CHIGuide

The Best Filipino Restaurants In Chicago

From casual diners to upscale tasting menu spots, here are our 14 favorite Filipino restaurants in the city.
The Best Filipino Restaurants In Chicago image

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

With influences from so many different cultures and traditions, Filipino food is basically a mosaic of flavors. Lumpia, pancit, and kare kare are reminiscent of dishes found in Asian countries close to the Philippines like China, Vietnam, and Malaysia. Longanisa and leche flan are byproducts of Spain’s nearly 400-year-long colonial rule. And the appearance of Spam, hot dogs, and fried chicken are a result of America’s presence in the Philippines before its independence in 1946. Diverse and delicious, Filipino food works for every meal. And luckily Chicago has plenty of excellent restaurants serving homestyle dishes, iconic fast food items, and full-blown tasting menus.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Daija Guy

Filipino

Ukrainian Village

$$$$Perfect For:Serious Take-Out OperationSpecial OccasionsDate Night

Kasama in Ukranian Village is not only one of the best Filipino spots in Chicago, it’s one of the best restaurants in the city. Casual cafe by day, fine-dining restaurant by night, no matter when you're here you can expect warm service and a fresh spin on Filipino food. Come in the morning for a juicy longanisa breakfast sandwich or incredible pastries to go. Then make a reservation at night for their $275 13-course dinner, with dishes like umami-packed mushroom adobo with a mussel emulsion and Kasama’s showstopping halo-halo. Sweet, nutty, tart—it's a dessert dreamworld where obligations like deadlines, taking your dog for a walk, and hosting your in-laws don’t exist.

photo credit: Kim Kovacik

Our first experience with Boonie’s was as a pop-up-turned-food stall, but they’ve since moved into a permanent space in North Center. Charming decorations like framed childhood photos and cute illustrations of banana ketchup keep it from feeling like another utilitarian spot from the Minimalist Restaurant depot. But more importantly, the food is amazing. Eating new iterations of favorites like their sisig, vigan longanisa, and adobo coursed out in sleek stoneware feels like reuniting with an old CTA travel buddy who now drives a shiny new Lexus. And the new dishes are equally delicious, like trout singang and grilled prawns with a generous spread of funky bagoong butter. Everything is meant to be eaten family style—but don’t be surprised if you end up “accidentally” eating your friend’s share of sisig.

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Bayan Ko won us over in 2018 with a great Filipino and Cuban a la carte menu and a BYOB policy. It's since evolved, picking up a liquor license and switching to a $95 five-course prix fixe. But like the only good Godfather sequel, Bayan Ko 2.0 is an excellent follow-up. The creative dishes inspired by the owners’ heritage are still delicious, like black rice arroz caldo that ditches the Filipino soup’s usual chicken for tangy calamansi-butter-poached lobster that might put the bird out of the job. And with wine pairings and caviar-loaded amuse bouches, Bayan Ko successfully channels fancy dinner energy into its small, charming neighborhood spot. There's usually Cuban music playing and the staff might tell you how they're obsessed with the garnacha you just ordered.

This casual Albany Park spot has been around since 1997, but moved into a new location in 2022. It started out as a “turo-turo” or “point-point” restaurant, referring to when pre-cooked dishes are laid out cafeteria-style and you select what you wanted by pointing. Now, Ruby’s has expanded to sit-down and feels more like a sports bar, complete with servers, TV-lined walls, and bar seating at the back. But the food is the same: flavorful, and with hefty servings. Some of our favorites are the kare kare with fall-off-the-bone oxtail in a creamy peanut butter stew with a side of bagoong (fermented shrimp paste), as well as their garlicky dinuguan which has a pleasant kick from some chilis. But a must-order is crispy pata—a balanced combination of buttery pork meat and crackly skin. Biting into it creates a satisfying crunch loud enough to alert people down the block that they’re missing out on one of the best fried pork legs in Chicago.  

photo credit: John Ringor

$$$$Perfect For:LunchQuick Eats

At odds with its small, colorful interior that’s tucked away in an Albany Park strip mall, Subo’s menu is massive. With over 20 entrees, plus empanadas, multiple types of egg rolls, and six dessert options, it’s a very comprehensive survey of Filipino food. They have everything from garlic rice breakfast bowls with eggs, to classics like sinigang or “chocolate meat”, a.k.a. dinuguan. This comforting, vinegary pork blood stew is not actually made from some kid’s Halloween haul, but gets its nickname from its rich dark color. But the best part about Subo is their combo plates—which let you try a couple of dishes (all served with rice) so you don’t need to show up with an entire army to make your way through their large menu. Though if you do show up with an entire army, their $15 mountain of pancit is an incredible deal.

photo credit: Christina Slaton

$$$$Perfect For:BreakfastBrunchLunch

Appropriately named, eating at Uncle Mike’s Place in Ukrainian Village feels like having a meal at a relative’s house, if that person made some of the best Filipino breakfast platters in the city. They come with a cup of soothing lugaw, garlic rice, eggs, dipping vinegar, and your choice of protein, like fatty longanisa, spam, and pork tocino. But their giant bangus is the standout: a fried milkfish that’s perfectly salty, slightly tart, and crispy—it’ll make you wish your neighborhood IHOP served fish for breakfast, too. To round off your meal, you also get a small side of champorado, a chocolate rice porridge. Though you don’t have to rush to get there right when they open at 6am, this place does fill up quickly, so plan accordingly if you’re trying to eat with a group. You’ll leave wishing Uncle Mike was actually your uncle.

