When I have dinner events to cook as I wear my Pinoy Eats World hat, I often wind up finishing late, say, around 1030pm at the earliest or so. Usually I get to step out around 11pm, almost always with a raging appetite. Luckily enough, it's easy to appease your stomach noises by simply seeking out the various 24 hour eating options that have sprouted up in this call center economy of ours. Yessir, I will not lie - a McDonald's Big And Tasty, freshly processed and cooked, with a side of synthetic lard fries and ketchup are damn delicious. They are, and I say this in all honesty. I love that shit.
However, as we all know, it is proven that it is just that - shit. No matter how yummy it may seem, this is not something you want to be chowing down on more than, say, once or twice a month. I'd like to think that if you eat something more "natural", like a shawarma for instance, instead of McD's or KFC, you did the right thing. But that's just me. Fine, go have a Quarter Pounder. I may just join you.
But seriously - finding alternative late night eats not of the fast food variety is a task I do not take lightly. For the sake of all the guys and gals who work late or work 'til late, someone has to find places that will stay open to satisfy their hunger pangs.
If you have any favorites, do share them. Here are some of mine...
- Pancake House - Surprise, surprise! Here is what the new kid in town, IHOP, managed to do (at least at the High Street branch): keep 'em open until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays. IHOP is open 24 hours on weekends, so I'm guessing PH didn't want to get left in their wake. Good for us who crave for a taco salad at midnight. Times sure are different!
- Nihonbashitei - This is my staple go-to because if I must eat late night, it's one of the few places I know where I can eat relatively healthy. I love to order salmon ochazuke - basically some salmon, rice and nori in a tea and dashi based broth. Mix in some wasabi and you're in business - and it only costs Php 150. Not something most Pinoys I know would order, but should, because it's quite yummy and soothing AND healthful. If not that, there's always grilled saba or sanma, supaghetti (no, I didn't misspell that. haha!), unagi don, and what have you. Eat alongside a large Japanese contingent - a sure sign that good things are happening here.
- Burger Bar - Newly opened burger-centric joint which stays open til 1am or so every day. That them discs of meat aren't processed is already an advantage over fast food options, but more than that there are OTHER options as well -- a fish burger, a veggie variant, wings, shakes, beers. Options are good, because you can choose if you want to be a piggy or a healthy piggy. Plus they work on their soundtrack - quite rare these days when all you hear at eating establishments is either "classy" bossa nova or cheesy dance bits.
- Bugsy's - This has become a staple not just because of their grub, but also because the owners have managed to make it pretty affordable but still a nice place to hang out: the holy grail of bars. Besides, who can resist their Buffalo chicken tenders (I know I can't!): boneless morsels of chicken with the skin left on, fried and tossed in hot sauce, with sour cream on the side. Not virtuous at all, but nirvana with a cold beer and after a tiring day. I have friends who come here to eat this with RICE. Jeez. If you wish to be a little more healthful, like I like to be as often as I can, I'd rock the tuna melt (not bad and cheap!) and the grilled fish burrito which is satisfying and will leave you feeling good because there is no slick of grease in your throat. But hey - sometimes you just want to be a bad boy/girl - if that's the case: steak n' gravy with a side of garlic rice is the ticket for you. Perfect to protect you from the alcohol imbibing right after.
- Orale - This little Mexican joint that could USED to close kinda early, but apparently on weekends they're open 'til 2am. Now, the thing I love to do here now is sit, eat and enjoy some Micheladas -- basically Coronas with lime juice and spices. A Mexican staple, this drink is literally a party in your mouth - your first sip will definitely raise your eyebrows. As for the food - they've always had some pretty good stuff. Soft tacos are always nice - grilled chicken or fish. Garlicky guac and chips are nice too, except don't expect your date to even want to hold you hand after eating it because hot damn the amount of garlic in it can make Nosferatu disintegrate.
- Argos - Smack dab in the middle of Makati's red light district is home of some of the cleanest tasting shawarmas I've ever had in Manila. The Turkish owned Argos is actually a pretty decent place to hang out: the owners will take good care of you, the drinks are cold and there's a flat screen showing everything from footie to belly dancing. But back to the shawarmas - I've only tried their chicken, and it's nice and juicy and again - pretty healthful and delicious. If you go deeper into their menu - which I highly recommend, by the way - do explore their moussaka (which - surprise, surprise - is apparently more Turkish than Greek!) and their dolmas - rice stuffed in vine leaves. Oh, and by the way, if you're a girl, I don't quite know if I'd recommend you going there late with other girls - DON'T get me wrong..it's safe inside.. but it's the walking around there that I'm not sure about. To be sure, go with a guy.
- Wrong Ramen
- Persian Grill
- Burger Project