FOOD AND SHOPPING ARE MORE FUN AT MANILA’S NIGHT AND WEEKEND MARKETS!
Manila’s various night and weekend markets are some of the top food and shopping destinations in the metropolis today. Customers from all over flock to these markets to avail of the range of products they sell, which include precooked food sold by both established restaurateurs and home chefs; fresh and organic vegetables, meat and seafood; and a wide variety of other items. The sheer range of offerings at these markets – as well as the sense of community they boast – truly makes them worth a visit.
Unlike many other markets, such as Farmers Market in Cubao, these markets only open for business during weekends and during specific times – some, like the Salcedo and Legaspi markets, are only open from early in the morning until after lunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
Good eats abound
The variety of precooked food sold at these markets is impressive. Different Philippine provinces as well as other countries and regions such as France, Thailand, Indonesia and the Middle East are ably represented. As a matter of fact, it may take quite a while to select from the wide range of food on offer, especially if one walks in without any particular dish or stall in mind. The establishments present run the gamut from those that have been Manila standards for years to less-known stalls, some run by up-and-coming home chefs and bakers, many of whose offerings still manage to impress.
The ambience can vary, generally is less “formal” than in a restaurant. Most of these markets offer al fresco dining in the general vicinity of the food stalls, while others such as Mercato maintain separate air-conditioned tents specifically for diners, as well as other amenities such as live entertainment and even free Wi-Fi.
Shopping options vary
Some markets offer more shopping options than others. The SIDCOR Sunday Market at the Eton Centris parking lot (EDSA corner Quezon Avenue in Cubao) is one of the largest of the markets, and consequently offers one of the widest ranges of choices for shoppers. Aside from ready-to-eat food, SIDCOR also offers meat, seafood and poultry, vegetables and fruits, dry goods, garden supplies and even pets. Many of these markets offer a range of special products that one would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. The products for sale may differ according to day and time; from 10pm to 3am every Friday and Saturday, for instance, Mercato serves mostly ready-to-eat food, whereas a wider variety of meat, vegetables and other organic products can be purchased at Mercato from 7am to 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
A sense of community
The informality of the setup, plus the fact that many of the owners and chefs personally staff the stalls themselves and are often eager to talk about their wares, helps engender a sense of community that can elude other markets. It’s not uncommon to see people chatting as they go along or even sitting down for a cup of coffee or tea to take a break from their shopping.
SOME OF THE TOP MARKETS IN MANILA
SIDCOR Sunday Market.
The venerable SIDCOR Sunday Market was one of the first weekend markets, opening its doors in 2000 at the Madrigal Compound in Cubao. In 2004, it transferred to the Lung Center near the Quezon Memorial Circle, and in 2010 it moved to the Eton Centris parking lot at the corner of EDSA and Quezon Avenue, where it now welcomes customers from 6am to 2pm every Sunday. As mentioned, the SIDCOR Sunday Market offers one of the widest product ranges of any weekend market, from cooked food to fresh meat, fish and chicken, fresh fruits and vegetables, pets, dry goods and so on – many of it at bargain prices.
Salcedo Saturday Market.
Located at the Jaime Velasquez Park in Salcedo Village (between Leviste and Tordesillas Streets), the Salcedo Saturday Market is a nonprofit organization run by the Women of Bel Air Foundation, Inc. It started operations in May 2004 as a way to bring the residents of the community together. The products on sale at the Salcedo Saturday Market are somewhat pricier than at the SIDCOR Sunday Market, but are known for their standout flavor; some standouts include La Cuisine Francaise for French food, the wagyu burgers and shawarma, and the baklava, the famous Mediterranean sweet pastry filled with walnuts, pistachios and honey. The Salcedo Saturday Market operates from 7am to 2pm every Saturday save for Black Saturday, and from 7am to 3pm during all Saturdays of December.
Legaspi Sunday Market.
The Legaspi Sunday Market is located at the corner of Rufino and Legaspi Streets in Legaspi Village. It is seen as a complement to the Salcedo Saturday Market. The offerings are similar; some of the concessionaires of the Salcedo Saturday Market are also present at the Legaspi Sunday Market. While the Market itself was intended to serve the residents of Legaspi and Ecology Village, as well as Barangay San Lorenzo itself, as with the Salcedo Saturday Market, its clientele comes from all over Manila. The Legaspi Sunday Market is open from 730am to 2pm every Sunday.
Inspired by the outdoor markets of London’s famed Boroughs Market, Mercato Centrale offers a selection of ready-to-eat food finds that can’t be found anywhere else, as well as organic fruits, vegetables and livestock. Mercato Centrale prides itself on its cleanliness and the high level of comfort and convenience it offers its clientele. Located at the corner of 8th Avenue and 34th Street in Bonifacio Global City, Mercato Centrale is open from 7am to 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
As the name suggests, Midnight Mercato is organized by the very same people behind Mercato Centrale located at the same place. Unlike Mercato Centrale, however, Midnight Mercato emulates the hawker centers and night markets of countries such as Singapore and Thailand, offering a wide range of gourmet dishes, home-cooked meals and classic street food on Fridays and Saturdays from 10pm to 3am.
Banchetto’s organizers describe it as “the first overnight street food fiesta held weekly right in the middle of the street”. Initially Banchetto’s target market were the call center and BPO staff in the Emerald Avenue area in Ortigas; however, Banchetto now operates in three venues: the delivery-bay area of Robinson’s Pioneer in Mandaluyong City (Banchetto Forum), which is open Wednesday and Thursday nights from 830pm to 6am the next morning; the open parking area of Shopwise Libis, Quezon City (Banchetto Libis), operating every Tuesday night from 6pm to 4am Wednesday morning; and at the Meralco Avenue Megatent along Meralco Avenue (Banchetto Megatent), open 8pm Fridays to 7am Saturdays.
Soderno was set up by the same people who put up Mercato Centrale and Midnight Mercato. Located at the Molito Lifestyle Center right in front of Alabang Town Center at the corner of Alabang Zapote Road and Madrigal Avenue, Soderno maintains a lifestyle market that offers arts and crafts, food and fashion on Saturdays from 7am to 4pm; Soderno Nights, a vibrant food market from 6pm to 3am on Fridays and Saturdays; and an organic market that sells food, eco-friendly products and natural and organic produce on Sundays from 7am to 4pm.
Last but not the least, Distrito, another initiative by the people behind Soderno and Mercato, represents a new wrinkle in Manila food markets: one involving food trucks. Distrito was a mobile food, fashion, and beauty and wellness-product truck market that operated from 9pm to 3am at the Amorsolo parking lot beside the Makati Medical Center near the corner of Ayala and Buendia. It ceased operations on December 30, 2011. but, Distrito’s organizers say to expect further announcements regarding its reopening.