|Shopping and Dining|
Quezon City can be called the shopping paradise of the country, where shopping complexes sit center stage in practically every dense community cluster. A typical mall would have cinemas, supermarkets, department stores, hardware centers, boutiques and other specialty stores, game arcades, spas, beauty salons and nail stations; some have places of worship and are extensions of medical centers.
The expansive SM City at North Avenue corner EDSA has more than 1,100 shops, including 400 dining establishments. The mall attracts a daily foot traffic of over 500,000 people during weekends and more than 300,000 visitors on weekdays. SM City is the largest mall in the Philippines, and claims to be the world’s third biggest in terms of leasable area (460,000 square meters). The SM group alone has at least 5 large shopping malls, and 6 smaller shopping (mostly supermarket) operations in Quezon City.
Very proximate to SM City is the 20-hectare expanse of Trinoma, which houses 550 shops and is directly connected to the metro rail transit (MRT) station. The mall itself sits on top of the MRT depot. Trinoma has a gross leasable area of 195,000 square meters. Estimated foot traffic is about 180,000 to 200,000 daily.
Araneta Center in Cubao is a complex of shopping facilities. In one portion is SM Mall in Cubao that is directly connected through a retail bridgeway to Ali Mall. SM Cubao has a total retail floor area of 102,354 square meters, integrating a supermarket, department store, appliance center, specialty pet shop, hardware, drug store, specialty pet store and banking services, along with several food outlets. Ali Mall houses 100 shops, restaurants and cinemas, with a total retail floor area of 64,500 square meters.
On another end of Araneta Center, connected to the mass rail transit depot, is Gateway Mall. Shoppers have a choice of over 300 shops, restaurants and cinemas. It has a total retail area of 95,000 square meters. Gateway Mall is the recipient of the merit award in the 2006 International Design and Development Awards sponsored by the International Council of Shopping Centers, for its innovations in mall design and amenities. It is connected to Gateway Tower, which is a 30-floor facility offering 80,000 square meters of prime office space. Gateway Mall is also directly connected to the Araneta Coliseum, an iconic indoor, sports and entertainment arena with a seating capacity of 16,500 people. The coliseum has a dome diameter of 108 meters, making it the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia.
In between and right across the coliseum is Shopwise Supermarket, with its complex of restaurants and convenience stores. Farmer’s Market is located right on EDSA, beside the Cubao Shopping Complex and adjacent to the Cubao MRT station. It is one of the cleanest and largest markets for fresh produce in the country. Patrons love the market’s live seafood flown daily from Roxas City, as well as the freshest selection of meat, vegetables, fruits and even hard-to-find exotic stuff at reasonable prices. Open for 24 hours, the Cubao market is also home to the first satellite school of the renowned Center of Culinary Arts. Thus, right there, you can have cooked what you’ve bought from the market.
The Lagro-Novaliches shopping scene is dominated by two of the country’s biggest developers, SM Prime Holdings and Robinsons Land which have developed two shopping malls close to each other in the northern part of Quezon City. SM City Fairview, a large shopping mall is located at Quirino Highway, Regalado Avenue, Novaliches, Quezon City, Metro Manila. It has a land area of 200,000 square meters, and a total gross floor area of approximately 182,000 square meters. Robinsons Nova Market (formerly Robinsons Place Novaliches) is just across. One of the stations of the proposed MRT-7 will be constructed and connected to these malls. Robinsons is spread over 8.7 hectares and a total gross floor area of approximately 60,000 square meters. The mall has over 100 shops and dining establishments. The area also contains the Fairview Centermall and Puregold Supermarket catering to residents of the subdivisions nearby.
Along Commonwealth Avenue is the Ever Gotesco Commonwealth mall which services people along the Commonwealth/Diliman and Batasan areas. Nearby is the Shopwise Center. At the Tandang Sora area are Puregold Supermarket in the southbound lane and Berkeley Square in the northbound lane. The U.P. - Ayala Technohub hosts amusement centers and restaurants, while a smaller mall, the Citimall, serves the Philcoa area near the UP Campus and caters mostly to commuters.
Also very popular is the 216,000 square meter sprawl of Robinson’s Galleria at EDSA corner Ortigas Avenue, Quezon City. This is a 5-level shopping mall with more than 400 shops, dining outlets, entertainment facilities and service centers, including the biggest Toys R Us outlet in the Philippines. Robinsons has other malls in the highly populated Novaliches and in the modern Eastwood City.