This former food hall spot now has a permanent location in Jefferson Park with eight tables and a tight menu of signatures like crispy lumpia, longanisa-wrapped scotch eggs, and chicken adobo so tender the meat separates from the bone like it just got a cease and desist letter. We like the newcomer dishes, too, like their breakfast sandwich (a morning exclusive) with a longanisa patty, fried egg, and buttery havarti cheese, all snuggled between sweet pandesal. Pair it with ube cold brew and you’ll be ready to tackle traffic, random rainstorms that the weather app forgot to tell you about, or whatever else a typical Chicago morning throws at you.

Alulu in Pilsen sticks out on this list because it’s the only brewery. And while you can definitely get some great local drafts and classic American bar snacks, there are some great Filipino-influenced dishes on the menu. Their rice plates are huge and come with sweet and savory BBQ ribs or fall-off-the-bone chicken tinola with a light, gingery broth. Handhelds, like the longanisa burger, crispy lumpia, or wings made with the chef’s grandma’s marinade, are also fantastic. And whether you’re dining solo at the bar or are with friends giving a Shark Tank-esque pitch about why you deserve the last lumpia, it’s always fun hanging out in their busy space while Biggie and Tribe blast through the speakers.

Half Acre in Lincoln Square is another brewery where Filipino dishes coexist with things like burgers, and shrimp and grits. And while we aren’t sure if the Filipino food-brewery connection is a trend per se, we are sure that snacking on lumpia feels even better with a crisp pilsner. These meaty egg rolls are unsurprisingly excellent considering the chef was also behind the much-beloved-but-now-closed Isla Pilipina. But if you want something more substantial, check out their rice plates like the vegan-friendly stewed taro leaves in coconut milk or the tart and spicy pork sinigang with a whole produce party of green beans, bok choy, and daikon.

Kubo is a cozy Lakeview restaurant that has the atmosphere of a neighborhood dive. And while coming here for drinks at the bar or on their outdoor patio may be the initial draw, you’ve not truly experienced Kubo until you’ve had their food. From starters like saucy adobo short ribs to larger dishes like pancit canton and their tart tamarind beef soup, kansi, the menu is full of hits. But if you come for a birthday, or a celebration like your parents finally getting you to move out of the house, check out their “boodle” feast. For $59 per person (and only available for parties of four or more) this gigantic meal that’s served on a never-ending bed of rice on top of banana leaves comes with over a dozen dishes—adobo, longanisa, lechon, and lumpia to name a few. It’s like the Avengers of Filipino food. Plus you get to eat this kamayan-style, which means you can ditch the fork and spoon and just dig in with your hands.

Perfect for large groups, Bacolod Chicken House in North Park is a spacious restaurant that’s another excellent spot for a kamayan experience. But if you’ve just painted “Starry Night” nail art on each finger and don’t want to risk messing it up with a bare-handed feast, you can still come for this BYOB spot’s a la carte menu. Their specialty is chicken inasal, the dish that the Filipino city of Bacolod is known for. And it’s a must-try—perfectly charred chicken skin and tender meat flavored by a calamansi marinade. They also have delicious lumpia shanghai, and some of the best lechon kawali we’ve ever had. Wash that fatty meat and salty skin down with a six-pack of Filipino beer like a light San Miguel, or the more robust Red Horse.

Right around the block from Seafood City is Max’s, a popular sit-down chain restaurant with over 200 locations in the Philippines. They have a decent selection of Filipino classics, but their nickname, “The House That Fried Chicken Built”, tells you the main reason people come here. In fact, as the only midwestern location of Max’s, hardcore fans from surrounding states say the chicken is “Nine-Hour-Long-Drive-Worth-It.” Using the same brining recipe since 1945, the fried chicken has a salt-and-pepper flavor, plus, despite not using any batter, incredibly crunchy skin. It’s the closest your teeth will ever come to that satisfying feeling of stepping on crisp autumn leaves right before the weather turns to wintery sh*t.

Grill City in Albany Park is a food stall that's part of Seafood City, a popular Filipino grocery store chain with locations across the country. It falls under the “turo turo” category of restaurants, with dozens of pre-made dishes ready to be put on styrofoam platters and eaten. But don’t let their spread of bangus, kare kare, and pancit distract you. You are here for the BBQ pork skewers. They’re tender, fatty, charred to perfection, and covered in a tangy banana ketchup BBQ sauce. Grab one for a snack, a few for a meal, or an entire tray for your friends (or just yourself).

No Filipino food list is complete without Jollibee, the Philippines’ most iconic fast-food chain. And Chicago has two locations, one in the Loop, and one in Albany Park that's attached to the aforementioned Seafood City. The signature dishes here are Yumburgers (a cheeseburger with special dressing), buckets of Chickenjoy fried chicken, savory pancit palabok, and their Jolly Spaghetti: pasta covered in a surprisingly sweet tomato sauce with ground beef and hot dogs. Pasta snobs might spontaneously combust just by looking at it, but it’s a classic. Though Jollibee is definitely not the best restaurant on this list, the food and its perpetually happy bee mascot are quintessential parts of the Filipino experience. Plus, their peach-mango hand pie will make McDonald’s apple pie devotees immediately question their allegiance.

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