If you read any of the expat boards or sites, one common thread is always present: Where do I find burgers (steaks, pizza, hotdogs) like I had back home?
It is natural to crave certain foods that you may remember. Cultural differences and tastes mean that even things that should be outright simple become very different creatures when prepared here. Sweet mayonnaise on a burger. Ketchup on a bright red hot dog. French fries on a pizza. These are all “traditional” foreign foods that are commonly modified to suit local tastes. Yes, expats may complain, but any restaurant here has to serve the consumer with foods that they will like… There simply aren’t enough expats here to just serve that niche market.
So, two of the biggest debates I see online are related to best Pizza and best Burger.
What are your favorites? Here are mine (Manila Area… Fast food type large chains that more people are likely to visit…. Yes, there are some Hole in the Wall places, but most readers will be familiar with these. )
1. Army Navy:
Army Navy has a nice, quarter pound burger that you can get as a double, or even a triple (Bully Boy burger). 100% beef that is really well-cooked, and very good sesame seed buns. Toppings that are fresh and identifiable. Highly addictive “Freedom Fries”… similar to spicy shoestrings. Perfect combo with a cold San Mig, sitting outside.
2. Brothers Burgers:
Best buns (NOT sweet) and big burgers. Many excellent toppings and choices. Make a fine meal.
Just like in the States… One of my favorites there, even just their iconic “OldTimer with cheese.”
Yes! Though known for their wings, Hooters makes a damn decent burger. Located at Mall of Asia, I am officially forbidden from visiting, even though I state I just want a burger. What she don’t know won’t hurt me (Note that MofA is only 15 minutes from BI or the US Embassy).
5. Hot Shots:
Really good burgers and very tasty.
I used to really like TGI Fridays, but the last couple of visits there were absolutely terrible food. Really poor, with no quality control. Before Ruby Tuesdays closed up, that was one of Rebecca’s favorites.
So, where do you like to go for burgers?
This list is much more generic… Quite frankly, most pizza in the Philippines is terrible. Here’s my list:
Started by Italianpriests. With a wood-fired oven, these pizzas are somewhat European in taste and texture. Bonus, bonus, bonus points for real mozzarella cheese! Best in the Philippines, in my opinion.
Yes, it is a global mall staple. But, you know what? Foir a decent pizza with a good sauce and real cheese, Sbarro is probably one of the best in the country. It is virtually identical in product to its’ global counterparts in the USA.
Honestly, living in Chicago a number of years, I was never a fan of CPK when I lived in the States. Nevertheless, their pizzas stand up well against the local competition in the Philippines, particularly their simple cheese and pepperoni pizza. Note that CPK has enormous dinner salads that are really quite good. I actually prefer these to the pizza there.
4. Yellow Cab Pizza:
By far, the best of the Pinoy chains, the pizzas are rather good. Filling, tasty, with decent toppings.
I’m stopping the list at four. I despised Shakey’s in the States: Here they use cheddar cheese and it is worse (Though I do like their Mojo Potatoes). Greenwich uses a sickly sweet sauce that is absolutely horrible, along with cheddar cheese. Pizza Hut is as greasy as in the States (but they use mozzarella). Dominoes went bust here, and Papa Johns hasn’t made it here yet (Though they and Dominoes are in Singapore, if you miss it that much).
So, I read an awful lot of people who miss Mexican food… Try Army Navy. Their burritos are really pretty good (No Kidding!). I mean, it isn’t like sitting on Olivera Street in LA, but they are pretty good, especially consideringthe lack of Mexican food in the Philippines. Taco Bell is also here if you have, like I do, memories of 39 cent taco Tuesday at 2:00 am…
John Miele is a Citizen of the World, having spent time in many locations around the globe. Currently, he finds himself in Manila, but travels throughout the Philippines. John joined the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine in mid-2008.