The eateries below are exceptions, though. Conceptualized by up-and-coming entrepreneurs, these cafés and restaurants in Manila are guaranteed to perk up foodies and novelty seekers alike. If you're in the mood for a different kind of coffee shop/dining experience, try these on for size.
Address: 57 Dragon St., Midtown Subdivision, San Roque, Marikina City
Opening Hours: 11:00 A.M – 2:00 P.M., 5:00 P.M. – 10:00 P.M. (Monday – Friday), 11:00 A.M. – 10:00 P.M. (Saturday – Sunday)
Enter this prison-themed café if you dare. At Caffe Piansa, you can feel what it's like to dine in prison — minus the dread that comes with being an actual prisoner. You can enjoy thankfully-not-tasteless "prison" food, have a mugshot taken in front of the walls, and eat your meals behind bars.
Cat Café Manila
Address: 2/F 189 Maginhawa, Diliman, Quezon City
Opening Hours: 12:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. (Monday – Thursday), 12:00 P.M. – 10:00 P.M. (Friday – Sunday)
Yes, you read that right: Manila has caught on to Japan's cat café craze. Partnering with CARA Welfare Philippines (Compassion and Responsibility for Animals), Cat Café Manila provides a home for cats who would've otherwise been thrown into the streets. They have several house rules to ensure the safety of humans and felines alike, so read up on those before you visit.
Chili & Ink
Address: 51B Magiting St., Teacher Village – East, Quezon City
Opening Hours: 12:00 P.M. – 10:00 P.M. (Monday – Saturday)
Want to spice up your food and your skin? At Chili & Ink, you can munch on spicy food, and have a tat job done at a nearby shop. Despite the impression Chili & Ink may have given you, Chili & Ink has a surprisingly laidback atmosphere. Then again, maybe it's not so surprising that people who like tattoos and spicy food have a chill — or should we say "chili?" — mindset.
Address: 7B Maginhawa St., Sikatuna Village, Quezon City
Opening Hours: 11:00 A.M. – 11:00 P.M. (Tuesday – Sunday)
Named after the quintessential Filipino mode of transport, Gerry's Jeepney puts its own spin on the traditional street food stall. It serves Filipino favorites like lechon kawali, sisig and binagoongan, and allows customers to sit and dine inside actual jeepneys. Be sure to wrap up your meals ASAP though, lest the jeepneys drive off while you're eating!
The Nook Café
Address: 164 Maginhawa St., Sikatuna Village, Quezon City
Opening Hours: 1:00 P.M. – 10:00 P.M. (Monday – Friday), 12:00 P.M. – 10:00 P.M. (Saturday – Sunday)
If Filipino Potterheads can ride brooms, they'd definitely want to fly to this café every day. Inspired by the bestselling fantasy series about a boy wizard, The Nook Café screams "Harry Potter" from every nook and cranny. You can chug down actual glasses of Butterbeer, dress up like your favorite character, and wave a magic wand. Accio happiness, everyone!
Uke Box Caffe
Address: Unit 12, 187 Village Center, Bagumbayan, Libis, Quezon City
Opening Hours: 9:00 A.M. – 10:00 P.M. (Monday – Saturday), 12:00 P.M. – 9:00 P.M. (Sunday)
Ukulele fans will feel right at home here. Not only can you admire the dozes of ukuleles hanging on the walls, but you can also sign up for a workshop that'll teach you to play the instrument. Plus, the café serves selfie coffee, which allows you to print your photo on the coffee foam. Too bad you'll have to drink it up afterwards!
Van Gogh is Bipolar
Address: 154 Maginhawa St., Sikatuna Village, Quezon City
Opening Hours: 12:00 P.M. – 3:00 P.M., 6:00 P.M. – 11:00 P.M. (Monday, Wednesday – Sunday)
You don't need to be manic-depressive to appreciate this restaurant. Owned by an actual bipolar sufferer, Van Gogh is Bipolar immerses visitors into the mind of a person with BPAD. You're required to leave your shoes at the door, write your order down and submit it to the kitchen, and deliver your used dishes to the kitchen afterwards. Their food is also designed to lift your mood, with ingredients like serotonin-filled cabbage and grass-fed animals for a pick-me-up.
Venture Capital (VC) Café
Address: G/F Don Chua Lamko Bldg, L.P. Leviste cor. Dela Costa St., Salcedo Village, Makati City
Although cafés have always been a favorite venue for brainstorming sessions, VC Café is the first in Manila to cater specifically to IT startup founders. Aside from serving Italian, American and Chinese cuisine, VC Café's owners also offer advice to budding entrepreneurs who want to get their businesses up and running. Health buffs can likewise enjoy their soya milk, yogurt, tea and fruit juices.
These are only a handful of the quirkiest restaurants in the Metro. Do you know other places that go above and beyond expectations when it comes to restaurants/cafés? If so, let us know in the comments!