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H Street’s Hotly Anticipated Filipino Spot Hiraya Comes to Life This Fall

Chef Paolo Dungca’s breakout project is weeks away from opening

Lumpiang sariwa wraps vegetables around thin crepes.
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

More details are emerging about Hiraya, the two-part Filipino venture landing along the H Street NE corridor soon. The all-day component (Hiraya Café) will arrive first around mid-September, and its upstairs dining room (Hiraya Restaurant & Bar) plans to open a month or two later (1248-1250 H Street NE).

The two-level project builds upon the success of Filipino chef Paolo Dungca’s polished weekend tasting room that enjoyed a 2022 pop-up run in downtown’s Block food hall. For Hiraya 2.0, Dungca partners with Juan and Jeremy Canlas — the father-son duo behind local chain Supreme Barbeque and Auntea Boba. The 4,700-square-foot newcomer plays up lots of wood elements and rattan tones that remind Dungca of home.

A notable band is back together at Hiraya. Dungca recruited chefs Carlos Lorenzo Rufo and Julie Cortes, two of his former co-workers at the Wharf’s Southeast Asian hotspot Kaliwa, to help him cook in the kitchen. And Ivan Urcia, who opened Kaliwa with Dungca back in 2018, is Hiraya’s newly named general manager.

Hiraya also tapped a top D.C. mixologist to assemble the drinks menu. Minibar alum Al Thompson, who most recently led the bar at Lao standard-bearers Thip Khao and Hanumanh, says his program at Hiraya will go heavy on tropical flavors “with hints of Filipino nostalgia.” The cafe will offer mocktails, to-go drinks, and its own answer to the espresso martini. Up top, complex cocktails will integrate “more advanced presentation elements,” he says.

Tentative hours for the 48-seat cafe component are Tuesday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Dinner at the 58-seat restaurant will run 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Hiraya tells Dungca’s story of growing up in the Philippines and the recipes he learned from his mom, aunts, and grandparents. A trip back home in 2019 revived his desire to cook the cuisine in modern, yet familiar, ways.

During his time at the Block, Dungca also ran (now-closed) counter Pogiboy with fellow Filipino chef Tom Cunanan. An eye-popping Filipino burger between bright purple ube buns — like the one that landed fast-casual Pogiboy on the cover of Food & Wine in 2022 — resurfaces at Hiraya.

A chori burger packs chorizo patties and atchara between vibrant steam buns.
Koji-marinated chicken inasal.

Hiraya will showcase distinct menus and atmospheres on each floor. Upon entry, a casual, sun-drenched cafe serves Filipino pastries, breakfast sandwiches, and caffeinated drinks from Sun & Stars Filipina Coffee Roasters (think: vibrant lattes made with purple yam). The cafe’s menu ($4-$26) will also carve out room for silog — a Filipino morning staple comprised of sinangag (garlic fried rice), itlog (runny egg), and protein like longganisa sausage. The upstairs setup will resemble the upscale original, opening with a la carte small plates to start ($12-$49) and a $95 tasting menu at a 10-seat chef’s counter.

The same Northeast strip recently got a taste of the cuisine from Balangay, a pop-up out of Bullfrog Bagels from a rising Filipino chef (it’s since moved to Mess Hall). Right across from Hiraya, Maketto partner Keem Hughley brought the corridor a visionary Afro-Caribbean restaurant called Bronze last year.