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Ambitious Filipino Bistro 1521 Debuts in Ballston

An authentic taste of the Philippines arrives today

The dining room at new arrival Bistro 1521.
Photo: Bistro 1521
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Ballston boards the Filipino food craze on Monday with the opening of built-to-impress Bistro 1521.

The team behind the giant 7,000-square-foot restaurant — which replaces the recently-shuttered Applebee’s at 900 N. Glebe Road — includes seasoned bartender Jo-Jo Valenzuela and wife Christina Valenzuela, as well as Manny Tagle and Solita Wakefield (the duo behind the now-defunct Bistro 7107 in neighboring Crystal City). The name is an ode to the year Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines.

The expansive menu includes a lineup of apps, soups, and rice and noodle stir-fry dishes including pork-laden pancit, sisig (featuring pork belly, and pig ears) and pinakbet (okra, bitter melon, eggplants, squash, beans, anchovy paste). A gamut of ingredients span across courses, ranging from jackfruit in mains and desserts to the seafood-heavy Magellan Special, with jumbo squids, steamed shrimp, and mussels.

D.C. already has a few Filipino dining destinations in critical darling Bad Saint and neighborhood favorite Purple Patch, but Valenzuela tells the Washington City Paper this one’s different. “This is the first time Filipinos are going to see something this big and full-service.”

Nightly dinner service kicks off at 4 p.m., but lunch service — think: crab meat sandwiches, and a burger composed of ground meat and Filipino sausage — is on its way, as is brunch. There’s also happy hour right off the bat.

Status: Opening at 4 p.m. 900 N. Glebe Road, Arlington, Va.; website.