You might have heard by now that we’re awfully fond of the Filipino crew known as The Maharlikans. We jumped on their bandwagon very early, almost three years ago when they showed up on the scene as a brunch only pop-up in the East Village. They’ve found lots of success since then, continually evolving and expanding, and adding Filipino cuisine to the wide list of ethnic foods that are well represented in New York City’s restaurant scene. And not only has the local food community embraced the Maharlika team, but they even have Padma’s stamp of approval...and she’s on TV.
Jeepney is Maharlika’s second East Village restaurant, and this one is a take on a Filipino gastropub. That means lots of unhealthy, delicious creations made with a laundry list of ingredients that you’ve probably never heard of before. Here’s the good news: If you like the idea of eating various pig parts in some sort of spicy chili sauce, you’re going to love this joint. If that’s some version of a recurring nightmare you’ve had over the last few years, this probably isn’t going to be your favorite restaurant. And you should maybe talk to someone about that. Jeepney has a fun vibe, with boobs on the wall and a soundtrack that jumps from funky salsa to 80′s to old school hip hop and 90′s rock. We were impressed when “Black Hole Sun” came on the stereo and the entire staff went for it, in unison, like it was 4AM at Sing Sing Karaoke. This is our kind of establishment, that’s for sure.
With Maharlika, which remains their better restaurant, and now Jeepney, Filipino food is quickly becoming one of our favorite new discoveries. Some of the food at this new restaurant is familiar gastropub fare, but with a twist that makes it different and unique. We loved the burger, which is made with a mixture of beef and Filipino sausage and served with spicy banana ketchup and aioli. There’s also a full fried fish with chili peppers and a tomato-onion salsa is like nothing we’ve ever had before. And then there are things that are entirely new to us, like bulalo - a beef short rib stew with bone marrow. A couple cons: Jeepney is not cheap. For this kind of food, the prices are a bit steep, something that stings a little more due to the fact that the restaurant is cash only. It’s still worth a trip though. If you want to get real crazy, come on Thursdays, which are Kamayan nights, Jeepney’s spin on the Filipino traditional pre-colonial communal feast. No plates. No silverware. You eat with your hands. Sounds like a great first date idea to us.
There is no hard liquor here, but they’ve got a bunch of really cool wine and beer cocktail creations, something we’re usually skeptical of. Don’t be. The beer cocktails are especially tasty.
One of the Jeepney/Maharlika calling cards. Their version of a hot dog is tremendous. A thick weiner made with longganisa sausage and topped with bangood (wtf!?) spicy mayo, atchara (wtf!?) and garlic crumbles. You will love this, regardless of the fact you don’t know what half these ingredients are.
One of the most interesting and impressive items we tried. It’s essentially a short rib beef stew, and really damn good one at that. Shredded beef comes in a thin beef broth with an assortment of veggies, potatoes and other goodness before being topped with bone marrow. You win.
The whole fried fish of the day. In our case, it was red snapper and damn was she delicious. The preparation on it is what stood out. Deep fried stuffed with chilies and scallions and then served with a crazy tomato salsa and more hot peppers. Different, funky and excellent to share.
A messy half chicken in an adobo sauce with a slow poached egg and braised pigs feet for some crunch. Wasn’t our favorite, but we also weren’t mad at it.
A burger with a twist, and a good one. The patty is made with a combination of beef and longgansia sausage, giving it a real meaty flavor. Served with spicy banana ketchup, aioli on a toasted challah roll, this is one excellent burger. The fries, on the tother hand, we weren’t into. Too thick, and their kamote potatoes don’t translate that well into fries.
We liked this a whole lot. Bangers made up of five different kinds of sausage with a farm egg, sweet potato purée and roasted veggies. A fully balanced and totally not heavy meal.
A seafood party of the likes we’d never heard of or tasted before. It’s almost like a ramen dish, but with rice noodles and all kinds of fish. Squid ink, shrimp, calamari, oysters, shrimp, scallops, baby octopus, tinapa and then with hard boiled egg, smoked tofu and chicharron. Hopefully your stomach is made of steel. This is a lot to handle, but it’s also delicious.