In this food-obsessed city, restaurant choices are practically endless, and range from super-humble to ultra-refined, from retro-homey to cutting-edge. At the moment, three in particular stand out—so take your pick and have the concierge book you a table (or if you’re here long enough, hit all three). Design lovers will swoon over Blackbird, the latest from Scottish chef Colin Mackay, on the grounds of Manila’s former international airport—the restaurant is set inside the elegantly revamped Nielson Tower, one of the city’s few remaining pre-war buildings. The high-ceilinged Art Deco dining room is stunning, but for a more intimate setting, request a table on the second floor in the old radio control tower. Mackay’s aviation-themed menu is a culinary trip around the globe, from chicken Brinjal to truffle-sprinkled pasta to a succulent lamb rendang. If you’re an avid home cook seeking inspiration, secure a spot at Mecha Uma’s 12-seat counter, and pick up new techniques while watching chef Bruce Ricketts work his magic with a seasonal omakase-style tasting menu. And finally, if you’re keen to sample old-school Filipino cuisine, snag a hard-to-get table at Jordy Navarra’s Toyo Eatery, where the menus are a brilliant swirl of traditional recipes—crispy barbecued pork, an elevated bangus (milkfish)—and the chef’s inspired riffs on childhood memories, as played out in a vibrant vegetable medley inspired by the nursery rhyme “Bahay Kubo.”
Blackbird and Toyo Eatery are both 30 minutes from Conrad Manila by car; factor in more time during peak hours. Mecha Uma is in Bonifacio Global City (often called The Fort) and is a 40- to 60-minute drive depending on traffic.
BLACKBIRD: Nielson Tower, Ayala Triangle, Makati;+632-828-4888; blackbird.com.ph
MECHA UMA: G/F RCBC Savings Bank Corporate Center, 25th Street between 5th and 6th, Bonifacio Global City; +632-801-2770; mechauma.ph TOYO EATERY: G/F Building C, Krrivin Plaza, 2316 Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati; +63917-720-8630; facebook.com/toyoeatery