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Readers' Choice for Best Outdoor Patio: Sugar Daddy's
If the view doesn't bring your client to quivers, we guarantee the cuisine will. Executive chef Charles Wiley has earned international acclaim for his skills, focusing on farm-fresh American with Asian accents. Spinach and goat cheese casserole will have your client so distracted you can propose the most outrageous idea and it'll be a winner. Roasted duck breast with garlic polenta, wilted spinach and orange tamarind glaze? That client will be in such a swoon, he'll sign any contract you propose. As the saying goes, the best way to win someone over is through his or her stomach. Here, the philosophy is elemental to success.
Food doesn't get any more exciting than at Manila Cafe. It's Filipino, a dramatic blend of Malay, Chinese and Spanish, with hints of Indian, Mexican, Arab and American influences. For real adventure, we often leave the ordering up to the friendly family that owns the place. Just bring us what's best today.
This means we sit at our table in the tiny store for hours on end, nibbling at plates of things that we can't pronounce but that are mesmerizing with multilayered flavors of vinegar, black pepper, garlic, anchovy and ginger. Perhaps we'll sample bulalo (beef kneecap with vegetables), binagoongang baboy (sautéed pork with fish sauce, tomatoes, onion and garlic) and pritong bangus (fried milkfish). If we're a bit frightened of an unfamiliar fare, we're offered freebie taste spoons of dishes like afritadang manok (juicy sautéed chicken with tomatoes, onion and bell pepper), or dinuguan (a surprisingly tasty dish of pork with pork blood sauce, pork ear, vinegar, black pepper and jalapeño over white rice). We'd never have imagined the charms of pinakbet otherwise, bringing a wicked stew of string beans, tart bittermelon, okra, meaty eggplant and chunks of skin-on pork boiled in anchovy sauce.
There's no doubt our madcap side is well-fed here, with far-out but fantastic assemblies like pochero, a plate of pork, beef or chicken sautéed in tomato sauce alongside Spanish sausage, bananas, potatoes and cabbage. Wild thing -- Manila Cafe, that is -- we think we love you.
Readers' Choice: Durant's