Restaurants / Bars

Where to Eat in CAMANAVA (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela)

September 2, 2014

People from Makati and the South generally regard any place north of the cluster of shopping malls in Ortigas and Mandaluyong as some sort of a hinterland frontier, as if there is a giant Wall (with Jon Snow guarding one of the parapets) that bisects Metro Manila. Northbound trips that take more than an hour on EDSA or España are generally avoided. For “Southerners”, there is a world of culinary delights that they have yet to indulge in the moment they hit the stretches of highway beyond EDSA Shrine, Tondo, and Welcome Rotonda.

Surely, if you are from the South, you have heard of UP Village, Katipunan, Eastwood City, Tomas Morato, UP Town Center, and other epicurean hotspots in Quezon City, where people would suck it up and brave the insane traffic on occasion to get to these places. However, an emerging hotbed for food haunts, bars and restaurants are getting traction much further North.

Known informally as the CAMANAVA area, the sub-region made up of Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela has gained momentum in the past two years as the buzzing and happening epicenter for new restaurants and establishments to rival those in Salcedo Village, Aguirre in BF Parañaque and Kapitolyo. The burgeoning food scene area now attracts people from nearby cities and towns.

Let us take a look at some of these old and new restaurants that could well make CAMANAVA a new destination for Metro Manila’s hungry hordes.

Caloocan

City Cakes Coffee and Pastries

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A cozy café with lunch options, light snacks, pastries, and of course, cakes, coffee and blended beverages. The murals on the walls depict cultural, fashion and culinary capitals of the world. They also have cozy tables and chairs where students and digital nomads can settle in for study or brainstorm sessions.

City Cakes Coffee and Pastries
G/F Luzvic Bldg. Samson Rd. cor. Francisco St.

Malabon

Laine Sevilla, a Malabon local said, “It is out of frustration that people put up restaurants around [Malabon]”. “We used to have to go all the way to West Avenue or to Binondo to eat good food since all we have in the area are fast food chains or long-established neighborhood businesses, and it would get very repetitive,” she said. The long drive to Quezon City made it impractical for people to enjoy good cuisine, that’s why putting up a string of restaurants in the locality that people can enjoy seemed like a logical alternative.

One of the city’s main streets, General Luna, has transformed into a bustling and busy thoroughfare with its collection of newly-opened restaurants and even chain establishments that are situated near the church, the schools and the jeepney stops.

Dolores Pancit Malabon (Formerly Dolor’s Pancit Malabon)

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No trip to Malabon would be complete without a plate of authentic Pancit Malabon with its signature thick bihon noodles and a plethora of toppings. Many other places like Nanay’s Pancit offer family heirloom recipes for the hearty noodle dish, but Dolores is one of the more popular ones due to their generous toppings of squid, shrimp, egg, veggies and chicharon.

Dolores Pancit Malabon
(Formerly Dolor’s Pancit Malabon)
Gov. Pascual Ave., Concepcion

2. Tea-Pop Tea and More

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Catering to a young crowd, Tea-Pop has a quirky and fun café area with vintage-style pop art interiors and squashy upholstered couches. The place is always bustling with students from the nearby schools. It sells a variety of milk teas and cold drinks with sandwiches and other snacks.

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Tea-Pop Tea and More
General Luna Street

3. Cups & Cones

A brainchild of Arch. Ronald Soriano, whose day job is designing restaurant dining areas for many big brands, Cups & Cones has a high-end feel with its crisp white and distressed wood interiors, minimalist café seating, mid-priced food offerings and exceptional service.

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The proprietor made use of his family and relatives’ skills in menu planning, marketing and graphic design, and put up a restaurant with the goal of raising the bar for restaurants in the area through introducing good food and coffee to Malabonians. The café serves Illy coffee with their homemade pastries and cakes. Most intriguing is the offering of horse tapa on their menu. Cups & Cones has since become a hit among the locals.

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Cups & Cones
General Luna Street

4. Buvette

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Buvette is a fairly new addition to General Luna Street’s row of dining establishments. The place offers waffles, tea and snacks, but they are proud of their baked macaroni, which is a recipe passed down the owners’ family for generations.

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The industrial and modern vibe of the place is very reminiscent of the big city aesthetic. For their musically inclined diners, they offer a Spotify-powered tablet where guests can select their playlists for the whole store to hear over the house speakers.

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Buvette
General Luna Street

5. Cocina Luna

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Eclectic art and good food come together in Cocina Luna, a museum-like restaurant which is a vision of the Alcala family. The walls are filled with knick-knacks, and aphorisms done in artistic treatments, making it a mixed media exhibit that complements the dark interiors and lofty ceilings. The artworks are hilarious and clever, and they lend a creative and fun vibe to the place.

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They hold open mic nights for their guests who can also kick back with beer and cocktails, bar food and filling dinners. The menu is playful, inventive and intriguing, and their execution, plating and service of the food is something that will leave guests hungry for more.

