Filpino food is one of my favorite cuisines. The blend of Asian and Spanish flavors is a big draw for me and also the wide-range of different flavors from savory to sweet. The cuisine has long been predicted by food experts to be “on the rise”, but it hasn’t quite taken off the way it was predicted to.
Regardless, several people have put effort into bringing their interpretation of the cuisine to the public in Tampa Bay. Since the Philippines has thousands of islands, no family recipe is the same, but you can count on the places around town to have some favorites such as lumpia and chicken adobo – the national dish of the Philippines.
Mata’s Philippine Cuisine: This is a mom-and-pop Filipino spot in Town n’ Country. The food is served cafeteria-style with a focus towards take-out. I’ve only been there a few times, but each time was pretty good. I particularly liked my sisig (pork) and the chicken adobo was pretty good as well. 4350 West Waters Avenue #102, Tampa, FL 33614.
Filipiniana Philippine Café: This was one of the first Filipino spots to hit the Tampa area. The owners have been regulars for a long time at the annual PhilFest festival that draws thousands. They started off just selling boba, Halo-Halo, and bakery goods with food on the weekends, but expanded to include a full-menu of food in the last two years. Don’t miss the Ensaymada pastries if they have it. It is a soft, fluffy pastry topped with white sugar and usually fine-grated cheese. 3848 West Waters Avenue, Tampa, FL 33614.
Flip’n Tasty: Long-running Filipino food truck serving fusion food. They keep a regular rotation of business that can be found on their Facebook page. The name comes from their kids who called their food “tasty, delicious, yummy, so good”. Dishes on the menu include Pancit noodles, Lumpia, Sweet Chili Wings, Sisig Pork Belly, and Pork Adobo Tacos. (727) 709-3655
Manila Eats: This is a newish Filipino truck in Riverview and it is getting a big following behind it, especially on Facebook. They do take time to turn orders, so regulars recommend calling ahead before visiting if you’re in a rush. They also sell out of food, so watch their Facebook page for updates and go earlier in the day if possible. Michael B. says, “Amazing Filipino food, come here hungry and you’ll leave sleepy from food coma. Can’t go wrong with any of the breakfast items but my favorite is the topsilog with garlic rice and egg. But for the more tradition dishes I’d recommend the pansit bihon and lumpia, but if you really want to take a nap, get the lechon kawali!” 10621 Tucker Jones Road, Riverview, FL 33578.
Masarap Bowls: This food truck literally just opened over the weekend. The owner’s name is Carlina Rodriguez and she has been a member of the Tampa Bay community for over 30 years. She says she created the food truck to deliver the taste of the Philippines to the entire Bay Area. Masarap is a build-your-own bowl concept with some sides like lumpia and turon as well as daily specials, they are just getting started so the verdict is still out. (813) 370-7980
Pinoy St. Pete: A newcomer in St. Pete, serving Phillipinne cuisine. The food is inspired by Chef Raquel ‘Jingle’ Baluyut’s roots in Pampanga. Menu items include vegan Pansit, Adobo Chicken, Bistek Tagalog, Kare-Kare, Tapsilog, Pork Belly Kawali, Sisig, and more. They also offer family-style dining that can serve up to 4 people in a group with bigger portions and rice. For dessert they have Halo-Halo. 170 47th Avenue NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33703.