Sitting inside Walter and Margarita Manzke‘s popular French-leaning Los Angeles restaurant République, with its Instagram-worthy tiling, hefty wooden tables, and open kitchen, you might be surprised to learn that you’re actually enjoying a little piece of the Philippines. That’s because there is a République of sorts in Manila, complete with its long pastry counter and winding queue of eager diners. Even the Courier-font menu in Manila is a near-mirror image to the one you might be holding in Los Angeles, filled with dishes like shakshouka and a decadent croque madame. It’s the sort of hearty late-morning weekend fare that’s well-known within L.A.’s prodigious brunch community, but might otherwise seem out of place in Southeast Asia.
A bit of cultural appropriation or outright brand thievery? Not exactly. The restaurant, calledWildflour, is the happy work of the Manzkes themselves, and it’s as busy — and as comfortable — as any of the best places you’ll find on the West Coast. Except this is Manila, one of the most densely populated cities in the world, filled with economic disparities and infrastructure issues and anabsolutely booming urban population, eager to stand side-by-side with the biggest cities in the world.