Filling Station: Time-travel to the 1950s in Poblacion, Makati

Burgos Street in Poblacion is as busy as the rest of the city on a Saturday afternoon. The usual cars come and go on the street, rushing through the day because Makati never rests even on a weekend. Bars are open in the middle of the day, foreigners day-drinking as they relax in this dry Manila heat, and restaurants never seem to run out of people. Themed bars and restaurants surround the street, but one in particular stand out. Neon lights over the whole building, half of Cadillac hanging outside the window and a large Hulk standing outside the door, all a few steps away from our dentist aunt’s clinic, take us to Filling Station.

Stepping inside, one wonders how such a small space is anything could accommodate more than two people at a time. A small grocery greets you, bottles of liquor and endless loaves of bread being sold in a red-lit room reminiscent of Pop’s Chock’Lit Shoppe from your childhood Archie Comics. A staircase is seen at the far side of the room, prompting everyone to come forward and go up.


Exterior of Filling Station.


A closer look at details of the exterior of Filling Station.


The deceivingly small door of Filling Station.


The door leading to Filling Station from the Royal Bellagio Hotel.


A Boston Globe spread on the Titanic framed and hung beside the door.

A door is seen as soon as you get to the top and suddenly, a bombardment of red, neon, 1950s swing and rock n’ roll music, and a whole lot of vintage collection greet your senses. Classic black and white checkered floors take you back to the era of Elvis Presley and the red chairs and tables remind you of the setting for Grease, you half-expect John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John to show up and belt out Summer Nights. Inside, an electric blue Cadillac convertible sits in the middle of the room, and on the ceiling, a life-size Spider-Man hangs about.


View from the stairs.


A part of the blue Cadillac inside the bar cafe with Archie Andrews in the background.


Posing with a lifesize figure of James Dean and a bust of Captain America.


A replica of a fuel dispenser typically found in filling stations (otherwise known as gas stations) around the world.


A figure of Colonel Sanders greets you as soon as you walk inside the bar cafe.

The servers, donned in their balloon skirts, black slacks, white shirts, and soda jerk caps, led us to one of the many tables and red couches, leaving us with the menu to settle in. On the table is an old rotary dial payphone—unusable but definitely fitting the aesthetic. Our dad had a lot of fun playing with it.


The checkered floors typical of a 1950s diner.


Red leather seats and several movie posters reminiscent of Cadillac Jack’s Burger Joint in the film “Grease.”
An old (non-functioning) rotary dial payphone serves as the tablepiece while old (broken) vinyl records are used as tissue holders.

True to their 1950s diner aesthetic, Filling Station offers more than just burger and fries. It boasts an array of milkshakes, smoothies, coffee, alcohol, and rootbeer floats. In true 50s fashion, we ordered the Strawberry Milkshake (295 PhP), Vanilla Milkshake (295 PhP), Iced Cafe Latte (180 PhP), Station’s Iced Tea (133 PhP) and Mango Smoothie (183 PhP).


Niña with her Strawberry Milkshake.


Teri with her Vanilla Milkshake.


Mom with her Vanilla Milkshake.


Iya with her Iced Cafe Latte.


Dad with his Mango Smoothie.

Drinks weren’t the only things we got. We also ordered Midget Burgers (443 PhP), Pasta Alioli (283 PhP), and a Choco Dome (135 PhP) that was so glazed, the facade of the building next to the restaurant was reflected on it.


Midget Burgers with coleslaw and giant onion rings.


Pasta Alioli, Strawberry Milkshake, Iced Cafe Latte, and the Choco Dome.


The Choco Dome up close with the facade of the opposite building reflected on the glaze.

The neon lights and the smell of greasy burgers and milkshake take you back to a time when swing music was in session and balloon skirts were the main fashion statements of the decade. When the walls were adorned with posters of James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. When smart phones didn’t exist and one had to fall in line for payphones. When Archie comics weren’t so dark then and Jughead wasn’t caught up in anything but burgers.


Old vinyl records glued to the ceiling of the bar cafe.


A framed James Dean photoset with two Hulk fists on top.


Dad seated at a retrofitted Chevrolet Bel Air backseat that serves as a diner table.


Dad smiling in his Chevrolet Bel Air seat.


An old (non-functioning) cashier from the 1950s.


Petrol barrels turned tabletops.


Spider-Man hanging from the ceiling, Jughead on the pillar, and various posters hanging on the wall.


Different car plates and bottlecap designs.


Coca-Cola bottles waiting to be opened.


Smokers’ Lounge on one side of the bar cafe.


An upside-down hanging taxi sign from the ceiling.

Filling Station hits you with that nostalgia that comes with the time of looking for some semblance of familiarity in this otherwise increasingly unfamiliar terrain empowered by cyberspace.

Filling Station Bar Cafe is located at 5012 P. Burgos St., Poblacion, Makati. It is 24 hours and 7 days a week. You may book them for events, photoshoots or anything else similar. Should you want to inquire, you may contact them at (+63 2) 897 2053 or through fillingstationbarcafe@gmail.com. 

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