Every month or so, I find myself traveling through Manila. Whether I’m visiting friends there or, more often, chilling for a few days before I take a flight elsewhere, I end up hunkering down of a couple days in the capital city of the Philippines. But I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with “The Thrilla,” as it’s also one of the most densely populated cities on earth, the traffic is Biblically-bad (wait, did they have cars in the Bible?), and prices are also a lot closer to the U.S. than they are to other travel hot spots in Asia like Thailand, etc.
But you can also have a whole LOT of fun in Manila if you know where to go and what to do, the restaurants are great, and you’ll feel a modern vibe and energy that lacks elsewhere in the country.
So, when I am in Manila for a few days, I usually hunker down at a good hotel in Makati, which is their business center and also home to a lot of bars, restaurants, hotels, and other entertainment. It could take an hour or easily more to get from the airport to Makati (even though it’s only about 5 miles away).
I used to frequent this Cuban-themed bar and restaurant on crazy Burgos Street, but it’s way too touristy, expensive, with nonstop scammers and beggars around, and even a little dangerous. Luckily, I discovered the Cabin Bar and Bistro a few trips ago, and it’s become my new favorite go-to eatery in Manila.
The Cabin Bar Review
Its location couldn’t be better, as it’s an indoor-outdoor venue right in the middle of the Century City Mall, a bustling high-end complex that literally has everything you need and want to do in Manila. The Cabin Bar has a nice outdoor deck so you can sit outside when it cools down at night, and there is a thriving night market right across the street to witness. But it’s good for people watching all times of day since the restaurant has huge glass walls on two sides that look out onto that same street or into the mall.
Cabin is also comfortable inside, with good air conditioning (but you want to sit near the AC unit if you really want to cool down) and scores of four-top tables, higher cocktail tables, booths, and bar seating. They have sort of an old car/rusted 1950s and 1960s U.S. highway sign kind of motif that I don’t really understand, but it’s definitely done well and not objectionable. They also have good Wi-Fi, as I’m usually sitting in there and working, and also about ten big screen TVs with NBA basketball games on, as well as fun music playing.
One of the best part are the people who work there, as they hire a lot of really cute and bubbly Filipinas to work as servers and the guys bartending and cooking there are really nice, too. How about the food? Breakfasts are my favorite at the Cabin, although they certainly aren’t cheap. You’ll easily spend $7-$10 for a big breakfast, coffee, and tip – which is a fortune for other parts of the Philippines but consistent with upper-crust Manila prices. They also have pretty good hamburgers with big portions.
Enjoy the Cabin when you’re in Manila!