In malls and throughout the city are a delectable array of restaurants, more than 300 to suit any palate—from fine dining to fast food. The primary entertainment district in the Timog area are in the Timog, South and Tomas Morato avenues, all of which have gained a reputation as a restaurant strip, where one can choose from among over 120 restaurants, bars, cafes, karaoke joints, and comedy bars providing all-night-long entertainment. Notable restaurants include the long-established Mario’s which became famous for its outstanding steaks and old Spanish favorites like paella; Annabel’s, which offers scrumptious international and continental cuisines with a garden ambience; Alfredo’s, whose delicious steaks have spawned a cult following; and Greens, a vegetarian restaurant with delightful tofu-based dishes.
A Taste of LA Café, known for its mouthwatering pizza and pasta dishes, is another crowd-drawer in Tomas Morato, along with Kartre, a cozy restaurant which serves up luscious Mediterranean cuisine; Bellisimo, which foodies frequent for its good Italian food and wine selection; and Chili’s Grill and Bar, which serves all-time-favorite appetizers with a twist. Comedy bars, such as Laffline and Zirkoh, are filled to the hilt especially on weekends, while Dolce Superclub is Quezon City’s answer to the clubs in Makati and The Fort. Some of these restaurants have been around for decades and remain trendy hang-out spots, along with the newer establishments.
Another restaurant-and-bar district is the Katipunan Avenue, a popular watering hole among students and white-collar employees residing in the nearby condominiums. Often referred to by students as “Katips”, folks will find a complete range of food choices here: from fine dining and casual restaurants, to fast food diners and carinderias (small restaurants with ready-to-eat food), even mobile stalls selling street food. The newest additions are gasoline station complexes that come with restaurants and coffee shops, as well as those that surround information technology zones.
The growing restaurant hub in Maginhawa Street in UP Village is an open secret among students, artists and foodies who flock there to enjoy good food and long conversations. The relaxed, unpretentious vibe of the place, not to mention the affordable prices, is the perfect counterpoint to the high-end hangouts found in fancier business districts. Among the most popular spots include Van Gogh is Bipolar, a cozy restaurant that offers food said to uplift the mood; Cocina Juan, which serves a medley of Latin American cuisine with a Filipino twist; and Tomato Kick, whose menu promises to take you anywhere from Asia and Europe to South America.
La Loma prides itself for being the lechon capital of the Philippines, where visitors will find rows and rows of “lechon” being sold in the sidewalks. Lechon (spit-roasted pig) is considered the star of fiestas and just about every other celebration in the Philippines. It is prepared by stuffing the inside of the animal with herbs and spices, then slowly hand-roasting it on top of charcoal for hours until the skin turns reddish brown and very crispy.
Aside from the malls, large public markets remain popular among certain segments of the population. Those looking for quality suit materials will find them at Kamuning Market, where about a hundred stalls sell different kinds of textile and tailor supplies, as well as ready-made barongs and bridal gowns—at very low prices.
Bargain hunters also love the “tiangge”—a unique shopping concept midway between a mall and a market. Tiangges are often small makeshift stalls clustered together that sell anything and everything you can imagine, at bargain basement prices. Haggling is the name of the game at the tiangge, particularly if you’re a suki (regular buyer) or buying wholesale.
The weekend retail mart at the Quezon Memorial Circle has stalls selling fresh meats, regional delicacies, household wares, art works, jewelry, export overruns, even pre-owned stuff. Those looking for affordable yet good quality furniture, handicrafts and home accessories can take a trip to Dapitan Arcade in Sta. Mesa Heights. It has everything from hand-painted ceramic plates and wooden house decors, to chic jewelry boxes and knickknacks of various shapes and sizes. Visitors will be wowed by prices at the tiangge, which are much lower than in malls and home depots.
Those who love shoes frequent the Marikina Shoe Expo in Cubao, a complex of several stores that sells shoes from the country’s shoe capital, as well as quaint art works and hard-to-find vintage items. Other notable public markets are Farmer’s Market in Cubao, Novaliches Market, Commonwealth Market, and Mega-Q (formerly Nepa-Q) Market along EDSA.