The Best Filipino Restaurants In NYC guide image


The Best Filipino Restaurants In NYC

From a grocery store with a takeout counter to a tiki-themed spot with a nice back patio, these are our 16 favorite Filipino restaurants in the city.

From Little Manila in Woodside to a cluster of restaurants in Lower Manhattan, NYC is home to plenty of Filipino restaurants. So whether you’re looking for a sit-down spot to eat sizzling sisig, a Filipino bakery to get sweet bread filled with cheese, or a tiki-themed restaurant with a burger patty made of Filipino sausage, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for on this guide.

The Spots

Renee's Kitchenette & Grille

Renee’s is our favorite Filipino restaurant in Woodside. And that’s saying a lot, considering this casual Queens spot is in the heart of Little Manila. Right underneath a loud train line on Roosevelt Avenue, this homey spot somehow always makes you feel taken care of. Start off with the perfectly crispy sizzling sisig, then try the sinigang na baboy - sour pork soup loaded with tamarind and taro root. An order of kare-kare (peanut stew with oxtails and string beans) should be on your table, too.

The Best Sisig In NYC guide image

NYC Guide

The Best Sisig In NYC

Just a few steps around the corner from Renee’s, you’ll see a sidewalk patio with umbrella-covered tables, a small takeout window, and a bunch of very happy-looking people. That’s Ihawan. And it’s where you’ll find the best Filipino barbecue in the area. Grab some sisig, lechon kawali (fried pork belly), or barbecue skewers the next time you decide meat is the most viable answer to all of life’s problems. And if you’re looking to feed someone other than yourself, Ihawan also offers kamayan dinners for up to eight people that involve a sampling of dishes like deep-fried lumpiang Shanghai, a whole milkfish, and a bunch of different kinds of barbecue meat meant to be eaten with your hands.

Grill 21

Grill 21 is a tiny Filipino restaurant in Gramercy Park, and it’s ideal for eating meat and eggs for more than just breakfast. The menu is huge, but our favorite thing to get is the tocilog, a Filipino breakfast combo that comes with rice, eggs, and perfectly charred tocino. The caramelized meat is juicy and red, and we’d be perfectly fine if it were the only thing we could eat on Sundays for the rest of our lives. If you’re not in the mood for eggs, get the chicken adobo - a stewed meat dish cooked in a sauce that’s equal parts soy sauce and vinegar - or some crunchy lechon kawali.

If you don’t already know Jollibee, you’re probably familiar with its mascot. That red, smiling bee in the chef’s hat can be found at this Filipino fast-food chain’s 1,000+ locations in the Philippines, at the two NYC locations in Woodside and Midtown, and beyond. But Jollibee isn’t just another global franchise - it has a loyal fandom that has take over its own section of the internet. As for the food, they specialize in spaghetti with thick, sweet tomato sauce and fried chicken with big sides of gravy, but don’t leave without an order of crispy, golden mango pie for dessert.

Sariling Atin is a Filipino grocery store with locations in Elmhurst and Jersey City. And while they have great snacks, like adobo-flavored corn nuts and squid crackers, don’t lose sight of what’s most important: the counter-service restaurant in the back. They have a chalkboard menu listing a few combos, but whatever you do, get the Bicol express, which has big chunks of pork belly that taste like they’ve been soaking in a jacuzzi full of coconut milk and shrimp paste for hours. The goat adobo, another must-order, is incredibly tender and deserves to be invited back to your apartment for some undivided attention.

Lahi is best known for its sisig tacos, which became popular when this Filipino spot was vending at Queens Night Market. Each order includes a few bite-sized taco bowls filled with crunchy, sour pork sisig and mayo drizzled on top. If you’re going to try something else at this Elmhurst spot, make it the arroz caldo, a chicken and rice porridge that smells like it gets a healthy dose of calamansi just before hitting your table. Come with a few friends, grab seats outside, and be sure to get the turon (deep-fried banana rolls) for dessert.

