Poblacion was the hidden outskirt location in Makati for most of us when people started realizing that Ayala centers don’t give that much experience value rather than generic and overrated international franchises.
It was known for years as a red-light district, Poblacion is trading its spunky reputation for seediness and skewing itself to be a place where cool is redefined. Heavily wheeled by white-collar Filipinos and expats, they infiltrate the mushrooming dining and drinking scene. Burgos is humid, has sketchy roads, one to none parking space yet its community kept on growing progressively.
Poblacion is the old downtown area of Makati and its second most important commercial center, after the Central Business District. It was the home to City Hall, it’s the first settlement in Makati, and has long served as the city’s center of local government
Over the years upscale developments started with the Rockwell Center where the posh and affluent do their malling and buy a few condominium units. A-venue starting to pop out and Century City Properties starting building premium units and another mall of course. Ironically, the seediness is still there and it should be perhaps because it is part of its character.
Heavily wheeled by white-collar Filipinos and expats, they infiltrate the mushrooming dining and drinking scene. Burgos is humid, has sketchy roads, one to none parking space yet its community kept on growing progressively.
Why stay in Poblacion
the Poblacion area is probably the best place to stay in Manila because you are still centrally located in Makati, accommodation options from clean backpacker hostels up to upscale hotels. Most importantly the art and dining confluences in its neighborhood.
Here are some of the recommended accommodation options (various price points)
- U Hotels who made their debut exactly a year ago, and today they are actually toted as the no.1 hotel in Metro Manila on TripAdvisor customer feedbacks. Average price 2,000php/40 USD
- I’m Hotel a 5-star hotel accommodation offering impeccable service and room comforts. Average price 100USD
- Z Hostel this Poblacion famous hip hostel offers private rooms for as low as 1,200php/ 20USD and bunk bed (hostel) accommodations. Do check out their rooftop bar.
- Check out these rated and best-priced hotels in the area HERE.
burgeoning art and food scene
The Poblacion dining scene is its backdoor hipster counterpart offering an unparalleled haven for those seeking to peek into another world. If you want to experience this neighborhood never miss out on these places.
El Chupacabra in Poblacion, Makati is a Mexican restaurant which earned its credo to be serving really good street tacos and cheap local beers. I remember stumbling at this joint back in 2012 while my former date and I wanted to still hang out and look for a place that sells good grubs and open til’ late.
El Chupacabra remains dimly lit, cheap light bulbs peppered at its open dining area. Its vandalized wall and loud Latino reggaeton give much character to the place.
We recommend that you get these staples:
- Carne Asada (grilled steak taco)
- Baja California Fish Taco
- Pollo Asado (chicken)
El Chupacabra’s tacos, in their most basic form. Dry griddled corn tortilla, a grilled protein of some kind, salsa, cilantro, onion, and lime. Unlike most Tex-Mex “fusion” places you see nowadays where they totally f*** up a taco because of too much playfulness. They focused so much on the aesthetics that forget to forget the truest taste of what a street taco should be.
Their proteins are well brinned as you can taste strong flavors with every bite. Generous toppings for tacos are onion, cilantro, and Pinoy lime. Like any good taqueria they finely minced onion and chopped non-wilted cilantro. Drizzle with their housemade salsa and sour cream for added texture and tartness to each bite. We want our street tacos oily, flavourful, and unapologetic. They still serve the best value for money Tex-Mex food in Metro Manila (so far).
EL CHUPACABRA (FLAGSHIP)
- Address: 5782 Felipe Street
Operating Hours: 11AM-4AM, Mon-Sat / 11AM-12MN, Sun
Local Beers: Approximately PHP 55 per bottle (1USD)
Expect to Spend: Around PHP 350 per person (6-7USD)
Alamat Filipino Pub & Deli: Filipino Craft Beers and the KKK Banner
What you can expect to taste is an array of carefully combined native flavors that help you ease into the dark hours like no other place in Makati. Go for their large collection of locally produced craft beers from different makers.
They have a veranda-style space with KKK banners and national flags hanged on its capiz ticketed walls. Their wait staff is friendly and knowledgeable about the different concoctions that they are selling so feel free to talk to them. We love going to Alamat on a random weekday night and sometimes they hold live performances from different OPM acts.
Alamat Deli & Pub
- Location: Alamat Filipino Pub & Deli is at 2/F 5666 Don Pedro Street Barangay Población, Makati City.
- Open Tuesdays to Saturdays 6PM-2AM, Sundays, 6PM-12MN
- Contact: email@example.com / +63917-5302580.
