Ballston hopped on the Filipino food craze last month with the opening of built-to-impress Bistro 1521.
The giant 7,000-square-foot restaurant replaces the recently-shuttered Applebee’s at 900 N. Glebe Road. The team behind the brand 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 expansive menu includes a lineup of appetizers, soups, 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, featuring jumbo squids, steamed shrimp, and mussels.
Read on to hear what the public is saying, just a few weeks in:
The Authentic Meter News: Yelper Laura M., who self-identifies as “half Filipina” says, “The chicken adobo was juicy and flavorful, the barbecue chicken was great, and I was surprised that I liked the pinakbet, which I'd never had before, because my mother had warned me it was an acquired taste ... we also ordered some pancit canton later in the meal, which came with a lemon wedge and tasted like my grandma's.” [Yelp]
The 411 News: Facebooker Iamrhyne Galicia calls it, “An amazing bistro in Washington DC area, staff is great and the owner is very accommodating, proud that we have a best filipino restaurant in Metro DC area.” And Sarah Louppe Petcher notes its “great atmosphere and drinks. The food was very good and service was courteous and prompt. Definitely worth the trip.” [Facebook]
The Must-Try News: Facebooker Kat Suarez says, “The must-try are the crispy pata, ukoy, and kare-kare,” while her go-to drink, the Tame the Tikbalang drink, was “very delicious, unique tasting, and beautifully presented!” And Instagrammer @globegrubbers says the “Crispy pata was the perfect amount of crunchy on the outside while being juicy and tender on the inside. The Kare-Kare is a plate of delicious oxtail smothered in a peanut sauce. Safe to say I need to come back.” [Facebook, Instagram]
The Fanning Out News: Instagrammer @tiannajoi gushes about eating “ukoy, canton, fried rice, cebu crab cake, and barbecue chicken.” Yelper Priscilla T. “loved the lumpia and the brunch dish, chicksilog (chicken tocino with 2 eggs and garlic rice). Worth the price and just perfect.” [Instagram, Yelp]
The Twist News: Facebooker Cristina Saunders loves “the sisig, pancit canton and Halo Halo — it's like old times — they have carried the same taste of food from Bistro 7107 with a bit of a twist in a good way.” Facebooker Seya Fadullon says the “food is incredibly amazing and so is the service! Get the sisig and Mechado! I love that the food tastes like new fusion Filipino food.” [Facebook]
The Background News: ARLnow notes the restaurant’s name “refers to the year Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines, and the artwork on the wall includes references to the country’s flag and other part of its history.” Yelper R C. says the “inside is modern without any tacky Asian decorations.” And Yelper Anya P. says, “It was a very hopping place. The music and noise levels were tolerable.” [ARLnow, Yelp]