There’s still a lot of places to discover around Malate. Though it’s just a sad relic of what it used to be during its heydays, this district of Manila is still beloved to me and I will probably never get tired of walking its streets even after the Korean restaurants close and turn into other establishments that will cater to the future foreigners who will come and take over this place.
My favorite buddy in walking these streets is Dai simply because I know that this is as special to her as it is to me even though we often complain about the traffic, the dirt, the homeless and the snatchers. Also, she lives in a condo in the area so she’s just a text/Viber/FB message away.
Dakota Cafe is something I learned about through the Instagram feed of Carlos Celdran, a quintessential Manila tour guide whose love for the city inspires me. It is located in this beautiful building called Casa Tesoro which seems out of place among the old and dingy establishments along Mabini street.
We went there on a weekday night just around 7 PM so the place was void of customers. The aviation-inspired interior was so inviting Dai and I agreed that it could be our version of McLaren’s. The music wasn’t too loud and it exuded a laid back atmosphere. We already imagined going here for after work drinks, the kind where your goal is not to get wasted (unlike when you were in college) but to loosen up.
We ordered Cordon Bleu and Salisbury steak. Both dishes were delicious (especially the cordon bleu) but the serving sizes are a bit wanting. Also, the prices were a bit steep for a student and a bum like us. All hopes of the place being our hangout place gone with the wind. Don’t get me wrong, if ever we become corporate slaves, we wouldn’t mind burning our money here, we just don’t have enough moolah to spend at this time.
We also discovered Caffeina, an establishment under Pearl Grand Hotel along Adriatico street which we have passed by a million times because it’s just in the corner adjacent to our Alma Mater, St. Paul Manila. The place is cozy and and relaxing compared to other coffee shops. I believe you can actually bring your notes and study here (because I am still amazed that people CAN study in Starbucks and CBTL).
Dai had mint choolate something while I settled for the one with marshmallows. The cakes on display weren’t very enticing because they’re almost sold out so we’ll try the desserts next time. If you want to skip the lines and have privacy, go to this place. I just wish coffee shops offer salty finger foods on their menus because I can’t eat and drink something sweet at the same time, nakakaumay. I always need something salty to complement something sweet and I’m a firm believer that desserts should be served together with the main dish, not later.
Last stop is Oarhouse Pub along J. Bocobo street. Again, we’ve seen this place a gazillion times and we were curious because it’s almost always full. Finally visited one evening with Dai and Ramm. It looks like the pubs we see in western movies, very cozy and quiet (because when Filipinos think of bars they think of dancing and noise, a club, in short). Never thought there’d be this many restaurants with enticing interiors in Malate (we’re used to the generic stalls inside Robinson’s Manila). It’s one of the oldest pubs in the country originally located along Mabini street and owned by a retired US Navy Pilot. I think the place sometimes hosts exhibitions of foreign and local artists and photographers as manifested by the abundance of artworks. Also, according to Giselle, it’s a favorite among UP Medicine students.
No matter what happens, do not order this seafood (forgot what it’s called). The menu changes after sometime and I hope they remove this one from their items because it’s just too salty even a Sodium Chloride addict like me couldn’t stand it.
The prices were reasonable and the staff was friendly. If only I found out about this while I was still a student *sigh*, it would have been where I would drink my beer and hate on nursing after hospital duties. HAHAHA!