After years of working in hotels in New York, Troy Conine returned to an invigorated dining scene in Manila. His contribution is The Smokeyard, a smokehouse that offers a range of meats, from pulled pork and pork belly to beef brisket and baby back ribs, that can be ordered in solo plates, sandwiches, or in 50-gram servings by diners who desire a taste of everything. Conine, who is both owner and pitmaster, smokes meats twice a day, for lunch and dinner service. 5666 Don Pedro Street, Poblacion, Makati; 0995.990.8737.
At 6 p.m., this bar and delicatessen’s neon sign is turned on, signaling the start to a relaxed evening complemented by moonshine, a wide range of craft beers on tap, and cocktails infused with and named after Filipino favorites: Santol, Gulaman Sago, Sampalok, Calamansi, and Salabat. Accompanying the fun and inventive drink list are chef Nino Laus’ elevated takes on pulutan—sinigang bar nuts, tinolang tahong, and bacon bagnet—plus skewers of kare-kare, wagyu bistek, and adobo, and a selection of regional sausages. Second Floor, 5666 Don Pedro Street, Poblacion, Makati; 0917.530.2580.
THE WILD POPPY
Much like the rest of its neighbors, this rooftop bar and restaurant strikes a balance between refined and relaxed. “It’s a very casual space, no pretensions,” says co-owner Kaity Chua. The menu is short yet succinct, put together with the help of chef Nicco Santos of Your Local and Hey Handsome. If you order just three things here, make them the Kim and Reuben, a spicy kimchi and corned beef sandwich bursting with flavor; the yaki tomorokoshi, grilled yellow corn with kesong puti, cilantro, and smoked aioli; and the Cucumber Frost cocktail. Second Floor, 5666 Don Pedro Street, Poblacion, Makati; 0995.990.8737.
TILDE HANDCRAFT CAFE
On a street corner in NoKal, short for “North of Kalayaan,” is a cafe that proves that the cool and creative geotag is not reserved solely for first-time restaurateurs and their millennial following. Occupying a very analog space filled with borrowed, mix and match midcentury chairs and tables, and photographs of productive, working hands adorning the walls, is Tilde Hand Craft Cafe, from familiar industry names Ginny de Guzman, Neal Oshima, and Chiqui Lara. Serving casual fare with a touch of sophistication that comes from the seasoned ideas of the partners’ collective life experiences, Tilde is a place where one comes to relax and dine with friends or to sit quietly in a corner to think and work. The constantly changing menu consists of range of soups, salads, sandwiches, pastas, and a few heavier mains, whatever is fresh and whatever inspires that day. Constant, however, are the baskets of freshly baked breads, and housemade sodas, for which Neal makes his own sparkling water. Also on offer are packaged cookies and nibbles, as well as a deluge of delicious cakes, as Ginny is former proprietor and founder of the popular bakery Sugarhouse. Takeaway pouches of prepared food and bottled specialties are also available. EWC Building, 5417 Matilde corner General Luna Street, Poblacion, Makati; 771.2764.
Bucky’s beloved slices in various flavors are quite obviously the thing at Miguel Vargas’ second brick-and-mortar space, but there are more than a few new offerings to get excited about. Chef Justin Golangco, who has worked at Marea in New York and Arzak in San Sebastian, is behind Bucky’s concise savory menu, which stars comfort food favorites such as grilled cheese with tomato soup and double-fried chicken with mac ’n’ cheese, as well as Swedish meatballs and baked ziti with ragu. Vargas also introduces his carabao milk soft serve in milk and cinnamon crunch flavors, available on its own, in an affogato with Yardstick-supplied espresso, or in a parfait with salted caramel topped with brown butter polvoron. 5666 Don Pedro Street, Poblacion, Makati; 0995.990.8737.
“Honest drinks. Proper eats. No drama,” reads the back of the menu at Mathilde, a nondescript bar in the heart of Poblacion serving straightforward cocktails, wines, and spirits. While the neighborhood continues to flourish, there remains a gritty spirit—something co-owners Mia and Tommy Villanueva, Borgy Manotoc, and Roy Murakami wanted to embrace when they established this watering hole. Polished, well-designed, yet utterly simple, Mathilde focuses on its drinks—but there are a few bites as well, including a must- try dessert pizza with hazelnut spread and bananas. Matilde Street corner Kalayaan Avenue, Poblacion, Makati.
Established by a group of high school buddies together with chef Kel Zaguirre of Locavore, Empingao brings Latin American cuisine to the fore without focusing on any single country—rather, it marries the flavors and techniques of Mexico, Cuba, Peru, Argentina, and other South American countries. Start with the nacho bombs with picadillo, cheese, and greens, and try your luck with one of Empingao’s off-menu items: the mofongo, or smashed plantains with garlic and bacon topped with three-hour roasted pork belly and chicharon; or the open-faced tacos of grilled lamb tostada. 5738 San Lucas Street, Poblacion, Makati; 0915.725.7378.