WANTUSAWA (POBLACION): MEANS SERIOUS OYSTER BUSINESS
A relatively new kid on the block. A down to earth nook along the Tambai Alley in Felipe Street. The main premise of this establishment is its glorious fresh oysters being flown in daily from Aklan.
A 16-seater laid-back space. Modern, noir in color temperament, reclaimed wood, industrial steel, and low-dimmed bulbs. The whole room is very narrow, and yet oddly comfortable- comfort in such sense that it felt cozy and the ambiance of the whole place is warm. They even have their own Spotify Playlist! Play some of the tunes to get the whole vibe of the place.
Come for their oysters and scallops. You’ll see the number of oysters available for the night written on the board by the wall as supplies of oysters are limited. Come early as Wantusawa is already packed by 7-8pm.
WANTUSAWA OYSTER BAR (MAKATI)
- Location: Tambai Alley, 5779 Felipe Street, Poblacion, Makati City
- Open: Tuesday-Sunday 7pm-1am
Yalla Yalla: Lebanese Food Done Right
In Lebanese, Yalla Yalla means “hurry up”. Everything is meant to be eaten quickly or on the go. Lebanese food uses the Seven Spice Blend that is a mixture of equal parts of allspice, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, fenugreek, nutmeg, and ginger. These ingredients together make their food tasty and full of flavor. Their menu is straight forward, order your beef or chicken in a wrap or on a bed of rice. It’s unassuming but packs a punch.
Chicken Shawarma Wrap (125 PHP) Their chicken pieces were so rich in flavor that was complimented by the assortment of vegetables present in the wrap. The icing on the cake was the Toum, it is a creamy garlic lemon sauce or shawarma sauce. To add a bit of bite, you can also add Shata, their version of hot sauce.
Beef Shawarma on Rice (185 PHP) The sliver of beef pieces was perfectly seasoned and strong in flavor. All the elements of the platter worked perfectly together. The best thing about this is there is absolutely no trace is preservatives in their meat. Their Toum and Shata sauce was just a perfect combination to add to this shawarma platter.
- 5652 Don Pedro Street, Poblacion, Makati City
- 400 Ave. Cost for 2 pax
A Curated & Guided Food Tour
Together with Auro Chocolate, an international award-winning, proudly Filipino bean-to-bar chocolate company that sustainably sources cacao beans from local farmers- to reintroduce the best of local chocolate not as a dessert, but as an innovative focal ingredient infused in savory dishes and craft drinks!
Happening every Friday and Saturday from 4:30 – 7:30 pm, the Auro Chocolate Bar Crawl starts at 5 pm SHARP to avoid traffic AND so you can park before Poblacion gets crazy! They only accept 30 people per day so book your ticket now while spots last on www.aurochocolate.com/barcrawl for this one-of-a-kind chocolate experience!
Where to Experience Art?
Ugnayan sa Poblacion (5852 Alfonso street)
- We’ve come across the Ugnayan Poblacion during our wanderings in the neighborhood. It has an open house set up where everyone is welcome and encourage to just pick up a brush and just paint. The place is not “art-snooty” nor pretentions in any sense.
Pineapple Lab (R. Palma Street)
- A creative hub that provides space for self-expression and gender inclusion thru diverse performances and art exhibitions. They’ve been involved in producing Fringe Manila since 2015, which is an open-access festival to a more diverse audience. Pineapple Lab Creative Director, Andrei Pamintuan adds, “What I hope is, that the LGBTQ artists see Pineapple Lab as one of the many safe spaces where their voices and artistry are seen and heard. What makes a safe space? Openness, selflessness, and honesty within the community.”
For events and listings check out their Facebook Page
DULO: A Multi-Platform Hangout in Poblacion for the Creatives
- Inspired by gallery café in Malate, Manila in the late 70’s called Penguin Bar and Café. It was a bar for artists from all walks of life during the tail end of Martial Law. People who do not really have the money and connections put up their simple exhibit there. The owners wanted to put up a space that would address both markets in terms of their demographics and interests.
Get a Tattoo at Arte Tattoo
- Tattoo as a form of not just self-expression, but also it represents your lifestyle and beliefs. Arte Tattoo specializes in fine lines, watercolors, and mandala art.
Check out their Instagram page for their sample works.
Between the night clubs and bars in Poblacion are homey Korean establishments, cool hostels, great food finds, and beautiful art – an eclectic mix that perfectly reflects our country’s melting pot of cultures. Want to explore more of Manila?
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