You shouldn't have to wait for a special occasion to take Mom out on a date—though we get that it isn't exactly the easiest thing to do because mothers can be hard to please. We're taking some of the stress out of the planning with these no-fail restaurants that are sure to meet the standards of even the most exacting mom.
This San Juan institution recently moved to a new house several blocks away from the original, which is the perfect excuse to revisit some of their classics with your mom. Though they're now located in a different ancestral home, they've kept the Old-World charm that made them famous by transferring most of the paintings and the distinctive facade of the first restaurant. The menu is also the same—the Spaghetti With Angry Sauce has just the right amount of spicy kick, while the Lengua Sulipena is not only elegantly plated but heartily delicious, too, with a butter-soft lengua. Don't forget to order a classic Strawberry Shortcake to go and continue the celebrations at home.
Cafe Ysabel is at M. Paterno Street, Barangay Pasadena, San Juan City.
If Mom is the artsy type, she'll fall in love with the newest The Craft Central at Ayala Malls Vertis North, which also features a cafe. Your mom will love the extensive variety of supplies that line The Craft Central's shelves: From fountain pen nibs and calligraphy ink to pretty stationery and cute knick-knacks. Afterwards, you can work on your art pieces together while munching on tasty open-faced sandwiches and flatbreads like the Spicy Shrimp Slaw Sandwich with kani strips tossed in spicy mayo with green and red cabbage, with a piece of grilled shrimp completing the pretty picture. The Craft Central Cafe also carries handcrafted coffee by Black Press PH and lots of colorful milkshakes in all the classic flavors: Vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and cookies and cream.
The Craft Central Cafe is at 2/F Ayala Malls Vertis North, North Avenue, Quezon City.
If you want to splurge—and you should because Mom deserves it—take the most special woman in your life on a steak date. Wolfgang's Steakhouse has a new branch at The Podium that's elegant and sophisticated, with a mahogany bar and dark-wood furniture to channel a classic New York steakhouse. Plus, they take their steak seriously: They only use USDA-certified Prime Angus or Black Angus that is shipped fresh from the U.S. regularly—never frozen—and dry-aged on the premises. Start light with the Wolfgang's Salad, a colorful mix of fresh veggies, jumbo shrimp, and Canadian bacon, then go straight for the Porterhouse with a flavorful sear thatâll throw all thoughts of additional seasoning or sauce out the window.
Wolfgang's Steakhouse is at G/F The Podium, Ortigas, Mandaluyong City.
The bright, sunlit interiors of James & Daughters, with white window boxes, cushioned chairs with floral details, and potted fresh herbs, would probably make any tita-mom jealous. She may even end up taking notes—that is, if she isn't distracted by the comfort-classics-with-a-twist whipped up by Chef Jonas Ng. The Duo of Mom's Fried Chicken and Tori Karaage is a must-try, with a deceptively simple fish-sauce marinated fried chicken from a recipe by Chef Jonas' mom. If Mom's an adventurous eater, she'll also appreciate the tender BBQ Stingray served with a spicy house sambal sauce and Laksa Rice.
James & Daughters is at G/F The Westin Residences Show Suites, 21st Drive, Bonifacio Global City.
This garden-themed cafe right smack in the middle of Rockwell Center is a must-visit for the chic mama. After all, the floor-to-ceiling glass windows, fresh blooms, and elegant light-wood decor exude sophistication. The menu also matches the garden vibe—for something light yet filling, have the Fresh Salmon Sashimi Poke Bowls, which you can have either with a light soy-sesame dressing or a tangier mango-wasabi mayonnaise. Or you can take Mom out to breakfast: The Grain Muesli Bowl with almond milk, almonds, and sunflower seeds may seem light, but it's filling and flavorful enough to power both of you through a busy day.
Harlan + Holden Glasshouse is at Rockwell Center, Hidalgo Drive, Makati City.
Even if you have the most exacting mother in the world (meant affectionately, of course), you can never go wrong with classic Italian food, especially when done the old-fashioned way just the way they do it at Francesco's Kitchen. Located in a suburban two-story home in a quiet part of San Juan City, Francesco's Kitchen has a homey vibe that makes it a hit for family dinners. Most of Chef Francesco Rizzo's recipes are from his mother, like the Le Polpette Di Mamma, tender beef meatballs that are seasoned just right with ground herbs and spices balanced out by the fruity acidity of chunky tomato sauce. All the pizzas are worth trying, too, especially the Parma with a salty prosciutto di Parma, peppery arugula, and rich olive oil all in perfect harmony on top of a brick oven-baked crust thatâs just the right thickness and chewiness.
Francesco's Kitchen is at 863 A. Mabini Street, Addition Hills, San Juan City.
On the top floor of Bench's massive three-story flagship store at BGC is Bench Cafe. Chic pastel interiors, bright geometric patterns, and hip illustrations will make you and your mom feel extra glam on your date, but the place still has that cozy vibe that'll make you feel at home. The menu at Bench Cafe is Filipino but with creative touches that make them unlike any you've had before. For example, binagoongan takes new life as Binagoongan Caesar With Dilis, which is also a bold twist on the Caesar salad. Dilis replaces the usual crunchy bacon, and a bold bagoong-and-queso-de-bola dressing gives this salad extra oomph. If Mom's been bitten by the health bug, the meatless Malunggay Pasta is a must-try. Though this uses malunggay for pesto, that distinct nuttiness is still present, with kesong puti chunks for extra creaminess and tomato slices cooked adobo-style that add a lip-smacking sour-salty flavor to each forkful.
Bench Cafe is at 2/F Bench Flagship Store, 9th Avenue corner Lane O, Bonifacio Global City.
You might not be able to take your mom to a chic cafe in Paris yet, but, with its elegant black-red-and-white motif and brass fixtures, La Mere Poulard channels the same ambience. This is the place to treat Mom when you want to splurge on your next breakfast date. La Mere Poulard's specialty are fluffy omelettes, though fluffy almost seems like an understatement with how light and airy these buttery delights are. For a super power breakfast, have the Bacon and Potato Omelette, served with a generous heap of marble potatoes and thick bacon bits that are on the soft and juicy side.
La Mere Poulard is at G/F SM Aura Premier, Bonifacio Global City.
Just from the name, you know this is the place to treat the entire family, which is a plus for Mom. The vibe is like your favorite tita's family home where the whole clan gets together to enjoy good food, and the servings are generous enough to do just that. Bulalo may be a staple in the family home but you've surely never had it like the Sizzling Bulalo Steak & U.S. Beef Belly With Gravy that's just indulgently, almost guiltily good. On most days, you'd be okay with this and rice, but since this is Treat The Best Woman In Your Life Day, be sure to throw in the Cheesy Garlic Butter Scallops and you'll probably be the favorite child for days to come.
Friends & Family is at Bonifacio High Street Central, Bonifacio Global City.
A garden-themed cafe literally blooming with fresh flowers, plus all-day breakfast on their menu—taking Mom on a brunch date to Flossom Kitchen + Cafe is a no-brainer. Go all out with the Ultimate English Breakfast, piled high with all the goodies, from fluffy pancakes and sunny-side-up eggs, to ham and crispy bacon and fresh flower petals, too, for a fresh touch of color. The Ube Champorado is a strong contender for the title of Your New Breakfast Favorite, though. This champorado has a distinct nuttiness from ube, which is balanced out by a generous topping of dilis and yema sauce, for a delightful sweet-salty combo.
Flossom Kitchen + Cafe is at G/F Flossom Place, N. Averilla Street, San Juan City.