Green Bar

Can the terms “vegan” and “comfort food” belong in the same sentence? The answer is a resounding YES if one is dining at Green Bar. This chic spot located at West of Ayala in Legaspi Village serves up a variety of light meal items as well as more substantial all-day breakfast and bowl sets, all with a uniquely healthy twist.

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We arrived here on an odd Saturday evening when we needed both comfort food as well as study fuel in preparation for a long night of reviewing for exams. Thankfully Green Bar had just what we wanted. We ordered the Queso Pop, which is Green Bar’s vegan take on the quesadilla, as well as the Texas BBQ bowl for a more substantial entree. Lee was in an adventurous mood, hence he ‘built’ his own bowl with a variety of greens, vegetables, and non-meat protein choices. We chose to wash this all down with two glasses of light and refreshing lemongrass pandan juice, ideal for cleansing the palate!

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The Queso Pop turned out not only to be larger than we expected, but also much heartier thanks to its being filled with a mix of three vegan cheeses: Chipotle Cheddar, cream cheese, and mozzarella. Each bite was molten comfort, with a slight spicy kick from the Chipotle Cheddar. This starter came with a small saucer of salsa fresca, which was a great tangy complement to the richness of the quesadilla.

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The Texas BBQ bowl was touted as being the perfect comfort bowl—and indeed it lived up to its reputation. There were some familiar favorites such as smashed potatoes, coleslaw, and chipotle dressing, as well as pleasant surprises such as “bacun”, a healthy yet flavorful coconut based alternative to bacon. The meal in itself was very filling yet not overly savoury, with the flavors of each ingredient nicely balancing out each other. We’d definitely recommend this not only for comfort food but even for carbo-loading purposes!

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As for the build your own bowl, the mixed greens and veggie spirals were fresh and crisp not just in appearance, but also with in terms of taste. The bbq tofu added some much needed bite with its sweet and peppery notes. The “bacun”, while not as smoky in flavors as its porky cousin, still offered a nice crunch. With the garlicky red rice, with a splash of balsamic vinaigrette bringing all these individual elements together, it became a guiltless treat in itself.

 

Green Bar also has its own daily specials as well as a small lineup of desserts and pastries to round off a meal. Also highly recommended are its breakfast selections and ‘handhelds’, which are healthy take-offs on sandwiches and burritos. We will certainly keep this place on the radar for future visits and study sessions!

 

Food score: 5/5. This place has fairly large portions that do not skimp in terms of flavor or freshness. Green Bar also has some of the best meat substitutes we’ve encountered so far in our food trips.

 

Ambiance/Service Score: 5/5: One perk of this place is its calm and cozy interior, reminding one more of a sedate lounge than a city cafe, making this spot excellent for meetings or quiet casual dining. The service is prompt and friendly, making dining here even more pleasant.

 

GERD Score: 4.5/5: Green Bar’s selections allow people with heartburn to immerse themselves with a meal but without the worry of having the acid act up badly. Depending on your appetite and serving size considerations, a bowl is good either for one or two people as well.

 

Epilepsy Score: 4.5/5: Fresh ingredients make this place a great stop for diners with restrictions on preservatives. Gluten free selections also are available here.  However one may want to go for less heavily seasoned choices or simpler dressings just to err on the safe side with allergies and sensitivities.

Team Glasses Score: 4.5/5: For a quiet dinner out, or pregaming before a long evening, this place fits the bill. We hope to be able to try the other recommendations such as the breakfast dishes soon!

Green Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Pappadom-Masala

Swagat Indian Cuisine

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For a change of scenery from our usual haunts, we decided to explore the other side of Ayala Avenue into Legaspi Village for some Indian Cuisine here at Swagat.

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After entering the quaint restaurant, the strong hint of spices permeated through the entire place, a sign of an actual Indian eatery. The pink walls and random portraits added to the simplicity of the facade, and a casual place to dine.

Our dinner started with an appetizer of pappadom masala (a crisp deep fried lentil wafer with spices, onions, and tomatoes on top) each. Kat got some paneer korma (homemade cheese cooked with onions, tomatoes, and spices) and roti, with masala lassi (yogurt drink with masala) to wash it down. On the other hand, I ordered some sangam biryani (lean and tender pieces of chicken and lamb cooked with fresh herbs, spices, and Indian rice and in cream mughalai sauce), along with rose lassi (yogurt drink with rose petals).

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Pappadom Masala

The pappadom masala was a welcome start to our meal and got our palates going. The pappadom was full of flavor and the crispy texture blended well with the fresh tomatoes and onions on top.

