There is much to unpack regarding Filipino food, as one would expect from Asia’s melting pot. The showcase of culture and tradition is just one aspect, but remains most celebrated among foodies. Thus, timelessness is a promise of most heritage restaurants in the Philippines. As these establishments serve legacy dishes amid ancestral backdrops, they continue to attract the curiosity of those seeking satisfaction from a local gastronomic experience.
For this reason, heritage restaurants fill many areas in and near Metro Manila. Some have been restaurants since time immemorial; others were ancestral homes turned for adaptive reuse. The latter typically makes ideal spaces for heritage restaurants, as they mirror Filipino traditional dishes: the amalgamation of flavours and textures, the nostalgia and comfort of familiar territory. In fact, one can argue that these heritage-houses-turned-restaurants are the way to go for a taste of the Philippines. So if you want in on the experience, here are a few popular heritage restaurants in Metro Manila to start.
Note: While we do our best to stay accurate, some of these heritage restaurants in Metro Manila might be temporarily closed due to the pandemic. Rest assured that they’re all still up and running, as of writing.
Also read: 16 Must-Visit Historical Buildings & Heritage Houses in the Philippines
Heritage restaurants and cafes in Metro Manila
1. La Luna Cafe
One of the most newly opened heritage restaurants in Metro Manila, La Luna Cafe launched on 12 Jun 2021, alongside the Philippines’ 123rd Independence Day. Situated inside a modern heritage house, the cafe offers mostly Filipino favourites and remarkable speciality dishes (their Balut ala Pobre is a must-try!); meanwhile, its in-house panaderia bakes delectable pastries with more affordable prices.
Address: 103 M. L. Quezon Avenue, Hagonoy, Taguig
2. Grand Cafe 1919
What was the building of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) in 1922 is now a cafe oozing with character. Grand Cafe 1919, part of its name derived from the year it was first built, has a wide variety of cuisines to cater to the most diverse palettes. It sits in the ever-lively Binondo, marked by its mega high ceilings and elegant furniture contrasting its stoned walls.
Address: 117 Juan Luna St., Binondo, Manila
3. Blackbird at the Nielson Tower
The name Blackbird must be an ode to the roots of Nielson Tower, where the heritage restaurant lies. When the Philippines inaugurated its first commercial airport, the Nielsen Airport, in 1937, Nielson Tower served as its air-control centre. Today, the tower is the only pre-World War II structure preserved in Makati, and it functions as a luxe dining destination, keeping the Art Deco design of the original structure.
Address: Nielson Tower, Ayala Triangle 1209 Makati
4. Las Casas Quezon City
Showcasing world-class Filipino heritage houses, Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is no stranger to history buffs. The famous destination in Bataan ventured out to Quezon City in 2018; and since then, Las Casas Quezon City has functioned as both a restaurant and a museum, with several customers booking it for events and photoshoots.
The elegant space houses the post-war Casa Juico, built in 1963, a sizeable rustic fountain, and two restaurants. Kusina ni Maria offers homely Filipino classics, while La Bella serves Italian favourites, inspired by Dr. Jose Rizal’s mother. Las Casas Quezon City is also set to open its first in-house cafe, Muni-Muni Bar & Cafe.
Address: 134 Roosevelt Ave, San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City, 1105 Metro Manila
5. Belfry Cafe
Belfry Cafe stands in one of the most fascinating spaces possible — right smack in the middle of Manila Cathedral. Built in 1571, the first cathedral in the Philippines poses as an undeniably historic structure, where customers can dine underneath the iconic bells of the church. Belfry Cafe offers traditional pastries, including ensaymada and the classic cheese roll, along with modern choices of beverages, like the Manila Vanilla and different flavours of frappe.
Address: Cabildo Street Intramuros Manila 1002 Intramuros
Also read: 13 Garden Restaurants in & Near Metro Manila
6. Casa Roces
Before World War II, Casa Roces served as a typical family dwelling in an unassuming street. It was repurposed into a restaurant in 2011, which has since honoured the Roces clan of freedom fighters and national artists. Today, it still resembles its quiet architecture in the 1940s, posing classic white detailings and modern Italianate interiors.
Address: 1153 J. P. Laurel Corner Aguado Street 1005 San Miguel, Philippines
7. Palacio de Memoria
Palacio de Memoria digs into the 1920s, having been built during the pre-war era. Then known as the Villaroman Mansion, the seven-story home now functions as a beautiful heritage restaurant in Metro Manila. It spans three hectares, its interiors with its original mouldings and Terrazzo floors, and its grounds as a parking space for two vintage planes.
Address: 95 Roxas Boulevard, Barangay Tambo 1701 Parañaque, Philippines
8. Conti’s at Villa Pacencia
Serving heirloom dishes since 1997, Conti’s Bakeshop and Restaurant has become well-loved among families and long-time friends. Its dishes exude warmth and ease, some of them evolving into celebratory household staples. Being a restaurant with this reputation, Conti’s sits very well at Villa Pacencia.
Built in 1957, the historic mansion was one of the residences of Jose P. Laurel. It now holds two historical markers — one from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and another from First Indonesian President Sukarno. Pre-pandemic, it has served up to a hundred customers at a time, proving the ever-relevance of the legacy brand.
Address: 515 Laurel Mansion, Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong
Also read: 10 Unique Local Restaurants That Take You Out of Your Comfort Zone
These heritage restaurants and cafes attest that the traditional food experience is here to stay. If you’ve eaten in other remarkable establishments such as these, let us know in the comments! Show us your photos by tagging us on Instagram at @tripzillaph.
Featured image credit (L-R): La Luna Cafe; Las Casas Quezon City | Official Facebook Pages