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Upstairs is an al fresco area boasting of the restaurant’s inspired logo and branding. The place appeals to the creative crowd and hungry souls who like good typography and art, excellent music and of course, tasty food. People frequent the place both for the food and the experience.

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Cocina Luna
General Luna Street

Navotas

While Navotas is commonly referred to as the fishing industry capital of the country, it also has a collection of iconic restaurants that have served Navoteños for several generations with their local spin on trademark Filipino dishes.

1. Phetron Restaurant

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Playfully borrowing its name from the gasoline corporation, Phetron is a popular haunt for Navoteños who love their pancit and old school Filipino dishes. The restaurant has a delectable assortment of turo turo classics labeled with mismatched painted signages that are reminiscent of jeepney signboards.

You can’t get any more Filipino than this Navotas institution. A local that I chatted up while waiting for my order told me that the classic Phetron menudo, adobo, and other saucy and savory viands have that mantika pa lang, ulam na greatness that only skilled establishments can pull off.

Phetron Restaurant
North Bay Boulevard

2. Iam’s Food House

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Iam’s is amusingly chaotic, adventurous and intriguing. It shares its space with an offtrack betting station (OTB) for Sta. Ana and San Lazaro horse races, thus, making it a tambayan and grub spot for manongs who like to bet on horses as much as they like eating them.

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The place serves tapang kabayo and adobong kabayo in its comprehensive menu of silog meals and meaty viands. They also serve beer and pulutan to cater to the hungry and rowdy karerista crowd.

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Iam’s Food House
North Bay Boulevard

Valenzuela

In Valenzuela, the demand for good restaurants were brought about by the mushrooming of new investments such as chain restaurants, and also, the growth of the student population in nearby universities and colleges, most notably Our Lady of Fatima (OLUF) University’s College of Nursing and School of Medicine.

1. Coffee, Tea and Symphony

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The mismatched chairs, quirky couches and fun artwork make Coffee, Tea and Symphony an inviting hangout for students and young professionals. Their patrons can lounge around or plop down with their textbooks and laptops while snacking on coffee house staples such as sandwiches, pasta and light meals.

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The store also has booths that offer a little peaceful retreat for those who have some serious studying and reading to do. The playful interiors encourage an energetic and young college crowd.

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Coffee, Tea and Symphony
Mac Arthur Highway

2. Little Beijing Chinese Cuisine

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Little Beijing is a restaurant with polished and modern interiors, a solid menu of trademark Chinese classics and a dim sum promo that offers their steamed and fried wontons, dumplings and meats at half the price from 2-5 PM.

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The service is snappy, and the food is excellent: huge chunks of prawn in delicate hakaws and balanced pork filling in their kuchay dumplings. Little Beijing is an excellent and affordable respite from the hackneyed chain restaurants nearby.

Little Beijing Chinese Cuisine
Mac Arthur Highway

Several years back, as restaurateur Arch. Ronald Q. Soriano reminisced, “kahit small-time lugawan at mamihan nga nalulugi sa CAMANAVA, kaya nakakatakot mag-negosyo ng pagkain,” (even small-time lugaw and mami stands go out of business, that’s why it was scary to invest in new food businesses). Now, however, there is a surge of new restaurants and cafés in the area after business owners have decided to put CAMANAVA on the culinary map.

The response has been great. The locals appreciate the addition of local and homegrown brands to satisfy their appetite for good food. Established names are already responding by renovating their premises and improving their offerings, as is the case of the famous Judy Ann’s Crispy Pata, which has been a Malabon staple for many years. There is great variety and a whole lot of inspiration going around the local restaurant scene, and it won’t come as a surprise if even more entrepreneurs will decide to put up businesses in the area.

With a great mix of family restaurants that have been around for generations and new dining establishments, CAMANAVA presents itself as an exciting alternative for locals and out-of-towners alike.

What do you think about CAMANAVA being the newest food destination? Are there any restaurants or coffee shops you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below!

Camera c/o Sarah Golez

Noni Cabrera SEE AUTHOR Noni Cabrera

Noni Cabrera’s voracious appetite for rich Italian cuisine, Korean barbecue, and comforting Southern fare is only paralleled by his equally ravenous hunger for second-hand bookstore bargains, foreign languages, and offbeat destinations. He is an e-Learning subject matter expert, and the slave driver of his team of graphic artists, web developers and animators. His high tolerance for caffeine was built up during his stint as a barista. This Consular and Diplomatic Affairs graduate desires to sample the food of the world, one succulent bite at a time.

31 comments in this post SHOW

31 responses to “Where to Eat in CAMANAVA (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela)”

  1. MM says:

    Nanay’s Pancit tastes way better than that of Dolores.

    • Dys says:

      Buvette waffles are like rubber… there are others in Malabon who make better waffles.