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Sangam Biryani

The sangam biryani reminded me of a smaller portion of the ones I ate on a daily basis during my stint in Qatar, with the various South Asian eateries around the country. Choosing the mildest spice levels they had, I would say that it was just a touch above the right amount of heat for an ordinary Filipino tastes. The chunks of chicken and lamb absorbed the spices exceptionally well too. Washing it all down with the inherent sweetness of rose lassi became a nostalgic journey back to two years ago, during my stay in the Middle East.

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Paneer Korma

The paneer korma was the sort of dish that needs to be shared with friends, all equipped with plenty of bread. The spices give a subtle kick to the milder cheese and tomato flavors, which can also be enjoyed alongside other dishes. The masala lassi was more of an acquired taste, with the strong spices competing with the natural sourness of the yogurt in the drink.

Great things are coming up for Swagat, which  will be moving to their new location at The Columns Legaspi Village at Amorsolo St. cor. Arnaiz Ave. Makati City this December. It should be worth a check at their new home.

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Food Score: 4/5. Food wise, Swagat hits right on the mark with Indian home cooking flavors. At the same time, each dish is done well to complement each other.

Ambiance / Service Score: 3.5/5. The service was attentive enough for taking care of our needs. Unfortunately, the place doesn’t look cozy for anyone wanting to have a pleasant dinner.

GERD Score: 3.5/5. While there are plenty of options here at Swagat, it’s not a guarantee the spices don’t include the usual triggers such as chili powder. One saving grace is the fact that there are plenty of lassi and yogurt choices to help counteract the heat and the aftereffects of the heartburn.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. While there are plenty of food selections to suit all kinds of diets and restrictions, the heavily spiced dishes may not agree with some diners. We recommend in particular the non-alcoholic drinks section for a safe night out.

Team Glasses Score: 3.5/5. Swagat Indian Cuisine, simply put, is a quaint place for the curious to have a taste of home-cooked Indian food. And with their new spot in Arnaiz Avenue, it should still be worth a look at, if you’re just going out with friends and not too conscious about any health conditions.

Swagat Indian Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Advocafe

Our hot drinks and hearty meals do far more than just quench our appetites. What we pay for our food, more often than not, goes to fund an enterprise that we may not consciously think about when we are gathered for some grub. At Advocafe, one can see where the profits go—and the impact that a meal can have on the life of a community.

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We heard of Advocafe several years ago, from a student studying in the Ermita area of Manila. This was touted not only as a place with reasonably priced dishes, but also as an advocacy for the Philippines’ indigenous groups. At present there are around 110 indigenous ethnolinguistic groups in the Philippines, comprised of 14-17 million persons. Many of their communities have difficulties with accessing basic services and utilities as well as preserving their local culture and traditions. There are several groups involved in the advocacies for indigenous groups, some of which have partnered with Advocafe to provide a venue for marketing indigenous coffee and other products.

It took us some time to find Advocafe owing to its being a relatively small location in a neighborhood of large businesses. Its relaxed and warm interior was the perfect place for us to stop for a leisurely brunch. We ordered the Biya (dried fish) all day breakfast meal, Pesto Pasta, and a cup of Hot Chocolate as well as a cup of Dilaw (Turmeric) herbal tea.

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The crispy Biya came with a cup of upland rice, with its signature reddish-purple grains. We realized that the perfect combination would be this Biya meal with the sweetish hot chocolate, the latter being perfect for pouring over the rice. The fish itself was not greasy or overly salty, giving some mild sharpness to the meal.

The Pesto Pasta was at least well cooked, with the pesto itself having a mild flavor. The Dilaw Tea was rather strong for our tastes, and we figured would be better for pairing with rice cakes.

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To cap off our brunch, we got a slice of Advocafe’s signature moist chocolate cake. To our delight this treat was not sickly sweet, but provided just a mild hint of dark chocolate. We recommend this for diners who may not be so accustomed to rough tablea flavors, but still want a taste of local dark chocolate.

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All net profits from Advocafe  go to educational programs for various indigenous groups in different parts of the country. These educational endeavors include livelihood training as well as adapting to climate change. Other local products such as tablea blocks and herbal teas are also available here on a retail basis. This is truly one place to dine for a cause.

Food Score: 3.5/5: While we certainly enjoyed the all day breakfast, we feel that their pasta could be improved in flavor and presentation. The portion sizes are reasonable for student and backpacker budgets.

Ambiance/Service Score: 4/5: The service here was fast, even at an early hour. The ambiance of this place is very inviting with its comfortable seating and warm colors. The photograph displays also help provide a bird’s eye view as to what Advocafe is all about.

