Too early to wake up for breakfast, too late to wait for lunch. What’s the perfect solution? Brunch! The Fat Girls Day Out crew rounded up 5 places.
A nondescript space at the back of a classic Art Deco building hailing from the Queen- Escolta. The Den is your gracious host inviting you to come ins and enjoy a cup or two of their specialty coffee.
When you ask people what Cubao Expo is or have they even heard about it? They’d tell you that it is a place where you get “old school shit”, an antique bay or where hipsters used to hang out 8 years ago. Well, those annotations are true though in the sense if you have no immersion from what this space in Cubao is all about.
The Igniter of it All
Cubao X housed street and art culture driven establishments prior before all the millennials flock annual Manila Art installs and jump into the bandwagon of dosing into contemporary art for GRAM purposes. The whole complex used to be the Marikina Shoe Expo, developed in 1972 where the best shoemakers of Marikina showcase their products then it closed in 1997 as the industry then was dying out and left it with ruins of quirky spaces. The place made a comeback in the 2000s housing everything artfully dodged, eclectic and underground hip.
All shops are purely out of own passion, collected and carefully curated. You’d definitely know that people put up these shops for the sake of not profiting but only to contribute to the underground scene. I remember attending Mae Day events back in 2011 where a street party with local bands is all about having a community of like-minded individuals.
The common formula would be cheap cold beers, tattoo shops, 80’s built parlors, tailor leather shop, Ukay Ukay for clothing, 2nd hand vinyl shops and a number of antique shops who have been there since they re-opened.
List of shops, bars, and restaurants (2018):
- Geo Shop– specializes in organic, eco-friendly, and locally sourced products.
- Gold Digger– all genre vinyl record store stocking up on professional DJ equipment and they also sell siomai and beer outside
- THE clothing– Street culture clothing and accessories
- Kendo Creative– Coworking space that serves coffee. Surf lifestyle clothing also available in store from Coast Thru Life
- Four Strings– Ukelele shop that serves coffee and offers free weekly Ukelele sessions
- Talas Manileño– Gentlemen’s barbershop
- Timeless Toys– Antique and unique collectibles
- Vinyl Dump– Vinyl store and
- The Appraisery– coffee shop, vintage boutique shop
- Bellini’s Ristorante Italiano– One of the first establishments in Cubao Expo. Serves authentic Italian food.
- Fred’s Revoluciòn – One of the few original bars in the compound. Serves cold cheap beers and good salted egg wings.
- Korean King Rice Burger– Try the rice burgers and stay for beers.
- The Humidor– Assortments of cigars both local and international. They serve beer and liquors and upstairs houses a random sushi shop.
- PenPen’s- Serves Filipino dishes with a twist and of course cheap beers.
- Grey Vintage– Antique and hard to find items
- Jin– Cheap Korean/Cheap Beers
- Habanero Kitchen Bar– Filipino, Spanish. Italian Confluence.
- Random shops/siomai house/etc– by which I cannot keep up anymore.
Pro Tip: Never miss Manang who sells green mangoes with shripm paste on top (Manga’t Bagoong). Her goods are the BEST. She starts selling at 4pm.
Why Places Like This Matters
I have been coming to Cubao X for the past 8 years or so. I have never outgrown it still and evidently, people with the same age as I am in their early 30’s til mid 30’s still hanging out either in Fred’s or go thrift shopping over at Grey’s every once in a while. Now the big Cubao Expo signage is gone already and the place is left with a nondescript facade in front of the abandoned Plaza Fair.
College kids within the area frequent the place, punk millennial drinking red horse on the curbside, and old antique collectors randomly walking on its side street. Many shops and galleries all left the place and moved on to something posher, but Cubao X hasn’t died out yet and it cannot. We all need a space like this where you are welcomed regardless of your race, preference, whether you have too many tattoos on your body and nobody would give a damn to stare at your skin for a few minutes making you feel uncomfortable. It is really hard to pin down what Cubao Expo really represents or what generation it caters. For me, it’s a neutral ground where we all could drink cold beers and discuss how awful and preppy the outside world is. It is still Cubao’s best-kept secret and a treat for the discriminating few in search for the rarity.
Address of Cubao Expo: General Romulo Street, Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City.
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No doubt that this Ella and the Blackbird will always be on our immediate top of mind recommendation to have good solid coffee and where people can stay for hours hanging out quietly on a Sunday afternoon reading a good hardbound book.
Sprouted from Makati’s hidden gem and sexy neighborhood Poblacion or P. Burgos. Traditionally, 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.
A new player in the area budded out its name is Commune. Interestingly enough when you hear the word Commune- its collective, collaborative, neutral, shared and cooperative. Commune is a cafe+bar proudly serving Philippine coffee, Filipino comfort food and light meals. Commune is about coffee, conversations, and community.
Commune is café and bar in advocacy to drive communication and consumption of only Philippine coffee. They serve Filipino comfort food and light meals.
Why they do what they are doing.
Given that they are a café and bar and there is a lot of this kind sprouting randomly around the country, but what sets them apart? Why are they different? In a sense giving them a purpose of pushing and entering a saturated market in Metro Manila.
How they came to be and to what they are now is because of the owner’s passion for opening a café immersing herself in the Philippine coffee industry and has worked closely with the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. (PCBI). Passionate about collaboration and bringing people together, she organizes activities, meets ups for different interest groups and she saw that space is needed to hose these kinds of gatherings. Thus Commune was created and built.
This café takes pride about locally sourced beans and spotlights its blend of their menu items. Commune vision is to be a champion of Philippine coffee and promote collaboration within and among various communities. After all, the word “commune” means to talk over or discuss. But it may well mean a place where you can have great coffee.
Commune’s space is very open. The bar and espresso machines are placed in the middle part of the room. Nestled in the corner street it has a large space is dressed with communal flowing tables with partner seats begging you to sit on them and get plenty of work done. The coffee shop + Restaurant is situated at the ground floor area and the airy veranda space upstairs is for their Al Fresco or should anyone want to use it for events they may do so by contacting Commune.
The Food, Drinks
They serve coffee, beer, wine, pastries and light meals. Price for their coffee is roughly 105php-190php. Relatively similar pricing to its international franchises contenders, but considering what they stand for and using only local beans it is worth spending your money on.
I recommend getting the Iced Toddy (18 hour cold brewed) and partner it with their warm fudge brownie. Delectable pieces.
The people, ambiance and ergonomics for the whole space foster you to be creative and be productive if you need to get some work done. People who go to Commune are those creative minds who need to work on their article piece, digital nomads that could take their work anywhere. It is a community-centered base where you can discuss ideas with your friends or co-workers. But at the same time, it is relaxed, non conducive and serves as a refuge from the aggressive city and take time and drink their coffee or even a cold beer.
On a Sunday you can just read your book and order a good cup of coffee. The people, the place, the furniture and of course their coffee are in unison.
See, the dining experience is not just about good tasting food. Other factors matter as well; initial customer interactions, ambiance, ergonomics, even the choice of playlist makes up a total dining EXPERIENCE. For Commune, their food selection is good but not excellent in my own opinion, but what sets them apart is their drive and passion for spotlighting Philippine-sourced coffee beans and its vision for creating communities.
We are rating this place as 3 extra rice!
Mon – Sat, 8am – 12mn
Sun, 11am – 7pm
36 Polaris corner Durban Streets,
Poblacion, Makati City, PH
landline: +632 275 6324
mobile: +63 919 859 5848
Do you want to collaborate? or recommend other places? Comment on the line below or send us an e-mail over at email@example.com