5 Small Businesses Recommended by Drag Personality Aleksa Manila
Image by Clean Earth Photography

During the day, Aleksa Manila is an activist. At night, she revels in the world of socialites. As a highly acclaimed and respected drag personality, Aleksa has made a name for herself in the Seattle community and beyond. Originally from Manila, Philippines, she is widely adored as an emcee, host, speaker, panelist, performer, and model, captivating audiences with her witty and charming presence on stage.

Over the years, Aleksa has garnered recognition for her dedicated work in advocacy and social justice. Intentionalist recently caught up with her to learn about 5 small businesses where she is proud to #SpendLikeItMatters.

Here’s what Aleksa had to share:

Oriental Mart – “It’s the oldest running Filipino family-owned business in Seattle. That’s a lot of local history and the accompanying ‘stories’ from Ate Lei, who’s the main cook in the ‘turo-turo’ section of the store; and from Ate Joy who runs the grocery part. And of course, ‘Nanay’ who started it all in 1973! When I feel homesick, I run down to Pike Place Market and ‘tsismis’ while I slurp on their world-famous salmon sinigang and surprise dish!”

5 Small Businesses Recommended by Drag Star Aleksa Manila

Ludi’s Restaurant – “Another classic staple in Fil-Am landmarks in the PNW. They recently reopened just two blocks north of their old location. Suffice to say I was giddy to have some ‘LongSiLog’ and they just added an Ilocano-style longganisa on their menu and it is super-SARAP! When you walk-in, you’re greeted with a neon sign that says ‘Kain Tayo’ which means ‘Let’s Eat’ and if that’s not your intention, better turn around because you’ll be transported in the ‘Eat, Eat’ zone for sure. Kuya Greg and Ludi are always there making sure your tummy is full of love and with all the special Filipino treats.”

5 Small Businesses Recommended by Drag Star Aleksa Manila

Hood Famous Cafe & Bar – “I used to live above them before Geo and Chera officially opened so they’re literally just a few steps away. I could tell even from the brown paper-covered windows that something special was brewing! From my favorite neo-Filipinx concoctions of ube latte to my summer fave ‘calamansi espresso tonic’ to their classic ube cheesecake where it all began and my all-time homecooked style arrozcaldo; this special spot is my home-away-from-home when it comes to the flavors, the scents and the scenery…. especially the ‘dirty kitchen’ decor #IYKYK”

5 Small Businesses Recommended by Drag Star Aleksa Manila

Fort St. George – “This has been my ‘neighborhood bar’ since undergrad. I used to study at the bar and the bartenders at the time would keep the bar lights bright enough for me to keep studying and I knew then that this place was my safe space and it continues to be to this day… for over a decade… it’s gone thru many facelifts and different staff – but Ikuko’s smile is perennial! They’re all about comfort food – from a light snack of shabu-shabu to their enormous bento specials… there’s a little something and everything for everyone!”

5 Small Businesses Recommended by Drag Star Aleksa Manila

Piroshki on Madison – “You’d have to have lived in the area since the late 90’s to remember the first tiny spot on Broadway. Ironically, my first time walking into her restaurant, Alla told me to sit down and that she’d pick my order for me because I took too long to order and that I would like it. She was absolutely right! She was the stern mom I needed when I was missing mine. To this day, she still tells me what I need to eat when I walk in; but she knows me too well and always knows when I need a simple pirogy or an extravagant lunch special…. and always with a couple of oreshkis!”

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