Just a few doors down from Lahi in Elmhurst is Kape’t Torta, our favorite Filipino bakery in the neighborhood. They specialize in mamón, also known as tortas, which are essentially mini-spongecakes usually eaten with breakfast or as dessert. They have a few different kinds, but our favorite is the torta cebuana which is buttery, sweet, and tastes like someone threw a little coconut in the batter. You also want the cheese ensaymada and a few orders of ube pandesal stuffed with cheese. And if you’re in need of a pick-me-up, try a cup of extra-strong kapeng barako - a dark roast Filipino coffee.

Kusina Pinoy Bistro is a small Filipino spot with a big personality. The curbside patio at this restaurant in Woodside’s Little Manila has a DJ booth, two covered seating areas, and feels about as close to a party restaurant as you’ll find in the midst of a global pandemic. The food here is great, specifically the sisig, which involves pieces of caramelized pork cooked with soy sauce, giving the dish both sweet and salty elements. Order it with an egg on top and record yourself taking the first bite so you’ll have something to watch the next time you need a reminder of what happiness looks like.

Tradisyon looks like a place one might go to build a salad that you can collect points for on an app, but it’s actually a solid Filipino spot in Hell’s Kitchen that works well for takeout. They serve many of the things you’d find on the menu at most Filipino restaurants in NYC, like kare-kare and pork sisig, but you want the squid adobo. It has more chewy, chopped up pieces of squid than you’ll find at most places for under $12, and the adobo sauce has a tinge of brininess. They let you choose between white rice and garlic rice with every entree, and you’ll only need one item to fill up. While plenty of people stick to takeout here, they also have a bunch of outdoor tables that work well for people-watching down 7th Street.

If you’re going to get jealous about one thing on someone else’s table at this Lower East Side spot, it’s the pork sisig. The dish has the food equivalent of “curb appeal,” with its glistening pieces of charred pork head cooked in chili and a whole raw egg waiting to be split down the middle. And since this Thai/Filipino restaurant is operating as a takeout window with a few seat-yourself tables right now, it’ll be easier than ever to find an excuse not to share with whoever you’re eating with.

For Filipino barbecue in Brooklyn, head to F.O.B. in Carroll Gardens. Get the pork skewers for yourself, and if you’re sharing, get the spare ribs as well. We also like the sisig because it’s a pleasantly sour platter of tender meat and huge chunks of chicharron. You wouldn’t be able to tell from its aqua-colored facade on Smith Street, but the backyard at FOB is an ideal outdoor date night spot.

Bilao is one of the only Filipino spots on the UES and they open at 8am, so keep it in mind for a breakfast or lunch date in the area. Opened in August 2020 (cue the applause), this casual, sit-down spot also gets busy during weekend brunch. And if you respond well to things like tender pork and joy, you should check out the “silog” section of their menu. It has a bunch of different grilled meat options - like tocino and grilled beef - paired with a fried egg and garlic rice.

You’ll find a bunch of Filipino, Korean, and Chinese mashup dishes at Purple Yam in Ditmas Park. But we suggest you focus on the Filipino dishes, like their tocino, beef tapa, chicken adobo, or lechon kawali. They also make their own ice cream and sorbet, plus their champurrado deserves an award for best dessert porridge in Brooklyn, or maybe on earth. They have a small backyard and some sidewalk seating out front, both of which work well for a casual lunch or date.

Unlike the other three Woodside Filipino spots on this guide, the sisig at Tito Rad’s Grill is made up entirely of pork belly. And like a great French 75 or your high school skincare routine, this sisig proves that a little bit of lemon juice can go a long way. Each bite of nicely acidic meat overtakes your innocent taste buds with all things sweet, charred, chewy, and crunchy. With sisig this special and in such huge portions, Tito’s is a great spot to try with a small group - whether that means eating inside their casual dining room or getting takeout to bring home is totally up to you.

Papa’s Kitchen is a classic Filipino spot in Jackson Heights with a big, blue curbside patio where you can comfortably eat several orders of lumpia Shanghai, kare-kare, and chicken adobo outdoors, plus they do things like ube pancakes and mango halo-halo during weekend brunch. They have a whole section of the menu dedicated to silogs (a kind of breakfast dish including different kinds of meat with garlic fried rice and eggs), and nothing costs more than $8.

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photo credit: Adam Friedlander

The Best Filipino Restaurants In NYC guide image