Poblacion has always been my comfort zone since I kind of grew up there. My school from pre-school to high school was there, right next to a church and several strip clubs down the block, LOL. Overtime, it evolved into a party and artsy area, so it was a very convenient place to go to since it’s also close to home. Whenever I want to just chill, or have a wild night, I would just go to Poblacion. If you’re visiting Manila and looking to have a little night life fun, do drop by Poblacion.
Dulo is this artsy space located in P. Guazon Street. I loved going there because it was pretty chill and away from all the clubs in Poblacion, the drinks were really good. During the day, they serve coffee and food, night time is for bar chows and cocktails. Their Pork Belly Bao was amazing! I kind of forgot the name of my favorite drink there – but this I say – their sake sour was good but kind of a traitor.. you’ll see! They often hold events in there too – art exhibits, wellness yoga or RuPaul viewing parties, it could also be private events!
Across Dulo, when you open the red metal door, you’ll enter the handcrafted cocktail heaven – Run Rabbit Run! It’s a lot smaller than Dulo so it gets a little too crowded sometimes. I love going there because of the drinks plus the bartenders let me shake the Cocktail Shaker (LOL!). My favorite drink was Off With Their Heads, one of their signature cocktails. To be honest, when we order drinks, we just say Surprise me! – the bartenders never fail!
So my used-to-go-to place was Poblacion Ruins – it’s an old house turned art gallery. There is something about it that feels like home for me. I know, it’s weird. Probably the smell of old wood, the sound that wooden floors make, and the capiz windows remind me of my great-grandmother’s house. They have been closed before I left Manila. I guess they only open for events or if there are exhibits.
I remember there was this small window right next to Ruins where we order Spicy Mango Rum or Calamansi Vodka – and they were the best most affordable cocktails in Poblacion! Wait! They were a part of The Workshop – a small boutique and retail shop for unique local made products – before that small-window-mini-bar moved to Annex House, a restored post-war Filipino house turned bar and club featuring great unique music, sometimes art exhibits, good food, a good time and most especially — Spicy Mango Rum!
If you’re looking for some good wine, you can check-out Dr. Wine Manila or the rooftop bar in the same building – Kartel. Wine, cocktail, quiet time to catch-up or date, plus a good Sunset view while enjoying the Happy Hour at Kartel. They are our go-to place for mid-week Fake Fridays or anti-stress quick dinner breaks.
Let’s not forget the famous Z Hostel which is not only a hostel but also everyone’s go-to rooftop bar for some good music, dancing and socializing. I’m not really a fan of Z Hostel but all the times I’ve been there, I met a lot of new people. And while we’re on the topic of hostels – Lub’d also offers good accommodation plus they have a co-working space where you can entertain your guests if you’re staying there, mingle with other hotel guests, play pool, drink beer or eat some sandwiches.
Perfect me-time place for me was Antidote, the rooftop bar of I’M Hotel. I used to love going there, have a glass of Mr. DOMango (sometimes the bartender’s surprise me drink, whatever it was) and just enjoy the view – 360 degrees view of Metro Manila from the 40th floor. Oh! They also have well-lit jellyfish aquariums! Just had to mention it because they look cool, lol. Another thing about Antidote is that they have the nicest restroom I have ever since. You know those airbnb photos with tubs beside a huge window with a nice view – well, they have their own version except that it’s a toilet plus this view!
Poblacion is a whole lot more than parties and bars. It has art, culture, good food and history. Whenever I go to Williamsburg, I remember Poblacion and all the good times we’ve had there. People can probably say it’s nothing compared to Williamsburg – sure! But if asked where to go for a nightlife, I would say Poblacion. It’s my place to be. It’s just sad that since Pandemic struck, some of our favorite places had to close their doors forever. I do hope that they can come open again after recovering. I’ll just be here dreaming about Manila, ’til I get to visit again.
If you’re visiting Manila, send me a message and I’d be happy to give you recommendations on places to go.