The Vito Cruz area in Taft Avenue is home to three different schools: De La Salle University, College of Saint Benilde, and St. Scholastica’s College. And aside from *coughs* studying *coughs*, another thing that people would say they enjoy most when asked about the Taft life is the food scene (and Happy Thursdays, okay).
Contrary to popular belief, though, the Taft area isn't all about expensive food finds and jawbreaking burgers. Current students and alumni would agree that the area is also a host to a lot of food places fit for every craving and budget. That is, if you know where to go.
Here are some of the popular food places you need to try for when you're in for a quick snack or are looking for a nice hangout place with friends:
1. Ate Rica's Bacsilog
If you come to Taft and leave without trying Ate Rica's bacsilog (P69), have you really been to Taft at all? This famous bacsilog is what you would think a normal bacsilog would be like: bacon, rice, and eggs, but is drizzled with a special Cheese-Knorr sauce that makes them stand out from the other silog places out there.
2. Caric's Republic's General's Chicken
Aside from Ate Rica's bacsilog, Caric's Republic (P85) is one of the stalls where a lot of students line up for. They have a wide variety of dishes split into five categories: Sizzling, Seafood, Poultry, Pork, and Beef. Their bestseller? It would definitely be the General's Chicken. They also only cook their dishes as soon as you order them so you're sure to be served with some delicious, piping hot meal.
3. Noel's BBQ
Noel's BBQ is the place to be for those who wants a cheap and filling barbeque meal. They have all the kinds of skewers you could be craving for: isaw manok, isaw baboy, balunan (gizzard), tenga, and more. Pair them with rice and the sauces they have available and you're good!
4. Tori Box' Karaage Pops
The lunch food for the student who's on-the-go, Tori Box' Karaage Pops paired with either rice, fries, mojos, or chips is a must try. Depending on how hungry they are, they may choose between their single and double serving. They also have the option to choose the flavor of their karaage: Italian cheese, barbeque, sour cream, nori, and wasabi. Their Milo Dinosaur is also a must try! Just look at all the Milo powder on top and let's see if you'll be able to say no to it.
Image: Topside Diner
Up for some chicken wings? Head on over to Topside Diner just beside CSB and across SSC. Their Garlic Parmesan Chicken is a must-try (Oh, it's sprinkled with grated cheese!), but you may also choose between their Sweet Chili, Buffalo Wings, and Chicken BBQ. At only P99, you already get to have two pieces of chicken wings and enjoy a glass of their colorful (definitely Instagrammable!) iced tea.
Another favorite among Lasallians when it comes to lunch meals is Orange & Spices in EGI Taft Tower. Their bestsellers would have to be their Pork Sisig (P105) which is both sinful and addicting. If you're more of the chicken kind of person, try their Chicken Tenders (P110) and you'll never leave disappointed! Both are served with sides of corn and carrots and coleslaw.
7. Wai Ying
If Chinese food is your thing, you won't really have to go to Binondo to get your fill of dimsum. Wai Ying has a branch in EGI Taft Tower, and we assure you, it's just as good as their other branches. Try out their Hakaw (P90), Siomai (P80), and Chicken Feet (P75) as they're the crowd-favorites, and are already good for sharing if you're dining with your barkada.
Finding the hole-in-the-wall restaurant that is Exile may be a challenge, but once you do, you will be in for a treat. You could never go wrong with their Stopover Chicks (P135: 6pcs with rice) which come in different sauces: China, Texas, Java, and Pinas. You could also try have their Baboy O'Riley – their version of crispy liempo and is best paired with black vinegar and salsa. Exile also has something for the dessert lovers out there: Y Tu Mama Brownie (P90 +55 for a scoop of vanilla ice cream) which is best served ala mode.
What better way to spend the end of the school week than to play some good ol' boardgames with your friends, right? Players need only pay the P100/person entrance fee to the place, and that gives you access to their collection of boardgames. The fee is consummable on their food, so not only will you get to have the time of your lives playing the game of your choice with friends, but you also get to munch on some really good snacks.
For starters, try their Oversized Cheesesticks (P120) which is everything we hoped a cheesestick would be – huge and oozing with lots and lots of cheese. Those with a sweet tooth, however, will enjoy their Apple Turon a la Mode (P80) which reminds us of apple pie, only better and with ice cream.
10. Dairy Depot
Located at the second floor of Archers Nook, Dairy Depot is a little haven for ice cream lovers. They serve a badass Skillet Cookie Meltdown (P99), lava cakes, and churro ice cream sandwiches. For those who are more into coffee, try The Takeover (P145). Basically, they serve you with coffee ice cubes, steamed milk, and syrup, and you're left to do all the mixing and pouring to customize it depending on how you like your joe.
A cafe that's a good place to chill or study in, Studio Terminal 1 Cafe offers all-day breakfast meals, cakes, coffee, and a mean lemonade. Their menu may seem overwhelming, so if you don't know which drink to try first, we recommend the Khannon (P120) a lemonade made with the combination of peach and mango.
Students get a 20% discount on whatever they're having as long as they present their IDs. They also have promos during Thursdays, where those in green get to avail of their buy-1-take-1 promo on the cafe's piccolo drinks.
12. 8065 Bagnet
Visit 8065 Bagnet along Leon Guinto for some the crispy bagnet. Although they have different dishes highlighting the Ilocano favorite, one could just never go wrong with the Original Bagnet (P120 with rice and drinks).
If you still haven’t tried the meals at Rap, then you’re missing out on some good steak and gravy. Their Porterhouse Steak is priced at P257, a little hefty for a student meal, but is worth it as it comes with rice, veggies, unlimited gravy, and Rap steak sauce. They also have some pretty good cakes, so make sure to leave space for a slice of their cakes.
14. Flaming Wings
Flaming Wings is another place famous for their chicken wings, and they were in Taft before all the other chicken wing places arrived! You get to choose between their Wing Meal and their Tenders Meal (both priced at P145). This already comes with dip, rice, and drinks. Don’t forget to try their Wicked Oreos (P90) to cap off your dining experience.
To those who just want to satisfy their KBBQ cravings, Samgyupsalamat is the place most frequented by people. In fact, they are such a crowd-favorite that they opened a second branch within the same vicinity. Avail of their unlimited KBBQ promo (Lunch: P399 or P449; Dinner: P449 or P499) to get the full experience. It comes with unlimited rice, side dishes, and vegetables, so it’s definitely worth it!