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What started as a once a week pop-up brunch has now turned into a Filipino empire in the making. The crew of friends behind this new restaurant called Maharlika felt that Filipino food was under represented in NYC. So, without much in the way of formal training or restaurant experience, they set out to showcase a modern twist on the food they grew up on via a Sunday pop-up brunch in the East Village. Before long, a loyal community developed around Maharlika's Filipino food movement, and after a whole bunch of sold out brunches, the Maharlika posse decided to go all in. They quit their day jobs and recently opened a flagship restaurant in the East Village, a storefront at DeKalb Market and will soon be opening a new pop-up brunch in Williamsburg.

Although it's only in a "soft-opening" state, we're prepared to throw our full support behind this operation. We were all about the pop-up brunch, and after having dinner here three times over the last few weeks, we can safely say that Maharlika has entered the domain of the Infatuation elite. We love everything about it. Eating at Maharlika is both delicious and educational. You'll learn about customs and traditions - but good luck retaining any of it. After a couple of glasses of Pacquiao's Punch, all you'll be remembering the next day is that you passed out in your clothes. One key piece of information that stuck with us though is that fact that Puqui Puqui, their awesome eggplant dish, means vagina in certain Filipino dialects. That's not something you forget. Maharlika's meticulous attention to detail - from the decor to the side sauces to the plate and dish selection - really brings to life their Filipino history. It's impressive. As is their music selection: Hall & Oates Pandora channel. Daryl & John make all food taste that much better.

This is the kind of restaurant we root for here at The Infatuation. Authenticity is often hard to come by in this city. Maharlika is for real.

Food Rundown

Eggs Benigno

There's something about his breakfast dish that make it hard to take a breath while inhaling all that goodness. I'm not sure exactly what the description means: Lola Mahal’s home-style pandesal, thinly sliced SPAM, calamansi hollandaise, kamote fries - but if you love a good poached egg in hollandaise sauce, get this. Bonus points for SPAM.

Sizzling Sisig With Eggs

NSFV. V = Vegetarians. This is best ordered to share. One person alone should probably not consume grilled pig ears, snout, and belly with an egg in the middle and atop some garlic rice. Unless that one person is me.

iLog Breakfast

Served with a sunny side up quail egg, awesome garlic rice and your choice of protein, this is a perfect hangover cure. We usually go for the 7-Up cured pork tenderloin.

Mango Stuffed French Toast

This is definitely not your standard French toast. Balthazar brioche is stuffed with fruit and finished with caramelized macapuno (coconut). Tasty.

Fried Smelt

It's one of their house specialties, but we'd be wary of ordering this on your first trip unless breaded and fried whole fish with heads and tails are something you're into. They're good, but there are better options to explore first.

Lonnga Hot Dog

A spicy Filipino sausage smothered in pickled papaya and homemade Filipino mayo (Bagoong) on a toasted bun. Different than the dogs you usually encounter on dinner menus and definitely a mandatory order. Bagoong indeed.

iLog Dinner

Similar to the breakfast, the dinner version of the iLog might even be better. This is also your choice of protein served with a sunny side egg, this time with cucumber salad, some relish and a mound of incredible garlic rice. Again, the pork tenderloin is insanely good. You also won't be mad at the air-dried iron steak.

Filipino Fried Chicken

This isn't chicken like they do down south. Served with a spicy pepper and coconut cream sauce, this is a dish not to be missed.

Kare Kare

Two big oxtails, braised in peanut butter. Sounds good, right? It is. Oxtails are tough to eat with just a fork and big spoon (which is how they set the table in the Philippines), but as soon as we were spotted struggling, they came over with knives to help us out. While it's a battle to pull all the fatty meat from the oxtail, it's worth the work.

Puqui Puqui

Who knew eggplant could be so good? Wow. This is incredible. The eggplant has been roasted, pureed, and then mixed with tomato and egg. Even if you don't like eggplant, you should probably order it.

Kang Kong

The sides are all excellent, and this sautéed water spinach with a cool name is no exception.

Selection of Ice Cream

We loved our purple sweet potato ice cream, and the coconut had real shreds of the stuff in there. You probably won't be mad at any of this.

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