Manila may be known as a haven for carnivores, but it is also home to hidden gems that serve healthy and tasty plant-based fare. Here are the 10 best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in the Philippine capital.
Located in the heart of Binondo, the world’s oldest Chinatown, New Quay Yin Vegetarian is a Taoist-owned restaurant that specializes in Filipino-Chinese veggie cuisine. Choose from an array of vegetable stir-fry’s, noodle dishes and rice meals. The rates are fairly cheap, and the portions are substantial. The restaurant is situated along Ongpin Street, which boasts some of the best Filipino-Chinese food in the city, along with fresh fruit and curious knick-knacks. Don’t forget to bring a shopping bag.
Established in 2001, this cosy house-turned-restaurant serves comforting vegan and vegetarian fare. Affordable and family-run, it offers an interesting menu of contemporary vegetable-based Filipino dishes. Try their take on the local barbeque, made with mock meat and a special sweet-and-salty sticky sauce, paired with brown rice. Save room for dessert and sample their dairy-free chocolate cake paired with freshly brewed coffee. Set lunch meals are cheap, costing 120 PHP (below $3 USD).
The Green Bar, in Legaspi Village, Makati is known for delectable 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 definite highlight is the Wild Thing burger made up of wheat meat for the patty, 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.
Likha Diwa, meaning ‘creative spirit’ in Tagalog, is located on a busy road within close proximity to the sprawling University of the Philippines. It is a haven for budding poets, artists, and writers. This vegetarian café offers a quick and calming escape through its numerous plants, decorative crafts, and paintings that make up its cool interior. It even has a small fountain! Since it is near a school, the rates are affordable. They serve a fusion of vegan dishes and local cuisine. If your companion is not a fan of veggies, there are a few seafood options on the menu. Saturdays are popular due to the full-on vegetarian lunch and dinner buffets.
A stone’s throw from Likha Diwa, along Malingap Street, Teacher’s Village in Quezon City, is Pipino Vegetarian restaurant. It is run by the same owners of Pino restaurant, which is right next door, which itself serves a lengthy menu of meat-centric Filipino fusion dishes – making it a great option if your companion is a diehard carnivore. Pipino means ‘cucumber’ in Tagalog, offering attractively plated plant-based meals that are a sure hit with vegetarians. Locally sourced fruits and vegetables are used to create tasty and inventive dishes like their vegetarian peanut stew (kare-kare) and Filipino- Spanish pochero that features a tomato and bean casserole with sweet potatoes, carrots, and greens.
Malingap is an up-and-coming food street in Quezon City, home to this spectacular little gem serving up affordable vegetarian Indian cuisine. Choose from Indian staples like savoury samosas, pakoras, curries, and naan. It’s also not often you’ll find a South Indian masala dosa or potato pancake available in the heart of Manila! Wash it 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.
Manila is known for its shopping centres, which unfortunately means a lack of popular options for vegetarians. If you ever find yourself inside one of the many SM Malls, its massive in-house food courts usually carry a Bodhi stall. Their vegetarian adaptations of classic Filipino and Chinese dishes are popular with locals looking for a quick, healthy meal while shopping. They’re experts with mock meat, so be open to trying their vegetarian versions of sweet and sour pork, menudo, and chicken curry.
One of the oldest running vegetarian restaurants in Manila, The Vegetarian Kitchen first opened its doors in 1990. This quaint restaurant cooks up colourful vegetarian dishes such as spinach and cream cheese dumplings, grilled vegetable couscous paella, and the popular Korean-inspired grilled mushroom bulgogi bibimbap, served in a fiery black stone pot. It is right next to a juice bar if you’re thirsty.
This authentic Middle Eastern restaurant is situated in the heart of trendy Poblacion, Makati. Hummus Elijah is popular over the weekend, as it stays open for 24 hours between Friday-Sunday – meaning adventurous meat eaters, vegans and vegetarians alike can get their food fix after a night hitting the bars. On regular days it impressively accommodates patrons until 2 am. It offers a variety of hummus paired with soft pita bread, falafel sandwiches, and fresh tabbouleh salad.
This artsy café located in San Juan, Manila is right next to Greenhills, one of the city’s best shopping centres. Lucy’s colourful, homey interiors strikingly resemble a doll’s house. The menu consists of reinterpreted Filipino fare that is vegan and vegetarian-friendly. A popular choice is their take on palabok, a Filipino dish consisting of rice noodles, vegetables, and annatto that gives it a distinct yellow-orange hue. Their Scream Chocolate Cake is legendary. If you’re travelling with kids, call in advance and book a workshop that offers drawing and painting lessons.