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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.

            2. For a more high end experience, there's also Max in Studio City.

              A friend of mine recently asked what my favorite Filipino restaurant was, and I responded Oinkster.

              1. Bistro Luneta is in San Mateo, about 15 minutes south of San Francisco. They've gotten great reviews from the SF Chronicle and I've got it down on my list of of to-eats.
                http://www.bistroluneta.com/

                Also on my list is Papillon in El Segundo, which serves vegetarian Filipino food.
                http://www.papillonvgcuisine.com/

                3 Replies
                1. re: poptisserie

                  LOL! I couldn't but laugh at "vegetarian Filipino food"...I know it exists. But it sounds like an oxymoron.

                  http://elmomonster.blogspot.com

                  1. re: elmomonster

                    That's usually the response I get from folks since it's assumed the two are mutually exclusive. But props to PAPILLON, the owners of which, have been vegetarians (vegan?) for a very, very long while and have been holding it down in El Segundo for a few years now.

                    1. re: elmomonster

                      Not vegetarian, but pescatarian -- Davao Tuna Grill on Central in Glendale's got some nice sizzling tuna dishes and even some kangkong.

                      -----
                      Davao Tuna Grill
                      730 S Central Ave, Glendale, CA 91204

                  2. SALAMAT all! This is exactly the info I need and want. I only wish Toronto had even 1 decent Pinoy restaurant, you're so lucky to have so many.

                    I'm putting the whole family on a diet now NOW so that we can feast when we get there.

                    KrisP-thanks for the shoutout to Yonge St. Been here? Also, where is the Eagle Rock Plaza? Aside from the food, I'd love to bring the kids there -- they have minimum exposure to Filipino culture here.

                    1. Which of these places (even turo-turo) would be open early enough and serve longsilog or tapsilog for breakfast?

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: goodmom8

                        My usual votes are Manila Good-Ha (sa Panorama, sa Glendale, sa Koreatown) or else Nanay Gloria's in North Hollywood... Manila Good-Ha sa Panorama is the best and they have all kinds of silog -- besides tosilog, longsilog and tapsilog there's other meats, and you can get daing and champorado too.

                        Some locations maybe the housekeeping could be a little better but Panorama is usually pretty clean. Woodman Ave and Cantara St., Panorama City. They open, I think, at 8.

                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                          Thanks Das.

                          I'm amazed at how many Pinoys are on this board. It's so true that Pinoys love to eat! I hope to be able to join u all someday at a hound get together.

                          We're staying at the Villa delle Stelle in Hollywood, how difficult will it be to get there? I'm not really sure where Panorama and Glendale are --the GPS will save us!

                          1. re: goodmom8

                            Glendale is very near to Hollywood, Panorama would be maybe 20-30 minutes drive at the weekend or 45 during the weekday.

                            And I appreciate the compliment but actually I am not a Pinoy, I just love me some tapsilog!!

                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                              Now I'm REALLY impressed... non-Pinoys who know tapsilog!

                      2. Here's my short list of Filipino non turo-turo restaurants in the LA area:

                        LA
                        - Asian Noodles
                        - LA Rose Café
                        - Aristocrat

                        Glendale
                        - Salo Salo
                        - Max’s of Manila
                        - Asian Noodles
                        - Davao Tuna Grill

                        El Segundo
                        - Papillon

                        Panorama City
                        -
                        - Bistro Manila

                        Santa Clarita
                        - Hundred Islands Grill
                        -
                        Artesia
                        - Salo Salo
                        - Magic Wok
                        -
                        Lakewood
                        - Musikahan sa Lutong Bahay

                        Hawthorne
                        - Rice Toppers
                        12836 Inglewood Ave.

                        Cerritos
                        - Pinoy Bistro
                        - Goldilocks
                        - Zentro Bistro

                        Carson
                        - Manila on Main
                        - Maegan’s Grill
                        21804 S. Avalon Blvd.

                        Harbor City
                        - Isla Filipina
                        1234 W. Lomita Blvd.

                        West Covina
                        - Salo Salo
                        - Max’s of Manila
                        - Bamboo Bistro
                        - Pondahan
                        535 California Ave.

                        El Segundo
                        - Papillon
                        408 Main St.

                        Eagle Rock
                        - Barrio Fiesta
                        - Hapag Kainan Buffet
                        - Goldilocks
                        - Alejandro’s
                        - Fiesta Sa Barrio

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Valleypinoy

                          Great list Valleypinoy! For Carson I'd like to add Manilla Lechon on Carson St. In the same strip mall is a bakery with all the usual pan de sal, ensamada macapuno, etc. Across the street is a Seafood City, Red Ribbon Bakery, Jollybee and another chain who's name escapes me but the food is quite tasty. I also like Tita Celias (sp?) on Carson and Delores. The only place in the South Bay that I know that serves kambig (I think that is what it is called) - the leaves with coconut, bagoong and pork. Mom and sisters enjoy Isla Filipina in Harbor City - I haven't tried it yet. Apologies for the misspelled Filipino terms - I'm 5/8 Filipina born in San Pedro!

                        2. Besides the places already listed for West Covina, does anyone know any Pinoy restaurants that are more inland? Any in the Rancho Cucamonga/Riverside/Chino area?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Burnt Lumpia

                            There's a Greenhills Seafood & Meat Market in Ontario, right off the Vineyard exit on 60 fwy. I've only been there once. It beats having to drive to Wesco area. Plus, they have a turo-turo place inside.

                            2401 Vineyard Ave. Ste. C Ontario

                          2. I've been going to New Manila Express in the San Fernando Valley...they serve sisig lechon...which i just can't get enough of, but i know i can't eat it too often as my cholesterol level will jump...you can always call ahead to see what they are serving and if you call early enough...you can even make requests...my coworker often calls to have them make bicol express

                            NEW MANILA EXPRESS
                            7560 Winnetka Avenue
                            Winnetka, California 91306
                            818-773-8882

                            1. i like max's glendale location... they even have karaoke... =) i've never been to the one in west co... but i'm sure it's good....

                              i like red ribbon for their sans rival... i like the old barrio fiesta... haven't been to the new one yet in eaglerock.. or should i say the oddly enough, new and improved eaglerock plaza.... =) but good for them.. i just find it interesting when places i have had some roots in change... anyway... i hear it's pretty good...

                              in the bay there's max's of course...

                              gerry's grill (another chain in the pinas that recently made its stateside debut) is in union city...

                              i'm not a fan of ling nam or tito rey's.... i'm a bit wary as to whether it would meet the things that you wanted...

                              ack in that one area of sd there's a lot of filipino restaurants as well.. but for some reason it escapes me... oops...

                              and since you will be out here you might as well take your kids to some REALLY good chinese food too =)

                              tell us how it works out =)

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: kinipela

                                2 area's in sd.

                                big one is National City .. there are places all over. when i was in school down there we used to head to lourdes' off of 8th i think late at night ( open til 4 i tihnk) nothing like being able to grab some tosilog after a night out.

                                Other area is Mira Mesa which is slowly building steam .. they got all the regulars. For turo turo theres a place in the complex on black mountain and mira mesa blvd that was really good.. used to be valerios but they changed the name last time i drove by. that was where me and my roomies would frequent for a quick fix.

                              2. I like Barrio Fiesta the best, personally. Love their Kare Kare, fried squid, and lumpia shanghai. ALso they have a nice Bicol Express. The one in Eagle Rock.

                                I hated Max's...but I really didn't dig it all that much in the Phillipines either.

                                I tried Magic Wok earlier this summer and I really liked it too. Salo Salo Grill in Cerritos is also a good option, especially if you like grilled platters of meat and seafood.

                                1. Looks like you have a lot of recommendations for Southern California! Here's two cents worth from a Bay Area Filipina.

                                  San Francisco Mission District--Irma's Pampanga Restaurant. Very good Pancit Luglog and lechon kawali. At the corner of South Van Ness and 16th St.

                                  San Bruno (around 15 minutes by car south of downtown SF)--Tribu Grill. Delicious sisig, crispy pata, daing na bangus, and lots of other things. My overall favorite. El Camino Real.

                                  San Bruno--Patio Filipino. I've only been there once, but they have the Fil-Hispanic dishes. Also on El Camino Real, a few blocks south of Tribu.

                                  San Mateo--Bistro Luneta, as mentioned by an earlier poster. "Dressed up" Filipino food. Some of the innovation works very well, some not so well. Third Ave. corner Delaware.

                                  Daly City--House of Silvanas. An offspring of the Manila original. Delicious meringue-and-buttercream cookies.

                                  -----
                                  Irma's Pampamga Restaurant
                                  2901 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                  Tribu Grill
                                  235 El Camino Real, San Bruno, CA 94066

                                  Patio Filipino
                                  1770 El Camino Real, San Bruno, CA 94066

                                  House of Silvanas
                                  2055 Gellert Blvd, Daly City, CA 94015