The best Filipino restaurants to try in the East Bay specialize in classics done right. But it can be hard to know where to go.
Many of the restaurants have been around for decades, and their owners tend to be older Filipino immigrants who don’t bother with websites or social media.
The diversity of the Filipino options in East Bay is worth the drive. You can choose from homey spots where customers choose slow-cooked stews out of steam tables to hip newcomers that bake purple cookies with ube.
Here are the best Filipino restaurants to try in the East Bay
PISTAHAN (San Leandro)
The all-you-can-eat buffet loaded with stews from chicken adobo to pork blood-heavy dinuguan is a popular choice. But you can also order something freshly fried off the menu, such as lumpia or crispy pata. Either way, there’s plenty of seating in the cozy dining room.
THE ORIGINAL LUISA AND SON BAKESHOP (Union City)
A typical Filipino bakery selling bags of pan de sal, cheese-topped sponge cakes, and whole egg pies. Try the ube macapuno ensaimada, a spiral-shaped pastry with swirls of purple yam and chunks of young coconut.
TOPPINGS TOO (Union City)
Huge portions of classic Filipino meats, including crispy fried pork belly known as lechon and the sweet cured pork known as tocino, draw a loyal following to this tiny spot. There are only a few seats, so expect to order takeout and walk across the street to the park.
TOTO’S GRILL (Hayward)
At this Filipino street food spot, you grab skewers, pay, and cook them yourself at a giant communal grill. Intestines are popular, as are nostalgic items like fish cakes, but the tastiest is the pork marinated in soy sauce, garlic, and brown sugar.
CAFE 86 (Union City)
This small cafe chain from Southern California serves a variety of teas, coffee, and sweets starring Filipino ingredients, with an emphasis on ube. Try the ube truffles and upside-down halo-halo, an ube-forward twist on the highly textured shaved ice dessert.
ISLA RESTAURANT (Newark)
Isla is a top choice for trying Kapampangan-style food, a Spanish-influ-enced subset of Filipino cuisine via the Kapampangan people. There are a la carte options, like the skinless, crispy version of the sweet sausage known as longanisa, as well as huge family-style combo platters served on banana leaves. myislarestaurant.com
GERRY’S GRILL (Union City)
One of the biggest chains from the Philippines, Gerry’s Grill serves a wide variety of traditional dishes. Popular options include crispy pata and beef kare-kare, a creamy peanut stew. This is also one of the few East Bay Filipi¬no restaurants with outdoor seating.
No need to agonize over a menu here — you’re ordering fried chicken. Maharlika has earned a decades-long reputation as the East Bay’s best Filipino fried chicken, making it a favorite catering option for parties.
MARLEY’S TREATS (Hayward)
A homegrown modern Filipino bakery, Marley’s gets creative with ube, pandan, and leche flan. While the flan-topped ube cheesecake tarts are the best-seller, don’t miss the ube pan de sal stuffed with flan, which manages to be less sweet but still rich.
PAREKOY LUTONG PINOY (San Leandro)
The pork sisig, a sizzling, savory-sour platter of crispy pork, is Parekoy’s biggest hit for good reason. Count on anything else crispy and porcine as a safe bet. parekdylutongpinoy.com