Party Central: Poblacion's Hottest Spots Today
Originally the heart of Makati, given how its seats of government, commerce, and religion were once located within the area, Poblacion has been transformed from bustling town square to sleepy residential community to its current state as one of the most vibrant lifestyle zones in the capital, replacing Malate as the centre of the city’s nightlife.
Here, old meets new as family homes are converted into chic boutiques and clubs that teem with life. A house gutted by fire rises like the proverbial phoenix into a sought-after venue for events and festivals. The air is perfumed by the delectable aromas of global cuisines that have each staked their own spot in the zone, adding—appropriately enough—a distinctive flavour to a lively melting pot and a mecca for all things hip and au courant.
Let us take you on a virtual tour to some of the establishments that have made Poblacion the place to go to for everything from intimate dinners to fun nights out.
1/8 Dr. Wine Manila
It’s a cosy little spot where one can enjoy a glass (or two) of exquisite wine in a place that is an appealing cross between a charming French bistro and a plush gentlemen’s club.
Since it first opened in 2017, Dr Wine has been serving up a highly extensive and expertly curated cellar-full of wines from France’s key regions, as well as some prime bottles from Italy, Spain, and California’s Napa Valley. But while wine is the primary drink of choice here, the establishment also offers a range of other spirits, as well as both classic and modern cocktails.
For those wanting to hold private celebrations, the Third Floor of the establishment is the perfect venue as it offers its own lounge, open kitchen (for those who want to bring in their own chefs), and a dining room that can comfortably accommodate a party of 20.
Order This: Fine French cookery is on the menu and there are a number of regional specialities that should not be missed. The bistro’s interpretation of award-winning chef Georges Blanc’s Mother’s Secret Chicken Recipe is a comforting concoction of free-range chicken cooked with cream and mushrooms, lightened with a squeeze of lemon juice. Heartier eaters are bound to enjoy the Traditional Strasbourg Choucroute from Alsace where preserved cabbage is cooked with white wine and peppery juniper berries, then served alongside sausages, pork neck, and smoked pork belly.
Drink That: One goes to Dr Wine to drink…wine! Here, one is spoilt for choice for everything from robust reds to bright whites, fruity roses to sparkling champagne and cava.
5921 Algier Street, Poblacion, Makati
Fans of the delightfully tongue-in-cheek bar Today x Future from hipster mecca Cubao X will find themselves in a similar—though somewhat more grown up, a little more polished, but certainly racier—zone with its sister establishment Futur:st.
Futur:st’s décor can best be described as modern-day eccentric that is both wacky and whimsical. The bar doubles as a gallery that displays the work of young Filipino artists, and also features up-and-coming DJs at night.
Order This: Snacks with sly names are on the menu here, but don’t let that put you off as everything is well-prepared and flavourful. Try the Sesame Spinach pizza for a tasty change of pace from the usual meat-loaded pies, or keep things basic with the classic Three-Cheese Garlic. Furtur:st pays a slightly wicked homage to the late culinary raconteur Anthony Bourdain with Bourdain’s Balls—beef meatballs with a piquant mango chutney.
Drink That: Pop culture references about on the drinks menu and Game of Thrones gets immortalised with the Breath of Khaleesi, a spicy mix of ginger ale and cinnamon whisky. Those with more Asian tastes will probably enjoy My Shirota, a Korean-inspired blend of Yakult, soju, and rose syrup.
5062 Guerrero Street, Poblacion, Makati
Polilya is yet another creation by Ian Paradies, the man behind the highly acclaimed Engkanto Brewery. Here, Paradies has created a space that has pure comfort in mind: coming into Polilya is like entering a friend’s home; you’re made to feel welcome as soon as you sit in one of the wicker chairs scattered throughout the space.
A purple neon light fixture glows over the bar asking “Have you figured out what you want yet?” And that’s a pretty tough question to answer as the bar is magnificently stocked: Engkanto’s finest brews are on tap, along with beer cocktails, riffs on the classic G&T, and a number of other refreshing libations.
Order This: While the Fish & Chips are a regular crowd-pleaser, the house brews served here work best with a robust plate featuring the Polilya Cheeseburger which is made richer and zestier by the addition of Spanish chorizo, a peppery cheese dip, and jalapeños.
Drink That: Engkanto Brewery beers are fresh and on tap here.
READ MORE: Polilya Opens Its Doors & What's Brewing? Craft Beers You Must Try
5658 Don Pedro Street, Poblacion, Makati
On the outside, it looks like a modernised spin on the bahay na bato with its wide arches on the ground floor and wooden-shuttered windows upstairs. Inside, however, is like stepping into the lair of a pre-Hispanic shaman or babaylan—right up to the inclusion of a tree “growing” within the space.
For those seeking an unusual experience that borders on the arcane, Agimat is the venue of choice. Taking its name from the Old Tagalog word for “amulet,” this unique space combines folk mysticism and ritual to create a culinary experience like no other.
The brainchild of partners Kalel Demetrio (the country’s Liquido Maestro) and chef Niño Laus, Agimat advocates the use of fresh, seasonal, and locally sourced ingredients. This emphasis on sustainability goes further as they follow a “zero-aste” routine to help protect the environment.