GERD Score: 3.5/5 For anyone dealing with heartburn, there are some options one can select such as the cakes and tea, along with a meal or two. One could say that Advocafe is a good spot for an quiet afternoon snack.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5: Some of the breakfast selections involve processed meats such as hotdogs, which may not be tolerated by some diners. However the herbal teas and non-coffee selections make this place very worth the visit.
Team Glasses Score: 4/5 : Advocafe is a place with a heart: simple and reasonably priced food, with a mission to help others. We definitely recommend a visit to this place not only for the meals, but to also learn how you can help our countrymen from these indigenous groups.

Advocafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Le Petit Souffle

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French and Japanese fusion has been something not unheard of. What comes to mind for me when this type of fusion is mentioned are the ending scenes of the Japanese movie “Tampopo”, replete with mouthwatering ramen. But as Kat has pointed out on more than one occasions, Le Petit Souffle takes fusion to another level. And on another level it sure was.

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Furikake Pomme Frites

For our date and de-stressing session, we started out with an appetizer, which was the Furikake Pomme Frites. When it arrived, the imagery of a pile of shoestring potatoes was a long step up from that of canned shoestring snacks. The texture was crunchy yet light on the taste buds. We managed to catch the natural flavor of the potatoes as well as the combination of nori, sesame seeds, and other seasonings they’ve mixed in, without the typical oiliness one usually expects from fried appetizer.

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Carbonara Souffle

 

 

 

For our main course, Kat picked the Carbonara Souffle. And it was a treat to be had aesthetically with the egg on top like a cloud ready to be mixed in with the firm pasta, crisp bacon, and grated parmesan. And once mixed together, it transcended all our expectations because the creaminess of the carbonara sauce wasn’t overpowering. The pasta created a platform for each ingredient to shine through.

 

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Japanese Beef Curry Souffle

I, on the other hand, took on the Japanese Beef Curry Souffle. I honestly did not expect myself facing a meal that’s good for two people. At the same time, it was just as inviting to the eyes as to the tastebuds. The fluffy texture of the scrambled egg complemented well the rice and curry underneath it. The beef was thinly cut into strips that absorbed the flavor of the curry, though I felt that the texture would have been better with the meat cut into cubes.

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Valrhona Guanaja Chocolate Souffle

As we were in dire need of stress relief after the rigors of graduate school, we immediately picked to our old stress relief motto of ‘Get chocolate when stressed’.  The one thing that would fit the bill was the luscious Valrhona Guanaja Chocolate Souffle. The dark chocolate caressed our taste buds, while the souffle itself achieved a balance of moist and firm  textures in the same bite. It was the ideal decadent ending to our meal.

After our meal, we took time to glance around the place, which evoked the feel of being in an Parisian garden cafe., with a touch of adorably barmy courtesy the rolling pins hanging out among the leaves and branches. This odd and welcoming charm cinched the deal for us.

Simply put, this was a dinner date to remember.

 

Food Score:5/5. Each item of the menu here is well thought of and combines well with each other. But we personally like the Carbonara Souffle because it is a class of its own, and the Valrhona Guanaja Chocolate Souffle is sublime.

Ambiance / Service Score: 5/5. The entire restaurant gives of the vibe of being in a chic Parisian garden, which makes it a calming and comforting place to dine in. Their servers are also on top of our dining experience, informing us when the souffles will be ready and even assisted us to have the chocolate souffle come out 25 minutes after our main meals come in.

GERD Score: 3.5/5. My only problem with the menu is that since it is French-inspired is that there are plenty of dairy and eggs, which doesn’t help my heartburn. But thankfully they have plenty of options in their menu that can cater to most diets.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. Hooray for well sourced ingredients, and rich dishes that do not rely on preservatives. Although coffee is a must-have at Le Petit Souffle, the teas and juices are also very much recommended.

Team Glasses Score: 4/5. All things considered, it was an amazing experience dining in Le Petit Souffle’s way of doing Japanese-French fusion cuisine. And we recommend that it should be experienced at least once by any casual gourmet here in the Metro.

 Le Petit Souffle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Recovery Food

The search for a cure to hangovers may be almost as old as the existence of breweries and alcohol consumption. Old wives’ tales and urban legends list a whole plethora of remedies ranging from peppercorns up one’s nose (not recommended!) all the way to consumption of copious amounts of coffee. More sound cures include rehydrating as well as getting a good breakfast, two things that all-day restaurants such as Recovery Food are more than ready to provide.

