Spending the last week in Manila, the hustling, bustling, crowded and crazy capital of the Philippines, I think I’ve been to more cool restaurants and bars than I have in two years living in Dumaguete combined. That’s both a condemnation of my beloved Duma’s food scene, which ranges from just plain bad to dangerously unhygienic (although it has plenty of other great things going for ) and a shout-out to the Manila foodie scene.
In fact, I’m learning that living in Manila is all about stepping out and blowing off steam after another stressful day of traffic, work, and more traffic. Manila residents, which includes plenty of foreigners living here, love to emerge once the sun goes down, visiting one of the city’s seemingly million cool, fun, and funky coffee shops, cafes, restaurants, food markets, watering holes, bars, and nightclubs.
For a travel blogger and big eater like me, it’s also heaven, although your humble budget can spin out of control at a dangerous rate, as your Pesos seem to just evaporate into thin air in this city.
That’s why I was totally down when my good friend Laarni here suggested we hit Pink’s for dinner and a drink. I’d passed by it once or twice on High Street, the upscale outdoor shopping plaza and pavilion, and Laarni definitely talked about Pink’s more than once.
It took a little bit of me running around with my Google Maps in hand like a tourist to find, but I could immediately see why she recommended it.
Pink’s is basically like a laid-back hot dog stand on Venice Beach in California or Coney Island in New York but inside a modern and fantastically designed restaurant and bar.
There are tables out front on the sidewalk for those cooler nights when you want to people watch, but we chose to sit inside. I both appreciated that it was dark enough – like any good bar should be – but their full front mirrors still gave us a view of the scene outside.
We choose to sit at one of their big wooden tables that were surprisingly comfortable, and I looked around. The big focus, of course, was an old VW van that was parked right inside the front doors, hollowed out with a surfboard inside.
That set off the whole theme for Pink’s, which is a franchise of the famous Pink’s Hotdogs in Los Angeles, which has been “a Hollywood legend since 1939.”
There were other vestiges of California, too, from the signs and posters on the wall to the fact that they had pink Chuck Taylors tied together and hanging from their strands of tea lights on the ceiling – a nice touch that was supposed to look like sneakers hanging on power lines in the hood.
We quickly got down to ordering, and they had just about every kind of hot dog you could imagine, from East LA Mexican-food hotdogs to spicy Polish, as well as those Coney Island frankfurters and a whole lot more. We also macked on some chili cheese fries while we waited, which were sloppy and quickly fell apart, but still super tasty, and had just the right spice thanks to jalapenos sprinkled on top.
Even better was the drink menu, and I immediately pinpointed the Dark & Stormy – which is such a favorite cocktail of mine that my family calls it a Dark &Normy. It didn’t disappoint, and they even served it in a chilled copper cup.
In all, the meal was good, but the vibe and the experience were fantastic, and I could picture myself coming back to Pink’s many times, to chat and chill with no friends, watch a basketball game, or just get a taste of California.