For grumbling stomachs, paradise is where neon signages, sizzling plates, combo meals, and the sound of clanking glass and metal abound. Sounds familiar? It should; after all, we're talking about every guy's second-favorite part of the mall (first is the boyfriend's chair where we rest our weary asses while the girlfriend's doing her shopping): the food court!
Not only does it houses some good grubs next to each other, the food court also offers "real" budget-friendly meals that can make your wallets and bellies happy. Man food, old favorites, and experimental dishes; name it, the food court has it!
However, you may not have the time (or the budget) to try everything at your favorite food spot. This is where FHM comes in. We scoured the metro for the best deals inside these congregations of shared seats and self-serve dining to give you this: our ultimate list of the best food court grub!
33 Malingap Street, Bgy. Teachers Village, QC
Maginhawa’s best-kept secret is not on Maginhawa—it’s on a perpendicular street that’s quickly catching up with the area’s recent restaurant boom. Z Compound— literally a residential compound converted into an outdoor food court with an infectious beach vibe— houses around 15 start-up stalls with catchy names, quirky menus, and YOLO-approved styling, appealing mostly to students from nearby campuses. While the place is open at 11 a.m. until before midnight, some of the stores don’t operate until 5 p.m. It’s best to come between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., since stocks are quickly consumed by a continuous influx of post-“group study” crowds
How much: P100
Where: Meshwe, Z Compound
Shawarma cooked the Lebanese way, with a blend of possibly hard-to-pronounce spices and a zesty sauce you won’t find elsewhere.
VIETNAMESE SPRING ROLLS
How much: P109
Where: Me Love You Long Time, Z Compound
Have a taste of one of the popular street foods of Taiwan for just a hundred bucks. Don't confuse it with the normal fresh lumpia, though, because this one's oozing with prawn meat and a savory dip.
THREE CHEESE PESTO
How much: P200
Where: The Backyard, Z Compound
There's no doubt that you girlfriend will love this tasty gourmet dish. She can finally have a bite of the pizza without the guilt of ruining her diet.
Edsa cor. J. Vargas Avenue, Mandaluyong City
Food courts don’t get any more festive than this, with over 100 blindingly lit stalls splayed across a huge floor area of ice-skating rink proportions (it sits where the old Megamall ice skating rink was anyway). Yuppies, students, even executives from nearby Ortigas offices can be spotted dining here. Why aren’t we surprised? Middle-of-everywhere SM Megamall has always been a top-of-mind rendezvous ages before everyone and their titas got into an H&M-shopping frenzy.
GLUTEN WITH VEGGIES
How much: P119
Where: Bodhi, SM Megamall, Food Court
For when you’re keeping count of both your budget and calorie intake. If you're a vegetarian (or at least wanting to be one) this one's for you.
BAGNET WITH ENSALADANG TALONG
How much: P125
Where: Brgy. Bagnet, SM Megamall Food Court
Bagnet so soft and yet oh-so-crunchy, you'll forget that you only live once.
CHEESE ROLL KATSU
How much: P125
Where: Ichiro Express, SM Megamall Food Court
Consider this your budget version of (insert name of your favorite fancy Katsu resto here).
CHICKEN WITH TWO SIDINGS
How much: P177
Where: World Chicken, SM Megamall, Food Choices at Trinoma and Glorietta, SM Mall of Asia,Greenbelt 1, RCBC Plaza, Gateway Mall, Greenhills Shopping Center
A slice of chicken + siding + rice + sauce of your choice = heaven.
Food Choices At TriNoma
North Avenue cor. Edsa, Bgy. Bagong Pag-Asa, QC
TriNoma’s take on Food Choices includes none of the big players and more of “express” versions of less commercial fast-food restaurants. (Landmark has a full scale food court that can be found on the lower ground level beside the grocery.) Seats are limited and the place easily gets packed, so better get a table before you fill that tray with the day’s nosh.
How much: P97
Where: Magic Wok, Food Choices at Trinoma, Glorietta, Gateway Mall, and Alabang Town Center
Part veggie, part meat, pure fast-food bliss. And hey, it’s below P100 so who’s to complain?
BEEF PEPPER RICE
How much: P158
Where: Pepper Lunch Express, Food Choices at Trinoma and Gloritetta, Robinsons Magnolia,Robinsons Galleria, Gateway Mall, SM Aura Premier,SM Southmall, SM Fairview, Lucky Chinatown
A certified crowd-drawer wherever it goes, and how! It perfectly meets every Pinoy’s standards for sizzling food, budget steak, and a plateful of hot rice!
Dampa Sa Timog
Timog Avenue, Bgy. Laging Handa, Q.C.
Unlike its more balikbayan-/family-oriented counterpart in Sucat, Paranaque, Dampa sa Timog is a favorite among gimikeros looking to load up on grub pre-and post-inuman (boozing isn’t allowed here), thanks to budget home-cooked eats that can feed groups of three or more.
How much: P120
Where: Jass Fast Food, Dampa Sa Timog
Beef shanks, bone marrow, and all that utak for half the regular price!
PINAPUTOK NA TILAPIA
How much: P100
Where: Jass Fast Food, Dampa Sa Timog
Throw in soy sauce, butter, onions, chili, and what-have-you in a foil with a humongous tilapia and you’ve got an instant FHM staffers’ favorite.
