Restaurants / Bars

Where to Go for Every Kind of Date

February 14, 2016

Valentine’s Day can either be a seriously enjoyable holiday, or one that amounts to too much pressure or negativity. If you’re hankering for ideas that deviate from the all-too-familiar formula of faux fine dining with a glass of unpronounceable wine, there are so many other ways to turn this Hallmark holiday into something much more memorable. Here are places for possibly every kind of date imaginable. Thank us later.

For Impressing Your Date on a Budget: Gastro Park Kapitolyo

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People believe that Valentine’s Day is that one occasion where it’s appropriate to blow all your coin on the person you love most. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t show off your affection and be practical at the same time. For those on a tighter budget, it’s still easy to impress your other half by bringing them to an on-trend food park instead of a stuffy restaurant with only white tablecloths and candles to offer. At Kapitolyo’s new Gastro Park, both atmosphere and food choices are aplenty, ranging from El Phante’s clever Thai-Mex mix, to Bagneto’s take on the beloved crispy pork, to The Seventh Element’s smooth nitrogen ice cream.


Gastro Park Kapitolyo

Address: #12, 1st St, Brgy Kapitolyo
Number: (+63) 917 590 0909

For Your First Tinder Date: Tambayan Gastrobar

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If someone has finally swiped right for you, meeting up is probably the first thing on your agenda. If a first date with someone you’ve barely made a connection with frightens you, then the new trendy crop of hostel bars is the perfect place to get friendly. Tambayan is Manila’s answer to the now over-saturated Z Hostel, and with a rooftop space that’s an unpretentious watering hole masked as a gastropub, people are starting to take notice. At hostels, everyone is just getting to know each other, which sets the perfect tone for your Tinder match. A plus: if the date is a bust, there’s plenty more people around to connect with.


Tambayan Gastrobar

Address: 1607 Bocobo St, Malate
Number: (+63) 917 884 5089

For a Double Date with a Fellow Couple: Señor Pollo

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If your ideal Valentine’s date involves chilling out with your other couple friends, then Señor Pollo’s first branch is one of the best places to bring a quartet. The upstairs seating area combines a fun and relaxed atmosphere with the right amount of intimacy. Platters can be shared (the roast and spicy fried chicken are particular favorites), and drinks can be poured together.


Señor Pollo

Address: F7 Bldg, Scout Rallos, Tomas Morato
Number: (+632) 894 1465

For a Date with Your Long-Term Other Half: Mecha Uma

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Tasting menus are all the rage in Manila, and Mecha Uma’s intimate and modern setting is one of the most sought-after in the city. Leave the a la carte to another night; Mecha Uma’s omakase is worth the splurge for a couple who’s in it for the long haul. Bruce Ricketts has grown into his own the past few years, using only the best produce to show off his refined technique and unique viewpoint on Japanese flavors. This experience will leave you drunk on more than just the sake.


Mecha Uma

Address: RCBC Savings Bank Corporate Center, 25th St, BGC
Numbers: (+632) 801 2770 / (+63) 917 544 3226

For the Before/After Valentine’s Day Date: Industriya Marikina

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Truth is, there are some dates that need absolute discretion. No judgments here: if you’re celebrating the special occasion with someone other than your significant other, or are particular about your privacy, a place far away from the city is utterly necessary. Tagaytay used to be the best place to keep this kind of secret, but with a recent surge in development, it’s become almost as congested as Manila. Instead, go to Marikina, which is a little easier to get to, but with hidden gems that are still undiscovered. Industriya Marikina has everything you need to keep things confidential: tables tucked away in dark corners, cozy interiors bereft of heavy lighting, and an address that keeps the complex hidden in plain view.


Industriya Marikina

Address: 23 MA Roxas St, Calumpang, Marikina
Number: (+63) 906 259 3379

For the Date You Want to Break up With: Cafe Seolhwa

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If you’re cooling off a relationship with someone and, for reasons unknown, want to break things off in a public place hoping the outcome will be better—there’s no guarantee it will be—the only place to go involves cold, cold dessert. This might give your poor former partner a chance to cool their rising temper, and in case they decide to pour it all over you, pat bing su is much easier to clean than thicker, stickier ice cream.


Cafe Seolhwa

Address: 2F, The Forum, Federacion Drive, BGC
Number: (+632) 246 9069

For the Perfect Morning After Date: Precynct

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Breakfast is often the best time to eat out on a date, especially after a night of romantic pursuits. The Grove’s new retail row is open to several unique concepts with standalone branches, and Precynct has become one of the neighborhood’s go-to spots. This is of course not without reason: the place easily transitions from day to night, with a menu that can easily be devoured from breakfast to dinner. Add innovative takes on coffee and cocktails that concentrate on gin, and you’ve got a place with potential to let dates last until the sun sets.


Precynct

Address: GF,The Grove Retail Row, E. Rodriguez Jr. Ave, Pasig
Number: (+63) 917 723 6079

For the Lone Wolf Looking for a Date: Finders Keepers

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Sometimes Valentine’s Day can get pretty shitty for anyone who’s single, causing them to be disillusioned forever after a loveless week. Gather everyone else who’s going stag and head to Finders Keepers, where you’re bound to find other people with the exact same dilemma. Get a drink and gather up the courage to strike up a conversation with the person next to you, or across the room. Their infamous Tanq and B is the perfect dose of liquid courage.


Finders Keepers

Address: Warehouse 5, La Fuerza Plaza, Sabio St, San Lorenzo, Makati
Number: (+63) 403 5019

For the Couple Who’d Rather Drink on Their Date: Bar @1951

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If fancy dining isn’t your thing, then bond over some standard booze in a brilliant setting. Leave your typical craft cocktail bars and speakeasies behind, and impress dates with something different from the norm. Bar @ 1951 is the second coming of Penguin, which was one of Malate’s most successful and storied establishments. The upstairs area is particularly memorable, with a loft and outdoor deck that will turn things instantly romantic, and bands come almost nightly to serenade a diverse crowd.


Bar @ 1951

Address: 1951 Adriatico St, Malate
Number: (+63) 939 634 6649

Pamela Cortez Pamela Cortez

Pamela Cortez writes about food full-time, and has honed her craft while writing for publications such as Rogue, Town and Country, and The Philippine Star. She once rode on a mule for a mile just to eat mint tea and lamb in Morocco, and has eaten a block of Quickmelt in one sitting. Her attempt at food photography can be viewed online @meyarrr.

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