The Best Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants in Manila, Philippines

Despite the many meat-centred dishes of Filipino cuisine, Manila is home to plenty of hidden gems that serve tasty plant-based fare
Despite the many meat-centred dishes of Filipino cuisine, Manila is home to plenty of hidden gems that serve tasty plant-based fare | © Yaacov Dagan / Alamy Stock Photo
Shirin Bhandari

From chicken grilled every which way to entire spit-roasted pork and beefy bulalo soup, Filipino food is heaven on a plate for carnivores. We would call it hell for veggies and vegans – except that it very much isn’t. Manila is home to plenty of hidden gems that serve healthy and tasty plant-based fare, from Binondo to trendy Poblacion. Here are the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in the capital of the Philippines.

1. New Quan Yin Chay Vegetarian

Restaurant, Filipino, Chinese, Vegan, Vegetarian

In the heart of Binondo, the world’s oldest Chinatown, New Quan Yin Vegetarian is a Taoist-owned restaurant that specialises in Filipino-Chinese veggie cuisine. Choose from an array of vegetable stir-frys, noodle dishes and rice meals. The rates are fairly cheap, and the portions are substantial. Look for the restaurant along Ongpin Street, home to some of the best Filipino-Chinese food in the city, along with many a display of fresh fruit and curious knick-knacks. Don’t forget to bring a generous shopping bag.

2. Greens Vegetarian Restaurant and Café

Restaurant, Vegan, Vegetarian, Filipino, Fusion

Established in 2001, this cosy house-turned-family-run-restaurant serves wonderfully comforting vegan and vegetarian fare. Peruse the modern Filipino menu for their take on the local barbecue, made with mock meat and a special sweet-and-savoury sticky sauce, paired with brown rice. Top tip: save room for dessert, and make it their dairy-free chocolate cake paired with freshly brewed coffee. Set lunch meals are cheap, at about 120 pesos (under £2).

3. Green Bar Makati

Restaurant, Fusion, Contemporary, Vegan, Vegetarian

This place is celebrated for its high-quality plant-based sandwiches, wraps and burritos. You can build your own bowl of greens mixed with a choice of protein and grains. A menu highlight is the Wild Thing burger made using “wheat meat” for the patty. It is served sandwiched between soy pepperjack cheese, lettuce, onions, pickles and a secret sauce. If you’d like to go straight for dessert, opt for the coconut-based cupcakes.

4. Likha Diwa Vegetarian Café

Restaurant, Fusion, Asian, Filipino, Vegan, Vegetarian

Likha Diwa means “creative spirit” in the Philippines’ Tagalog tongue, which explains why this veggie café attracts budding poets, artists and writers. It’s on a busy road not far from the University of the Philippines, but feels like an oasis, with plants, decorative crafts, paintings – even a small fountain – filling the cool interior. Proximity to an educational establishment explains the affordable menu: a fusion of vegan and local cuisine. If you’re here with a carnivore or pescatarian, there are also a few seafood options. Don’t come too late on Saturdays – they’re hugely popular thanks to the full-on vegetarian lunch and dinner buffets.

5. Pipino Vegetarian

Restaurant, Filipino, Fusion, Vegetarian, Vegan

On Malingap Street, in Teacher’s Village (Quezon City), is Pipino Vegetarian restaurant, run by the owners of Pino restaurant next door. (Incidentally, the latter has a lengthy menu of meat-centric Filipino fusion dishes, great if you’re lunching with a diehard carnivore.) Pipino, meaning “cucumber” in Tagalog, majors in plated plant-based meals guaranteed to delight vegetarians. Based on locally sourced fruits and vegetables, tasty, inventive dishes include a vegetarian peanut stew (kare-kare) and Filipino-Spanish pochero: a tomato-and-bean casserole with sweet potatoes, carrots and greens.

6. Little India Healthy Cuisine

Restaurant, Indian, Vegan, Vegetarian

Malingap is an up-and-coming food street in Quezon City, home to this spectacular spot serving affordable vegetarian Indian cuisine. Choose from Indian staples including savoury samosas, pakoras, curries and and hot, puffy naan bread. There’s plenty more – it’s not often you’ll find a South Indian masala dosa or potato pancake in the heart of Manila. Ease everything down with a refreshing glass of creamy lassi – or cleanse your palate with the decadently sweet gulab jamun: small balls of solid milk drenched in rose-flavoured sugar syrup.

