Episode 15: Banchetto, a feast for the belly and senses!

When I started writing for “Unlimited Grub Grabs,” one of my goals was to try out and learn about “hundreds of dishes, regardless of cuisine yet mindful of the price”. I have made it a point to find the best food spots in the metropolis and elsewhere, where my belly can be satisfied and my money’s worth it.

Lately though, eating out has become a luxury, and every time I go out to a new place, even for a simple meal, I end up scrimping for my next one. Being a foodie is like having a war in the pocket!

It was RPN9 reporters Phoebe Javier and Emman Paz who suggested what food place I should visit next. And what good timing their tip was, since I’ve been looking for a place where the food’s worth my time and money.

What I found was not just one food stop, but a street full of them.

Banchetto (Italian for “feast”) is a weekly street food market in Ortigas. Every Friday midnight to 11pm on Saturday, a large portion of Emerald Avenue is closed down, and hundreds of people flock to Banchetto’s numerous food stalls. Each stall offers different kinds of food, from rice meals to pastas, burgers to salads, barbecues, sweets, cakes and other desserts, among others.

The market started in 2007 to cater to the food needs of call center agents and others burning the midnight oil in the area. Soon enough, though, even residents visit and dine in the area, and Banchetto soon became every Metro Manila foodie’s paradise.
The moment I stepped into Emerald Avenue, I realized the street is more crowded than I imagined. Calling the place “crowded” is an understatement!

Banchetto makes you feel like a whole rainbow of scents and delicious-looking treats have been laid before you. Everything you see makes you forget about swimming through the sea of foodies, if only to enjoy a bite of that dish you fancy.

And what dish you’d start with is a different struggle altogether! Each stall features a different type of cuisine. There’s so much to choose from: pizza, pasta, tempura, Hong Kong dumplings, tacos, shawarma, takoyaki, sushi platters…

Some stalls offer home-cooked restaurant fare such as your usual caldereta, chicken cordon bleu, tempura, veggies, and lechon paksiw… And then there’s one stall that sells lechon! Vein blockers galore! I also found a stall that sells pre-cooked dishes like chili crab, longganisa, and shrimps. (I regret not taking home lechon and one of those crabs.)

There are stalls, however, that sell street food like kikiam, toknene and chicken skin too… And then if you feel you can’t take the sight of all the cholesterol, you can also have sandwiches and salad.

Grilled burgers are all over Banchetto too. Sure, these stalls are jampacked, and you have to fall in line and get numbers, but the wait is worth it! Just watching your burger patty roasting over the smoky grill is enough to whet your appetite. Not to mention that some of these patties are huge – quarter pounder, 1/3 pounder, and half pounder, to be exact. How’s that to finish off your burger appetite? Unfortunately, they sell out fast.

Not to be outdone are the stalls selling barbecued fish, sausages, and other grilled meats. The kebabs look delicious! Too bad the lines there are so freaking long. Oh well.

Then there are stalls that sell desserts like miniature cakes and pastries. Some stalls have assorted candies, cookies, and other kinds of sweets, even kakanin (native desserts) like puto bumbong and bibingka. And it’s not even Christmas. Yum!

The best thing about Banchetto is that even with just P100 you can get a full, satisfying meal. There’s always something good for you that’s just within your budget, and with so many choices, you can never go wrong.

Banchetto takes pride of being the largest food fair in the city. It’s also a great place to try out new flavors and enjoys the sight of all the food you can savor. Dining out in a lively street with a nice, affordable dish on hand is a marvelous experience. Maybe this Friday, I’ll make it a point to visit it again and celebrate the end of the week with a nice, fat burger or something.

Great, I’m hungry…


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