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Dining Out 1 minute 20 September 2019

The Best Filipino Restaurants in California

Here’s where to get your fix in the Golden State.

United Cuisines of California

With the first sailors from the Philippines arriving to the Golden State in Morro Bay in 1587, California is home to the largest Filipino community in the United States. (Currently, Fillipino is the fourth most spoken language in the state.)

So then, it comes as no surprise that Fillipino cuisine can be found across California. Take the San Francisco Peninsula for example, which boasts an incredibly diverse and rich Asian culture. Filipino foodies tickle their fancy with an impressive selection of traditional breads and pastries at Valerio’s Tropical Bakeshop in Daly City. Fittingly set in a Filipino-dominated quarter referred to as “Little Manila,” Valerio’s is famously revered as the best bakery around.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. From lumpia and lechon to adobo and crispy pata, these three restaurants in California are serving the finest Filipino fare available.

Irenia

Orange County

Designation: The Plate

What Our Inspectors Say: “Named for chef Ryan Garlito’s grandmother and muse, Irenia is a casual hipster hangout and local treasure for Filipino staples. The chef’s tenure at Taco María shows in the careful presentations, with plates that command a serious Instagram following. Adding to its group-friendly nature, the menu is widely appealing and prices are reasonable. Start with lumpia, Filipino egg rolls, served golden brown and steaming hot from the fryer. Filled with pork and vegetables, these crispy bites are accompanied by a wonderfully spicy vinegar dipping sauce to cut the richness. Don't miss out on dessert though, including halo halo, served as a tall glass of macerated fruit, coconut jelly and shaved ice topped with lightly sweetened purple yam milk.”

Ma’am Sir

Los Angeles

Designation: The Plate

What Our Inspectors Say: “The name is inspired by the cheery Filipino greeting offered to travelers, and is a fitting introduction to this friendly and authentic outpost. The exterior proudly flies the flag of the nation, while the interior is adorned with a tasteful tropical theme comprised of banana leaf wallpaper, high ceilings dangling faux-vines and woven hemp light fixtures. The kitchen focuses on their renditions of Filipino classics, like chicken adobo, lumpia and pork sisig. The uninitiated are sure to find the food here complex, interesting and consistently good. Purists may take issue with a few of the kitchen's creative choices, but no one is complaining about the deep flavors of their slow braises. Everything pairs nicely with beer and cocktails from the bar.”

FOB Kitchen

San Francisco

Designation: The Plate

What Our Inspectors Say: “This highly desirable Filipino restaurant brought to you by dynamic duo, Brandi and Janice Dulce, got its start as a popular pop-up. Its current brick-and-mortar space, tucked into the Temescal neighborhood, might still be small but is ingeniously designed—with whimsical black-and-white palm frond paper lining the walls and saturated pops of teal accents transmitting a relaxed, island vibe throughout the room. Be prepared to cozy up to the pretty bar while you wait for a table-a situation made infinitely more bearable with a Fresh Off the Boat cocktail, humming with rum, red bean, pandan and coconut milk. For dinner, don't miss Janice's Ribs-glossy and slow-roasted with notes of coffee, coconut beer and banana ketchup; or the delightfully crisp lumpia.”

Image by @thefoodietographer.

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