It seems the local dining scene is more vibrant than ever. Themed cafés and bistros decked in inspiring interiors have popped up everywhere in the city, promising a fun foodie experience. Some places go one better though—purveyors not only of good food, but also of local love as they proudly carry the work of enterprising Filipinos.
Co/Op Manila (@coopmanila)
In between Avida Towers Centera in Mandaluyong and Avida Towers New Manila (about 3 km. away from both) is Co/Op Manila in Addition Hills. The place greets you from afar with its chic-meets-industrial exteriors, while inside feels more like you’re at a friend’s nicely decorated house than a café (that may actually be because it used to be a house).
On one side is the restaurant area (also known as the work station, for folks who love to meet and work there). The Co/Op menu includes standard comfort food fare of soups, salads, sandwiches, pastas, cookies, and cakes to go with the coffee and juices. And then there’s the lifestyle store area, where Co/Op sells everything from gift shop items such as toys, stationery, and artwork to household decors such as plants, lamps, and small furniture. Many of the items are made by local artists and social entrepreneurs from groups like Gawad Kalinga.
Visit Co/Op at 189 A. Mabini, Addition Hills, San Juan, Metro Manila.
Restock Coffee & Curiosities (@restockph)
From the all-black facade of Restock, a guest unfamiliar with its well-lit, brightly decorated interiors would be pleasantly surprised once inside. Located a few blocks away from One Antonio and Avida Towers Asten, Restock is a café, art shop and gallery in one, beloved mostly for two things: excellent artisanal coffee and merchandise by local artists.
Fans of Magnum Opus Fine Coffees in Parañaque took an immediate liking to Restock’s espresso menu, since most of their famed specialty coffee drinks can be ordered in the café. Other beverages include a dirty espresso milkshake, coffee tonic, Malagos hot chocolate, and citrus-infused short mocha. Guests can munch on pizzadillas: red (margherita, salami, or prosciutto), white (margaret, peking, or funghi), or smores!
Most everything in Restock is a labor of love. Every so often, the walls get a fresh coat of paint, a new commissioned mural, or a new collection of framed photographs and paintings, all in collaboration with local talents. On display are a hodgepodge of merchandise for sale: handmade stationery, arts and crafts materials, household items like planters and ceramics, Philippine-themed postcards, vinyls, leather cases, canvas bags, handmade jewelry, even organic personal care items like soaps and ointments. Every now and then, the place hosts musical performances, marketing events for small retail brands, and art shows and workshops for creatives. If you love coffee, design, local art, or all of the above, Restock will keep you coming back.
Visit Restock at 7635 Guijo, San Antonio Village, Makati.
Back in 2008 when “organic” and “green living” were deemed aspirational buzzwords more than feasible options, ECHOstore Sustainable Lifestyle became the first concept store of its kind here in the Philippines. ECHO (Environment and Community Hope Organization) collaborates with local suppliers to carry fair-trade and green lifestyle products, from everyday household items to personal care. They added ECHOmarket and ECHOcafe in 2011 to promote local farmers and organic, naturally-grown produce.
The farm-to-table menu includes breakfast meals, soups, salads, popular pastas dishes, coffee and tea, desserts, and fruit shakes. Guests can buy other food items (all locally sourced) such as carabao’s milk ice cream, salad dressings, chips, and cacao nibs, or shop some of the popular organic brands they carry, like Messy Bessy, Human Nature, and Ilog Maria.
The best thing is ECHOcafe has many branches near different Avida properties: the flagship is at Serendra (8 mins. from Turf), Salcedo Village (10 mins. from Asten and One Antonio), Quezon City (8 mins. from Sola), Cebu (8 mins. from Riala) and Davao (15 mins. from Avida Towers Davao). You can easily drop by the one nearest you.
Visit www.echostore.ph for a list of ECHOcafe and ECHOstore branches.
Check out these places’ social media pages for more details on the menu items and the local retail brands they carry. Or better yet, grab some friends you can dine and shop with!