5 new bars and restos in Manila where you can travel back in time

Go back to the future for good drinks and eats in the city

Polilya, Makati city

Emack & Bolio’s, Pasig City

Danni Ramos of Mr Roboto, Alabang

Versus Barcade, Taguig city

Dingdong Dantes of Versus Barcade


Big Boy’s Diner, Quezon City

What: Have you binged on Netflix’s Riverdale and gone looking for a hangout just like Pop Tate’s Chok’lit Shoppe? Well, you’ve got that now in Big Boy’s. Find a menu made up of old-fashioned milkshakes, root beer floats, banana splits, juicy burgers and fried chicken and waffles — all the goodies Jughead would devour in a minute. Hot tip: the cozy diner seats only 10 to 15 customers at a time.

Where: 128 Santo Domingo Ave; fb.com/bigboysdiner

When: Open Monday to Saturday, 10am–10pm; Sunday, 12nn–8pm


Polilya, Makati City

What: Relive the exoticism of the tropics, as seen in vintage American spy movies, at Polilya. The Caribbean-style watering hole has bar comfort food to match — think green curry crab and shrimp cakes and the B-B-B-Bolognese spaghetti, with a sauce made out of beer, bacon and beef. Local craft beer from Engkanto Brewery is also available on tap.  

Where: 5658 Jacobo St; fb.com/polilyamnl

When: Open Monday to Thursday, 5.30pm–1.30am; Friday, 5.30pm–2.30am; Saturday, 6.30pm–2.30am


Emack & Bolio’s, Pasig City

What: If you’re into Richard Linklater’s cult-favorite Dazed and Confused, and if ice cream is your dessert of choice, then Emack & Bolio’s is the place to be. Hailing from Boston, USA, the international chain parlor has hippy, happy vibes running through its menu and interiors. Try the Philippine Fantasy, a smoothie which contains guava juice, mango, banana and vanilla-flavored non-fat yogurt.

Where: Ayala Malls The 30th, 30 Meralco Ave; fb.com/emackph

When: Open daily 11am–11pm


Mr Roboto, Alabang

What: The reference to American rock band Styx rings through loud and clear, thanks to song lyrics plastered all over the sushi restaurant’s walls, along with colorful robot posters. But true ’80s kids will also relish the sushi and maki rolls named after such characters as Voltes V, Daimos and Voltron. Hot tip: visit early for dinner because they close at 9pm. “It’s all in the names for me, so it’d have to be our series of ‘robot’ sushi. There’s the Mazinger Z, with salmon, and the Voltron, with crab and mango,” says Danni Ramos, managing partner at Mr Roboto.

Where: Sykes Alabang Town Center, Madrigal Ave; fb.com/mrrobotoph

When: Open daily 11am–9pm


Versus Barcade, Taguig

What: Missing the days when you’d hit the video game arcade in your school uniform? Thanks to Versus Barcade, you won’t have to live vicariously through TV shows anymore. Challenge your friends at Street Fighter, Pac-Man and various pinball machines; and you don’t have to buy tokens. Customers who order food and drinks are entitled to play the games to their hearts’ content. “Our kwek-kwek (battered quail eggs) and chicharon bulaklak (deep-fried pork innards) — they were staples at my barkada hangouts in the ’90s,” says Dingdong Dantes, managing partner at Versus Barcade.

Where: Uptown Parade, 9th Ave, Bonifacio Global City; fb.com/versusbarcadeph

When: Open Monday to Saturday, 6pm–3am

This article first appeared in the April 2018 issue of Smile magazine.

Written by

Kate Alvarez

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