Makati Food Trip: Poblacion Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurants

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Eating on few restaurants in Poblacion, Makati was the main goal during my stay in Manila after my 3-month backpacking trip outside the country. I had four days to spare and it’s the best time to experience the food scene in this Makati district. Staying in few Makati hostels made me accessible to these restaurants. I’ve heard about a Poblacion food crawl (Pob-crawl) activity but I wanted to enjoy the offerings, not in a rush. With that, here’s a list of restaurants in Poblacion, Makati I’ve tried on my stay.

makati hole-in-the-wall restaurants commune
Cozy ambiance of Commune.

Commune

Commune is one of the cozy coffee shops slash bar in Poblacion. Stationed on Polaris Street, the café provides an unperturbed ambiance suitable for some catch-up sessions with friends. Coffee beverages are available in two sizes with prices ranging from PHP120 to 185, on hot and iced versions. In addition, the coffee shop has coffee-free drinks from tea, lemonades, and soda. If you support local products, don’t miss the Bayani Brew, brewed from locally grown ingredients. Of course, pastries and other desserts are perfect pairs for your drinks.

makati hole-in-the-wall restaurants commune
A cup of coffee at Commune to start the day.

Wok by 4900

I stumbled upon this tiny restaurant on my way back to my hostel coming from Commune, which is just on the adjacent compound. Wok by 4900’s menu is famous for their Asian flares. A big sign enumerating every rice meal in Asia will definitely hook with your eyes. Explore the taste of Asia from Hong Kong, Taipei, Beijing, Jakarta, Bangkok, Tokyo, Seoul, and Manila. Wok by 4900 is great for dinners and some drinking spree. I got a Manila Asian Built Bowl priced at PHP160 for the half serving. The bowl has fried rice, some young corn, pork rinds, spring onions, cucumbers, chutney, and the adobo chicken and pork to top the meal.

makati hole-in-the-wall restaurants wok 4900
Philippine represent! Adobo rice meal of Wok 4900.

Yalla Yalla Express

Yalla Yalla Express provides Lebanese food like beef and chicken shawarma, kebab, falafel, shishtaouk, and sujuk. All mains are available in either wrap or rice versions. In addition, they have burgers, brick-oven pizza, fries, pita, and baklava for dessert. For the chicken shawarma rice at PHP155, serving is a bit small but the flavors of the fluffy rice and tender chicken blend well with their toum (garlic sauce) and shatta (hot sauce). The pickled vegetables served on the sides were also explosives in terms of tang.

makati hole-in-the-wall restaurants yalla yalla express

Tambai Yakitori

Tired of the usual skewer stalls for your grilled fix? How about trying an upscaled ihaw-ihaw with premium skewers? Tambai in Poblacion is the place for finest skewers in town. Serving size is a bit off for its price but there’s an assurance that items served are flavorful than your usual local skewer stalls. Tambai is the perfect example of a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Makati because it was once a sari-sari store. The dining ambiance embodies the ‘tambay’ feels that the owner wanted to promote. Tables are set-up along the road while customers enjoy prime skewers and beers as the night fades in Makati. Yakitori ranges from PHP30 to 60 while the bigger version, Laki-tori, from PHP120 to 180.

makati hole-in-the-wall restaurants tambai
Tambai Yakitori’s outdoor dining hall.

Crepe Amelie

Finding a breakfast place led me to the doors of Crepe Amelie, located at A. Venue Mall along Makati Avenue. The place is a bit posh for the usual hole-in-the-wall restaurant but I’ve included this café on my list because you still need time to enjoy your meals away from the noisy drunkards. I got myself a Bacon Lettuce Tomato with Egg and at first thought about it as a salad. I forgot that the restaurant is all about crepes so I was stunned to find the pile of bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, and a sunny side up egg on top of a crepe.

makati hole-in-the-wall restaurants crepe amelie
Bacon, Lettuce, Tomatoes, and Egg on a crepe.

Crying Tiger

Miss trying the food stalls of Bangkok where being fancy is not an element of dining? Crying Tiger embodies this ideal as they try to replicate the Bangkok food scene on their plates. Most meals on their menu bear the Thai name but the English translation is still available. From grilled satay, som tam (papaya salad), pad Thai, moo ping, kai jeow, and the irresistible khao nian mamuang (sticky rice with mangoes). I ordered moo ping but unfortunately, their griller stopped working so kai jeow served as the alternative. In fairness to them, they’re really trying to replicate the Thai meal. The egg was overbeaten resulting in a crispy yet oil-filled omelet on top of steamed rice finished with some parsley.

makati hole-in-the-wall restaurants crying tiger
Crying Tiger’s version of the Thai omelette.

Empingao

Empingao is a place for Latin American cuisine so expect some salsa, tacos, nachos, and cubano on the menu. The place is a bit tight with their main dining hall that can only fit 16-20 people. Salmon tacos at PHP260 brings the best ingredients of the restaurant with some fried corn tortilla, romaine lettuce, chimichurri, mandarin orange, mango mayo, and the grilled salmon. The price is a little expensive but the flavors are really explosive. Empingao also offers drinks from tequila, gin, beers, fresh juices, and soda.

makati hole-in-the-wall restaurants empingao
Irresistible salmon tacos of Empingao!

Poblacion, Makati is not a frequent place for me when I stayed in Makati. Having an apartment in the west part of the city, I had no idea about the bars, hang-out places, and hole-in-the-wall restaurants in the area. With an invite from a hotel and the idea of discovering the budget places to stay in Makati, I unexpectedly discovered these gems of this Makati neighborhood. The area boasts its unique and varied culinary landscape perfect for tourists, foreign and locals alike. The only disadvantage of dining in Poblacion is that most restaurants open around 4 or 5 in the afternoon as the happy hour kicks in. Still, they’re nice spots to hang out when in Makati.

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