Eating in classic restaurants in Intramuros is as close as we can get to travelling back in time to the peak of the Spanish colonial era. The Walled City of Manila houses incredible options for foodies to celebrate its rich heritage and history. Featuring the best Spanish and Filipino cuisines, these classic restaurants in Intramuros will surely be worth your time; so, get prepped for the culinary feasts that await you.
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Discover and relive classic restaurants in Intramuros
1. Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant
One of the most famous classic restaurants in Intramuros is the icon that is Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant. Located just across the historic San Agustin Church, the restaurant is easily identified because of its prominent red signage and its prime location in the middle of Plaza San Luis Complex.
Founded during the 1970s, Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant boasts a mastery of Spanish and Filipino fusion cuisine — evident in its mouthwatering menu — perfect for both dinner dates and family feasts. You can’t go wrong with ordering sinigang na sugpo, arroz a la cubana, gambas al ajillo, and krispy tadiang. They’re just so delicious that you’ll want to share them with someone else — if you’re generous enough.
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Aside from the delicious food, you can enjoy performances from the staff who showcase traditional Spanish and Filipino dances. And have we mentioned their picturesque patios? After dining, you will want to take a photo backdropped against their beautiful patios for your Instagram feed. But not before posting about their food, of course!
2. Ilustrado Restaurant
Another classic restaurant in Intramuros is Ilustrado. This restaurant dates back to 1989 and is a premier destination for foreigners who want to taste the very best that the Walled City has to offer. From tourists to dignitaries and even the king and queen of Spain, this world-famous restaurant has culinary creativity and skills to keep its high-profile clientele coming back. With dishes as indulgent as Paella Ilustrado, Adobong Bagnet with Taba ng Talangka, and Callos Madrilena, Ilustrado delivers a taste of the rich Spanish empire. Don’t forget to try out their exotic Sampaguita Ice Cream, too!
Like Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant, Ilustrado is also no slouch in the Instagram photo opportunity department. Their interiors are also a fusion of classic wood furniture with a modern touch worthy of your camera lens. Ilustrado also has a vast garden that has been a famous venue for weddings and parties. Maybe it’s a common trend between classic restaurants in Intramuros?
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3. Patio de Conchita
After going on a long walk around the Walled City, you’ll want to eat food that won’t take too much time to prepare. For these situations, Patio de Conchita is the best place to experience classic Spanish and Filipino fusion, minus the hassle of reserving ahead and waiting for your food to be cooked.
Established in 1990, Patio de Conchita is a classic turo-turo cafeteria where you can just point (turo means point, by the way) to the wide selection of food you would like to eat and have it served to you over the counter. And when we say a wide selection, we mean it. From beef to vegetables to seafood, Patio de Conchita’s menu has staples of the Philippine cuisine made to an elevated level. Their prices are also much more affordable than their contemporaries, making them a popular alternative to the more grandiose restaurants inside Intramuros. Try their Sinigang na Itlog ng Isda sa Miso, a dish that is rarely found in most restaurants.
Patio de Conchita also follows the vintage motif from the previously mentioned restaurants. Their interior design is composed of classic wood furniture found in most Ilustrado houses from Spanish colonial Manila. This means, yes, your Instagram feed will be just as full as your belly.
4. Belfry Café
This is probably cheating, but bear with me here. Belfry Café was established just around February 2021 but is situated inside Manila Cathedral, the first cathedral in Manila built in 1571. Their menu is quite light compared to the other restaurants on this list, but their products are still considered Filipino dessert classics. You can enjoy their fresh coffee with their fluffy pastries like the cheesy ensaymada and the decadent bibingka.
If you thought the other inclusions from this list had the makings of a brilliant Instagram post, it might surprise you that Belfry Café would top this list. The most important feature of this cafe is that you get to dine under the old Carillon bells of the Manila Cathedral! If you can’t imagine what dining under these relics is like, give Belfry Café a shot.
5. Bacolod Chicken House
Across Manila Cathedral is a stretch of fast food chains. But, one stands out among these establishments, at least for me. The Bacolod Chicken House is a personal family favourite of ours. It was founded in the late 1980s and has brought the finesse of Negrense culinary techniques to Manila.
As you can guess by the name, this establishment serves famous Bacolod inasal chicken from a recipe which has spanned at least four decades. Their chicken is crispy with just a hint of ginger that really gives a distinct and unforgettable flavour. Aside from that, they also serve authentic La Paz Batchoy, one of the most famous noodle soups from Bacolod.