Order This: Beef short-rib, kalumata [false anise] leaves, indigenous potato crisps, and—of all things—abuos (ant eggs) from the Ilocos Region may sound like a Mystery Box combination from the Masterchef franchise, but these are the ingredients that make up Agimat’s version of classic Beef Pares, a savoury dish made richer by bone marrow with a sourish counterpoint from the abuos.
Drink That: Agimat offers 10 different libations inspired by the five elements of Philippine folklore: air, earth, water, fire, and life. The most spectacular of the lot is Ritual ng Agimat, a flambéed mix of calamansi liqueur, lambanog, and gin torched tableside and offered to the guest with beating drums by masked servers.
5972 Alfonso corner Fermina Sts, Poblacion, Makati
5/8 The Ruins
The story behind what is now considered one of the capital’s hippest exhibition venues and performance spaces actually begins with a tragedy: it is literally a set of ruins, as it has risen from the remnants of a house that burned to the ground some years ago. However, it has been restored after a fashion but also retains nuances of its past. Downstairs, the interiors are austere seeing how it follows a minimalist, almost industrial aesthetic. Upstairs, however, the ambience is warmer as elements like old furniture and framed sepia-tinged photographs on the walls call to mind the time when the place was a family home.
Today, The Ruins have become a venue for an interesting array of events. In the daytime, it serves as a location for community gatherings and retail fairs for local tradesmen and artisans. Likewise, the second floor of the structure is used as an art gallery featuring the work of artists like Frenchman Henri Lamy.
When the sun sets, it comes alive as a party place where young blood rises up to dance the night away.
5852 Alfonso Street, Poblacion, Makati
6/8 Run Rabbit Run
If you loved Lewis Carrol’s surreal tales Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, then the oddball whimsicality of Run Rabbit Run may be right up your alley. This whimsical establishment is a passion project shared by Airell Lam and Michael Hearn (pictured) who have transformed the space into a weirdly wonderful spot where one can enjoy unusual cocktails.
It may look like a typical urban house front outside, but it’s a totally different story indoors. Everything from the bunny statues in the décor to the funny before-andafter motif used for the drink coasters plays up a sense of fun absurdity: just the thing to let you loosen up at the end of a long day. The drinks here were developed through a partnership with Bitters and Love, one of Singapore’s hippest nightspots, and play up a mix of local flavours with cosmopolitan flair.
Drink This: In the mood for something fragrant that packs a punch? Chillin’ Like a Villain may just be your thing, as it whisks together gin, peach liqueur, sampaguita mist, and egg white. The Halo-Halo, on the other hand, is an ything but your typical summer cooler; this version is a potent libation made with rum, bourbon, gula Melaka (brown palm sugar), vanilla liqueur, and coconut nectar—exotic and sweetly sinister.
4991 P Guanzon Street, Poblacion, Makati
7/8 Buccaneers Rum & Cocktails
If you’ve been wondering where master mixologist Ulysse Jouanneaud (late of The Back Room at Shangri-La at the Fort) has gone, he’s now captain of his own ship, running the bar at Buccaneers Rum and Cocktails with partners Simon Cote and Vincent Landais (pictured).
Buccaneers’ primary stock in trade is a bar lwith over 150 rum selections from across the globe, a very good thing for what is considered Manila’s very first rum bar. Among the selections on offer are the celebrated Venezuelan brand Diplomatico, Havana Club from Cuba, Jamaican brand Appleton, and local favourite Don Papa.
With the nautical theme of its décor, the only thing missing is a briny breeze blowing through the 120-seater space to complete the image of enjoying a drink on deck with the crew.
Drink This: Buccaneers offers an extensive range of rum-based cocktails from basics like rum cola, to Jouanneaud’s signature creations that combine fresh flavours and quality alcohol with plenty of tropical flair.
The La Batanga comes in a small jug with an island motif and is a potent mix of Plantation 3 rum, lambanog, pale ale syrup, with a fruity touch of citrus, pineapple, and peach.
Those seeking a complex play of flavours can try the Lugarhou which blends together Buccaneers’ house-made pineapple rum with amontillado, maraschino, lime juice, cinnamon, and a dash of cardamom bitters.
READ MORE: Rum's The Word! Head to Newcomer Buccaneers Bar for an Intoxicating 101
Don Pedro corner Kalayaan Sts, Poblacion, Makati
Those seeking a drink with a view—and such a view!—can head upstairs to Kartel on the rooftop of Dr Wine Manila. Here, guests can take in a 360-degree look at the city below while enjoying expertly crafted drinks and good food prepared in the finest French manner. Unlike its sister-establishments downstairs, the vibe up in Kartel is a lot younger, more laid-back — if you want to keep it French, it’s more Montmartre than it is Champs Elysees, free-spirited and anything goes. Nevertheless, anyone who comes up to this easygoing eyrie can enjoy excellent libations along with delectable fare one can share with a crowd.s
Order This: Classic pate de canard is given a Belgian twist with the addition of juniper berries and peppercorns. The terrine de foie gras is also an excellent platter to share,
Drink That: The Spice Market, a cocktail, is a heady mix of Tequila Ocho Blanco, Pierre Ferrand dry curacao, and ginger agave syrup.
Roofdeck - Dr Wine Manila, 5921 Algier Street, Poblacion, Makati
- Photography Mon Mangila
- Art Direction Monique Madsen