair well with pastries. But you also don’t want to miss their other specialty, the french toast! This has to be one of the sweetest restaurants in Manila.
But let’s come back to the milkshake for a second. For about $3, you get to choose from a wild selection of super cake milkshakes with cool names: Nut Interested (peanut butter, banana, and brownie); Doughfee (Doughnut, coffee); and their bestseller—The Carnival (caramel popcorn, cotton candy, buttercake). For the spiked ones, strictly for 18 years old and above, they have Spiked Cookie (Bailey’s plus coffee, with chocolate chip cookies); The Campfire (Kahlua roasted marshmallows, crushed graham crackers, chocolate syrup); Swiss Missed (Kahlua – cocoa plus mint marshmallows plus chocolate syrup); and Fruit Loose (Fruit Loops plus vodka).
The place is really a food park, tiny, and always crowded. So on a busy day, which is almost every day, you have to endure a loooooong line. And after ordering, you have to wait for about 10 to 20 minutes. But it is worth it. Aside from the outstanding milkshake experience, they look so pretty (and photograph so well)!
Helpful articles and blog posts on cheap restaurants in Manila:
We only recommend writers and blogs that we read regularly and believe will deliver substantial value to our readers. The following is our top picks of articles we think are worth reading for you to get more information on some of the affordable restaurants in Manila on our list.
- “Review: Sodam Korean Restaurant (Little Baguio, San Juan) – by Reigning Still
- “Ghetto Grub: Mang Raul’s BBQ” – by Nico Goco of Pepper.ph
- “Meshwe- Authentic Lebanese Shawarma in The Z Compound at Malingap Street” – by Berrylicious
- “Frangos Piri Piri Chicken in Makati” – by Janey of Taste the Good Life
- “Just a Drive By” – by the Hungry Employee
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About the Author
Stephanie Mayo is from Manila, Philippines. When she isn’t writing awesome articles for Mad Monkey Hostels, she enjoys traveling, photography, and movies.