6. 9 Spoons
While not as old as the other examples on this list, 9 Spoons makes its inspiration clear: a classic meal in a modern Intramuros. It should be atmospheric and tasteful, just like the Walled City. Fortunately, 9 Spoons pulls this off with grace and finesse, paving its way as a classic when it comes to culinary destinations in Intramuros.
This restaurant sits at the Penthouse, on the ninth floor of The Bayleaf Hotel. The high ground provides a sweeping panoramic view of the famous walls and the Intramuros Golf Course. This perspective is the only one of its kind among restaurants in Intramuros at the moment, so it makes for breathtaking Instagram posts!
In addition, 9 Spoons prides itself on having a formidable heritage menu at a slightly more affordable price than its competition. Its patrons and regulars would tell you the same, and they would most likely recommend the bistek bulalo or adobo sa puti. But their most famous dish would have to be the deep-fried goodness of pork that is the Bayleaf Bagnet. It’s what most regulars are after when dining in this classy restaurant.
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7. Ristorante Delle Mitre
Another restaurant located near San Agustin Church, Ristorante Delle Mitre is a place where bishops are meant to dine. Quite literally, too, as the word mitre means “bishop’s hats” in Italian. But bishops must tend to their flocks, after all, which is why this restaurant is also open to casual diners alike.
The restaurant exudes humility, both in design and menu. Their classic wood furniture is sturdy and humbly designed — fitting for a heritage restaurant. Its interiors are adorned with sculptures of revered figures from the Catholic faith and bishops of the past. Some decorations even consist of used bishop garbs, framed and displayed for diners to observe.
The food they serve is a pretty simple fusion of Italian, Spanish, and Filipino cuisine. Nonetheless, they are enjoyable, especially since servings of their food are meant for big family lunches. Try out their beef pochero, grilled tuna, and pomelo salad. And if you’re looking for a great place for dessert, it seems like they’ve mastered every flavour of cake there is! Just be prepared for a not-so-guilt-free bite after mass.
8. La Cathedral Cafe
The management of La Cathedral Cafe came up with a great idea: setting their establishment close to the roof of the Manila Cathedral. That decision paid off immensely because it offers a dining experience like no other. Like 9 Spoons, it gives a different perspective of the Walled City — and a more intimate one at that.
Their menu is limited and focused on simple dishes, ranging from pasta dishes and sandwiches to a few rice meals and salads. But the ambience more than makes up for it, especially since this side of Intramuros wasn’t accessible before. If you want to experience what it’s like to eat in Paris or Milan, ordering beef caldereta while enjoying a cup of coffee from La Cathedral Cafe is the closest you can get.
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9. Batala Bar
Inside the Philippine Artisan Trade Gallery are handmade arts and crafts coming from different parts of the Philippines. These products range from bags and wallets to soap, shampoo, and even pet-friendly products. It is also where Batala Bar conducts their business.
While functioning mostly as a bar, they also serve a few rice meals and pasta. They have simple neo-Filipino fusion techniques, which you can taste through dishes like malunggay pesto pasta or the bataladobo silog. Most of them are easy to eat and complement their craft beer, which also comes from different parts of the Philippines. Try their pastries, too — the calamansi curd pie especially pairs well with brewed coffee.
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10. Cafe Ilang-Ilang
While this restaurant is technically outside Intramuros, it is only a short drive away from the Walled City and is definitely one of the best examples of heritage dining in Manila. Cafe Ilang-Ilang is located inside the historic Manila Hotel and hosts some of the finest food there is. Whatever your preference is, Cafe Ilang-Ilang has selections to exceed your expectations.
While it can depend on what special they have, most of the food in their heritage selection is exquisite. Time your reservation during specials (such as seafood night) to get a taste of fresh and premium ingredients cooked to perfection. Sometimes, they even have many different kinds of lechon here all at the same time!
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These culinary treasures make up a good bulk of classic restaurants in Intramuros. Their taste for both their food and designs keeps the Spanish-Filipino heritage alive even after centuries have passed. A lot of restaurants inside the Walled City today have since followed their footsteps, all of which have the potential to become classics. But as long as this collection of culinary establishments is around, they will help keep this tradition thriving.
Featured image credit (L-R): Ilustrado; Belfry Café | Official Facebook Pages