“Cheap and delicious” is the badge of honor my friend Hg bestows on eateries which manage to serve filling and appetizing dishes with prices someone with a limited budget can afford. Knowing about such places is especially helpful for those who can only afford meals of P100 and below.
Over the course of the years, I’ve come across several of these places, some of which unfortunately no longer exist. Here’s a list of my favorites, in no particular order; an asterix (*) indicates those eateries that have folded up, and remain only as fond memories. Note that all of the eateries are in the Quezon City area; like I said, within the budget, and driving all the way to Ortigas or Makati doesn’t fit the bill.
1. Rodic’s – This used to be the king of cheap and delicious, although I think the quality of the food has gone down a tad. Found in the Shopping Center of the University of the Philippines (UP), Rodic’s is popular to those studying in the Katipunan area, and is probably famous for its wide range of silog (fried rice and egg) meals. The most notable of these is its tapsilog, which is salted beef, fried rice and egg (tapa, sinangag, itlog). Unlike most tapsilogs, Rodic’s is unique in the sense that the beef, which has a strong anise (licorice) flavor, is shredded over the rice and topped off with the egg, making it easy to mix together. A dash of vinegar and pepper completes the seasoning, and you’re ready to go.
2. Beachhouse – Located at the back of UP’s main library, Beachhouse is well-known for its sticks of pork barbeque, which is slightly spicy and well-seasoned. Beachhouse also serves other viands, although it’s the barbeque that attracts students and professors of the university. It’s best to go there around eleven in the morning, and get an early lunch, because the lines that form at noon sometimes rivals UP students’ lining up for registration.
3. Manang’s – Ateneans will correct me on this, but I think that it’s now called the Clubhouse. Located beside the College Covered Courts in the Ateneo de Manila University, Manang’s has been a regular going-to place for both students and outsiders, particularly for its charbroiled liempo, or pork belly.
4. Tita Amy’s (*) – I think I wrote about Tita Amy’s a while back, when I commented on restaurants that I miss. And Tita Amy’s was a good source of relatively inexpensive Chinese cuisine along Katipunan Ave. After it closed, its former space was occupied by about 2 or 3 other eateries, all of which have folded up, possibly due to the inaccessibility of the area to pedestrians due to the closing of Ateneo’s Gate 3 crossing. Maybe if the city government gets around to constructing the footbridge it has been promising, some eatery will be able to survive there.
5. Mang Jimmy – Hg and C introduced me to Mang Jimmy’s, which is found inside the Mawasa compound. Mang Jimmy’s is an inexpensive grill, which offers unlimited rice (low carb people, stay away). The fare is delicious, if a little lacking in presentation.
6. Dannylicious – Two of my co-teachers brought me here during one exam week, when classes are half-day, and it’s easier to go out and get something aside from the usual fare that the cafeteria serves. Dannylicious specializes in barbeque, and, while it’s pretty good, I still prefer that of Manang’s and Beachhouse. Still, the price is easy on the pocket, and cheap, delicious food is always a good thing.
7. Frankie’s Steak House (*) – Frankie’s was normally paired off with an eatery beside it, although the name escapes me now. Frankie’s, and its sister eatery, used to be where National Bookstore Katipunan is now. The steaks were relative cheap, but loaded with flavor, and the other meals they used to serve were all easy on budget-conscious college people.
8. Tipunan sa Katipunan (*) – I’ve written about Tipunan and its fireball beef curry rice, and, to this day, I’ve not found a restaurant that serves a curry with the same fiery stomach-burning gusto. *sigh*
9. Flor and Willy’s (*) – Along Katipunan across the MWSS compound, there used to be a row of small carinderias and a market collectively known as The Wall. The Metro Manila Development Authority put an end to The Wall a few years ago, but, before they did, there was a small eatery known as Flor and Willy’s Bulalohan. Bulalo is basically a soup dish, with the beef bone as the main source of flavor. The marrow of the bone, which is buttery and probably full of cholesterol, the delicious part of this. I ate here once, after catechetical tutorials, and I enjoyed the peppery, savory flavor of the soup.
10. Cervini (?) – The reason for the question mark is because it’s been a long while since I’ve eaten here, and I’m not sure if it’s still the same. Cervini is name of the male residence hall in the Ateneo, and I used to eat breakfast with friends here, after a morning swim in the Cervini swimming pool. The dish we normally ordered was basilog, which is bacon, fried rice and egg, which was thoroughly delicious. One time, we kidded a co-teacher that the ba- was actually bagoong, or shrimp paste, and was he ever surprised to discover that that was not the case.
There are probably more of these “cheap and delicious” places around the city; after all, Metro Manila is a huge city, and there are bound to be places in the area which cater to the low-budget crowd, without skimping on being filling and delicious.