Filipino food is finally having a moment in the spotlight this year and South Jersey is getting in on the action. While other Southeast Asian cuisines such as Thai and Vietnamese have always been well-represented here, Filipino fare was harder to find on this side of the bridge. It has been gaining more popularity in recent years as the Filipino population in South Jersey grows and people develop more adventurous palates.
According to Wikipedia, Filipino dishes range from the very simple, like a meal of fried salted fish and rice, to fish curry, chicken curry, complex paellas and cozidos of Iberian origin created for fiestas. Popular dishes include: lechón (whole roasted pig), longganisa (Philippine sausage), tapa (cured beef), torta (omelette), adobo (chicken or pork braised in garlic, vinegar, oil and soy sauce, or cooked until dry), dinuguan (pork blood stew), kaldereta (meat stewed in tomato sauce), mechado (larded beef in soy and tomato sauce), pochero (beef and bananas in tomato sauce), afritada (chicken or pork and vegetables simmered in tomato sauce), kare-kare (oxtail and vegetables cooked in peanut sauce), pinakbet (kabocha squash, eggplant, beans, okra, and tomato stew flavored with shrimp paste), crispy pata (deep-fried pig’s leg), hamonado (pork sweetened in pineapple sauce), sinigang (meat or seafood in sour broth), pancit (noodles), and lumpia (fresh or fried spring rolls).
Here’s where to eat Filipino food in South Jersey:
3003 English Creek Ave
Egg Harbor Township, NJ
Various members of Bonilla, Ronas, Alumia, Davadilla, and Santos-Schiff families took over ownership and management as of January 2020 which opened in 2019 under different owners. When asked what sets them apart from other Filipino restaurants, “When you are at the Kubo, you are family!”
Manila Café and Market
200 Larchmont Boulevard
Mount Laurel, NJ
Arlyn Baker opened Manila Café in November 2010 with the purpose of serving fellow Filipinos in the area, as there weren’t a lot of options for Filipino food at that time. But since then, it has developed a loyal following of non-Filipino customers as well who rave about the food.
Reyta’s Filipino Cuisine
1490 Haddonfield Berlin Road
Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
Mark Reyta, along with his uncle Marcos Medroso, opened Reyta’s in the Woodcrest Shopping Center in November 2019 and it has seen steady business ever since. The restaurant offers a combination of “Turo-Turo” (which means “point point” in Tagalog) buffet-style where you choose from many different popular Filipino dishes, as well as à la carte with freshly cooked dishes such as Sisig, Palabok, BBQ, and variety of grilled dishes.
20 South White Horse Pike
With five total locations, the Tropical Hut in Somerdale is the only one in South Jersey. Owned and operated by Philippine-born Leo Alquiros where his motto is “As long as you’re happy, I’m happy.”
Do you enjoy Filipino food? Where do you eat Filipino food in South Jersey?
Marilyn is a freelance writer covering the food and drink scene of South Jersey. You can find more of her writing on Philly Grub and NewsBreak.