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We visited Recovery Food’s branch in the BGC Stopover, and found it to be quite full even as early as 8 in the morning. The no-frills menu here featured a complete lineup of dishes from starters, rice bowls, all the way up to dessert. For our breakfast here, we picked the Amadobo rice bowl: traditional pork adobo and rice, topped with a scrambled egg. We also indulged with a bowl of Hey Jude’s Paksig: bangus belly with rice. For this venture we chose to upgrade the rice in this dish to ‘talangka rice’, or rice cooked in crab paste. We also ordered the Oriental Salad, which was comprised of greens mixed with a combination of fruits such as green mango and pineapple, with a choice of either peanut dressing or citrus vinaigrette.

22714A46-4C95-4BF8-ACD2-309F651F5130The Amadobo had just the right blend of salty-sourness that one would expect from an excellent adobo recipe, with an added kick from a crunchy garlic topping. The fluffy scrambled egg provided a good contrast to the stronger flavors of the pork and the sauce soaked in the rice. In practice it was not much different from home-cooked adobo, but it was an adobo done very well.

BF78B539-026E-477F-AC7F-62D37BA6C915The Hey Jude’s Paksig is a treat with the subtle flavors of the talangka rice and the sweet and fresh bangus blending together. Along with the well-cooked sunny side up egg mixed in, it’s a succulent experience mixing in all three.

0BC91025-6CBF-4AB2-94D4-57DB7BE4D7B9We made a good choice with having citrus vinaigrette with our Oriental Salad, since this dressing provided a light tanginess that complemented the sweetish flavors of the fruits and greens. This refreshing starter was a surprisingly good partner to our more savory entrees, thus rounding out our breakfast in a way we never had before.

 

Although Recovery Food caters to those who need a hefty meal to end a late night, we would recommend this place too for those who want a filling start to their day, or just plain good food to suit all hours.
The Food Score:  4/5: Recovery Food serves up its meals in two sizes: regular and Full Recovery. We tried the Full Recovery size, and found it good for two, or for one very, very hungry person. The menu here also features soups such as pho and mami, Filipino desserts, and a wide selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, making this place perfect for dining at all hours.

Ambiance/Service Score: 4/5: Despite its simple, no-frills ambiance, this restaurant was still comfortable and well-lit. The service at this branch was prompt and courteous, adding to the dining experience.   

GERD Score: 3.5/5: While there are options for different people, Recovery Food doesn’t offer much for anyone with heartburn. And if one makes the mistake of ordering the full recovery size alone, best to have half for take out.

Epilepsy Score:  3.5/5: Some of the dishes here are prepared from canned and preserved meats, thus making them less of an option for some diners. Nevertheless there are other fresh dishes (apart from the salad) that are worth considering even for those with concerns about medication interactions or high preservative intake.   

Team Glasses Score: 4/5: Recovery Food is certainly an option not only for late nights but also for early mornings and even casual lunches and dinners out. Although this is not exactly a place for fine dining, it is one for good old comfort food to suit most everyday ventures.

Recovery Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wild Ginger

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During one of our recent dinner trips, we initially thought about having big and juicy burgers. After a bit of consideration we opted to dine at Wild Ginger, a place that offers something closer to our tastebuds, which is Southeast Asian and South Asian cuisine.

Upon stepping inside, we found that the restaurant has a homey dining room feel to it. With subtle walls, various paintings, comfortable atmosphere and knick knacks adorning the interior, Wild Ginger is perfect for dining in with company or not, particularly for quiet and casual dates.

Their menu encompasses a selection of Southeast Asian entrees such as curries and rice toppings, as well as street food favorites such as Banh Mi, and Adobo Flakes Sandwich. We decided to try out two full on meals, namely the Vegetable Biryani and Indian Butter Chicken.

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Vegetable Biryani

The Vegetable Biryani was superb, with the balance of flavors and textures all encompassed within this one dish of biryani rice with a mix of carrots, peas, potatoes, lentils and other veggies. The crunch from the roasted garlic and peanuts blended in perfectly with the parsley and melded together with the biryani.

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Indian Butter Chicken

In the case of the Indian Butter Chicken, the heat from the spices of the curry was subtly cooled down by the butter without making it seem too creamy for its own good. The chunks of chicken were perfectly seasoned from within, which was enhanced by the curry. The papadom that accompanied it was just the right amount of crisp and ability to hold the curry itself. The only gripe we had was that there was not enough papadom to do justice to the sauce. We actually ordered an extra cup of rice when there was still some curry left.

During our meal here, we also found out that Wild Ginger is involved with Action Against Hunger, a global humanitarian organization that’s committed to ending world hunger. And their restaurant is listed as a Restaurant Against Hunger, wherein proceeds from certain dishes are donated to food aid and assistance efforts especially for refugees. Not only is this restaurant a treat for the tastebuds and the stomach, but it is also doing its part to feed the world.

