Manila is largely a Catholic city, but don’t be mislead – the nights here are hardly pious. Manila nightlife is modern and its population open-minded. There are plenty of things to try as the sun starts to set. The Manila sky becomes an elegant backdrop of bars and pubs, ranging from cheap joints to high-end, members-only clubs.
Bars and pubs in Manila offer different things – some are discos, some are karaoke joints, some are go-go bars, some are comedy clubs, and others are wholesome, family-style restaurants that stay open late at night to serve alcohol and “pulutan” (finger foods best with beer). Popular local bands and singers perform in some of the bars, and they draw huge crowds. Most of them sing English songs, so you’ll have no problems relating.
Most bars and pubs do not charge an entrance fee, but do impose a ‘consumable’ amount – usually about US$12-$20 – which is the minimum you can spend on food and drinks. So make sure you plan to spend enough time in a place before going inside.
The Ermita area is the center of nightlife in the capital; however, Makati and Quezon City also offer options, and they’re both just short cab rides away. Here we have compiled the best bars and pubs in Manila to suit whatever it is you are looking for, and judging by the variety of Manila pubs and bars on offer that could be just about anything.
Recommended Manila bars and pubs
Encore Superclub: This hip, high-end club in the Fort Bonifacio Global City in Taguig is the place to spot local celebrities, socialites, expats, and rich Manila kids enjoying the night. Music is mostly hip hop and techno.
HandleBar and Grill: Drinks are at Php300 (or about US$7) at this obscure ‘biker’ lounge that is home to the Mad Dog Motorcycle Club.
Penguin Cafe: This relatively quiet watering hole is an institution in the Malate area. It does not only offers drinks and music but also visual and performance arts from local artists, writers, actors, poets, and filmmakers. Refreshments are priced at about Php300 and up.
Hobbit House: Staffed by little people in an homage to Lord of the Rings, this famous bar offers live music and a good menu that includes Filipino as well as international grilled dishes for as low as Php200. website: www.hobbithousemanila.com.
Gpoint Smorgasbord and Bar: This Swedish-Filipino bar is part of a nationwide chain. Specialties of the house include European a la carte cuisine plus imported drinks. The Manila branch is especially popular. website: www.gpointbar.com.
Bedrock Bar and Grill Restaurant: Live bands and Filipino as well as international cuisines are offered here. website: www.bedrockmalate.moonfruit.com.
Café Adriatico: If you want a quiet night out in a chic-casual atmosphere, visit this historic café in the middle of the Malate area. Enjoy local desserts or order from the international sweets menu. Refreshments start at Php200. website: www.ljcrestaurants.com.ph.
Fiamma: If you’re longing for Italian cuisine, this is the place to go. Meals start at Php600.
Conspiracy Garden Café: If you’re in a mood for lively, loud music, this is your bar. Snacks are about US$5.
70’s Bistro: This casual bar offers live bands singing familiar tunes. Refreshments are priced affordably at Php200 or US$5.
Mayric’s: This joint – often regarded as the launch pad for local bands – offers hardcore independent rock music. They have affordable refreshments for as low as Php200 or less (about US$5).
My Bro’s Mustache: Go here if you want to Hungarian foods and listen to folk music. Refreshments at this unpretentious joint are sold for as low as Php100 or less.
Café Havana: This expat favorite has several locations around Metro Manila, but the first ever outlet in the heart of old Manila is still the best. Enjoy Samba music and international cuisine.
RJ TV Bar: Reminisce at the novelty music of the 60s here. Live bands sing the favorites of the past.
Blue Onion Bar: Catch up with your friends here for a night of talk, beer, and music. There’s an international menu, and drinks start at about Php350.
Nuvo Restaurant and Wine Bar: This is a great bar for exquisite Mediterranean food and great music. Meals start at Php900.
Hard Rock Café Makati: Every night, there are fantastic live bands performing. Refreshments are at Php500.
Giraffe: This popular Makati hangout is popular among the younger, hip crowds. Beers are affordable at about Php120. Enjoy the Happy Hour promo.