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Filipino restaurants in California

We're Canadian-Filipinos (family of 4 w/ 2 young teens) vacationing in California for 2 weeks mid-August. We'll be spending a few days each in the San Diego, LA, and San Francisco areas.

Any decent (clean but not too pricey) Filipino restaurants that we MUST visit while we're there? Sadly, Toronto and suburbs just do not have any presentable Flip restaurants, and I'd like to prove to my husband and kids that these places exist! I don't want to spend our vacation eating at chains.

I've seen posts on Bistro Luneta and Irma's Pampanga (although I'm not quite sure where they are...).

I've been browsing the chowhound boards for a few weeks so I know you (esp Kris P Pata and Nomal Garciaparra?) won't let me down!

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  1. My favorite is Magic Wok in Artesia. Family style and lately, very popular. The sisig there is heaven on a plate.

    Artesia/Cerritos also has other Filipino restaurants, as the cities are home to a sizeable Pinoy population. Among them, Chowking, Goldilocks, Red Ribbon, Salo Salo Grill, and so many others.

    Magic Wok is the best though, in my opinion. Here are some posts of mine about it, with pics:

    http://elmomonster.blogspot.com/2006/...
    http://elmomonster.blogspot.com/2006/...
    http://elmomonster.blogspot.com/2005/...

    3 Replies
    1. re: elmomonster

      Elmo, I meant to ask this and you'd be as good as any to know the answer. I know that one of MAGIC WOK's neighbors caught fire and a few storefronts in the complex were effected included The WOK. Are they back to "normal" business? I've often believed that its location is horrible, hidden in a corner nook and buried behind a Del Taco that blocks its view from Artesia. I wish that they would move to someplace more visible.

      1. re: Kris P Pata

        Kris P,

        Yep. They are definitely open. And open for good. One of my posts on my blog and here on Chowhound last Dec./Jan. was me reveling in the fact that one of my favorites is back!

        I've been there many times since. Perhaps too many. My arteries are probably engorged with pork fat from too much Lechon Kawale.

        http://elmomonster.blogspot.com

        1. re: elmomonster

          Lechon kawale... yum! You MUST try the dinuguan tho.

    2. Elmomonster: Thank you! I'm bookmarking your blogspot forever!

      I believe we ate at Magic Wok last year. And the crispy pata was indeed heavenly! The kids thought it was a bit of a dive, but quickly forgot about all that when the food arrived.

      I so look forward to eating there again next month!

      Where is Villa Manila? Is it good?

      1. Well, nearly all of the Filipino restaurants I've been to have been turo-turo joints, but you can usually order a silog for breakfast and it'll be freshly-made.

        Max's of Manila in Glendale would be my vote for a non-turo-turo place.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Das Ubergeek

          I like Salo Salo, also in Glendale, as my top "non-turo-turo" spot. Service may not be as fast as you'd like it. Get a seat near the cashier so you can be spotted easily by the staff.

        2. Turo turo places will be good too! It will be fast!

          Any suggestions all?

          1. Salamat, eh?

            By family style I'm assuming you are seeking full service as opposed to turo-turo. If not, please shoot me a private email and I can go into detail and include those places as well. Let's start from the south and work our way up.

            SoCal

            ZARLITO'S has long been the go-to place for Filipino family dining
            in San Diego with its signature dish being the very one that inspired
            my handle. They're also open late on weekends, in the event you get
            a late night jones for baboy. Please note that the Google autolink
            below has it incorrectly tagged as "Carlito's."

            The suburb of National City is home to just-opened GOLDILOCKS in an
            equally brand new shopping center. According to local friends, this branch
            is also a full service restaurant so you can enjoy a leisurely lunch while
            perusing the shelves of its literal "bread and butter" -- fresh-baked breads,
            pastries, turnovers, cakes and rolls.

            My favorite sit-down family restaurants in LA are either in the southern suburbs
            or just north of the city in Eagle Rock and Glendale. These include:

            ALEJANDRO'S - Solid, flavorful, 100% family-owned.
            ASIAN NOODLES - Now venerable favorite of downtown LA lunch crowd.
            BARRIO FIESTA - It's back. And in location opposite a competing cafe run by former employees.
            SALO-SALO GRILL - In my opinion, the best of the type of restaurant you are seeking.
            They specialize in immense, family-style platters of grilled seafood and mixed grill meats. The honey bbq chicken skewers are a must. As mentioned in a previous post, the weekends are Yonge Street after a Canada Hockey World Cup win-like crowded so waits are inevitable.

            Finally, it's worth spending some time at the reconfigured
            EAGLE ROCK PLAZA, which some locals refer to as
            "Mega Small," a mini version of the huge, city-within-a-city Mega Mall
            in Manila. Housed within are branches of popular Filipino chains
            including JOLLIBEE (Jonathan Gold's a fan.), CHOW KING, GOLDILOCKS
            with a SEAFOOD CITY SUPERMARKET as an anchor. There's even
            a Bench (The Filipino GAP) store where you can stock up
            on its awesome citrus and floral scents.

            NoCal

            In terms of new-school fusion and/or modern presentation, Northern California is above and beyond what its southern cousins have. POLENG LOUNGE, TRIBU GRILL and the aforementioned, BISTRO LUNETA in particular have been drawing raves from community and mainstream media alike. Here's a link to a post I made a little while back on the three. It's worth mentioning however, that POLENG LOUNGE is a bit of a scene, as its name would imply, and thus probably a bit loud for family dining. Be forewarned: It becomes a mega popular club later in the evening.

            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/393857

            I hope this helps. I'm sure other folks can weigh in with their picks. Please let us know how your trip went.

            Happy Eating!

            -----
            Alejandro's
            4126 Verdugo Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90065

            Eagle Rock Plaza
            2700 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041

            Asian Noodles
            643 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

            Salo-Salo Grill
            18300 Gridley Rd Ste A, Artesia, CA 90701

            Poleng Lounge
            1751 Fulton Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

            Carlitos Family Restaurant
            505 E 8th St, National City, CA 91950

            Bistro Luneta
            615 3rd Avenue, San Mateo, CA 94401

            1 Reply
            1. re: Kris P Pata

              The other Area to check out is in Covina Around the corner of Amar and Asuza and a few blocks in each direction. They have pretty much all major chains of Bakeries and Fast food ( Goldilocks, red ribbon, valerio's, Manila Sunset, Max's Fried Chicken, totoy's Lechoneria) as a few sit down restaurants. I haven't been there in a few months but when i Lived in San Diego It was a must stop when to drove to my parents in L.A.