Given Manila’s passion for food, art, and forward-thinking fashion, it’s no surprise that the city has acquired its own brand of urban hipsters. Their preferred hangout? The Makati CBD, a former all-business enclave that’s seen an uptick in stylish eateries and underground bars. All that has earned the neighborhood its nickname “Williamsburgos,” a nod to the original skinny-jeans bastion of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Here, sandwiched between motorcycle bars, Korean mini-marts, and girlie clubs are a jumble of next-big-thing restaurants and pop-ups with an appropriately global flair. Come around sundown and cool off with locally-brewed craft beer and chargrilled yakitori at Tambai, a streetside grill that would be right at home in Osaka. Next, follow the mariachi music across the street to the funky taqueria El Chupacabra and indulge in an overflowing platter of nachos and some potent margaritas. Keep with the Latin beat as you make your way to Señor Pollo, known for their sublime roast chicken with chimichurri. Then hit Wild Poppy, tucked away off the street with a garden patio, and snack on slider-sized kimchi Reubens and fried-chicken pok-pok bites. Punctuate your food crawl with something sweet at Bucky’s Café, famous for their “buckies not brownies” dessert—a denser, richer version of a brownie best paired with strong black coffee.
The narrow one-way streets of this underdeveloped area of Makati (wedged beside Poblacion and Bel Air) are full of character and funky charm. If you avoid rush hour, it’s a 20- or 30-minute drive from the Conrad—the best route is to cut through Rockwell Center from EDSA. Have the driver drop you on Kalayaan Avenue, near the Iglesia ni Cristo church at 8408 Orion; all of the above are an easy walk from there.
TAMBAI: 5779 Felipe Street, Bel Air, Makati; +63 917 842 3725EL CHUPACABRA: 5782 Felipe Street, Bel Air, Makati; +632-895-1919; facebook.com/ElchupacabraphSEÑOR POLLO: 5767 Ebro Street, Makati; +632-831-6945WILD POPPY: 5666 Don Pedro Street, Makati; +63 995 990 8737; thewildpoppymnl.com BUCKY’S CAFÉ: 5666 Don Pedro Street, Makati +63-917-844-5104