7. Bodhi/Evergreen

Restaurant, Food Stall, Asian, Vegan, Vegetarian

Manila is known for its shopping centres, which unfortunately tend not to cater particularly for vegetarians. But if you find yourself in one of the country’s SM Supermalls, make for the massive in-house food court, where you should find a Bodhi stall. Their vegetarian adaptations of classic Filipino and Chinese dishes are a hit with locals looking for a quick, healthy meal while shopping. Mock meat is something they’re au fait with, so don’t shy away from their veggie versions of sweet-and-sour pork, menudo and chicken curry.

8. The Vegetarian Kitchen

Restaurant, Asian, Fusion, Vegan, Vegetarian

Welcome to one of the oldest running vegetarian restaurants in Manila, which first opened its doors in 1990. Today, it’s a quaint affair that prepares colourful vegetarian dishes such as spinach and cream cheese dumplings, grilled vegetable couscous paella and the ever-popular Korean-inspired grilled-mushroom (as opposed to traditional steak-based) bulgogi bibimbap. This oven-blasted dish, with a bed of super-cooked rice, is brought to the table bubbling in its black-stone pot. There is a juice bar right next door if you need something cold to go with it.

9. Hummus Elijah

Restaurant, Middle Eastern

Here’s a fine, authentic Middle Eastern restaurant in the midst of trendy Poblacion: the old downtown part of Makati district. Hummus Elijah is popular over the weekend, as it stays open round the clock from Friday to Sunday. After a night on the tiles, all appetites are catered for here: meat eaters, vegans and vegetarians alike can get their food fix. Even on other days, it manages, impressively, to serve hungry patrons until 2am. On the menu is a variety of hummus – perfectly accompanied by soft pitta bread, falafel sandwiches and fresh tabbouleh salad.

10. Lucy in the Sky Café

Cafe, Fusion, Vegan, Vegetarian, Filipino

This artsy café in San Juan is right next to Greenhills, one of the city’s best shopping centres, and it has colourful, homey interiors that look strikingly like a doll’s house. (It’s certainly child-friendly – if you’re travelling as a family, advance-book a drawing and painting workshop.) On the menu, you’ll find reinterpreted Filipino fare that’s vegan- and vegetarian-friendly. Among the top picks is their take on palabok, a noodly Filipino favourite involving vegetables and annatto, the paprika-like ground seed that gives the dish its yellow-orange hue. Top tip: if you’ve got room for pudding, their Scream Chocolate Cake is legendary.

11. Corner Tree Café

Cafe, Coffee

With two branches in upmarket, business-focused Makati, Corner Tree is one of the city’s most popular vegetarian outlets. Inspired by restaurants in London, owner Chiqui Mabanta started with a stall in a local organic food bazaar in the late 1990s, establishing a loyal following. Her menu is broad and varied, with Latin American, Mediterranean, Filipino and pan-Asian snacks and dishes. We like the baked tofu walnut burgers, asparagus and gruyere paninis, kare-kareng gulay and Thai veggie curries.

12. Beni's Falafel

Food Stall, Fast Food

Beni’s is the best-established and choicest of a series of falafel stalls and Middle Eastern snack bars around the Century Shopping Mall in Manila’s Makati business district. There’s a range of Arabic and Israeli food on offer – from hummus and baba ganoush to fava beans and Turkish salads. But most people come for the huge falafel sandwiches – with added tahini and crisp fresh vegetables, served in a steaming pitta and spiced with hot chilli sauce. Beni’s also does delivery.

13. Cosmic Vegan Cafe and Bistro

Restaurant, Vegan

Hidden beneath the business skyscrapers in modish, metropolitan Makati, Cosmic is equally good at deliveries and in-house dining – in an upmarket café setting with heavy logwood tables and comfy sofa benches. The menu is huge and global – with dishes ranging from veggie lasagnas and enoki mushrooms (with various savoury, sweet and spicy dips) to Filipino standards with a vegan twist like sisig (normally pork and chicken) with garlic rice and kare-kare (curry).

Alex Robinson contributed additional reporting.

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