According to the Lonely Planet, Manila (the capital of the Philippines) is “fast becoming on of Asia’s coolest cities.” Although the article cites many reasons, one such reason stands out among the rest: its food. Manila’s food scene is constantly changing, improving, bursting, and surprising especially in regards to its dessert places. To help navigate Manila’s, and the rest of the country’s, sprawling sugar-coated landscape, here’s a list of some of the Philippines’ must-try dessert places, courtesy of a born-and-bred Filipino.
Disclaimer: I really tried ranking these as decisively as I could, but I couldn’t compare these restaurants against each other. So I gave up, and now they’re organized in no particular order (but that’s fine because they’re all equally delicious).
1. The Bowery
How can you make a large, freshly-baked, warm, ooey and gooey chocolate chip cookie taste even better? Top it with a cold, rich and delicious scoop of vanilla ice cream, of course. The Bowery’s cookie skillet perfectly balances the heat of the cookie with the chill of the ice cream, to deliver a perfect (albeit, hefty) after-dinner treat.
Sometimes you’ll want a chocolate cookie after your meal. Or a s’mores cookie. Or something that has cereal, red velvet, and matcha inside. This cookie bar boasts a wide selection of inventive and delicious cookies, but also allows you to make your own. Better yet, you can eat their freshly baked delicacies with a glass of cold milk.
Although this isn’t strictly a single dessert place, the Yard at Xavierville boasts a small, but quality, collection of dessert restaurants. You can order the BEST waffle of your life from Waff, then walk 10 meters and get an ice cream-donut combination from Dip N’ Dough.
Matcha, who doesn’t love it? Le Petit Souffle has the best matcha desserts – ranging from souffles, to parfaits, to even custards. If you have a green tea craving and a sweet tooth, look no further.
This old-timey ice cream parlor will entice you with feelings of nostalgia, and leave you with a bloated stomach and satisfied smile. Truly, Farmacy is the perfect place to indulge in calories while catching up with friends. My favorite order? The “Dusty Road” sundae.
6. Cafe Breton
Who doesn’t love a good crepe? Cafe Breton’s thin crepes pack a buttery and sugary punch, while the incredible array of ready-made crepe combinations in their menu will satisfy any type of dessert craving. Want fruit? Order the “Tarzan.” Want chocolate? Order the “Le Magnifique.” Want something totally weird? Make your own crepe.
7. Freezer Burn
“Freezerburn” is the perfect name for this new ice cream shop – their creations pair each cold ice cream flavor with a complementary hot pastry. “Cookies and Junk Food” ice cream is coupled with donuts, and the “Browned Butter Pecan” ice cream is served with waffles. Also, visiting this new ice cream shop kills two birds with one stone: you get a seriously tasty ice cream combo and a killer photo for Instagram.
If you’re also not really in the mood for something super-sweet, you can try their more adventurous flavors: “Ketchup and Mayo,” “Corn and Cheese,” or even the “Maple Bacon” ice cream. It’s up to you to decide whether these flavors are straight-up crazy, or pure genius.
Conti’s is a bakeshop known and loved by many Filipinos. One of its best sellers includes the Mango Bravo cake, but all their pastries do not disappoint. If you’re not in the mood for mangos (although I can’t imagine this happening to anyone), try their Tiramisu or the “Almond Choco Sans Rival” cake.
9. La Lola
Churros and hot chocolate: a classic dessert that La Lola took to a whole other level. Their churros are doughy, yet crisp, and their hot chocolate is rich and soothing. Together, they form the greatest love story ever told.
However, La Lola also has more unique churro flavors for people who want to break out of the classic churro mold. Their Xuxuros are stuffed with Nutella, dulce de leche, strawberry jam or peanut butter and the Chocochurros are pre-dipped in chocolate. The Churros Bravos takes on a savory spin.
The “Cwazy Shakes” at Milkbox bring all the boys, girls, adults, grandparents, pets, and any other living thing to their restaurant. With flavors ranging from Cereal Milk to Cookie Dough, from Pumpkin Spice to Malted Milk, who wouldn’t want to spend their cheat day in this nook?
11. Bucky’s Counter
Attention brownie lovers: set aside an hour in your schedule, and make a trip to Bucky’s Counter. Their brownies are BIG, full-bodied, and sumptuous. At their store, you can pair these delicious, chocolate-y blocks with ice cream (because ice cream really does make everything better). But if you can’t make the trek to Parañaque, just pass by your nearest Toby’s Estate and pick up one of their brownies there.
This new Filipino restaurant doesn’t allow for reservations, won’t sit your party unless everyone is present, and has lines of people waiting to be seated sprawling around their restaurant during every mealtime. And for a good reason too – their Filipino food is amazing. Notably, their Filipino desserts. My recommendations include the “Mais Con Yelo con Queso” or “Buko Pandan Sherbet.”
13. Purple Oven
Purple Oven carries one of my favorite cakes ever: the Campfire Cake. The outside is torched marshmallow fluff, and the inside is composed of layers of intense, yet fluffy, chocolate cake. You don’t need a campfire to enjoy the flavors of a classic summer s’more.
Another crowd favorite is Purple Oven’s lemon bars – you really can’t go wrong with something so tangy, zesty and sweet.
These cupcakes are classic. Especially their Red Velvet cupcakes. The cream cheese frosting is dense and not too sweet, which perfectly complements the sugary, light and fluffy cupcake base.
This may be the least accessible dessert place from this list, but if you’re ever in Baguio you must Vizco’s and order their Strawberry Shortcake. Baguio grows the best strawberries in the Philippines, and this cake is a testament to this. The dessert literally bursts whole, juicy strawberries in every slice. No strawberry lover will be unsatisfied with this cake.