Filipino cuisine deserves more attention than it’s been given, but thankfully, Pinoy food’s rise to prominence is well underway in L.A, from the South Bay to the San Gabriel Valley. 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 Artesia to West Covina and back again.
L.A.’s best old-school Filipino restaurants
At this classic turo-turo spot, you select your dishes and pay for them at the end of the counter. The highly flavored bopis, a sauté of pig lung and heart, is one to try if you’re in an adventurous mood.
The back pages of this long-standing cafe’s menu are like a Narnia for those who seek classic Filipino food. The sweet and chewy tocino (cured pork shoulder) is terrific, particularly when paired with sinangag (fried rice laced with garlic).
Popular with locals, this turo-turo hangout offers a small range of food, but the pancit malabon—noodles topped with eggs and shrimp and laced with crab fat (pictured)—is worth the journey to Carson.
The evolution of the now-shuttered Neri's Filipino Bakery & Fast Food, Neri's 2.0 is a fast-casual dining joint that sits in the heart of K-town. The format’s no longer turo-turo, but the menu is standard—and the bagnet (twice-fried pork belly) is excellent.
Everything is done well here, but it’s the platter of crispy pata and lechon kawali—pork shoulder and belly, respectively, that gets braised and then fried—that always calls for a repeat visit, whether you’re checking out the Artesia or the West Covina location.
L.A.’s best new-school Filipino restaurants
The newcomer that's focused on Filipino tapas is still fighting its way through the “no alcohol license” war, but the cooking brings enough to the table to suggest that this is one to keep an eye on. Look for genre-benders like tapsilog nigiri or wonton tacos, and try the sisig lumpia (crispy pork spring rolls).
From backyard and Unit 120 pop-ups to a hugely successful permanent outpost, the ascent of brothers Chad and Chase Valencia in the local culinary scene is remarkable and highly deserved. They deliver a youthful yet respectful take on Filipino food: The fresh lumpia sariwa—made with a brown rice crêpe—will give you a whole new take on a Pinoy staple.
The meeting of classic American BBQ and Filipino flavors is one of the smartest introductions since garlic rice met lechon; the Concordia family’s Mt. Malindang pork ribs with riblets epitomizes how well the combination works. Oh, and don’t miss their bibingka (rice cake) corn bread.
Charles Olalia’s counter-seat tribute to Filipino rice is essential for anyone visiting L.A. Olalia combines his fine-dining provenance with traditional Filipino cuisine and heritage rice in the heart of Downtown. The house-made longanisa rice bowl is a permanent resident on our list of the top Filipino dishes in the city.
Though one of Grand Central Market’s newest additions, this operation has fast become a firm favorite, with a well-executed range of rice bowls and delicious comfort food. Margarita and Walter Manzke—of République fame—and their rice bowls draw crowds, but a plate of Spam silog (seared Spam with fried rice) and a calamansi soda validate the wait.