For the past year, national news sites have celebrated the ascendance of Filipinx cuisine in the American mainstream. In honor of Filipinx American History Month, this In-TEN-tionalist guide highlights Filipinx-owned restaurants in five different U.S. cities.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
Barkada, owned by Paul Montoya, Jay Baluyot, and Josh Robles
“Growing up in LA, people used to joke around with us, saying we eat dogs and cats. That was a common thing I’d hear back in the day—that’s what people thought about Filipino food,” Paul Montoya said in an interview with VICE. ““Filipino food is finally getting acknowledged,” Montoya shares. “It has a few more years to becoming a household name, like other Asian cuisines, but I’m excited to see where it goes next.”
LASA, owned by Chad and Chase Valencia
“We might not have the illest pedigree, but if we want to do our own food and concept, we’ll have to do it alone. The idea of serving Filipino food in this fashion doesn’t exist,” Chad Valencia said in an interview with LA Downtown News. “I tell our cooks, you have an opportunity to cook in a modern Filipino restaurant because we made one. So let’s make it good.”
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Maharlika NYC, owned by Nicole Ponseca and Miguel Trinidad
“We were not raised to be entrepreneurs. We were raised to be doctors, lawyers — risk-averse careers. I do think there’s a Filipino renaissance right now with artists and entrepreneurs,” Nicole Ponseca said in an interview with Public Radio International. “If you look at our menu, we purposefully don’t call things “soy sauce chicken” or “chocolate stew.” We purposefully do not dumb down names; we call it what it is in our language, Tagalog.”
Flip Sigi, owned by Jordan Andino
“You need to understand the climate of the Philippines. We needed shelf stable items that didn’t require refrigeration,” Jordan Andino said in an interview with Total Food Service. “The hot, unstable environment led to the use of a lot of pork in our dishes. All animals needed to be used and processed immediately because the high temperatures would spoil the food. Overall, Filipino cuisine is the amalgamation of three different types of major cuisines: American, Chinese and Spanish.”
Bad Saint, owned by Genevieve Villamora and Nick Pimentel
“I felt almost protective of it [Filipino food],” Genevieve Villamora said in an interview with the Washington City Paper. “I loved it so much that I didn’t want to see or hear other people say anything bad about it. And so to prevent that from happening, I just didn’t share it with them. It was almost too painful… I felt I’m already so outrageous and strange as it is, why would I exacerbate that at all?”
Purple Patch, owned by Patrice and Drew Cleary
“I knew if I opened a restaurant based on what I felt true in my heart…that even if I failed, I felt like a success,” Patrice Cleary said in an interview with GMA News. “I didn’t open it thinking that it was going to be this big hit because you know it’s comfort food. For me, it’s what I grew up on.”
Mesa Manila, owned by Migel Santos and Carlota Bautista
“We are a family-oriented, God-fearing, family-owned company and we’re all about sharing our culture with the people in Naperville and its surrounding communities,” Migel Santos said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. “For those who are Filipino, we offer them a taste of home, and for those who aren’t Filipino, a new experience.”
Cebu, owned by Cybill, Marlon, and Malvin Tan
“We grew up eating chicken inasal every Sunday after church with our parents,” Malvin Tan, the chef de cuisine, said in an interview with Food & Wine. “It was a real tradition for us.”
Magna, owned by Carlo Lamagna
“It’s been a battle for me and who I am, finding my voice and my identity,” Carlo Lamagna said in an interview with Portland Mercury. “The biggest lesson I learned is if I’m not passionate about it, if my heart’s not really there, then don’t do it. Having a connection to the food makes it more interesting. Love is just a key element.”
Fork & Spoon Food House, owned by Erwina Barney
“I called it Fork & Spoon because while Americans and Filipinos both use the fork and the spoon, each culture uses them differently,” Erwina Barney said in an interview with Mid-County Memo. “This name is kind of bringing together both cultures with both foods; a place where everybody can just come to sit and eat good food and enjoy the company of good people. I do not believe I am bringing something unique to Parkrose. All the people I have met from this area are so friendly and amazing, I just want to give them a place to sit, eat and hangout. Not fast food, but good food as fast as I can.”
Are we missing your favorite Filipinx-owned restaurants? Suggest your favorite Filipinx-owned restaurants, and we’ll be sure to get them added!
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