Food Choices At Glorietta
Glorietta 4, Ayala Center, Makati City
Laziness is a mortal sin at Glorietta 4’s Food Choices. One must not settle on a meal until they have fully scanned the premises—all-close-to-a-hundred-stalls of it. Choosing from its mixture of the usual suspects and surprising new finds is bound to take a few minutes of your time, but guaranteed worth it once you’ve pinned your selection.
How much: P156
Where: El Presidente of Binondo, Food Choices at Glorietta
With Yangchow fried rice, pancit, buchi, prawn chips, soup, and two viands of your choice—this is like Chowking for rebels.
How much: P195
Where: New Bombay, Food Choices at Glorietta
Its Makati’s favorite neighborhood Indian hole in the wall—downsized for your convenience!
Gateway Food Express
Gateway Mall, Araneta Center, Cubao, QC
It has more than 30 food stalls to choose from and seats that can accommodate an entire Smart Araneta Coliseum audience (okay, we’re exaggerating). That said, don’t expect a lot of space to move in; you’ll have to practice extra care carrying that sizzling porkchop meal all the way to your table.
How much: P65
Where: Taco Bell, Gateway Food Express
Taco Bell has only three branches in the country. Two of them are in Gateway. What else would you do?
LECHON WITH PAKBET
How much: P155
Where: Lydia’s Lechon, Gateway Food Express
For when you don’t have time to think, a moderate slab of lechon is never a bad idea.
293 Lachambre St., Binondo, Manila
The best of Binondo’s unique fast-food fares may be found in rip-roaring 168 Mall, but that doesn’t mean it's more upmarket neighbor has nothing to offer. Lucky Chinatown’s compact food court serves up a few unique Chinese and Asian dishes—minus the defiled tables and increased risk of getting pickpocketed.
SIZZLING BAGOONG RICE
How much: P148
Where: Thaicoon, Lucky Chinatown and SM North Edsa
Because in a perfect world, we’d all be eating Thai fast food.
EVERYDAY SPECIAL RAMEN
Fast, accessible, and authentic Chinese noodle soup for all.
Aurora Boulevard cor. Dona Hemady Street, QC
Robinsons Magnolia does away with the traditional food court setup, opting for less cluttered island-type food stalls instead, and with open kitchens at that. Fast-food dining here feels grander you’ll forget you’re in a mall in the middle of a genteel but jeepney-infested district. The only downside? Not everything’s on sight, you’ll have to go around each island’s stalls to look for literally hidden finds. But it’ll be worth it.
COBBER FISH TAUSI WITH BROWN RICE
How much: P145
Where: Zigla!, Zuellig Building Makati, Robinsons Magnolia, and SM North Edsa
Take a breather from the mostly oily, ma-vetsin food court fare with this high fiber meal.
CHICKEN THIGH + CUT STEAK COMBINATION
How much: P145
Where: Yakitori One, Robinsons Magnolia and SM Aura Premier
A customizable, mind-numbingly flavorful Japanese barbeque offering from the same group that brought us Pepper Lunch.
How much: P90
Where: Bacolod Chicken Inasal, Robinsons Magnolia
Not really new, and not really cheap. But this chicken barbeque + siding meal makes for a quick eat for people in a hurry to catch the last LRT back home.
McKinley Parkway, Taguig City
You don’t go to Market! Market! all by your lonesome—you go there to feast with your whole office department or with a balikbayan uncle and a dozen other relatives; meals here are cheaper if bought in sets. Expect a whole host of seafood and ihaw-ihaw specialties to help instill national pride in you.
How much: P150
Where: Market! Market!
Throw colorful veggies into an egg, stuff it inside a crab shell and this is what you get. For added Pinoy kick, top with Jufran ketchup.
Pedro Gil cor. Adriatico Streets, Ermita, Manila
It may take a while for the uninitiated to locate Robinsons Place’s food court, given the mall’s size and unconventional layout. But once there, you’ll find yourself faced with food stall selections so well loved by foreigners, colegialas, and lolas that make up the noisy Ermita foodie crowd.
How much: P145
Where: Davao Tuna Grill, Robinsons Place Manila
As heavy as two cans of Century Tuna. And that’s what it feels on the tummy too.
MEAT + VEGGIE MEAL
How much: P79
Where: Chin’s Express, Robinsons Manila, Robinsons Galleria
The signature food-court combo fare, with mixed rice to boot.
Food On Four
4/F SM Aura Premier, 26th Street cor. McKinley Parkway, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Forget everything SM has taught us about food courts. At SM Aura Premier’s Food On Four, things are all on the other end of the spectrum: out with plastic chairs and in with heavy, expensive-looking furniture; exquisite dishes as the new fast-food; ditch noisy Top 40s tunes and replace it with ambient music; and most important, make use of lots of empty space. It works here.
How much: P180
Where: Brasas, SM Aura Premiere
The Latin American street-food everyone’s raving about. Their bestselling Puerco Asado is made for payday Fridays.
BEEF STEAK SET
How much: P190
Where: Teppanyaki Brothers, SM Aura Premier
Scrumptious beef and veggies cooked right before your eyes. Willing to shell out more? Go for their best selling Teppan Beef Steak Set (P320).
How much: P95
Where: Sizzling Plate, SM malls
Sizzling Plate’s menu offerings here are priced a bit higher than in other branches, but this is probably the cheapest you can eat at SM Aura’s upscale food court.
From FHM's January 2015 issue
Wearable merch so you dont even have to wait for events like APCC
The Safety Check gets a much-needed upgrade
These speak the truth
Your social life might take a hit