Food Score: 5/5. Simply put, the food at Wild Ginger is sublime. Each dish is well executed and thought out from the textures to the flavors. This is a good pick for diners still needing initiation into the nuances of Southeast Asian cuisines, as well as culinary diehards.

Ambiance / Service Score: 4.5/5. The place gives a calming home vibe to it, which lends itself to a quaint dining experience. And their servers are attentive to our needs throughout our meal here.

GERD Score: 4/5. The good thing about Wild Ginger is their selection that leaves a lot of options for people who have various triggers on their heartburn.

Epilepsy Score: 4/5. Hooray for freshly cooked home-style meals with quality ingredients! The food here utilizes all natural flavorings without resorting to powdered or artificial seasonings. The non-alcoholic drinks selection is also a boon.

Team Glasses Score: 4/5. Considering all factors, Wild Ginger is lovely restaurant to go be it for lunch or dinner, even with people with existing health concerns to consider.

Wild Ginger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ziggurat: Going All the Way With Mezze

Appetizers are an important part of a sit-down meal as well as food trips and bar crawls. During a recent night out in the Poblacion area, my companions and I decided to whet our appetites further with a stop at Ziggurat, a cozy casual dining establishment on the corner of Durban Street and Makati Avenue.

 

During previous visits to Ziggurat, we have always been charmed by its Persian inspired ambience, complete with luxurious low seating arrangements and silver accent pieces. This restaurant’s extensive menu has always been a challenge for us to navigate, owing to the sheer variety of Middle Eastern, Indian, Mediterranean, and African dishes available to adventurous diners. On this particular jaunt we decided to eschew heavier dishes such as curries and kebabs in favor of lighter dishes dubbed as mezzes, a term which originates from the Persian word for ‘taste’ or ‘snack’.

 

Ziggurat offers its signature mezzes ala carte, or in various mezze combos and platters good for three to five persons. We decided to try a large mezze sampler known as Mezze Forte, a tower of eight different appetizers served with toasted khobiz, a bread that is a little thicker than the usual pita breads utilized for dips.

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Our eight mezzes for the evening were as follows:

-Muttabal: chopped grilled eggplant with tahini

-Muhammara: roasted capsicum and walnut puree

-Qeema: ground beef with eggplants

-Jazar: spiced carrot puree with tahini

-Hummus: garbanzos with tahini

-Taramasalata: a Greek recipe for smoked cod’s roe

-Dukkah: a traditional Egyptian nut dip

-Mahroussa: fava beans with tahini

 

This combination of sweet and savoury mezzes necessitated our ordering extra khobiz for us to fully appreciate and polish off the entire order. In particular, the spicy mezzes such as Muhammara were a delight to the palate. Some like the Dukkah were a little difficult to eat owing to the crumbly textures, but were otherwise excellent in terms of flavor. My personal favorite had to be the Qeema, as its richness would make the perfect prelude to a hearty meal.

 

Other mezze combinations such as Mezze Vege (an all vegetable combo) and The Great Pyramid of Mezze are available for larger groups or diners with particular tastes. It may take a good number of visits to fully appreciate Ziggurat’s menu, but these appetizers are a good way to begin a round the world food trip, or a night out.

 

The Food Score:  4/5: The food at Ziggurat, in particular the appetizers, will suit both finicky diners as well as newbies to less known cuisines. While some menu items may not be available on some evenings, there are more than enough dishes to compensate for any gaps.   

Ambiance/Service Score: 4.5/5: The staff here are friendly and are quick to inform diners if there are unavailable foods in the menu. They are also more than happy to help patrons navigate the assortment of appetizers, as well as give recommendations.  The ambience is comfortable, casual, and yet gives one the feel of having stepped out of Makati and into another country.

GERD Score: 4/5: The wonderful thing about Middle eastern cuisine is that, even without chili, you get the heat spikes without ruining your stomach. Of course it depends on one’s tastes and heartburn triggers, but overall, Ziggurat is definitely be a good place to just kick back and dine.

Epilepsy Score:  4/5: While some of the more heavily flavoured items may be problematic for sensitive diners, there are still enough dishes to cater to different tastes and conditions. There are also non caffeinated and non alcoholic drinks available at the bar.

Team Glasses Score: 4/5 : While we acknowledge that mezze or other items on Ziggurat’s menu may not be to everyone’s tastes, we still suggest including this restaurant either as the main star of a casual night out, or as a stop in your Poblacion food crawl.

Ziggurat Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato