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Filipino restaurants in California

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This is posted in the LA boards as well, sorry for the duplication!
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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. We have Jolibee and Chow King in San Diego and I believe LA (check their websites)- and the neighborhoods where they are located are more or less Filippino. Lots of mom and pop joints. Any place that has a considerable Retired U.S. Navy Population will have some good FIlppino restaurants.

    Actually, I can't think of any that are bad. Just go to those streets and if you don't want JB or CK, there will be someplace that is interesting.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Cathy

      Thanks Cathy!

      1. re: goodmom8

        I'd recommend Jolibee just for the experience, even though it is rather fast-foody. Drive through filipino is hard to come by elsewhere.

    2. I've heard good things about Bistro Luneta, but it's in San Mateo, which is about a 30 minute drive outside San Francisco. If you're staying in the city, there are so many wonderful places to eat, I wouldn't drive all the way to San Mateo to try a filipino restaurant. However, there are two fusion type places that are serving some filipino inspired food in San Francisco -- Pres a Vie in the Presidio (lively, fun, delicious) and Polenge Lounge (haven't tried it yet, but hear good things).

      1. I like Tita's Kitchenette, in National City (just south of downtown San Diego). The nurses I work with agree that it is good for cheap, take-out food; the grilled chicken and pork skewers are moist inside and charred outside, and the stews are flavorful. Cheap too.
        Kirk has a couple of recommendations for places with slightly nicer atmosphere, on his blog: http://mmm-yoso.typepad.com/mmmyoso/f... Scroll down the page; Zarlitos might be worth a try.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Joseph

          Zarlitos is ok, as is Villa Manilla across the street, but I actually prefer Tita's.

        2. If you're in the LAX area please give us your opinion of Rice Toppers, ~1/2 mile east of the I405 on El Segundo Bl. at Inglewood. I find it to be clean, cheap and tasty, but I'm definitely not an expert on Filipino cuisine. Most of the Filipino restaurants around here are steam table :-(.

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          Rice Toppers
          12836 Inglewood Ave, Hawthorne, CA 90250

          1. There was recently an article in the San Jose Mercury News on Filipino cuisine and recommendations on where to get a good taste of it.

            Here's a link to the article (you may have to register for free):
            http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_6346707...

            Make sure to view the "related stories" on the sidebar to the right. I haven't had a chance to try any myself. There's apparently a Filipino-style restaurant in Watsonville, but I've heard mostly negative things.

            You may want to post on the SF board for more input on bay area offerings. Please report back!

            1. Thanks all! I'll post a trip report (with reviews) when we return.

              1 Reply
              1. re: goodmom8

                In San Bruno (just south of SF), there's Tribu Grill. Went with a Filipino friend and his summation - great stuff you'd only get at someone's house, but in a nice casual environment. It's a nice place overall, nice modern vibe. Also in San Bruno is Patio Filipino, although I've never eaten there.