A taste of art, food in and around Poblacion
MANILA, Philippines – The flashing neon lights and gritty streets in Poblacion, Makati might give the wrong impression.
It isn’t exactly the first place you’d think to bring a tourist in the Philippines, where sandy beaches and blue waters call to mind images of paradise.
But between the night clubs and bars in Poblacion are homey Korean establishments, cool hostels, great food finds, and beautiful art – an eclectic mix that perfectly reflects our country’s melting pot of cultures.
Artist, host, and Poblacion resident Dee Jae Pa'este gave us a tour of the place he's called home for years, showing us his favorite haunts and the murals he's curated or designed for Poblacion's establishments.
Here's what we saw and ate with Dee Jae!
If you frequent the Poblacion area, chances are you've already heard of Señor Pollo, a Latin chicken restaurant perfect for after-work drinks.
What most people might not know, though, is that Dee Jae himself designed the restaurant's brightly colored interiors, from the humorous sayings on the walls to the bathroom stalls.
At Señor Pollo, we started the night with chicken sisig (P260), rice, and beers all around.
After our sisig dinner, we took a quick tour around Lokal Hostel, which features murals by young local artists all over their walls, both inside and outside.
Aside from giving travelers a place to stay, Lokal's rooftop has also been home to many parties.
What used to be a hole-in-the-wall joint where friends would literally hang out (tambay) has since expanded to a second floor to accomodate more guests.
Like many of the establishments in Poblacion, Tambai had little personal and artistic touches, including lights made of sake glasses printed with photos of Philippine scenery and the restaurant owner's cat.
At Tambai's newly opened new space, we feasted on street food like yakitori sticks (P25 to P60) – US pork, cherry tomatoes, quail eggs and bacon, and US beef isaw.
According to Dee Jae, Taco Chingones has the best tacos in Manila. We tried 3 kinds of tacos that night, but all cost P170 for a set of 3.
Poblacion is home to a lot of hostels for backpackers or travelers looking for clean, affordable places to stay in the city. While we didn't go in either of these two, the La Casita Mercedes and The Clipper Hotel caught our eye as we walked from place to place.
La Casita Mercedes is an ancestral home turned bed and breakfast, while The Clipper Hotel is a restored art deco building with a matching theme.
AVenue Night Market
In a perfect – if unexpected – spot for a taste of Filipino street culture, we feasted on stuffed lechon belly at the AVenue night market, while a cover band played some classic rock songs in the background.
A'Toda Madre is owned by the same guys behind Tacos Chingones, and while the tequila bar wasn't on our itinerary, we accepted their invitation for a quick drink when we passed by.
There was a storm in town when we went on the tour, but Dee Jae usually takes his guests up to the top floor of the City Garden Hotel because it offers the perfect sunset view of the city.
Dee Jae's Starving Artist Tour – and many other tours by locals in and around the Philippines – can be booked through Zigzag Travelers. Check it out here!
What's your favorite haunt in Poblacion? Share with us in the comments! – Rappler.com