The D.C. region has most Asian cuisines locked up. Diners can order Thai takeout, grab Chinese for lunch, hit up an Indian buffet and catch up over Japanese sashimi. But what about Filipino food? Typing in "Filipino" in Yelp, for example, doesn't bring up a lot of search results (actually, it's 5 pages) but for "Thai", Yelp unloads more than 60 pages of possible places. Where can adventurous eaters go for salty, sweet and spicy pork loins with pineapple, or adobo (meat with vinegar and soy), or kare-kare (peanut stew with a host of meats and veggies? Eater round up some places where Filipino food can be found — and there's at least one more on the way.
As is often the case when it comes to ethnic dining in D.C., look to the suburbs. Fairfax Inn Restaurant is a popular choice for eating Filipino style. The Falls Church hotspot has duel personalities — an American menu and a Filipino/Asian menu. Diners should lean toward the latter. Its Filipino menu is focused on the region of Pampanga, which is nicknamed the "Culinary Capital of the Philippines".
Also in Falls Church, Filipino Global Market comes with at least one person's endorsement: local pastry chef Jason Gehring. He heads to the restaurant for adobo, lechon (fatty pork belly) and turon, a plantain-based dessert.
Crystal City's Bistro 7107 is named for the 7,107 islands that make up the Philippines. There aren't that many items on its menu, but the menu includes kare-kare, beef calde-dobo, and shrimp al ajillo (shrimp with paprika and garlic). For lunch, the pork adobo is ready to go in sandwich form. These guys focus on what's considered Filipino comfort food, so the menu is eclectic and doesn't focus on ones specific Filipino region.
Outside the Beltway in Montgomery County, Pampanguena Cafe gets people to come to Derwood. Named for the same Filipino region that the Fairfax Inn Restaurant represents, the cafe's kare-kare and chicken adobo are popular with diners. And further up I-270, there's a Filipino cafe called Lumpia, Pansit, atbp. Just as the name suggests, this place specializes in lumpia (similar to fried spring rolls), pancit (noodles), and atbp (which means "et cetera"). The "et cetera" part of the menu is just that — BBQ, chicken wings, snacks, etc.
For a hot second, Maryland will have another Filipino dining spot. Salo + Feastly: 50 Feasts in 50 States is a series of pop-ups organized by Brooklyn chef Yana Gilbuena. She's taking her love of Filipino cuisine to each state one week at a time. She just finished her DC stopover, but next Sunday, she'll be in Baltimore with a different menu than what was dished up in DC. Diners in Baltimore will get to enjoy fiddleheads, crabs in several different forms, poached fish, and jackfruit, while DC's eaters got to try pork with pineapple, pork with chilies, chicken with a coconut sauce, and coconut garlic rice.
If leaving the Beltway is something that just can't be considered, Masa 14 on 14th Street's restaurant row has a few Filipino options on its menu. Worth noting is the restaurant's drunken pork adobo and its shrimp and crab lumpia. Both of those dishes are geared to those who want a bit of Filipino flavor.
There is at least one Filipino restaurant to come that won't require leaving the city. Coming this summer, Room 11's Nick Pimentel and his business partner Genevieve Villamora are opening a Filipino restaurant at 3226 11th St NW in Columbia Height,s close to the Room 11 establishment. The restaurant (no name yet) will "introduce D.C. to a range of iconic Filipino dishes, snacks and comfort food in a festive neighborhood setting," Pimentel says. More details to come as the project moves forward.
· All Filipino Dining Coverage [-EDC-]