The Best Sisig In NYC10 great sizzling sisig platters across the city.
There are times when we want to dive into a plate of shanghai lumpia or crispy pata, and there are times when we want the comfort of kare kare or chicken adobo. But whenever we go to a Filipino restaurant, we're always going to order sisig. The life of the party, sisig is most often a pork dish, seasoned with calamansi and served sizzling in a hot, cast iron skillet with onions and peppers—but it comes in other variations of chopped meat, fish, or tofu too.
More than half of the places on our list are in Little Manila in Woodside, but you’ll also find a few in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Regardless of which spot you pick, remember: You’re not doing sisig right unless you order it with garlic rice.
We’d forgive you for walking by Kalye’s small, nondescript room without noticing it. But you might never forgive yourself once you realize this Woodside spot doesn’t have a single miss on its menu. Of the several different kinds of sisig, we recommend the one with chopped milkfish. Onions and peppers add crunch, while the mayo squirted on top, like icing on a danish, provides plenty of creaminess. Everything comes sizzling and smoking on a cast iron platter.
You can get sisig at a lot of places in Woodside, but how many have their own radio station playing karaoke covers of Coldplay and Katy Perry? Max’s has about 200 locations in the Philippines, and this one feels sort of like a fast food joint, although it’s full-service. While Max’s is famous for their fried chicken, their lechon kawali sisig is a better choice. It has scallions, onions, and chili peppers, and it tastes like it’s heavily seasoned with onion powder.
You come to Gugu Room for the scene (disco ball, DJs) as much as the food. Although this LES spot bills itself as a Filipino-Japanese izakaya, most dishes here are Filipino. But the cod katsu sisig is one of the mash-ups that make you wish they offered more fusion things. A blanket of calamansi aioli is drizzled on top of barely breaded cod with crunchy onions and potent red chilis (get them on the side if you can't take too much heat). The flaky cod is a nice substitute for the more commonly used milkfish.
Renee’s has been making excellent Filipino food in Woodside since 1992. Decades later, this casual neighborhood spot still has people lining up for sisig under the lanterns and wooden utensils mounted on its walls. Renee’s sisig is made exclusively with pieces of pig head, and the result is a meat salad with grilled onions and a sprinkle of crunchy chicharron. The chunks of pork are so nicely charred, it seems like each individual piece gets its own real estate on the grill—only to be removed just a second before it gets too crispy.
Right next door to Renee’s, Kusina is a lively Filipino restaurant with different bands playing on the weekend, and a comedy-karaoke night every Thursday. All the food is great here, but we especially love the sisig. It 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.
Ihawan looks like the dining area of a church basement, and eating the sisig here is like a religious experience. There are two options, both involving pork. The sizzling version (our favorite) is crispy, fatty, spicy, and tastes like it’s been infused with lots of tart calamansi. Ihawan happens to be around the corner from Kusina, so you could easily do a sisig crawl around this busy Woodside block.
If you’re going to get jealous about one thing on someone else’s table at this LES spot, it’s the pork sisig. The dish has the food equivalent of curb appeal, with glistening pieces of charred pork head cooked in chili, topped with a whole raw egg waiting to be split down the middle and stirred in. This Thai/Filipino restaurant has seating for larger groups and can often feel like a party, but if you’re here for the sisig, we recommend grabbing a stool by yourself at the counter in front of the open kitchen. That way, you won’t have to share with anyone.
In case you didn’t notice, “sisig” is in the name of this East Village restaurant. That wouldn’t necessarily mean you should prioritize the dish, but in this case, it definitely does. The pork sisig is especially soft, with crispy-crunchy outer edges, but they serve chicken and fish versions as well. Bring friends and try a few different types in the rustic dining room that looks like a holdover from a previous restaurant, complete with antique-y chandeliers.
This BYOB Filipino spot in Carroll Gardens is a great place to know about for a handful of reasons. Those who live nearby have probably already taken advantage of the spacious backyard patio, since it rarely gets packed. But their pork sisig is easily some of the best we’ve had in Brooklyn, and you should consider getting two portions of it because one order is annoyingly small (our only complaint). A pleasantly sour platter of tender meat topped with raw egg and huge chunks of chicharron, this dish would be the star at any dinner party.
Like the lechon kawali sisig at Max’s, the one at this Woodside spot 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 sweet, charred, chewy, and crunchy bite of meat has pleasant notes of acid. With sisig this special, and in such huge portions, Tito’s is a great spot to try with a small group in their long dining room, which is decorated with a mural of their storefront (just in case you forget where you are).