      • The ones I had during my visit were perfect. I like my waffles a little chewy instead of dry and crunchy, so I think Buvette’s was fine. And the iced tea was great, too!

        What places in Malabon have “better” waffles, you say? Maybe I could go and visit next time I’m in the area 🙂 Thanks!

        • Scarlet says:

          Try Steakside, just besides Nanay’s Malabon. Delicious and affordable food. Try Onoy’s Lugawan besides McDonalds. The original lugawan in Malabon. Their lugaw is the best. Cheap eats but will definitely make you full!

    • Scarlet says:

      Yes, Nanay’s the best Pansit Malabon…Ever…Amber’s just next! =)

  2. Ope Linchangco says:

    That’s me in City Cakes! 🙂 HAHA!

  3. Vanessa Gregorio says:

    Great article! Though a lot of “Where to eat in Malabon” articles focus on General Luna Street – which is understandable – there’s another new place here called Lady Jeunet’s Steakhouse, located in Niugan! Unlike Tea Pop or Cups & Cones, the place is pretty secluded from traffic. But it’s a great place nevertheless! It’d be great if more people knew about it. 😀

    • Are you from Malabon? I also heard of Ozzen which apparently has great ramen and gyoza. I didn’t get the chance to go around Malabon that much because I was on foot so I was limited to the vicinity of the jeep terminals. Thanks for the suggestion, Vanessa! I’m sure people will be excited to try it.

      • Ellet's Sweets says:

        Hi! I hope you could try to visit our store – Ellet’s Sweets – in Niugan. It isn’t actually a restaurant but a sweets store that sells Halo-Halo among others.

  4. Anna A. says:

    I like this post! I live in Caloocan, very near Malabon and Navotas. I hope you write about more establishments around here. Thanks!

    • Please suggest many more places we can visit! As you may notice, I only got to visit one place in Caloocan though I asked a lot of people and nobody could point me to a good restaurant that people frequent in the area. 🙂 It would be nice to know about neighborhood restos that we can try out next time! 🙂 Thanks!

  5. Anna A. says:

    I like this post! I live in Caloocan, very near Malabon and Navotas. I hope you write about more establishments around here. Thanks!

  6. Anna A. says:

    I like this post! I live in Caloocan, very near Malabon and Navotas. I hope you write about more establishments around here. Thanks!

  7. Anna A. says:

    I like this post! I live in Caloocan, very near Malabon and Navotas. I hope you write about more establishments around here. Thanks!

  8. Mik-mik Sabarre says:

    Hi, you can try Apricot Diner along 10th avenue Caloocan in front of Pizza Hut.

  9. MAT says:

    You should visit Bubblicitea in Malabon too! Very good food!

  10. Kenneth Christian Miranda says:

    CAMANAVA has always been the food capital of Manila.

  11. Pau-pau Alagao says:

    Wow! I’m from Valenzuela but I’ve never been on those two places. Time to explore! Thank you for this nice recommendation! Super love your article! Sharing it to my wall now! 🙂

  12. Mr T's Inasal says:

    Please try Mr. T’s Inasal, restaurant specializing in the fusion of Ilonggo and Tagalog cuisine…
    Please check website at http://www.mistertoppings.com

  13. Jason C Sevilla says:

    Dont miss the famous Japanese Siomai of Sunrise Stretch Bar…. located at A. Bonifacio… old house of lacson’s atvthe back of Mary Jane restaurant

  14. Kent Peñaflor says:

    Try Chef Yu Foodhouse! Affordable chinese food with generous serving!!

  15. Marla says:

    Thank you for this article! It’s so nice that people from all over the metro are starting to appreciate what CAMANAVA has to offer when it comes to food. I’m from Malabon and I grew up eating Judy Ann’s Crispy Pata and Nanay’s Pancit Malabon. You should try Rody Day’s JR Eatery on your next visit, they serve really good Camaron Rebusado and Tortang Alimasag 🙂

  16. Sophie says:

    Wow! I’m from Malabon and I’ve been to those places 🙂 It’s really great! But try to visit Lady Jeunet’s Steak House and Balsa (their sisig is the best, I SWEAR!) which are both in Niugan 😀

  17. Evander says:

    You forgot Judy Ann’s Crispy Pata, Bubblicitea, Mary Jay Restaurant, The General’s Place, Nanay’s Pancit Malabon, and a lot more. All in Malabon, of course :3

  18. belle says:

    YOU FORGOT ZOEY’S BURGER, PASTA AND SANDWICHES HOW DARE YOU I’m just kidding lol but yeah Zoey’s is just beside Cups and Cones, you can’t miss it. their burgers are THE BOMB.

  19. pandecoco4 says:

    How to get to city cakes from monumento? Tnx 🙂

  20. boogeradornado says:

    It’s a crime Judy Ann’s Crispy Pata is not in the Malabon list.

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