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Photograph: Courtesy Petite Peso/Alfonso Bell

The best Filipino restaurants in Los Angeles

Whether you’re looking for turo-turo spots or modern takes, here are the top old- and new-school Filipino restaurants.

Written by
Simon Majumdar
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Right before the whole world was put on hold, Filipino food and flavors were definitely having a much-deserved moment in L.A., from the South Bay to the San Gabriel Valley. But thankfully, even with the closure of a place like Ma’am Sir that contributed so much to bringing this cuisine to the fore, there’s still plenty of top-notch Filipino food on offer.

The crunch of lumpia, the crackle of lechon, the thick, peanut-tinged aroma of kare-kare stew—once tried, it’s hard to forget the flavor of the Philippines. Whether you want to sample what L.A.’s innovators are cooking up at a Downtown stand or check out a traditional turo-turo (“point-point” joint), here’s where to find the city’s best Filipino cuisine, from Long Beach to West Covina and back again.

A quick note: While former fave and entry on this list Lasa has closed, it’s recently flipped into Lasita, a casual Filipino rotisserie chicken and wine spot.

The best Filipino restaurants in L.A.

  • Restaurants
  • Filipino
  • Sawtelle
  • price 2 of 4

Chef Barb Batiste may well be rightfully lauded for her B Sweet desserts, but her savory items on sale at Big Boi are also currently the best modern take on Filipino food in Los Angeles. The slightly sweet pork tocino displays her deft hand with curing the meat with sugar, and the simple perfection of pancit (noodles) and garlic rice shows that she comes from a culture where getting these basics wrong might cause a family frown. The weekend special of a crunchy fried chicken with a suitably peppery gravy is simply a must have.

  • Restaurants
  • Filipino
  • Long Beach
  • price 1 of 4

A drive to Long Beach—whether down the block or across the basin—is definitely worth the effort for some of the best traditional Filipino food I have eaten in a long time. Everything comes just as you hoped it would. Pinakbet, the Filipino version of ratatouille, is served with an unapologetic amount of bagoong (fermented fish paste). Chicharon bulaklak, fried bits of pork offal, is crisp and comes with a spicy vinegar of just the right heat. The broth of the sinigang (soup) is lip-smackingly sour. I could very easily live here.

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  • Restaurants
  • Filipino
  • Downtown Historic Core
  • price 1 of 4

Sari Sari store, a concept from Filipino-born Margarita Manzke (of République fame) has gone from strength to strength since it first opened in 2017. While there are other things on the menu (don’t forget to order some ribs and the buko pie) this place is all about the rice bowls. The flavors might feel slightly muted for traditionalists, but they are beautifully put together—the arroz caldo, a rice porridge, and the sisig fried rice being my particular favorites.

  • Restaurants
  • Filipino
  • Downtown Financial District
  • price 2 of 4
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To fill the space of the much-loved RiceBar in DTLA was a very tall order, but chef Ria Dolly Barbosa (formerly of Sqirl) has done an admirable job. The rice bowls with housemade longanisa and chicken adobo understandably garner most of the plaudits, however, it’s some of the more peripheral items that really impress. An order of fresh and zingy calamansi/cucumber juice, juicy lumpia and house baked melting pandesal (Filipino bread roll) and ensaimada (sweet pastry bread topped with butter and grated cheese) should not be forgotten.

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  • Restaurants
  • Filipino
  • West Covina
  • price 2 of 4

Salo-Salo has long been one of my favorite traditional Filipino food havens. (And for disclosure, I did once spend some time in the kitchen there picking up recipes and techniques.) Everything they do there in terms of preparation is textbook. The appetizer of assorted lumpia, the “escabeche isda” (fish escabeche), the combination plates of skewers, the bagoóng fried rice (fried rice with fermented fish paste): There are few moments during a meal to do anything but nod in approval.

  • Restaurants
  • Filipino
  • East Hollywood
  • price 1 of 4

Now in its 40th year of serving Filipino food to the Hollywood area, L.A. Rose Café is still firing on all cylinders. Everything here is done well. The pancit palabok with salted dried fish could feed a family. The buchon (roasted pig cooked in the style from the island of Cebu) is a crunchy delight, and the dinuguan (pork blood stew) is rich and as good as I’ve had anywhere. The desserts should not be missed either, particularly the halo-halo, the Philippines’ answer to shave ice that comes layered with various fruits and topped with purple yam or a creamy flan.

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  • Restaurants
  • Filipino
  • Koreatown
  • price 1 of 4

Everything is competent at Neri’s Casual, but it’s the silogs (breakfasts, which they serve all day, and is a portmanteau of fried rice—sinangag—and egg—itlog) and the frying of just about anything that they do particularly well. For breakfast opt for the daing silog, which offers grilled bangus (milk fish) on top of garlic rice with a fried egg and astara (pickled vegetables). For the frying, the Ilocano bagnet of twice fried pork belly is sure to take you to a very happy place.

  • Restaurants
  • Filipino
  • Long Beach
  • price 1 of 4

If I didn’t include a bakery in my list of the best Filipino places to eat in Los Angeles, I suspect I’d lose my “Filipino by marriage” license. Gemmae Bake Shop is simply one of the best—so good that I am under strict “pain of death” instructions not to touch both the Nutella and ube pandesal (Nutella and purple yam bread, respectively) we brought back from there. Fortunately, there are plenty of other less pain-threatening items on the menu, such as the hopia mongo (puff pastry filled with sweetened mung beans) and the classic bibingka (baked sweet rice cake).

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  • Restaurants
  • Filipino
  • Historic Filipinotown
  • price 1 of 4

There is nothing fancy about dining at the turo-turo spot Bahay Kubo. You point at what you want from the food trays. You pay. You eat. You leave. But, in the short time you’re there you’ll try some of the most on-point traditional food in the city; go for the peanut-rich kare kare, spicy bicol express (stew) and inihaw baboy (grilled pork). For those who want to go further into the swine, the bopis (a saute of pig lung and heart) is one to look out for.

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